Pomodori Ripieni (Stuffed Tomatoes)

This is a traditional roman dish that is vegan, vegetarian and oh so delicious!

It’s a simple, quick summer dish to make and it even tastes better the next day. I know it might sound crazy that this would be a summer dish but it really just is.
So, if you find yourself with little time or rushing around with not enough time to dedicate to the kitchen I would say that this dish was designed specifically for you.
I wanted to share this recipe because even if it’s not something that I invented or something so known, it’s actually a very healthy and fast meal for either lunch or dinner. The original recipe calls for wedged potatoes to be baked along with the tomatoes but I left the potatoes out and made myself a side salad and or veggie dish. I really hope that you like as much as we did.

Here goes. Enjoy!

Pomodori Ripieni 3

Ingredients:
Serves 9

  • 9 Large Tomatoes
  • 9 Tbsp. Rice
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Few leaves of Basil &/or Parsley
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse the tomatoes and slice the top off and set them aside to then use later to cover the tomatoes with.

Grab a medium sized bowl and with a spoon carefully scoop out pulp of tomato into it. Place tomato face side down and continue process until all tomatoes are done.
Now blend or chop up the pulp of the tomato and return to bowl. Add the garlic chopped finely to the bowl along with the evoo, basil, salt and pepper.
Now add the rice and mix all ingredients well, allow to sit for atleast 1 hour and 1/2.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (380° F).

Grab a baking dish drizzle some evoo and then place the tomatoes inside face up. Scoop rice inside each tomato and once completed top the tomato with the tomato tops you set aside.

Bake for an hour. And then you can either leave them to cool for the rest of the day or you can eat them right away. Either way I think they are delicious.

 

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Healthy Guacamole for 5 de Mayo

Avocado is something that I grew up eating simply because my Mom loves it so she used to try and incorporate it in many of our meals and since a very young age I’ve just enjoyed eating it.

When I moved out at 17 I got away from it for a while because here in Italy it wasn’t so easy to find up until recently, (where pretty much every grocery store will have it), but also because it’s a little pricey and at that age I wasn’t going to spend a €1.50 on one.
I then moved to the States (as you all know) and while there I rediscovered it by going out to eat at Mexican restaurants and shopping at the grocery stores where I found it everywhere and for great prices.
Being an Italian with a vast and inquisitive palate when I lived in the United States I would only really enjoy eating out if it was Sushi, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Peruvian, Spanish, Organic and/or Vegan. I didn’t find any authentic Italian restaurants and while I’m sure there are some that are legit they will never compare to eating here in Italy, so why bother. I explore the world because I like the to get to know it and not to find Italy in it. I love all cultures and I like to enjoy their food as well.

I’ve been lucky my husband and I found some amazing Mexican restaurants and one of the things I enjoyed most was the chips and salsa and/or guacamole. I love guacamole. The only thing I find is that sometimes it has too much onion, or other ingredients and what I most like about guacamole is the avocado mashed with cilantro and lime with just a hint of salt and lots of cayenne.
So, I’ve decide to make it at home and while now we live in Italy and 5 de Mayo is no more, we still make a Mexican dinner on that night just so we too can celebrate and enjoy this cuisine that really does not exist in Italy at all.
Here is my take in a very simple dish that can really make your day!

Ingredients:
Serves 3-4

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 tbsp. of Cilantro, fresh
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt to taste

Halve the avocado, remove pit and place pulp in a medium bowl. Lightly mash with a fork until consistency is chunky but smooth.
Squeeze the lime and add juice, slat and cayenne pepper to the avocado and mix.
Chop the cilantro and add to avocado mix thoroughly and serve.

Super Simple Meatless Monday Recipe: Beets & Goat Cheese

Today we are talking Beets. I know that they don’t look enticing or they might not be fun to cook with or even that great tasting for most people. But let me tell you that this is a fabulous super food and you should try to incorporate it into your diet.

Here is why it’s healthy:
Beets belong to the same family as spinach and chard. It’s a rich purple color, but can also be white or golden. Think of beets as red spinach.

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value mainly Vitamin C, Folate & Betaine. All of which are exceptional for the human body. From lowering blood levels & helping with cardiovascuar health, to immune boosting & liver detoxification, as well as cancer fighting benefits and of course high in antioxidants.

You should really try them. You can eat them raw, pickled but mainly they are eaten steamed.

Here is a quick recipe that packs a bunch of flavor and will keep you coming back for more of this little overlooked vegetable.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 Beets, cooked

2 Caprino (goat) soft cheese sticks*

4 Bibb Lettuce leaves

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Cayenne (optional)

Tumeric (optional)

S&P to taste

Wash your lettuce and place 2 on each plate. Slice your beets and lay them on top of the lettuce.

