Italian bruschetta: make your SuperBowl red and green!

I was recently approached by Nuts.com to join in on the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl!

Nuts.com has an awesome healthy snacks page full of delicious and nutritious snack options for kids, vegans, and for those of us on-the-go.  You’ll be sure to find a yummy snack over at Nuts.com.

Since, typically during Super Bowl parties, a day’s worth of calories are often consumed in greasy and fried food, I wanted to contribute to the promotion of healthy eating, sharing with you and with Nuts.com a healthy snack alternative to enjoy during the most famous American Sport Event, with a touch of “Italianity”!

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I hope it does not come across predictable, but I want to share with you a recipe for the most famous and popular Italian Appetizer: Bruschetta! It’s a delicious combination of a handful of healthy ingredients, for an explosion of taste and freshness that appeals to almost anyone! And at just 128 calories per serving (50 gr. of bread, 10 gr. olive oil, and a 200 gr. tomatoes)  it’s full of powerful antioxidants (lycopene), healthy mono-unsaturated fat, protective oleic acid, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is also super easy and fast to prepare, and quite inexpensive. Italian diets (often referred to as Mediterranean diets) are notoriously full of fresh foods and recipes made from natural ingredients- bruschetta is the perfect example! Italians enjoy bruschetta at all sorts of venues, from the most casual meals at home, to even the most fancy meals at expensive restaurants.

Just to share with you a little about Italian habits, you should know that we eat Bruschetta in two different ways: either toasted bread, rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and brushed with virgin olive oil and dust of sea salt, or toasted bread rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and covered with chopped red tomatoes (dressed in Italian dressing, of course). If I should be asked to choose, I wouldn’t be able to pick, they are both my favorite!!!

I will give you the approximate quantities, per person, for the version with tomatoes, but obviously you can use the same quantities (without tomatoes), to make the plain version of Bruschetta.

Ingredients per person

1 slice fresh baked bread (better if Italian Style)

1 medium sized red tomatoes (ripe but hard, in this season my favorite are on-the-vine tomatoes)

1 peeled clove of garlic

2 leaves of basil (one for the dressing and one for decoration)

1 pinch of sea salt

1 tsp. virgin olive oil

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

 Cut the bread in slices, and peel the garlic. Wash and core the tomatoes, and chop them in small cubes.

Move the tomatoes into a bowl and dress with sea salt, virgin olive oil, vinegar, and the basil leaf, cut in few pieces. Stir the mix and let it rests at least ten minutes for the flavors to mingle.

In the meantime, toast the bread in the oven (at 365 F for about 5 minutes each side), or in the toaster (faster and as good as in the oven).

Now arrange your bruschetta:

a) for the plain version: just rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy!

b) for the tomato dressed version: rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, cover the slice with chopped tomatoes, and if you like, decorate it with a basil leaf.

Delicious, healthy, fast and easy… so you can ENJOY YOUR SUPERBOWL NIGHT!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If you are planning to make more than a serving, consider that with a couple of garlic cloves you can rub more that 10 slices of bread;
  • If you like the idea, you can add to the tomatoes dressing a tsp. of crushed red pepper (I love a little bit of spice!);
  • Bruschetta of course tastes better if eaten warm, but as an appetizer can be served even when the bread has cooled off;
  • for other healthy idea for your Super Bowl buffet, check my appetizer page, or visit nuts.com:
  • If you think that it would be even healthier to add some protein to this dish, why not serve it with some fresh Burrata! Here how your dish would look:

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 *I was not paid or sponsored for this post.  All content and opinions are my own.  This post is affiliated with Nuts.com to simply provide healthy snack alternatives for the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl/Super Bowl.

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

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

 

Fennel and Pear Salad, not really Italian, but definitely awesome!

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With the cold season right ahead of me, I don’t know why, but my body seems to beg me for carbs. Yes, I’m sure you agree, in this period of the year, eating healthy is much harder than any other time of year. To fool my irrepressible craving for high calorie and high carb food, I try to be creative and find new recipes to make my meals more appealing (without increasing my love handles too much 😉 ).

