Pan fried sea bass with tomatoes

Sea bass, spigola or branzino in Italian, is an easy option for a nice, low calorie meal. You need just a few ingredients and under 20 minutes to serve this pan fried sea bass with tomatoes.

PREP TIME 5 MIN COOK TIME 10-15 MIN

INGREDIENTS FOR 2

  • 2 big sea bass (or sea bream) fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley
  • capers (optional)
  1. Start by patting the fillets dry while heating a pan on medium to high heat on the stove top. Add oil (you can add a knob of butter, too) until it’s very hot. Place the fish fillets skin-side down and press a little with a spatula if they start curling up.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 4 minutes undisturbed until you can see the the flesh cooked two thirds of the way up and the skin is crisp and brown.
  3. Turn the fillets over and add salt and pepper and the tomatoes. Let cook for additional 3-4 minutes. Add the capers if using and some chopped parsley.

BUON APPETITO!

Oxtail stew

This recipe is slightly modified from Jamie Oliver‘s fabulous oxtail stew. It is one of the best stews I’ve eaten or cooked. Oxtail is a gelatin-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as a stew or braised. While it used to be only the tail of an ox, nowadays it can also refer to the tails of other cattle.

PREP TIME 15 MIN COOK TIME 6 HRS

INGREDIENTS FOR 5-6

  • 1,5kg oxtail, chopped into 4cm chunks
  • extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 celery stalk
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 Tbls of plain flour
  • a glass of good red wine
  • 2 cans of plum tomatoes
  • 0,5 liter of beef stock or water
  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Place a large oven tray in the oven to preheat.
  2. Carefully remove the hot tray and add the oxtail. Season and drizzle the oil over the meat, toss to coat and place in the hot oven for 20 min, or until golden and caramelised.
  3. Meanwhile trim and halve the leek and celery lengthwise, then chop into 2cm chunks. Peel and chop the carrots and onions and place the veggies into a large ovenproof casserole over a medium low heat with 1 Tbls of oil.
  4. Pick, roughly chop and add thyme, rosemary and bay leaves to the pot and cook for 20 min, stirring frequently.
  5. Meanwhile remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C.
  6. Add the cloves and flour stirring well to combine, then pour the tomatoes and wine. Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with beef stock or cold water and stir well.
  7. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, put the lid on and place in the oven for around 5 hrs or until the meat falls off the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding some water if needed.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Using rubber gloves, strip the meat from the bones and return to the pan discarding the bones.

9. Enjoy with creamy mashed potatoes or pappardelle pasta.

BUON APPETITO!

Zucchini and meatballs in tomato sauce

I love all stuffed veggies and I have to say that these ground beef filled zucchini in tomato sauce are one of my favourites. Buy some more ground beef and make meatballs to cook in the same tomato sauce. Delicious.

prep time 20 min

cook time 30-40 min

ingredients for 4-5

  • 350g ground beef
  • 4 medium to large zucchini
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 25g grated Parmigiano
  • handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • flour to coat the meatballs
  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 1/2 onion
  • extra virgin olive oil

  1. Start by washing and tapping dry the zucchini. Cut off the edges and then cut them in half or into 3 pieces.
  2. Use a zucchini corer or an all-purpose corer to gently hollow out a tunnel through the zucchini. Put the zucchini flesh aside.
  3. Mince the zucchini flesh and put it into a bowl. Add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, grated Parmigiano, one egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine everything thoroughly.
  4. With your fingers or a small spoon, fill the zucchini cavities with the stuffing, taking care not to pack them too tightly. Use the leftover stuffing to make meatballs.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thinly sliced onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce or a tin of crushed tomatoes, add some salt and let simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add the stuffed zucchini to the pan, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. In the meantime coat the meatballs with flour.
  7. After 15 minutes, add the meatballs to the pan with the zucchini and let cook for another 15 to 20 minutes on medium low. Serve warm or tepid.

Enjoy your stuffed zucchini and meatballs in tomato sauce.

BUON APPETITO!