Slice your cheese and place on top of the beets.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive oil, sprinkle remaining ingredients and enjoy!

*check how they sell the soft goat cheese in your country here in Italy I find them like this at the grocery store

Beets and goat cheese

 

 

Brown Rice Stuffed Mini Zucchini

In ode to Halloween I came up with this recipe. I had to:

  1. Because they look like little Pumpkins.
  2. Because a healthy, fun theme dish seems totally appropriate.
  3. Lastly, I just couldn’t resist these cute Zucchini & stuffing them seemed like the perfect thing to do since the moment I laid eyes on them.

I didn’t grow up with Halloween and I definitely never carved a pumpkin until about 3 years ago in the States with my Husband.  Here in Italy it wasn’t something common or known while I was growing up but in the past few years seems like it’s finally starting to catch on.

I was at the grocery store and since being back from the states I really do appreciate our agriculture much more. We have endless options of farm grown vegetables & fruits of which I learn more & more about each day.  For instance I had never even seen these types of zucchini before but the minute I laid eyes on them I knew I had to cook with them and make something traditionally different. You usually stuff bell peppers but I knew that this would be an excellent and lighter sub; turns out I was right. Also it brought Halloween to mind because they completely look like a tiny little green pumpkins.

I don’t really need to say that this is a healthy, vegetarian dish because it’s kinda obvious but the fact is that I think zucchini and brown rice merry so well together the flavors are light yet rich and totally perfect for the Fall to top it off the parmigiano reggiano really sets off the nutty flavors of the rice and the sweetness of the zucchini making it one delicious meal.
I didn’t really have many vegetables in the house to put inside but if you want you could add mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes, bell peppers, spinach.
For an non-vegetarian meal you could add ground meat, bacon, shrimp or chicken. That’s the fun thing about these guys is that you can do whatever you like and I think it would all taste amazing. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Makes 4 Zucchini

4 Zucchini

100-150 gr. of Brown rice, cooked

1 Shallot

2 tbsp. EVOO

1/2 cup Vegetable broth

2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

S&P to taste

Preheat the oven @ 350°F (180°C)

Slice the top off the zucchini and with a spoon gently scoop out the pulp. Set aside & repeat with other zucchini.
Heat EVOO in a medium skillet; finely chop your shallot place it in the skillet and sauté until golden. Stir in chopped zucchini pulp along with the vegetable broth, parsley & brown rice add salt and pepper stir & remove from heat.

Drizzle a bit of EVOO in a baking dish. Get one zucchini at the time add rice mixture half way sprinkle some parmigiano fill up with rice and top off with more parmigiano put top that you cut off and place in baking dish. Repeat process with the rest of zucchini. Bake for 20-30 minutes until zucchini is tender.

 

 

 

 

My Gluten-Free Coconut-Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

It’s been a fantastic week so far. We just got back a few days ago after a much needed mini-vacation from Florence and Montepulciano. It was so gorgeous, fun and extremely delicious. (I posted all the food pics on my facebook page).

I got back however and have been in a total baking mood which is odd for me as I don’t really care for sweets. Ok, well maybe that isn’t totally true I like fresh baked goodness, that isn’t too sweet and that is made from whole ingredients (healthier versions of what one would normally opt for). Yeah that seems about right.
I must say that my Husband must be rubbing off on me a bit because I do crave a little snack after dinner (which I generally never did) so now there is that part too. Or could it be age? Or women time? Whatever we’ll never know. All I know is that I am in a baking mood; so baking healthy things has definitely been in my adventurous/guessing/inventing/substituting daily routine of perfecting healthy yummy sweet things and this recipe is one of them.

Did I mention these are Healthy. Gluten-free. Delicious. Good then now we can move to the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Makes about 14 cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Honey

2 tbsp. Coconut Oil, hardened

1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 egg white

2 cups Shredded unsweetened Coconut

1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven @ 350°
Mix all ingredients in a bowl except Chocolate chips. Roll medium-small sized balls and place on a baking sheet flatten out a bit with your hand sprinkle with Chocolate chips & bake for 10-15 min.

Enjoy!

*Optional:
Substitute Peanut Butter for Almond Butter, also you can use smooth or crunchy depending on the texture you want.

Coconut Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

Frittata ai Fior di Zucca

I love this time of year. And finally the crazy busy summer schedule has subsided, I have sometime off to focus on myself and my amazing Husband.