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of “cooked fennel” because in my opinion its anise-like flavor becomes too strong once it’s cooked.  Eating fennel raw, instead, helps to  keep its taste light and delicate, and perfect to be mixed with sweet ingredients.

Be very careful when you buy fennel, because it could have two different shapes (and different consistency). The so-called “Male Fennel (finocchio Maschio)”  looks more rounded and swollen, and is more meaty and less fibrous, and is better suited to be eaten raw (the one on the left of the picture)The “Female Fennel (Finocchio Femmina)” instead, looks more stretched and fibrous and is definitely better cooked (the one on the right of the picture).

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Choose a “male fennel” for this salad, to get the best result!

Honestly this dish is not exactly something I’ve invented, but just a dish that many years ago I ate in a “multiethnic” restaurant and that they described as a Lapland dish. Well, frankly speaking, I haven’t found any website that has confirmed the authenticity of this information, but what is it for sure is that this salad is absolutely delicious, low in carbs, and sweet enough to calm down my seasonal (or periodic, I would confess) sweet tooth.

Just two ingredients, a typical Italian dressing (which I choose but not sure is what I ate that time), and in few minutes you will enjoy a new super healthy food!

I would add that this recipe looks very fancy, so you can decide to make it as an appetizer or a side dish at any kind of party!

 

INGREDIENTS for a big salad bowl

1 fennel – 1 finocchio

1 pear (soft but not too ripe) – una pera (morbida ma non troppo matura)

a dust of black pepper – una spolverata di pepe

sea salt to taste – sale quanto basta

2 tbs. olive oil  – 2 cucchiaini di olio di oliva

2 tbs. wine vinegar – 2 cucchiai da tavola di aceto di vino

DIRECTION

Clean up the fennel, cutting down the small leaves and the steams and wash it one-piece. It has to look like this.

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Sliced the  fennel as thin as you can (if you own an electric slicer, don’t hesitate to use it!)

Peel the pear and cut it in cubes or small pieces.

Mix the two ingredients together and dress with salt, olive oil, vinegar, and black pepper.

Now sit down, and enjoy it. No regret. You are eating clean 😉

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips: – Fennel is super healthy, and if you would like to find out all its good properties, click here.

            – Cut the pear in pretty big cubes if you want to be able to distinguish the taste of the pear from the fennel while you eat the salad. To have a perfect fusion of the tastes, cut the pear  about 1/4 inch thin.

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

 

Rice salad (Insalata di Riso), “to go” or “to stay”, delicious anyway!

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I would say, without question, that Rice Salad (“Insalata di Riso”) is the SUMMER ITALIAN CLASSIC – as much as “Italian meatballs” are a WINTER ITALIAN CLASSIC! Every Italian, from Sicily to the North of Italy, knows what an Insalata di Riso is, and all cook it in the same way (with maybe a few exceptions due to the local products of the various Regions). It is a fresh dish, super easy to prepare, and able to be prepared ahead of time. A rice salad would never be missing from any Italian summer party or picnic.

As any other rice salad, this dish is composed by a base of boiled white rice, enriched with meat (frankfurters and ham), fish (tuna), veggies (pickled, fresh, or frozen), eggs, and cheese. Very quick to prepare, perfect for picnics or lunch boxes (as is the tuna and lemon pasta salad) and particularly suitable for parties (as much as “Tartine“) not only because it can be served cool, but especially because it looks colorful and tempting.

As for all the ingredients that this salad needs, I usually make a big bowl of it, so we can consume it during all the week, and my husband loves it because is the perfect alternative to a sandwich to be eaten for lunch at the office.

Even though I usually try to be very precise with the quantities, I would suggest you make this salad by adjusting the ingredients according to your individual tastes (I mean, if you don’t like tuna, you can skip it, and add more ham instead, or viceversa). I will try to give you an idea of how I make it, using pictures, and approximate quantities.

