Baked Salmon and potatoes, let’s give this Easter a different taste!

I know Sunday is going to be Easter, so many of you have probably already chosen the menu for this special holiday. So why am I suggesting to you a different option?

Colomba Pasquale
Colomba Pasquale

To begin with, I should inform you that, in Italy, the typical Easter meal is a baked lamb (as a Catholic tradition), with many side dishes and a special dessert called “Colomba Pasquale” (Easter Dove). It’s no wonder that, every year at this time, many animal rights associations start advertising against this practice, and suggest vegan or vegetarian alternatives.

When I moved here I learnt that a typical Midwest Easter meal is a huge baked ham, which I had the chance to taste at a friend’s house- it was definitely delicious!!! And I have to admit that, so far, I haven’t heard any kind of animal rights association protest in defense of piglets’ rights. (Why in the world would they inspire less pity than lambs?!?!) Anyway, I am curious- is baked ham also part of the Easter tradition in your area?

Since both the dishes I’ve listed above require many hours to be prepared, they could jeopardize the time you get to spend celebrating the holiday with your family. So perhaps, instead of missing all the fun of Easter morning so you can cook, you could opt for a quick but fancy lunch!

This baked salmon and potatoes will be ready in about one hour, will make a colorful and festive impression to your family, and for sure will make everybody happy (the potatoes will turn out as chips, but more healthy!).

Just one suggestion: when it is time to pick the salmon, consider spending a little more for a “wild caught” instead of a “farm raised” (7 reason to avoid farm raised salmon), so you’ll be sure to eat food which is good for you!

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INGREDIENTS FOR 4 to 6 SERVINGS

1 big salmon fillet (better if fresh)

4-6 medium red potatoes (I usually consider 1 potato per person)

1/2 medium sized white onion

2 tbs. canned diced tomatoes (drained)

2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry)

3 tsp. rosemary (fresh or dry)

1 tbs. crushed red pepper (optional)

4 tbs. olive oil

sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

 Marinate your salmon by brushing it with a couple tbs. of olive oil, dusting it with the herbs (2 tsp. thyme and 2 tsp. rosemary) and if your family likes spicy food, add also the crushed red pepper. You can cook the whole filet or cut in in slices. In a separate bowl, drain the diced tomatoes from all their water.

In the meanwhile,  peel the skin off the potatoes and cut them very thin (I would say about 0.3 inch). If you want them to be perfectly the same thick, use a slicer.  Peel and cut the onion into very thin crescents.

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In a big bowl, combine the potatoes with the sliced onion, 1 tsp. rosemary, a couple of pinches sea salt, the diced tomatoes, and the remaining olive oil. (I’ve suggested you a quantity but of course, the more olive oil you use to dress your potatoes, the more crunchy and tasty they will be.)

Heat the oven to 420 F. Cover a baking  sheet with parchment and arrange the potatoes as spread-out as you can on the sheet you have, leaving a spot for the salmon (you may need a second baking sheet for the extra potatoes, if the salmon takes up a lot of room).

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Since the potatoes take longer to bake, you will put the trays with *just the potatoes* in the oven and cook them for about 35 minutes first. After 35 minutes they should look golden on the top, so take them out of the oven, flip them upside down (for cooking them also on the other side) and then place the salmon in the spot you left for it.

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Cook in the oven for about another 20 minutes. Here two pictures with the whole filet or slices, the first with no herbs at all (how I have to cook it to get my kiddos to eat it!!!), the second marinated as suggested!

Doesn’t it look delicious?! I promise IT IS delicious!

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

– Don’t overcook the salmon or it will become dry and tough. You can tell that the salmon is ready when it changes shade of pink, and form a kind of white coating. If you picked a frozen salmon, you may check it after 15 minutes because it could cook faster than a fresh one.

– If you want to be sure that your potatoes get super crunchy, the last 15 minutes of baking use the “broil” option of the oven if you have it.

– Be sure to serve your salmon with some extra sea salt (if somebody would add a bit), and serving it with some sauces aside like mayo or cocktail sauce would be a nice touch, as well.

– Just to be completely informed about Italian Easter Tradition, you should know that (brace yourselves!) we don’t have an Easter Bunny and we don’t do Easter Egg Hunts. I know, what a waste of fun!! Nevertheless, kids receive from parents and relatives huge chocolate eggs, with a surprise hidden inside (usually a toy). Italian Easter Eggs look like these:

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks, and have a Happy Easter!

