Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Sausage with Rhubarb and Onions

This is definitely not an Italian recipe. Almost every ingredient here screams United States, starting from the rhubarb which I had never tasted until moving here. In Italy rhubarb is used to make some kind of hard candy that people used to eat fifty years ago or so, and I know my father still likes to eat it, when he can find it, just out of pure nostalgia. Apart from that it is not used in anything else. I got some rhubarb from the garden of my husband's aunt and I wanted to find a way of using it without making a pie. I just recently finished an enormous and delicious apple pie a friend made for me and I think I need to be off pies for a while. I know there are a lot of other desserts with rhubarb but not many savory dishes. I like the taste of onions with something sweet, and I had some chicken and apple sausages at home that are already slightly on the sweet side so I came up with this recipe. It is surprisingly delicious!


1 large onion
4 stalks of rhubarb
4 chicken and apple sausages (precooked)
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil


Chop the onion and the rhubarb and cook them in a skillet with the olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent and the rhubarb is mushy.
Add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and cook another 5 minutes.
Slice the sausages and add them to the onion-rhubarb mix, stirring until warmed up.
Serve with a side of brown rice if needed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ragu' alla Bolognese - Authentic Italian Meat Sauce

This is another one of those classic recipes that are subject to endless variations. Every household has their secret for the perfect meat sauce, and everyone prefers their own version over any other. Even I have at least two different ways of doing it: one is stronger and involves a lot of red wine, and one is milder and it includes milk. I have recently discovered that the official recipe includes milk too, so I am publishing this one. The official recipe though is made with different kinds of meat that are not easily available in the States and it takes a lot longer to make. As usual I chose a simpler version that you can do any day. It is not a quick recipe, you still have to let the sauce simmer for at least one hour, but once you started you just have to let it cook, so it is not a very elaborate one and I think anyone can easily replicate it at home. It is not a light or healthy recipe either. If you want a lighter version try getting a cut of meat with less fat and substitute the sausage with ground pork. If you decide to do so add more pepper and paprika,as you will lose a lot of the flavor.


1 lb. of ground beef ( 85/15)
2-3 Sweet Italian Sausages
1 medium yellow onion
2 medium carrots
2 medium celery ribs
1 large can of tomato puree (1lb 12oz)
1 cup of milk
1 clove (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
paprika (optional)
pepper (optional)
olive oil


Finely chop the vegetables and put them in a large pot with enough olive oil to coat them. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.

Take the casing off the sausages and add the meat to the vegetables. Stir until it's browned.
Add the ground beef to the pot and stir until it's browned.

Add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer.

Add the clove, the bay leaf, paprika and pepper. ( I marked them as optional just because you shouldn't feel like you can't do this sauce without them, but it definitely tastes better with them!)

Add salt and partially cover with the lid. Let simmer stirring every once in a while for at least 1 hour.The goal is to have the sauce and the meat really come together, while the tomato sauce itself will reduce in size.

Once you think the sauce is ready, add the cup of milk and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn off.

For a perfect dish serve over fettuccine, sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or use it to make the perfect Lasagna.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ciambotta - Italian Mixed Veggies

There are infinite versions and almost as many names for this dish. All Italian regions, especially in the south of Italy, have their own traditional variations on this dish with different regional names. The one I chose to publish is my own home-made quick version. You could definitely find more elaborate version that include many more ingredients and roasting the vegetables separately. They are wonderful and taste great, but I wanted to share with you the version I would make on a day to day basis. It isn't very quick to make, because the vegetables need some time to cook down to the proper consistency, plus it tastes better lukewarm so allow it some time to rest and cool off. I like making it in the early afternoon and then having it for dinner for example. It can be a wonderful side dish for example to a nice grilled Italian sausage, but it is also great eaten along with a nice fresh mozzarella sliced and seasoned with salt, olive oil and oregano. Do not forget to have some nice fresh french or Italian bread to accompany this dish and make lots of "scarpetta" the Italian word for dipping your bread in the sauce and cleaning the plate with it!


1 medium eggplant
2 zucchini
1 yellow or red bell pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 can of diced tomatoes with juice ( I like the fire roasted ones from Muir Glen)
pitted olives (optional)
olive oil
fresh basil or dried oregano
red pepper flakes (optional)

Dice the eggplant ( without peeling it!) and then put it directly in a skillet on medium heat. Stir often to avoid sticking. The eggplant will brown and reduce in size, so don't worry if in the beginning the skillet seems to be overflowing.
While the eggplant is cooking, slice the onion and peel the garlic cloves.
Cut the zucchini in quarters lengthwise then slice it.
Open the pepper, remove the stem and all the seeds and white parts then dice it.
In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in generous olive oil until the onion is translucent and soft.
Add the zucchini and pepper to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook stirring every once in a while to avoid sticking.
When the eggplant is reduced in size and browned turn the heat off under it.
Wait until the zucchini and pepper are almost done ( taste it for doneness, they have to be soft and you shouldn't feel the skin under your teeth) probably at least 20 minutes.
Add the eggplant to the zucchini and pepper and stir.
Add the tomatoes with the juices to the vegetable stir and turn the heat to medium high.
Add the red pepper flakes if desired (don't add them if you want to share this dish with kids), salt to taste and the dried oregano flakes.
Let the tomatoes boil down for about another 10 minutes then turn off the stove and let the vegetables cool off.
Once lukewarm add the pitted olives if desired.

Miller Sole fish - Sogliole alla Mugnaia

I like the delicate taste of Sole fish and in Italy it is often recommended to get kids used to eating fish. This recipe is called miller Sole fish because of the presence of flour in it and it is a very common way of preparing not only Sole but any kind of white salt water fish. It is very easy and quick to make, it involves ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. I am not indicating specific quantities because it depends on how many fillets you are making. Sole fillets are pretty small so you will need at least 2 per person.


Sole fish fillets
Fresh lemon juice
Olive oil


Let the fish fillets soak in milk for 15 minutes to half hour.
Coat the fish fillets in flour.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan ( not a lot of oil, just enough to coat the pan).
Cook the sole fish in the oil turning it once. About 2-3 minutes per side.
Plate the fish and generously sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add salt to taste.