Baked brie in puff pastry : a sweet-and-sour appetizer to die for!

brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

DISCLAIMER: this is NOT an Italian recipe, but when I tried it was so good I couldn’t help but sharing about it! brie in puff pastry

Until few months ago, when I tried this appetizer at a friend’s house, I had no idea of what I was missing! I have to say that after that night, I found tons of recipes on Pinterest involving Brie, Puff pastry and different kinds of preserves, like apricot or cranberry, and considering my love for puff pastry (remember my savory bacon and cheese pie? or my blue cheese and white onion savory pie? or – for the sweet teeth – my apples and cinnamon roses?) I had to try this recipe myself, and obviously, in my way.

If you repel the idea of cheese and preserves, you should know that so I did, but after trying this I had to change my mind! The particular taste of Brie absolutely overcome the preserves’ sweetness, but at the same time, the aftertaste of the preserves makes this appetizer very sophisticated and appealing to guests of any age. Baked in buttery, flaky puff pastry, ooey gooye cheese covered in sweet apricot preserves, it’s melt in your mouth delicious!

Just so you know, in 20 minutes your “baked brie in puff pastry will be ready” but keep in mind that you will have to thaw the puff pastry at  in the refrigerator at least three hours ahead of time and you’ll get a best result if you put the brie in the freezer 20 minutes before arranging it inside the pastry. This is such an insanely easy recipe. Even non-bakers can do it!



16 oz. BRIE cheese

apricot or cranberry preserve

1 puff pasty sheet (thaw)

1 egg and 1 tbs. water for egg wash

optional: honey to drizzle

optional: sliced almonds to decorate

your favorite kind of crackers


Roll out your thaw puff pastry on a parchment paper sheet. Don’t worry if It doesn’t  look perfect, it will look gorgeous once baked. Roll it out as thin as possible and give it a “square shape”. If necessary, cut away the pastry in excess. Wisk the egg and water in a separate cup.

Place the brie (white rind included) in the center of the pastry, cover with preserves (I prefer the apricot one), and fold up the corners of the pastry one at a time, brushing all the dough with the egg wash as you go, using it like glue to hold the pastry together.

If you feel confident, try to fold the top of the pastry as to form a small rose, it will look very cute! Transfer to a baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes uncovered in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 400 F  (220 C.).  Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed.

Remove from the oven and place in a nice cutting board decorated with fresh fruit and crackers. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.brie in puff pastry

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

TIPS: – Brie in puff pastry leftovers are not so good. The day after the puff pastry will be soggy and chewy and the cheese solidified. Make this appetizer when you have enough people to finish it up!

– I didn’t try, but I saw recipes on Pinterest where they suggested to drizzle the puff pastry (once baked and out of the oven) with honey, and top with sliced almonds.

– You can opt for placing the preserves inside the cheese previously sectioned in two layers, but I preferred placing the preserves on top of the cheese in case some picky eater would have liked the idea of setting the preserves aside.

– If you didn’t use all the pastry, fill up the pieces you have left with nutella, fold it at the best you can, and bake it while the brie is in the oven too. You’ll have a small tasty dessert !

– Besides my passion for Italian food, which – I would dare to say – is part of my “identity”, I appreciate good food from all  over the word, and sometimes I revisits the foreign recipes with an Italian touch. This post is one example, but if you look for more, check out also:  jalapenos popper deepfennel and pears salad, my Italian style cheese cake, my special version of the classic banana cream pie, corn flakes and raisins cookies, Irish coffee, macarons for beginners .

I really hope you will like my recipe this week, even though it’s not authentic Italian!

Have ever baked brie with puff pastry? Do you use a different recipe?

I would love to hear your thoughts!




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A Thanksgiving Meal with an Italian Flair

Hello my dear friends!An Italian pie for Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy with my new adventure (selling Home made Italian desserts at the local Farmers Market) that I’ve skipped a couple of weeks of recipes posting… MY APOLOGIES! But  if by the way  you would like to learn more about my booth at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, take a look to this brief interview on WHBF-TV . I was so nervous, but I had the chance to talk about my beloved Italy, and our amazing food tradition! With the Winter Holidays approaching I’ve enriched my menu with more  “wintery and Christmassy” desserts, you should definitely check those out!

Now that you know why I’ve been “absent” (and maybe why It may happen again LOL), I would like to share with you and another article I wrote for the Quadcities Mom’s blog last we (the previous one was a “fall themed one“). All recipes are mine, and it’s   about adding an Italian touch to the Traditional Thanksgiving menu!!!! I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and maybe find some fun recipe to experiment!

“Even though “giving thanks” should be a moment of reflection that everyone should try to do at least once a year, this celebration is not observed in many other countries and is probably mostly seen as an American holiday. (Forgot about the origin of Thanksgiving? Click here to refresh your memory).

Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but in approximately eight years that we’ve lived in Iowa, we’ve often been invited to Thanksgiving celebrations at dear friends’ houses, and to be honest, I’ve loved the atmosphere and preparation!  I have noticed though, that most of the hosts and guests at some point have admitted that turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies weren’t exactly their favorite foods.    I am a huge supporter of traditions and celebrations, but why keep self-inflicting a Thanksgiving meal that nobody likes?

To find a solution, when we have celebrated Thanksgiving at home here in the Quad Cities, I’ve tried to follow the custom of turkey and mashed potatoes for the sake of my children, but I have also enriched this menu with an Italian touch. I was thinking that you may be interested in doing the same by adding a few easy Italian dishes to the traditional menu.