Silvia

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Italian Flag Colors Sandwich: an impressive appetizer!

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As much as I like cooking, I love parties even more! Unfortunately, it is uncomfortable going to parties at someone else’s house if you have young kids to bring along. And sometimes, those same young kids also makes it difficult to prepare really delicious food for friends you might invite over to your house. So, I have found that the alternative to becoming an hermit until your youngest kid reaches an appropriate age, is to have an arsenal of recipes that you can make in advance, and that also look and taste amazing. That is why I LOVE this recipe!

This is a really, really fancy and tasty appetizer, which can be prepared even a couple of days in advance, and will make a buffet absolutely attractive and colorful: the “Italian Flag Colors Sandwich.” With just a few easy ingredients- like white and whole wheat bread, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, some herbs, and a slice of salmon- you can create this impressive loaf of deliciousness!

This recipe doesn’t belong to my family tradition, but instead comes from one of my favorite Italian Food Websites (Giallo Zafferano), and since I really like this different way to arrange a sandwich, I made some modifications, I translated the quantities for you, and, of course, as usual I’m showing you how I make it step by step!

Please, give this sandwich a shot… you (and your family and friends) will love it!

INGREDIENTS for a loaf pan size sandwich

1 bag white bread

1 bag whole wheat bread

1 slice frozen or fresh salmon

2 to 3 tbs. tomato sauce (better if concentrated)

 9 oz. cream cheese for herbs sauce

5 oz. ricotta cheese for salmon sauce

7 oz. ricotta cheese for pesto sauce

5 oz.  Genovese pesto

2 tbs. thyme (better fresh)

2 tbs. parsley (the Italian one, better fresh)

2 tbs. chives (better fresh)

salt

DIRECTIONS

For the “herbs sauce”

Chop chives, parsley and thyme as thin as you can and mix it very well with 9 oz. cream cheese. Save this herbed cream cheese for later.

Do not rinse the food processor, and go ahead and use it for the next sauce.

For the salmon sauce

Boil the salmon in half a inch of water. In the food processor combine the salmon with sea salt (to taste) and two tbs. of tomato sauce (better if concentrated) and 5 oz. ricotta cheese. Keep the sauce apart for later.

For the “pesto sauce”

Combine the 5 oz. pesto with 7 oz. ricotta cheese and stir very well until smooth. Keep this sauce, in few minutes you will use it!

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To arrange the sandwich:

Once you are done preparing the sauces, you are ready to build up the sandwich.

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Cover the loaf pan with abundantly plastic wrap (once the sandwich loaf is assembled, you will need the extra plastic to wrap it up).

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Remove the crust from the loaves of bread. Then cover the bottom of the pan with several slices of whole wheat bread. Spread the salmon sauce evenly over the top.

 

Now is the turn of the white bread. After removing the crust, make a layer with this one and spread evenly the herbed cream cheese.

 

Now again make another whole wheat bread (no crust) layer and cover it with the pesto sauce.

Finish your loaf by covering with a layer of white bread.

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Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the loaf and let it rest in the coolest part of your refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving, or not more that a half-hour in the freezer.

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Before serving, flip the loaf onto a cutting board, and cut it into 1/2 inch slices using a very sharp serrated knife.

If you like, arrange it in a nice tray and ENJOY!!!!

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LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If kept refrigerated this sandwich loaf can last up to 4 or 5 days.
  • Serve the sandwich slices still cool.
  • This sandwich variation could be a fun way to entice your kids to eat salmon, as well as an excellent addition to your lunch box menu!
  • If you have leftovers, keep them refrigerated and enjoy later!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Tuna, cappers and lemon juice pasta salad

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This tuna, cappers and lemon juice pasta salad is one of those dishes that reminds me of my youth. Picnics, summer parties, and quick summer lunches at home were all frequently characterized by a pasta (or a rice) salad.  I can not give a specific origin of this recipe, and I cannot even say that it’s a typical Italian dish; I just know that my mom always made it for my brother and me, so here I am, sharing it with you!

This recipe is one of my favorite summer meals for many reasons:

1) It is super fast to make (not more that 15 minutes).

