After making this delicious dinner many, many times we decided to add some Kalamata olives for a little extra color. What a wonderful addition! Not only did it add color but the olives added a little brininess to the Mediterranean flavor! Below is the original posting now with the addition of the olives. See Notes below for Gluten-free options.
While relaxing on my front porch after repotting some plants today, Teresa pulled up with some cod for tonight’s dinner. Cod is one of those fish that takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with making a Mediterranean-style dinner absolutely delicious. We were wondering what we had on hand to make with it and I found a half-full jar of pearl couscous! We had some grape tomatoes, plenty of garlic, onions, & feta cheese, along with a garden full of fresh herbs. We set about making dinner. We’ve said this before and it’s very true…some of the best dinners we make are thrown together with what we have on hand. This dinner turned out fabulous…we were counting on leftovers but NONE were to be had!
Mediterranean-Style Cod over Couscous
While relaxing on my front porch after repotting some plants today, Teresa pulled up with some cod for tonight's dinner. Cod is one of those fish that takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with making a Mediterranean-style dinner absolutely delicious. We were wondering what we had on hand to make with it and I found a half-full jar of pearl couscous! We had some grape tomatoes, plenty of garlic, onions, & feta cheese, along with a garden full of fresh herbs. We set about making dinner. We've said this before and it's very true...some of the best dinners we make are thrown together with what we have on hand. This dinner turned out fabulous...we were counting on leftovers but NONE were to be had!😋❤️
1¾cupspearl couscousalso known as Israeli couscous
1large sweet onionroughly chopped
6-8large cloves garlic peeled & minced
10ozfresh baby spinacha few large handfuls
salt & pepper to taste
6ouncesFeta cheesewe use President's Chunk
In a large skillet add the Israeli/pearl couscous to a dry, hot skillet. Gently stir to prevent burning. After a few minutes, the couscous will start to brown. Do not burn. Not all the couscous will brown & that's ok.
Add the chicken stock, cover, lower heat, and simmer about 15-18 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
In a large, deep skillet, saute the onions until they start to caramelize then add garlic & cook another minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Add the cooked onions, garlic, & spinach to the couscous. Stir well. Cover and set aside until fish is done.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Turn oven to broil. Once hot, reduce the oven temperature to 425º.
Wash tomatoes then coat them along with the whole cloves of garlic (skin on) with 1-2 Tablespoons of EVOO. Sprinkle with salt. Combine well. Place on a lined baking sheet.
Place baking sheet on the top oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425ºF, until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft.
Remove from the oven when done. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, smash the garlic. Take half the tomatoes plus the juice and garlic then add to couscous, mixing well.
Just before serving, crumble & add the Feta cheese & Kalamata olives to the couscous and combine.
Using the same rimmed baking sheet, drizzle EVOO and arrange the pieces of cod on the sheet. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt & pepper, chopped fresh greek oregano. Drizzle lightly with EVOO and place on center rack of 425º oven.
Cook 10-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of cod until it's opaque & flakes.
To serve, place cooked couscous mixture on a serving platter and top with fish fillets. Sprinkle with remaining blistered tomatoes & garlic. Garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano or thyme.
Use any white fish of your choice including, shrimp, lobster, and/or scallops in place of cod.Dried oregano or thyme may be used in place of fresh. For every 1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs use 1 tsp dried.To make this recipe Gluten-Free use GF pearl couscous, GF small pasta, or rice in place of regular pearl couscous.
You will not believe this healthy lasagna is as satisfying as the traditional one made with lasagna noodles, but it definitely is! It is filled with a blend of creamy ricotta, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, basil & is layered with ground beef as well as our homemade tomato sauce. You build the layers just like traditional lasagna only replace the noodles with cooked & seasoned spaghetti squash & topped with sliced mozzarella. This dish has it all...can be made ahead, freezer friendly and perfect for a crowd. Our family loves it and so will yours. Enjoy!