INGREDIENTS for a big bowl

3 cups white rice cooked “al dente”

6-8 frankfurters

2 big cans tuna in oil

1 small pack ham cubes

1 small pack frozen peas, boiled

1 jar Italian mix giardiniera

1 handful cappers

1 cup green olives chopped

half jar cocktail onions cut in two

a handful of sweet roasted peppers

a handful of Asiago cheese cut in cubes

a couple of sliced eggs

mayonnaise to decorate

 

DIRECTIONS

Cook the rice as it was pasta “al dente” (don’t forget to salt the water!), drain it, and rinse it under cool water. Be careful not to overcook the rice because if you let it cook too long, once drained all the grains will stick together, ruining both the taste and appearance of the salad.

I took a pictures of all the ingredients together, but you don’t need to dirty so many dishes, as I did! 😉

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Just add all the ingredients to the rice, and mix them together!

Put the salad in the refrigerator and enjoy it when cooled.

Add to your portion some Asiago cheese cubes, few slices of boiled egg, and – if you like some extra taste – a few lines of mayonnaise.

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

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TIPS: – If you decide to make this rice salad for a cook out (which sounds like an awesome idea), remember not to mix the mayonnaise with the salad, as to avoid it spoiling too quickly in the heat.

– If you make this salad for a party, use the eggs and mayonnaise not only as ingredients but as decorations: your dish will look gorgeously alluring!

– According to my personal experience, kids don’t appreciate this plate. My daughters like most of the ingredients of this salad separated, but once mixed all together, they just don’t want to take even a bite!

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

 

 

 

 

TARTINE: a vintage appetizer to cheer up.

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Spring is around the corner!  The warmer weather, the world in bloom, and the streets full of kids riding their bikes and decorating the sidewalks with chalk again makes me so happy!  It also gives me the desire to celebrate life, and, in general, to celebrate with friends again!!!

And celebrating brings to mind the way my family used to arrange buffets for any family or work event (birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, graduations, promotions etc.).  The main menu usually consisted of TARTINE: a colorful finger food, easy to make, not too expensive and – most importantly – that everybody likes!

What I realized while writing this post is that TARTINES are something that have been forgotten by Italians in the last 15 years; this is why I like to think them as a VINTAGE snack- one which should be reintroduced in the Italian modern habits, and worthwhile to be known abroad also.

Although I usually try to be very precise with quantities, I can not be this time, because each person can “decorate” their TARTINE (sliced bread) as they prefer.

INGREDIENTS for 20-25 tartines

FOR THE BASE: 10-12 slices of bread

FOR THE CREAM: – tuna in olive oil (1 big can, or two small), 1 stick of butter and 5 or 6 capers (for the tuna cream)

                                     – ham (I prefer the smoked one) and 1 block of cream cheese (for the ham sauce)

FOR THE TOP DRESSING:

                                    – any kind of deli meat (prosciutto, bologna, sopressata, salami, capocollo, honey or forest ham)

                                    – boiled egg

                                    – black or green olives (or both)

                                    – any kind of pickled veggies (i.e. roasted peppers, cocktail onions, artichoke hearts)

FOR THE DECORATION: Mayonnaise (and a decorator)

DIRECTIONS

Cut the sandwich slices in two and remove the crust.

In the food processor mix the tuna, butter, and capers (or ham and Cream cheese) until you obtain a smooth and creamy mixture.

Spread the cream on on the sandwich slices.

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Arrange on the bread the different slices of deli (in a nice way), a slice of boiled egg, a pickled vegetable (until the slice has no more free room), and at the end create small decoration (flakes or stripes) with Mayonnaise.

All done!!!  Your appetizer will look colorful, fancy, attractive, easily eaten just using fingers, and absolutely D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– In Italy to make TARTINE we have a special bread called “pan Carre’ ” which is kind of “damp” and it makes TARTINE softer for palate. To obtain the same result with American sandwich slices, I put under the bread (already smeared with the cream) a wet cloth just to keep the bread moist until the moment it is served.

– If you have “cream leftovers” don’t be worried, it lasts forever in the refrigerator and can be used in many different ways (possibly you can make TARTINE for your kids’ snack, or just spread it on your regular sandwiches to make them extra tasty).

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

Much thanks,

Silvia