2) Few ingredients are required.

3) It is pretty light (not too high in calories).

4) It’s refreshing and delicious!

The cappers and lemon juice in the pasta salad help to balance and tone down the typically strong taste of tuna, and the lemon juice acts as light dressing, giving to the dish a pleasant, fresh aroma- perfect for summer!

I can confirm that this dish is ideal for picnics, cook-outs, or a lunch box, and can be prepared a day before. The ingredients do not spoil quickly (like many of the typical American salads made with mayonnaise), so it’s a safer option when food will be sitting out in the heat for a bit.

It can be prepared as a cool dish, like a salad, or still warm immediately after mixing all the ingredients together. I personally love the second option, but this is just my humble opinion. Why don’t you try it both ways and let me know which is your favorite one?

 

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings

2 cups Penne Rigate (or other kind of short pasta you like most)

the juice of half lemon

1 tsp. cappers

2.5-3 oz. canned tuna (in water or in olive oil)

optional: a handful of chopped green olives

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Bring 3 quarts of water to boil, add 2 tbs. of coarse salt (for more details, check out “How every Italian cooks pasta”) and the penne rigate (or whatever kind of pasta you chose).

In the meanwhile, prepare the following: in a bowl combine the tuna, the lemon juice, and the cappers. (Before combining the capers, be sure to squeeze them out using your hand.)

When the pasta is cooked (according to the package instructions, or your desired degree of tenderness) drain and RINSE IN COLD WATER.

Mix all the ingredients together, and serve. Or, if you wish to serve it as a cold pasta salad, place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Here we go- now you’re off to your summer picnic to relax and enjoy the company of good friends and great food! Enjoy!!

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

 

TIPS: If you like GREEN OLIVES, chop a handful of them and add it to your pasta salad… it will be even better!

 

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Tuna meatballs, or should I say Tuna “fishballs”?

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Did you know that almost all Italians are Catholic? Truth to be told, lately the numbers of the atheists has increased a lot, but still, Italians who are religious are Catholics.

Our religious tradition comes probably from the fact that Vatican’s territory is located in Italy, so Italians have grown up being taught just Catholicism. But, why am I talking about Religion?

Well, one very popular Catholic Tradition is the Fridays of “fasting and abstinence,” which includes not eating meat on Fridays, and in other words, choose sea food instead.  The most traditional foods that people usually cook to celebrate Friday, though, were (and are) Baccala (dry cod cooked in a special way), Sardine in Saor (Sardines salted), Anchovies Spaghetti,  and very cheap sea food in general, which, as you can image, was (and still are!) rarely liked by kids!

What my grandma and my mom used to prepare (and make their kids eat also) on Fridays were these meatballs (fishballs) which I’m talking about today. A tender and tasty mix made with canned tuna, cappers, anchovies, eggs, and bread crumbs, where every single ingredient melts with the others to give life to a yummy and attractive meal.

The recipe is pretty easy because it requires only to mix all the ingredients together, make balls an olive size, and brown them few minutes in oil, and there we go! I would say, 15 minutes in all.

INGREDIENTS for 5 servings (about 40 fishballs)

5 oz. tuna in oil – un scatoletta grande di tonno in olio di olive

7 0z. ricotta cheese – 200 gr. ricotta

4-5 anchovies – 4/5 acciughe

4-5 cappers – 4/5 capperi

2 eggs – due uova

5 oz. parmesan cheese – 50 gr. grana

about 1 cups breadcrumbs (better if homemade) – circa 170 gr. pan grattato.

5-8 tbs. vegetable oil to fry (I prefer always olive oil) – olio di oliva per friggere

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, put together tuna, ricotta, chopped anchovies, cappers, eggs, parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Mix all the ingredients very well, and form small balls the size of an olive (if for some reason you need to prepare the mix in advance, just keep it refrigerated until it’s time to make the balls).

Brown the balls in a very small amount of oil, letting the balls in the oil just for few minutes until brown on each side.

Already done? YEP! Now just enjoy!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – About the quantities: usually to fill up an adult belly, consider that you will need at least 8-10 balls.

        –  If you have leftovers, these balls are even better the day after without the need to be reheated, this is why they could be the right meal for on-the-go, as an appetizer, for a picnic, or for a lunch box.