2 med to large spaghetti squash (cut lengthwise and seeded)
light drizzle of EVOO over each half of the squash before seasoning & baking.
dried oregano to sprinkle over squash before baking
salt & pepper to sprinkle over squash before baking
garlic powder to sprinkle over squash before baking
2 lbs. ground beef (85/15 or leaner)
1/2 onion, diced
4-6 large cloves garlic, smashed
32 ounces whole milk ricotta
3/4 cup grated Locatelli cheese (Pecorino Romano)
16 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded or leave some slices for top layer
Cut spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise & remove seeds.
Lightly drizzle each half with EVOO then season with salt, pepper, dried oregano & garlic powder (the more the tastier). Place each half face down onto foiled baking sheet and bake until soft when touched (about 30-40 minutes)
While the squash is baking, heat a large skillet. When the pan is hot add the ground beef and brown. Add the smashed garlic and onions and cook until softened.
Drain fat and set aside in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, half the shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, salt & pepper and 1 tsp garlic powder. Mix well then add chopped basil. combine and set aside.
Removed the squash from the oven when soft and let cool. Once cool use 2 forks to shred it then add to a colander to drain excess liquid. Set aside until ready to layer your lasagna.
Lower oven temperature to 350ºF.
In a lasagna pan or casserole dish, place a light layering of tomato sauce. Take enough forkfuls of shredded squash and place on top of sauce. Spready evenly. Sprinkle with some grated Pecorino Romano.
Layer half of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly.
Layer with cooked ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano.
Add tomato sauce to cover lightly. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano.
Repeat for the second layer and top with remaining shredded or sliced mozzarella.
Sprinkle with Locatelli cheese, then a try light drizzle of EVOO on top.
Bake about 30 minutes or until cheese melts.
Best served with a nice Italian salad on the side.
Note: May be substituted with ‘Beyond Beef Crumbles’ in place of ground beef for a meatless meal.
Once cooled, shred squash into large bowl
Brown smashed garlic and ground beef
Once cooked, drain excess liquid
Lightly drizzle EVOO then spread small amount of tomato sauce to lightly cover bottom of casserole dish
Spread layer of squash over sauce
Combine ricotta and seasonings in a bowl
Layer ricotta mixture on top of squash
Sprinkle half the meat mixture over ricotta mixture
Sprinkle with grated cheese then top with tomato sauce and spread
Repeat for the 2nd layer
Add 2nd layer of ricotta
Add 2nd layer of ground beef
Add final layer of tomato sauce and top with sliced mozzarella cheese and spinkle with grated cheese & a drizzle of EVOO
Creamy Chicken Florentine with Garlic & Mushrooms - Twiins Style
Our family went wild over this meal! They loved it so much not a morsel was left, not even a single strand of linguine! This amazing dinner is a quick and easy, one-skillet meal that you'll have on the table in less than 30 minutes. Your family or guests will think you slaved all day in the kitchen just for them. It's a win-win for sure. Using pre-sliced gourmet blends of mushrooms makes preparation a snap. The silky smooth creamy sauce will have your family requesting it every week. Buon Appetito!
10-20 ounces fresh baby spinach (use a minimum of 10-oz)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Reserve 1 cup cooked pasta water
If you are serving over pasta now is the time to fill your pot with water & bring it to a boil, then add salt to the water.
Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste.
In a large skillet heat the EVOO on medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown on both sides until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink. Remove from skillet & set aside. Add the chicken tenderloins and brown on both sides until no longer pink. Remove from skillet & add to plate of cooked chicken thighs.
Add mushrooms to skillet & cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir several times. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Melt the butter in the skillet add minced garlic & tarragon. Saute for 1 minute.
Using a whisk add the flour to the skillet & whisk continuously until starts to thicken.
Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted & sauce thickens.
Add back the mushrooms & all chicken, cover & low simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
Remove chicken to a platter. Don’t drain the pasta…using a pasta ladle or tongs simply scoop all the pasta from the pot of water into the sauce & mix well. If needed add an additional 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce.
