Rollin’ With My Zucchinis

zucchini rollatini, plate

ready to roll

You probably don’t think prosciutto can come from Serbia. At least I didn’t before a few weeks ago. But silly me, it does. And my friend Boris (who’s Serbian) was nice enough to bring me back some from his recent trip home. He promised it would be different from the Italian stuff: meatier, smokier, not as dry. Which, come to think of it, is a lot like Boris.

Of course you don’t need Serbian prosciutto for this dish, but it would be a great touch. Just be careful slicing your zucchini so that it’s not too thin. Then it might be too delicate to roll after sautéing. And while Serbian prosciutto isn’t a must-have, please don’t use some boring jarred tomato sauce. Making your own is so, so much better.

Zucchini Rollatini
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8-inch thick lengthwise
6 to 8 slices of prosciutto
8 oz of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 ½ to 2 cups of tomato sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
8×8 baking dish, or similar

Heat your oven to 425º.

Season the zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini in batches and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.

Top each zucchini slice with a piece of prosciutto cut to fit, a slice (or two) of mozzarella cut to fit and 1 basil leaf. Carefully roll each stack into a pinwheel and secure with a toothpick. Place the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and then place each rollatini side by side in the dish. (You can remove the toothpicks at this point, or wait until after baking.)

zucchini rollatini, dish

bake & roll

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Plate and then eat.


Zucchini Linguine

roasted vegetable linguine

pasta party

My summer romance with zucchini is heating up again. I think corn is starting to get jealous.

This time I’ve roasted some zucchini slices along with fresh asparagus and combined them with stewed tomatoes to make a very rustic sauce. (It would have been more rustic if I used fresh tomatoes too. Oh well. Next time.) I then tossed the sauce with linguine for a truly summer-y supper. It’ll fill you up but not in that heavy-brick-in-the-stomach type of way that’s not very fun to have on a warm evening.

Roasted Vegetable Linguine
2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced ½ inch thick
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed & cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of cracked red pepper flakes
1 14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
½ cup of grated pecorino romano cheese plus more for garnish
½ lb of linguine
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt

Heat your oven to 425º.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Toss the zucchini and asparagus with a tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with sea salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-heat, add the stewed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Cook the linguine until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of cooking liquid and drain. Add the linguine to the skillet with the sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and a little of the reserved cooking liquid (more or less depending on how thick you want the sauce) and toss to combine. Garnish with additional cheese and basil, and then eat.

Cream of the Chop

pork florentine

a different take on creamed spinach

In honor of Christopher Columbus and his special day this past weekend, I celebrated my Italian ancestors with a twist on an Italian classic: pork florentine. You could use thinly sliced chicken cutlets if you want, because no matter what you cover with this spinach cream sauce will taste awesome. And depending on how generously you cover each chop, you’ll have a good amount of sauce leftover. Toss it on some penne or fettuccine the next day, and it’s buon appetito!

Pork Florentine
6 oz of baby spinach leaves, chopped into large pieces
1 lb of thinly sliced boneless pork chops (about 4 to 5 chops)
4 tablespoons of flour, divided
½ of a white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chicken broth
½ cup of heavy cream
1 cup of grated Parmesan-Reggiano
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
Olive oil

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Lightly season with salt, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place 2 tablespoons of flour in a shallow bowl and lightly dredge the chops, shaking off any excess flour. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until brown on both sides and completely cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and cook until fragrant. Slowly add the chicken broth and heavy cream, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let simmer until sauce thickens, occasionally stirring, about 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the spinach and Parmesan-Reggiano.

Plate the chops, top with the spinach cream sauce and eat.

Summer Squash’d Lasagna

roasted zucchini lasagna

hearty but not heavy

Thanks to a momentary break in the humidity, I was able to crank up the oven last weekend. That worked out great because I’ve been craving Italian food … something really saucy and comforting, like a heaping slice of lasagna. Normally I’m a traditional lasagna guy, opting for the meaty varieties. But that’s a little heavy for a summertime meal, right? So I roasted up my favorite summer vegetable instead, and went a little lighter on the ricotta. It made for hearty — but not heavy — supper.

Roasted Zucchini Lasagna
2 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into ¼ inch slices
– 1 5 oz bag of baby spinach
– ½ teaspoon of minced garlic
– 3 cups of marinara sauce, or more/less depending on taste
– 8 oz of part skim ricotta cheese
– 1 egg
– ½ teaspoon of garlic salt
– 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
– Pinch of cinnamon
– 1 8 oz box of no-boil lasagna noodles
– 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
– Salt and pepper
– Olive oil

Heat your oven to 450º.

Toss the zucchini slices with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and add the zucchini slices in an even layer. Roast for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven, flip the slices over, and roast for an additional 6 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and slightly browned.

Lower the oven to 350º.

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the spinach leaves, season with salt and pepper, and cook until just starting to wilt.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and cinnamon, and season to taste with pepper.

Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish. Spread a small spoonful of marina sauce on the bottom and place 3 lasagna noodles on top. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, then a layer of zucchini slices, some sautéed spinach leaves, a layer of marinara sauce and Parmesan. Repeat the layers (there should be 3 layers of filling), ending with a layer of lasagna noodles. Top with additional tomato sauce and Parmesan, and an extra sprinkle of Italian seasoning for good measure.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and the whole thing is bubbling. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then eat.

roasted zucchini lasagna

hello zucchini

I always make sure I have enough sauce leftover so I can spoon some on top. Mmm.

Carolina Chicken on My Mind

carolina style BBQ chicken

and in my sauce covered hands

With Memorial Day just days away, I thought some grilling was in order. So I’ve taken a trip down south, to the Carolinas. And on my way, I struck gold … gold barbecue sauce, that is. The funny thing about this chicken is that you’ll try eating it with a knife and fork. You really will. You’ll try to cut off little pieces in a foolish attempt to get the perfect bite of crispy, sauced up skin and juicy white meat. But this will be pointless and frustrating. You’ll want the tangy sweet chicken in your mouth faster. So then you’ll just pick it up with your hands and chow down. But aren’t sauced covered hands the sign of a great meal? Get yourself some napkins and kick off summer right.

Carolina-style BBQ Chicken Thighs
– 4 large bone-in chicken thighs
– ¼ cup of yellow mustard
– 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
– 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
– ¾ teaspoon of mustard powder
– 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon (or more) of Tabasco hot sauce
– 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter
– Salt and pepper

Clean and pat the chicken thighs dry. Season with salt and pepper, and then place in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and then whisk in the melted butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Grill the chicken on medium heat, basting with the remaining sauce, until cooked through, about 12 minutes on each side. Let stand a few minutes before serving. Then eat.

carolina style BBQ chicken

drooling yet?

Looking for a tasty side dish to go with your barbecued chicken? Check back tomorrow.

100th Post: Green Eggs & Ham

i would happily eat this on a boat, or with a goat

Guess what, friends? This is my 100th post! In honor of this milestone, as well as Dr. Seuss’s birthday last week, I decided to make green eggs and ham. Green Eggs and Ham was one of my absolute favorite books as a kid. I don’t know why Sam I Am wanted that dog-thing in a hat to eat his green eggs and ham, but I’m glad he did. Maybe that’s why I like eggs so much today. Hmm …

My version of green eggs and ham starts with a few fried slices of prosciutto, then a “fry-poached” egg topped with homemade pesto sauce. It’s probably what Italian Sam I Am would make. Want to hear something strange? I don’t like basil but I like pesto. Go figure. Also – a big thanks to everyone who’s been reading egg me on and supporting my cooking and baking adventures. I probably wouldn’t have made it this far without you, so it really means a lot.

Green Eggs and Ham
For the pesto:
– 1 bunch of basil leaves
– 1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley
– ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts
– ¼ cup of grated Parmesan
– ½ teaspoon of minced garlic
– ¼ teaspoon of pepper
– ½ teaspoon of salt
– Pinch of red pepper flakes
– ½ cup of olive oil, plus more if needed
– 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
– Food processor or blender

For the eggs:
– 2 eggs
– 4 slices of prosciutto
– ¼ teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
– 1 tablespoon of butter
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper

Put the basil, parsley, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until fairly smooth, adding more oil if too thick. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. If making ahead of time, add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to help preserve the bright green color, then store in the fridge. Note: this recipe makes more than 1 cup of pesto, so you’ll definitely have some to enjoy with your favorite pasta.

Add a small amount of oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the prosciutto slices and fry until crisp. Remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

In a small skillet, head a tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When nearly melted, add 1 egg and season with salt and pepper. Add a small amount of water to the pan – enough so that the egg is slightly floating – then cover and let cook until the egg yolk becomes cloudy. Carefully remove from the skillet and repeat with the second egg.

On a plate, add 2 slices of fried prosciutto, top with an egg and a spoonful of pesto. Then eat.

Ragu You

those are leftovers??

As part of a pre-New Year’s resolution, I’ve been trying to do more with my leftover and let fewer things go to waste. My root beer braised short ribs were so good the first time,  but could they get even better the second time around? The addition of crushed tomatoes and pasta did the trick, as I turned short ribs into a hearty meat sauce. This recipe is incredibly easy to make, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Braised Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
– ½ cup of diced white onion
– ¼ cup of diced carrots
– 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
– 3 to 4 braised short ribs, cut into small pieces
– 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons of red wine
– ¼ cup of beef broth
– Dried oregano
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– Parmesan
– Pappardelle, or similar wide pasta

In a Dutch oven, heat some oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another two minutes. Add the short ribs and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, wine and beef broth, season to taste with oregano, salt and pepper, and let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve over pappardelle, and top with shaved Parmesan.

I didn’t include it in the ingredients, but I also threw in some leftover mushrooms that I had sautéed in some olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. I decided to use pappardelle since it’s such a thick pasta and really held up under the chunky sauce. While eating this dish, I totally forgot that most of the stuff that went into this ragu were leftovers, which is pretty cool.