If you’re lucky enough to have a have a garden with an abundance of fresh vegetables, you must try making some Ciambotta (pronounced chim-botta)! Even if you don’t have a garden, grocery stores are full of a variety of fresh, local produce during the summer. It’s a delicious and nutritious way to use your harvest or take advantage of the fresh produce available now. Ciambotta can also be spelled giambotta, depending on the region of Italy. This version is a southern Italy farm dish. The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever veggies you like. The key is big, equal size cubes or chunks... and it’s naturally Gluten-Free. I served it with crusty whole wheat French bread drizzled with EVOO and Za’atar seasoning. It was delicious. Enjoy. 😋❤️
1 large yellow onion, cubed
8-10 cloves large garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup EVOO
4-5 golden Yukon potatoes, cubed
6 large Roma tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, cubed
2 medium eggplants, ends removed and cubed
2 medium zucchini, ends removed and cubed
1 large green bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
1 large red bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
2 handfuls of fresh spinach (optional)
1 jalapeño (I used jalapeño) or long Italian hot pepper (optional)
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 fresh basil leaves, torn right before adding
1 sprig Greek oregano, (optional)
Boil the Roma tomatoes for a few minutes until the skin starts to crack. Remove from boiling water and cool. Once cool enough to handle you can easily peel off the skin., Cut them in half, remove the seeds and cube.
In a minimum 6 qt deep Dutch oven, On medium-high, heat EVOO until it starts to shimmer.
Add the onions and garlic and turn several times until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, zucchini, potatoes, give it a good turn.
Add the eggplants last. Turn well and cook about 10 minutes.
Add salt and black pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves, sprig of Greek oregano (if using) and add to pot. Stir together.
Lower flame to medium-low and cover. Cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now is a good time to prepare any pasta or crusty bread.
For the bread: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the Italian or French bread into 1/2-inch slices and place on foiled baking sheet. Drizzle each piece with EVOO then sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning, garlic powder, & a little sea salt.
Bake about 4 minutes until golden brown. (Bake when Ciambotta is just about done)
Serve in pasta dishes with crusty bread on the side or over pasta & garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Notes: Serve with crusty gluten-free bread to keep completely gluten-free or use Italian or French bread to soak up the juices! Can be served with pasta too.
Growing up in our Italian American household we could always count on one of our favorite meatless meals on a Friday night...Pasta Fasùl. Depending upon the region of Italy your family is from, you may know it as pasta fagioli or pasta fasùl (fazool). Our grandparents were from Naples and Sicily, which shared the same word for beans, fasùl. Technically this dish is a soup; however, we loved it best when most of the liquid dried up & was topped with lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Our Mom always made this with small or medium-sized pasta shells; however, you can use any small pasta in your pantry as we did tonight. This is a very rustic meal but can be dressed up with the addition of any vegetable you have on hand, i.e. spinach, carrots, zucchini, or escarole. To complete this meal, serve with a side salad. Give it a try on those nights you're pressed for time and let us know how you and your family like it.
1 lb. medium or small pasta shells or elbow pasta (we used ditalini as that’s what we had on hand)
10 -12 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cans cannellini beans, do not rinse or drain the liquid
1 cup prepared tomato sauce (preferably homemade or your favorite jar sauce) I also use Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic, and oregano if I don’t have homemade sauce.
1 small can tomato paste plus same can filled with water to dilute (Omit if using Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic, & oregano)
salt to taste
reserve at least 1 cup cooked pasta water
Pecorino Romano grated cheese for topping
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a Tablespoon of salt then add pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water then drain pasta & set aside in a large bowl.
In a large, deep skillet on medium heat add EVOO. Add smashed garlic & sauté a minute or two but don’t burn.
Add the 4 cans of cannellini beans and stir well until they begin to boil. Lower heat to medium-low and add 4 cans of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic & oregano OR 1 cup prepared sauce & small can of tomato paste with a small can of water. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if too thick. Combine well and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes.
If you prefer a soupier pasta fasùl just add more of the reserved pasta water until it’s the consistency you like.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.
