April 13, 1998

Home & Garden


"Take a Walk on the Italian Side"

   Olive-Tomato Crostini
   Olive Paste:
   1 c. Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted
   2 Tbsp. chopped shallot or onion
   2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed
   1/4 tsp. dried thyme
   1 Tbsp. olive oil
   2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
   16 thin slices or Italian bread
   1-2 cloves garlic, cut in half
   4 small ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
   Fresh basil leaves
   Freshly ground pepper
   For the paste: Rinse the olives to remove excess salt. Combine the olives, shallot, capers, thyme and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process to make a smooth or textured paste, whichever you prefer. Stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.
   For the crostini: Toast the bread on both sides and immediately rub with garlic. Spread a thin layer of olive paste on the bread and top with a few slices of tomato. Put a few basil leaves between the tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.
   Triple Cheese Baked Spaghetti
   6 oz. dry spaghetti pasta
   3/4 c. low-fat ricotta cheese
   1/2 c. (2 oz.) finely grated Romano cheese
   2 c. (16 oz. jar) prepared spaghetti sauce, divide
   1 tsp. dry basil
   2 tsp. dry oregano
   1/4 tsp. black pepper
   4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
   Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain completely. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine ricotta and romano cheeses, 1 c. spaghetti sauce, basil, oregano, and pepper. Set aside remaining 1 c. spaghetti sauce. Mix cooked pasta with cheese mixture, stirring until pasta is distributed. Place in a casserole dish coated with vegetable oil cooking spray. Top pasta and cheese mixture with shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover lid or foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove cover; continue baking until cheese bubbles. Remove from oven and let stand for three minutes. Cut into four large or six smaller servings. Top each portion with remainder of spaghetti sauce before serving.
   Stir Fried Beef Italian
   1 lb. 1/2-inch thick beef spencer steak, boneless rib eye, or beef top sirloin
   1 c. French sliced green beans
   3 Tbsp. olive oil
   1/2 sweet red pepper, sliced into julienne strips
   1/2 c. chopped shallots
   1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
   4 Tbsp. red wine
   2 Tbsp. (or to taste) prepared pesto with basil
   Salt and pepper
   Trim all fat from beef and slice thinly against the grain into three inch long strips, about 1/8-inch thick. Blanch French sliced green beans in boiling salt water for two minutes or microwave in a covered container at high for 45 seconds. Drain and set aside.
   Heat wok or pan and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add one half of the beef and cook at medium high heat one to two minutes or until the outside surface is no longer pink. Remove beef from pan, cook remaining half and remove. Lower heat slightly, add remaining oil and add beans, shallots and mushrooms. Cook for three to five minutes. Remove vegetables and put wine into pan. Reduce wine by one half and return beef and vegetables to pan. Add pesto and heat to steaming then remove from burner. Toss to cover beef and vegetables evenly and serve.
   Mario's Chicken Italiano
   4 Tbsp. olive oil or use oil from marinated dried tomatoes
   4 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
   4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless, cut into strips
   2 Tbsp. fresh basil, or 1/2 tsp. dried basil
   3 c. marinara sauce
   1/2 bell pepper each, green, yellow, orange, red
   1 c. asparagus, cut into pieces
   1 c. mushrooms, sliced
   1 c. broccoli, cut into pieces
   1 c. chopped green onions, tops and bottoms
   1 c. marinated dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch strips
   12 olives, pitted
   1 16 oz. pkg. pasta, cooked
   1/4 c. Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)
   1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
   Over medium heat, saute 2 Tbsp. garlic and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add sliced chicken breasts and cook until chicken is nicely browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. of garlic and 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Cook until garlic is golden then add marinara sauce, basil, bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, green onions, and simmer until vegetables are just tender. Add chicken, dried tomatoes, olives, and heat through. Serve over your favorite pasta. Sprinkle parsley and Romano or Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.
   Italian Bistro Steak Subs
   1 1/2 lb. boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick
   6 hoagie or crusty Italian rolls (6 to 7 inches long), split lengthwise in half
   12 romaine lettuce leaves
   1/2 tsp. garlic salt
   1/4 tsp. pepper
   1/3 c. shredded Fontinella or mozzarella cheese
   Pepper Relish:
   1 jar (9-12 oz.) pepper salad
   1/2 c. prepared mild chunky salsa
   1/4 c. sliced ripe olives
   Drain pepper salad, reserving 2 tsp. of oil mixture. Coarsely chop pepper salad. In small bowl, combine chopped pepper salad, salsa and olives; set aside.
   Brush reserved oil mixture over both sides of beef steak. Place steak on grid over medium coals. Grill 16 to 20 minutes for rare to medium doneness, turning once.
   Trim fat from steak. Carve steak crosswise into thin slices; season with garlic salt and pepper.
   Line bottom half of each roll with 2 lettuce leaves. Arrange steak slices over lettuce. Top each sandwich with 2 Tbsp. pepper relish; sprinkle with cheese. Close sandwiches. Pass remaining pepper relish.
   Pasta Puttanesca con Vongole
   1/4 c. olive oil
   1 Tbsp. minced garlic
   4 c. chopped tomatoes
   1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
   2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 Tbsp. dried basil
   1 tsp. dried oregano
   1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
   2 Tbsp. capers, drained
   18 pitted ripe olives
   2 oz. canned anchovies, optional
   2 dozen littleneck clams
   Salt and pepper to taste
   1/2 c. golden raisins
   1 lb. rotelle noodles
   In a large skillet, heat oil and add garlic. Cook briefly until limp. Add tomatoes, half the parsley, the basil, oregano, pepper flakes, capers and olives. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.
   Meanwhile drain and chop anchovies and wash clams until clean. Add both to sauce with remaining parsley, raisins, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until clams open. Set aside.
   Cook rotelle in rapidly boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and cover with sauce.
   Good hot or at room temperature accompained by a green salad and garlic bread.
   Tuscan Tiramisu Trifle
   1 c. whipping cream
   8 oz. mascarpone cheese
   1 c. commercially prepared eggnog
   1 pkg. (3 oz.) instant vanilla pudding & pie filling mix
   2 c. espresso or strong coffee
   1/2 c. almond liqueur (2 tsp. almond extract may be substituted)
   48 Italian-style toasted lady fingers
   Whipped whipping cream
   Cocoa powder
   In medium bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in cheese, eggnog and pudding mix until well blended. Spread 1/3 cream mixture over bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set remainder aside. Combine espresso and liqueur in shallow dish; dip lady fingers lighly in mixture and layer them side-by-side over cream mixture in baking pan. Spread 1/2 remaining cream mixture over lady fingers. Repeat with remaining lady fingers and top with spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until set. Serve with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.