        –  If you are afraid that your kids won’t like the recipe because of the anchovies and the cappers, before you prepare the mix, blend the anchovies, the cappers, and a little bit of tuna, and then mix them with the rest of the ingredients. In this way there will be no trace of these items in the dough, but just their delicate aroma.

         – If you prefer to use “tuna in water” to make your dough, remember to add to the mix 2 tbs. of olive oil.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

PEPPERED MUSSELS (Impepata di cozze): ready in 10 minutes

PEPPERED MUSSELS (IMPEPATA DI COZZE)
PEPPERED MUSSELS (IMPEPATA DI COZZE)

I owe an apology to all my followers for whom sea food is not a favorite food, or do not like sea food at all, but I’m writing another sea food recipe!!!

I couldn’t help myself but to buy some fresh mussels today at the grocery store, since they were super fresh (alive!), and in unmissable bargain, and here I am, sharing my Peppered Mussels recipe with you!

The recipe I’m writing about is typical from Campania Region (the Region of Naples, South Italy), usually served as appetizer, even if some people (like my husband) like them so much that they just eat all their sauce with plenty of bread, quickly filling their bellies!

I won’t suggest to try this recipe to you if you hate seafood or molluscs in general, but if you are just skeptic about trying this kind of food, because you have never tried it before, or because you didn’t know how to cook it, I PROMISE you will LOVE this dish!

Last note: “IMPEPATA” in Italian means “with a lot (and I mean “A LOT”) of pepper”, so if you are particularly sensitive to this spice, you should or substitute it with crushed red pepper, or not eat this dish at all!

 

2 small or 1 large servings INGREDIENTS

FOR the MUSSELS

2 pounds fresh mussels

2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

2/3 tbs. chopped fresh garlic

pepper 2 tbs. (or to taste)

(or instead 1 tbs. pepper, and 1/2 tbs. crushed red pepper , or to taste)

olive oil

  sea salt to taste

20/30 oz. white wine

FOR THE CROSTINI BREAD

6 slices fresh bread (prefer baguettes or Italian baked style bread)

1/2 garlic clove

olive oil

 DIRECTIONS

As anticipated in the headline, this recipe needs not more than 10 minutes to be made.

This is true, once you have cleaned up your mussels very carefully.  And the cleaning phase won’t take you more than another 10 minutes.  To do it, you can follow these instructions. What I’ve noticed about mussels here in the US is that they usually sell them already clean outside, and you just have to take off mussels’ beard.  It may sound gross, but it is really not, so keep your courage and go ahead!!!  Your cleaned mussels should look like this:

Switch on the oven at 400 degrees F.

First prepare the bread.  Cut it into slices, then rub each slice with 1/2 garlic clove to transfer the flavor (you will use the chopped garlic later, in preparing the mussels).

Then drizzle each slide with olive oil, and bake until it becomes crunchy (usually the same amount of time you need to cook the mussels).

In a big pot, pour some olive oil (I would say about 4 tbs) and the chopped garlic, and wait until the oil gets hot to add the mussels (REMEMBER to dry them very well with a paper towel).

Keep a medium heat.

Cover the pot, preferably with a transparent lid, so you may keep watch on when all the mussels become opened.

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Let the mussels cook about 5 minutes, then add the white wine, the pepper, the salt, and (optionally, the crushed red pepper).

The quantity of pepper or red pepper I gave you is an indicative amount, so feel free to measure each of these spices according to your taste,

but don’t forget that the original recipe requests a ton of pepper!

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Let the mussels cook for no more that 5 minutes more, add the chopped parsley and shake up the pot a little. Turn off the heat.

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Arrange the mussels with their sauce in one or two bowls, and serve when still hot with the “Crostini bread”.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– When you add the seasonings to the mussels, try not to “stir” but rather “shake up” the pot. If you stir the mussels, all the molluscs will probably fall out of the shells, and take away from you the pleasure of sipping them out of the shells to eat them (usually all the flavor of the mussels and the dressing remains attached to the shells!).

– When all the mussels open, in theory they are already cooked, but I usually let them stay on the flame few minutes more, because I like them a little “extra cooked”.

– Be careful not to dry all the sauce the mussels left on the bottom of the pot, because that’s the best part to eat, dipping the “bread crostini” in it!