One pot peach chicken

I wanted to try this sweet and savoury combination of peaches and chicken. It turned out delicious. It really tastes better than it sounds, or that was the general consensus in the house. I had no doubts ūüôā It really has such an incredible flavor combination with the fresh peaches, (I actually used nectarines) fresh basil and the reduced balsamic vinegar. I wasn‚Äôt sure about the tomatoes but they really gave more dimension to the flavor of the sauce.

prep time 10 min cook time 25 min

ingredients for 2

  • 250 g chicken breasts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium ripe peaches or nectarines
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 50 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thinly sliced onion, sauté for a few minutes and push to the side.
  2. Add chicken breasts, cut into bite size bits or a bit bigger, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and cook about 1 minute, then add peaches cut into thin wedges and tomatoes and toss. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Return chicken pieces to skillet nestling between peaches and tomatoes. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until chicken has cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Top with fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced.
  7. Serve with basmati rice or couscous.

BUON APPETITO!

Greek stuffed tomatoes

Greek stuffed tomatoes,¬†gemista,¬†are similar to the Italian ones, mainly the Pomodori a riso alla romana,¬†but there are some differences. And as with most recipes, there are variations based on the region and one’s grandmother ūüôā These healthy and juicy¬†gemista are traditionally vegetarian but some use also ground beef or pork. Remember to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil which is key to a Greek¬†ladera dish¬†(prepared with oil).

prep time 20 min + 60 min for marinating    cook time 90 min
ingredients for 4
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 125g rice (for risotto)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • handful of fresh dill
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 1 Tbls tomato paste
  • extra vergin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • ground black pepper
  • dahs of ground cumin
  • sweet paprika
  • ground cayenne pepper or peperoncino
  • salt
  • dash of sugar
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 300 ml water
  • 1 Tbls tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbls olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

1.  Wash and pat dry the tomatoes. Cut off the top part of all the tomatoes and put aside. With a pairing knife help loosen the tomato flesh, scoop it with a spoon and put in a bowl. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish where you have put some olive oil on the bottom. Choose a baking dish where the tomatoes fit snuggly.

2.  Blend the tomato flesh with an immersion blender in a fairly large bowl. Add the minced onion, chopped dill and mint, the lemon juice, tomato paste, the cumin, sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Mix and add the rice. Let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.

3. Peel and cut the potatoes into rounds (or wedges or cubes), put in a bowl, add 300ml of water and tomato paste. Season with oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper.

4. Pre-heat oven at 190C.

5. Add now a dash of sugar to the tomatoes and also a dash of salt. Fill them with the rice mixture which has by now absorbed most of the liquid in the bowl. Cover tomatoes with the tomato tops.

6. Place the potato slices now on top and around the tomatoes. Pour the liquid in the pan, about half way. Bake at 190C for 45 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for additional 45 minutes. Check to see if some more liquid is needed.

BUON APPETITO!

Stuffed zucchini, bell peppers and eggplants

I love stuffed vegetables either filled with ground beef or ricotta or other vegetables. They are best eaten lightly cooled when the flavours have had time to set.

prep time 15 min     cook time 50 min
ingredients for 4
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 bell peppers (red or yellow)
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 200 g mozzarella (provola is ok too)
  • 4-5 Tbls bread crumbs
  • 3-4 Tbls grated Parmigiano
    1. Preheat oven to 180 C
    2. Wash and pat dry eggplants, zucchinis and peppers. Cut them in halves and empty the eggplants and zucchini of their flesh trying not to poke holes to the skin.

3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the vegetables on the tray. Cut the eggplant and zucchini halves just slightly and sprinkle some salt on all the vegetables.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. In the meantime heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onion. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini flesh to the pan.

6. Cook for another 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool.

7. Add the mozzarella cut into cubes, 2-3 Tbls of bread crumbs and fill the eggplants, zucchini and peppers sprinkling some more breadcrumbs and grated Parmigiano on top.

8. Cook for abut 50 minutes and let them cool on the tray.

9. Serve with crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.

BUON APPETITO!

Chicken piccata

Chicken piccata hides behind a fancy name simply chicken breast cutlets, dredged in seasoned flour, browned and served with a sauce of butter, lemon juice, capers and white wine. If you buy capers in brine, make sure to drain the liquid before adding them to a recipe; and if your capers are packed in salt, give them a rinse and a soak in water for 15 minutes.

prep time 5 min     cook time 15-20 min
ingredients for 4
  • 600g boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or cutlets
  • 30g flour
  • 10 g grated Parmigiano
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml white wine
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 Tbsp capers
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: parsley

1. Slice the chicken breasts into cutlets and pound them lightly in between parchment paper until an even thickness, about 1 cm.