There is one thing that I truly enjoy about this country that somehow always makes me smile; the Farmers. They care so much about the whole vegetable/fruit and make sure that they work hard under the hot sun just so we can enjoy a delicious, juicy, pesticide-free and healthy vegetable and/or fruit. I particularly love going to the Market and just figuring out what I’m going to make by seeing what they have. They will explain everything to you; from how to cook it and eat it to when it’s going to be out of season and when it will be back, how it’s supposed to look when ripe and when it’s unripe. It’s a fascinating subject to me and I just love everything about it.

I had my first day off since April and I finally was able to go back to the market in tranquility without rushing around. I started looking at what vegetables where out and what I could potentially use for dinner. Before my Husband took off for work that morning, he had mentioned that he would like to have eggs for dinner as it had been quite a while since he had had them; so with that thought in mind I figured it would be a frittata kind of dinner with some sort of vegetables and fresh baked bread.
As I looked around the Market I spotted one of the most sophisticated & prestigious vegetables and knew that I was going to get them: Fior Di Zucca (which means Zucchini Flowers) 

Here in Italy it’s something that is generally dipped in a light batter and then fried. But I knew that there had to be a healthier way to make them and considering how delicate they are I knew that it’s would have to be perfect in a frittata. I got to talking with the farmer Lady and explained my idea and she looked back at me and said ‘Perfetto, sara buonissimo’ (which means Perfect, it will be delicious). With that she gave me a tip, she told me to not cook them before the egg, to lay them on-top of the egg because being so delicate I wouldn’t want to over cook them. She proceeded to tell me that it had unfortunately happened to her once. Ha!

I went home happy about my purchase and excited to be using Fior di Zucca for the first time. It came out delicious. Seriously, might have been the best frittata I have ever tasted. It was a proud moment that night when my American Bacon and Eggs Husband said that these were the best eggs he ever had and to add them to the roster of things to cook.
Yes, sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that give us the biggest satisfactions! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Ingredients:

6 Fior di Zucca

6 eggs

3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

S&P to taste

Delicately wash your Fior di Zucca and set aside to dry. Once dry slice them in half.

Place a medium sized skillet over medium heat (make sure that you have a cover for the skillet very important) add the olive oil and allow to heat.
In a small bowl crack your eggs, whisk and pour into your skillet. Gently add your Fior di Zucca, sprinkle salt and pepper and cover allowing to cook gently for about 5-7 minutes. Uncover sprinkle the parmigiano and by now you should see the consistency of the egg.
If it’s cooked turn off and serve, if it needs more time cover back up and allow to cook until egg isn’t runny anymore.

Risotto alla Milanese – A typical Healthy Italian Dish

Oh, how I love the fall. Everything starts to turn into beautiful mustard-orange colors. The sun is still out except that you can finally put on a little more clothes and wear those cute little sweaters and that gorgeous leather jacket. You can actually sleep comfortably with a comforter. And you can start eating warmer foods again and break out the red wine.

With that being said; there are just some things that you can eat in the fall/winter that you might not want to eat in the summer and vice versa. And sometimes it’s hard to not go overboard especially when you’ve waited the whole summer to indulge in some of your favorite dishes. But we must remember that it’s still nice out and you might still fit in a day or two at the beach, so try to indulge lightly. I for instance always choose the healthiest and yummiest. I like to indulge on things such as this dish for instance. It’s perfect because it gives you all the inside warmth you need but it’s so simple that you don’t have to give up on anything. You don’t feel guilty after eating it and you certainly can’t find one thing unhealthy in it….and that’s the most important part of it all.

Yes, break open a bottle of red wine and indulge in this delicious risotto. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 2

200gr. Rice, I used Arborio for risotto

1.5 qt. Vegetable broth

1 Shallot , small and chopped finely

1 tsp. Powdered Saffron

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, Grated

Make sure that your Vegetable broth is simmering.

Chop your shallot finely. Grab a large sauce pan put over medium heat add the E.V.O allow to heat and add the shallot & cook until lightly golden.

Add the rice & mix well with the shallot, then slowly add some of the broth enough to cover the rice, mix; allow to cook 5 minutes then add more broth, continue to repeat this process until you have finished the broth should take about 15 minutes.
Add the saffron cook for another 5 minutes. You want the consistency of the risotto to turn out just perfect, not to dry it still needs to be a bit moist, so if there is too much liquid continue to cook just a bit, and if it’s too dry add some more broth or water.
Turn off heat add your Parmigiano and mix thoroughly. Serve warm.

*Follow rice cooking instructions on the package and regulate yourself with the broth that way.