Top with grated cheese & garnish with fresh basil or parsley (optional)
NOTE: To make this meal gluten-free, just substitute any small-sized gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta.
This dish thickens as it sits so if you want a thinner sauce, add more liquid in step 3-4 while cooking or add extra sauce.
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In August of 2010 Teresa and I took an end of summer weekend trip to Montauk, Long Island with all of our girls. My youngest niece Lauren was also passing on the ‘clean-up’ torch to my granddaughter which she adamantly refused to accept! Our group of seven included me, my daughter Jennifer, granddaughter Stefani, Teresa, her daughters Tracy, Susan, Lauren and Kerri, her daughter-in-law. We were all crammed into a 2 bedroom rental for an end of summer weekend getaway with just us girls to relax & enjoy the sun and beach. Teresa bought matching whimsical nightgowns from Kohl's to commemorate the trip (as was her custom). Needless to say, it rained the whole time we were there! No sun, no beach, but plenty of food and laughs. We brought an abundance of groceries with us but forgot the couscous. When lunchtime came around we went to the only store close to our rental and purchased some. I originally came up with this dish for my son Jason's vegetarian friend when he was in college. It quickly became a favorite of mine as it was so quick and easy to prepare. The girls loved it and couldn't get enough of it so the recipe became known as Montauk Lentils & Couscous. When the rain finally stopped it was time to head back home. Although we were rained out for the entire weekend, we made our own sunshine & have the best memories of our girls trip.🌞🌞 The Rhode Island girls trip is another story...has anyone seen the Naval War College? Where's the token for the bridge, again? 😂 😂
2 cans lentils, do not drain (or 2 cups cooked brown lentils)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups cooked Israeli couscous (aka Pearl couscous)
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/2 cup chicken broth if needed
In a large skillet heat EVOO & butter.
On medium-low heat, saute onion & garlic until they are translucent and start to carmelize.
Add salt & pepper along with the dried thyme & stir.
Add the torn spinach and continue to saute until spinach is wilted.
Add the lentils and stir well. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, garlic powder or thyme if needed.
Add the cooked couscous to the lentils and heat for a few minutes until hot.
Place in a bowl, sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy!
Saute onion & garlic in EVOO & Butter
Add torn spinach & continue to saute
Add lentils and couscous
Notes: If too thick, add 1/2 cup chicken broth. To make this dish gluten-free use GF Couscous or GF Orzo pasta.
Now that Easter is over, what do you do with all the leftover ham? There's no better time than now to make my hearty, delicious, and comforting split pea soup using all the leftover ham including the bone. Jack looks forward to this soup so much that while it's cooking on the stove he's always asking 'is it done yet'....just like Barbara's dog, Lexi, barking while she waits to be fed! I think you get the picture!!! 🤣
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb dried split peas, rinsed
1 meaty ham bone (leftover from holiday dinner)
2 small bay leaves
2 tsp thyme, divided
7 cups Swanson Bone Broth Chicken or Swanson Low-Sodium Chicken Broth, both are gluten-free
1 cup water
1½ cups diced or shredded ham
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter.
Add the onion, celery, & carrots.
Cook the vegetables on a low flame until vegetables are soft and just starting to show golden color, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the split peas, salt & pepper and stir to combine.
Add the ham bone, bay leaves, and 1 tsp of thyme.
Stir in chicken bone broth and water.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for approximately 90 minutes.
Stir often until peas are cooked down and soup has your desired consistency. (Add more water or broth if it thickens too much).
Add the diced or shredded ham 10-15 minutes before the soup is done.
When done, remove the ham bone and bay leaves. If any fatty chunks fell off the bone during cooking remove them as well.
Add remaining tsp of thyme and stir.
Ladle hot soup into your favorite bowl and enjoy!
Notes: This recipe does not contain any flour, and is naturally gluten-free if you use our recommended Swanson brands. It’s been my experience that other brands may contain wheat so please make sure you read the labels carefully.