2. Mix flour, Parmigiano, salt and pepper and toss the cutlets in the flour.

3. Heat oil  with 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding the pan, cook cutlets, without moving them, until browned underneath, about 2-3 minutes. Turn over and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate.

4. Now add the wine, lemon juice and the capers and cook, swirling pan and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of skillet, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining butter and swirl pan while butter melts about 1 minute.

5. Return the chicken to the pan and let simmer for a minute or two.

6. Plate and serve immediately (topping with parsley).

BUON APPETITO!

 

Lemon chicken soup

This chicken soup uses lots of lemon and feta cheese so you might call it Greek-inspired. Easy and fast to make, and so so good with lemon, feta and peperoncino to give it some heat.

prep time 10 min     cook time 20 min
ingredients for 4
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 2 l chicken broth
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 garlic gloves, minced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • peperoncino¬†flakes
  • salt
  • 2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 150g feta cheese, crumbled
  • fresh thyme
  • 130g short angel hair pasta or 2 dl pearl couscous

1. Place olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Sauté onion, garlic and peperoncino (the amount is up to you) for a few minutes and then add grated ginger.

2. Add the broth, the zest and the chicken breasts to the pot. Season with salt. Increase the heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. You can add the pasta or the couscous now and let cook for 5 more minutes. If making this amount but using only a portion, I suggest adding the pasta at the end to the amount of soup you are using, otherwise the pasta or couscous become mushy.

3. Turn off the heat. Remove the breasts from the pot and shred the chicken using two forks. Return to the pot and add the lemon juice.

4. Ladle into the soup bowls and decorate each bowl with 1/4 of avocado slices, 40 g of crumbled feta and some fresh thyme.

5. The soup keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days without the pasta or couscous.

BUON APPETITO!

Red wine braised pork ribs

These pork ribs are easy to make,¬†melt-in-your-mouth good and also economic. What’s not to love? The recipe is from Casa Pappagallo

prep time 5 min     cook time 1h 30min
ingredients for 4
  • ¬†1 -1,2 kg pork ribs
  • 750 ml red wine
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 30 g tomato paste
  • sprig of rosemary
  • a few leaves of fresh sage
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

¬†the glass of red wine in the pic is not enough, you need a whole bottle ūüôā

    1. In a dutch oven or a cast iron pot heat 2-3 Tbls of oil and add the garlic cloves.
    2. After a few minutes add the ribs and let them brown on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pot. If need be, brown the ribs in two sets.
    3. When the ribs are nicely browned, season with salt, add the red wine, rosemary sprig, sage, peppercorns and tomato paste.
    4, Cook at low heat with a lid on for an hour or until the meat almost falls off the bone.
    5. Pair this with mashed  or oven potatoes or oven veggies.

BUON APPETITO!

Venetian style liver

Fegato alla veneziana¬†(finely sliced liver with gently stewed onions) is one of the most classic Venetian dishes and appreciated also by those who don’t care that much for liver.

prep time 10 min     cook time 45-50 min
ingredients for 4
  • 450 g calf’s liver, finely sliced
  • 2 white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil (+ a knob of butter, optional)
  • 1/4 glass of white wine vinegar (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • finely chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

1. Heat the oil (and butter if using) in a large pan, add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure they don’t brown. Add the vinegar Рsome use white wine or lemon juice instead of vinegar Рand gently cook covered for  additional 30 minutes. 

2. Slice the liver thin and sauté in the pan with the onions, raising the heat.

3. Continue cooking for another four or five minutes, turning the liver slices continually and seasoning with salt and pepper at the last minute.

4. Be sure the liver is cooked to a turn: if overcooked it gets hard and dry, if undercooked it is bloody and sweetish. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with minced parsley, accompanied with slices of grilled polenta, mashed potatoes or greens of your choice. I paired it today with delicious asparagus.

BUON APPETITO!