Serve or over your favorite pasta with a side salad. Buon Appetito!
Note: Chicken cutlets may be used in place of tenders & thighs.
Not everyone likes sardines but Teresa and I love them! To be honest, when my husband & son heard I was making sardines & eggplant they made some weird faces. I told them that's what I was cooking so they could either join me or cook for themselves! The combination of eggplant, sardines, garlic, onions, and tomatoes was making my mouth water. This dish doesn't have a strong 'fishy' taste at all but the flavor is reminiscent of Sicilian cuisine. My son had one request; please add some tomato sauce to it. Since I didn't have any made I whipped up a quick sauce using Italian stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic & oil. At first, their faces were very skeptical and then they took their first bites. I'm pretty sure they didn't want to say they liked it, but those weird faces turned to smiles and both wanted to split the 4th eggplant, which I immediately said 'NO', it's mine and Teresa's lunch for tomorrow! Moral of the story: never be afraid to cook what comes into your head because it just might be a new family favorite...you never know. Enjoy!
2 (4.375 oz) cans skinless boneless sardines in olive oil, drained and flaked
2 large eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (leave stems on)
1/3 cup EVOO
1 Tablespoon EVOO
1 ½ large sweet onions, diced
4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) cans Hunt’s Italian style diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoons Hunt’s Italian style tomato paste with garlic & basil
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried oregano (more or less to taste, fresh oregano may be substituted.)
1/4 cup grated Locatelli cheese (Pecorino Romano)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Quick Tomato Sauce (any homemade or jar sauce is fine) more if you are serving with pasta
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise with the stem attached. Score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern being careful not to cut through the skins.
In a large skillet on medium heat, heat 1/3 cup oil then lower heat. Add the eggplant, flesh down. Cover and cook until completely softened but not falling apart. About 10 minutes. Carefully flip over and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more. You may have to do this in 2 batches if your skillet isn’t large enough.
When done, let cool in a separate dish. Once cooled, leaving a 1/8-inch border, gently scoop eggplant flesh into a bowl and chop. Lightly drizzle some EVOO on the bottom of a baking dish and place the eggplant shells gently inside, close to each other to support them from flattening.
In the same pan, add the 1 Tablespoon EVOO and saute onions for about 6-7 minutes on medium heat. Add all remaining ingredients including the chopped eggplant & flaked sardines, except the grated Locatelli and mozzarella cheeses. Remove from heat and combine well.
Sprinkle with Locatelli cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese then top with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of quick sauce down the middle, again sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese again. Bake about 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.
Serve by itself or over your favorite pasta!
Gently scoop flesh from skins
Saute onions, then remaining ingredients
Fill skins with eggplan & sardine mixture then top with a little shredded mozzarella
Add 2 T sauce on top of mozzarella then sprinkle with grated Locatell and top with additional shredded mozzarella
This recipe was actually a wonderful accident. I defrosted a pound of ground veal only to realize when I started to cook it that it was ground veal chorizo (quite spicy) Well it turned out pretty good and my family enjoyed it so here it is. Enjoy!
1 lb ground veal chorizo (spicy and gives a nice reddish color to the sauce)
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large onion, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons capers (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
12 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 Tablespoons butter
In a large deep skillet, heat EVOO. Add the onion and minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 4-6 minutes.
Raise heat to high. Add the ground veal then season with salt & pepper. Cook until veal is fully cooked and no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes. Any juices from the veal should be evaporated.
Add the white wine. Bring to a boil. Boil until almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, thyme, rosemary, and optional capers then simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta liquid before draining well. Add the pasta to the skillet. Add the Parmigiano=Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. If too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water until the consistency desired.
Serve right away with some crusty bread and Enjoy!
Note: You can add vegetables of your choice to make this a one-pan meal.
With the first spoonful of our savory Tuscan Bean Soup you will be swept away to Tuscany admiring the sunflowers. It’s chock full of vegetables, delicious flavor & of course love! Serve as a main meal for either lunch or dinner and don't forget the toasted crusty bread to soak up every last drop. Enjoy!