We are so excited to share with you our chili recipe which today took first place for 'Traditional Chili' at Brunswick Forest Fitness & Wellness Center's '3rd Annual Chili & Mac n' Cheese Cook-Off'. We are especially excited that the chili was judged by several professional chefs & owner from our local area restaurants including Executive Chef Scott Euvrard from The Forest at Cape Fear National, Sous Chef Jon Michael Rehm from UNCW, Chef Garrett Swain from The Joyce Irish Pub, and Tom Mills, owner of Little Pond Catering. Thank you so much for voting for our chili.
2 to 2.5 lbs 80% lean chuck ground beef
2 lbs Neese’s hot sausage
2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 red bell peppers, seeds & ribs removed, diced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeds & ribs removed, diced
In a large dutch oven brown the meat, using a slotted spoon remove the meat & set aside. Discard all except 2 Tablespoons of remaining liquid in dutch oven to sauté the vegetables.
Add bell peppers & onions to the dutch oven & cook about 10 minutes until onions start to turn golden. Add garlic, chili mix, mild green chiles, salt, pepper, cumin, harissa paste, and smoked paprika, combine well then cook another minute. Add the Rotel tomatoes.
Return meat mixture back to the dutch oven and mix well.
Add Hunt’s tomato sauce. Mix well and cook for 1 minute. Add all the beans with their liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover with lid partially open & reduce heat to low, stirring regularly for 2 hours.
Remove cover and continue to cook on low 30 minutes or longer until chili thickens to your liking. (We love thick chili!)
Ladle into bowls. Serve hot with your favorite garnishes: Sour Cream, green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole and our Rustic Cornbread-Gluten Free. Enjoy!
Notes: To say that Jack & Gary love spicy food is an understatement. If it were up to them, we would be eating this chili every other night! The blend of beef, sausage, beans, & spices makes this a delicious hearty chili for any night of the week and oh so simple to make. Our recipe is for a crowd so if you’re just feeding a few, cut the recipe in half. Any leftover chili can be frozen for 3-4 months at zero degrees in the freezer. Serve with your favorite toppings. For those who like extreme heat like our husbands, add your favorite hot sauce, chili peppers or Sriracha.
Our chili recipe originated from Teresa’s daughter Tracy, a long time ago. Over the years we have adapted it to what it is today. Thank you Tracy. ❤️
Yesterday I saw codfish at my local supermarket's fish counter and thought how good that would be with some zucchini & chunks of San Marzano tomatoes that we both already had on hand. It was late Friday afternoon & both Barbara and I wanted to make a really simple & quick meal. This fish stew is naturally gluten-free...(My husband Jack has celiac disease so gluten-free cooking is a way of life for me.) We label it GF as a reminder that eating GF can be delicious and healthy.
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt (omit if salt sensitive)
6 Tablespoons EVOO, divided 4 & 2
dash of pepper to taste
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
12 large Green olives with pimento, cut in half
12 pitted Greek black olives, cut in half (Kalamata olives)
Pecorino Romano, grated for topping ( contrary to the old belief that you shouldn’t use cheese with fish…it’s delicious)
Minced fresh parsley for garnish
Using your hands, crush the San Marzano tomatoes, reserve liquid & set aside.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels then cut into 4-5 inch pieces.
In a large deep skillet heat 2 Tablespoons of EVOO on med-high heat. Add half the codfish and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet & set aside. Repeat with second half of fish then remove & set aside.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining EVOO over med-high heat, add onions, oregano, zucchini, garlic, salt, and pepper until tender.
Add tomatoes and liquid to skillet. Bring to a boil.
Add the cod and bring back to a boil, spooning sauce over top. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered just until fish begins to flake easily with a fork, about 5-7 minutes, no more.
Sprinkle with parsley and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Note: Serve with crusty bread. This also makes a wonderful meal served over your favorite pasta or rice.
Heavenly is the only way to describe this fabulous, hearty corn & crab chowder. My good friend, Nancy Baker, cooked this today for our bridge club gathering. Everyone loved it and Nancy was kind enough to share her recipe with me for our blog. Thank you, Nancy! ❤