3 (15.5 oz) cans cannellini beans with liquid (divided into 3/4 and 1/4)
1 rounded tsp Hunt’s tomato paste with garlic & basil
1 leek, chopped (both white & green parts)
2 yellow onions, diced ( I was out of yellow onions so I substituted with red)
2 cups large celery stalks, large dice (about 3-4 ribs)
2 cups large carrots, large dice (about 5-6 peeled carrots)
8-10 garlic cloves, smashed then chopped (Add more or less to suit your taste.)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
3-4 handfuls baby spinach, torn by hand (escarole or kale may be substituted)
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups beef broth
1 small piece of rind from a block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 ounces Ditalini pasta (any small pasta may be substituted.)
Pecorino Romano, freshly grated cheese (Locatelli), or Parmigiano-Reggiano (not the stuff in the green container, please!)
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, add the EVOO. When EVOO is hot enough add the leeks, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and salt & pepper. Sauté on medium heat about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, spinach, cheese rind, and 3/4 of the canned beans. Cook for another 3 minutes on medium-low flame until fragrant. Using an immersion blender, blend the remaining 1/4 beans then add to the pot and stir.
Add the tomato paste and stir well.
Add the hand-crushed tomatoes, both broths & stir well. Add 3 oz of ditalini to the soup. (If you’re making more than 3 oz of pasta, we recommend you cook it separately & add it right before serving.)
Bring to a slow boil. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 40-45 minutes or until vegetables are done.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the ditalini pasta following package directions.
Ladle soup into bowls & add the pasta. Sprinkle with grated Locatelli cheese (Pecorino Romano). Enjoy!
Note: You can double this recipe for a big batch to freeze for later use. Just don’t add the pasta before freezing.
To make this soup gluten-free, use GF broth & GF pasta.
Today marks a very special milestone birthday for us. To add to our celebration we're making a healthier version of our favorite birthday dessert...Cannoli. We weren't sure how the texture would be effected using part-skim ricotta instead of whole milk ricotta, but as it turned out we were very happy with the results, The texture isn't quite the same but hardly noticeable. Since we didn't want to give up our favorite dessert using part-skim ricotta was a huge success for us. If eating healthier means you think you have to give up your favorites, we proved you don't have to. ❤️❤️
12.5 ounces part-skim milk ricotta (drained for 2 days in the refrigerator to remove all excess liquid)
With zucchini being so plentiful we’re always trying to come up with new ways to prepare them. Usually, we make zucchini boats stuffed with sausage, and while they are delicious we’ve been trying to incorporate healthier substitutes for sausage & red meat. So, while going through the freezer I found a 2 lb. bag of frozen large uncooked shrimp (from Costco) and decided to make the zucchini boats using the shrimp. This simple recipe came out delicious...mimicking a creamy shrimp scampi minus the pasta. It’s naturally gluten-free and oh so good!😋❤️
4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
2 lbs. large shrimp
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
2 Tablespoons EVOO
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
parsley, chopped for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cut each zucchini lengthwise in half. Score the inside leaving a bit of an edge, then scoop out zucchini flesh and set aside in a medium bowl.
Place each zucchini in a large casserole dish and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste. Bake about 20 minutes in the preheated oven until tender. (Keep oven on because you will return the filled zucchini boats to finish baking)..
While zucchini is baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add EVOO.
Add shrimp & season with salt & pepper. Cook until pink 3-4 minutes turning once. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle then chop into bite-size pieces.
Add reserved zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic then cook 1-2 minutes more.
Return chopped shrimp to skillet & add heavy cream, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, & lemon juice. Cook until slightly reduced about 3-4 minutes.
Fill the zucchini boats with the shrimp mixture & top with mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Cook until cheese bubbles, about 10 minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley & more Parmigiano Reggiano. (optional)
Serve immediately and wait for the compliments! ❤️
Notes: Serve as a main dish with a side salad and crusty bread.