It’s well known that those turkeys take hours to roast.  So, as an easy start (since we probably won’t be eating until late afternoon) why don’t we treat ourselves with some “Italian appetizers“? Here are some of my favorites:

AN ITALIAN COCKTAILSpritz the most popular Italian appetazier cocktail

SPRITZ:  This is one of the most popular cocktails in Italy.  Only three liquid ingredients to warm up the atmosphere and possibly make your mother-in-law sound more pleasant . A Spritz is a perfectly seasonable orange cocktail.  It is enjoyable and fairly light, even for those who are not much into booze. It will make the beginning of your Thanksgiving meal very fancy!

ITALIAN  STARTERS  White Onion, bacon and blue cheese savory Italian pie

WHITE ONION, BACON AND BLUE CHEESE SAVORY PIE: Such a long name for an extra easy appetizer. Everybody will love it (just remember not to tell the kids that there are onions in there!). This tart takes 10 minutes for preparation and 20 in the oven. You can prepare it a few hours in advance and pop it into the oven whenever your guests start walking around the kitchen to ask how long until dinner will be served! I understand that to prepare this tart you may need a second oven (since the first one will be busy with the big bird), but if you don’t own one, don’t worry, there is another appetizer you may want to try…. Asiago cheese cubes appetizer

ASIAGO CHEESE CUBES: Your guests will just die for this finger food. Small Asiago cheese cubes, crunchy on the outside and melted inside-so delicious! This Italian classic  for your Thanksgiving meal may require a little more work in the kitchen, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.  As a bonus, it will fill those impatient bellies for a decent amount of time!


I’ll skip offering options for the main course but I want to suggest a light soup that you may want to serve while the turkey rests on the kitchen counter: Orange creamy butternut squash soup

ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: Many fancy restaurants, before their important dinner parties serve light soups or “consomme“.  Especially in those years that Thanksgiving Day is deadly cold, I am sure your family would be delighted by a warm, orange, velvety soup to enjoy before the classic Thanksgiving meal. This soup is even better if prepared a little ahead of time and kept refrigerated, so you will have it ready to go on the busy day.

After the legendary turkey with gravy, let’s jump straight to my favorite course and my area of expertise…


Here are a couple of options that you may want to consider to break up the monotony of the classic Thanksgiving pies.ricotta, almonds and amaretti cookies tart

RICOTTA, ALMOND and AMARETTI COOKIE TART: A not too sweet and slightly aromatic tart that could perfectly suit a Thanksgiving buffet.  You may want to consider this pie because it’s absolutely easy to prepare with very little “hands-on” time, and, if prepared a day ahead it tastes even better. chocolate chips and ricotta tart

CHOCOLATE AND RICOTTA TART:  If you are afraid your guests may dislike an almond-based dessert, who doesn’t like chocolate chips? This chocolate and ricotta tart is creamy, velvety and absolutely loved by children. It can be prepared a few days in advance and it’s really super easy to make.

Maybe preparing ALL of these alternative dishes for your Thanksgiving meal in such a busy-and many times stressful-holiday season sounds a little overwhelming. But if you like the idea of spicing up your planned menu even with just one new dish, I am sure it will be beneficial for the mood, the atmosphere and everyone’s appetites!

ricotta, amonds and amaretti tart

I am curious to know if you already have a dish that stands out from the classic ones on Thanksgiving? I am always excited to try new recipes and ideas!”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

What do you think of this article?

Do you like the idea of me as a writer rather than just a food blogger?

I don’t know…. but it sure is fun, and I truly believe I’ll do it again 😉

I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and support my blog!

And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my

(almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!





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my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   


Summery fast and easy tomatoes salad: ready in five minutes!

Hi everyone! Yes! It’s still summer and during my five weeks in Italy I suffered the heat a lot! Oh Lord, it seems impossible that even your appetite can be jeopardize by the extremely high temperatures!

Of course Italians have their ways to make you hungry even if you are hot 😉 and this salad is the perfect example of a light meal full of taste and vitamins and at the same time very refreshing: in other words, perfect as a light lunch or side dish. Not to mention that it’s so colorful and bright that it will light up your table and be perfect also as appetizer or side dish during a cook out!     Grab some tomatoes, capers, green olives, red onions, fresh basil and Italian dressing, and your colorful salad is ready!   For this recipe you don’t need quantities… just fill your plate with sliced tomatoes (better if the heirloom kind)  as much as you want and decorate it with the other ingredients… I hope you will like it as much as I do!


 ripe heirloom tomatoes

green olives (deprived of their water)

capers (deprived of their water)

fresh basil

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste

a sprinkle of red wine vinegar

finely sliced red onion

optional: black pepper to taste


Wash the tomatoes, take away the stem and slice them  1/4″  thick.

Arrange the tomatoes nicely in a dish, and spread on top the red onions first, then the capers, green olives, and basil.

Dust with a pinch of sea salt (and black pepper if you’d like), sprinkle with red wine vinegar, “give it a round” of extravergin olive oil and serve it!

It’s impressive how such a simple dish it’s so delicious!


TIPS: – If you don’t like the idea of a vegetarian salad, you can pair this dish with hard boiled eggs or tuna in olive oil… it would turn even better!

– This salad can be prepared all year long but of course it’s better if made during the tomatoes season… seasonal produce always have a better taste!

How about you? Do you have a favorite summer salad that you like to enjoy in the most hot days? Please, feel free to let me know you thoughts by leaving a comment… I really enjoy learning others tastes and recipes! 

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, and support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my (almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!





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Farro, tomatoes and olives salad: a vegetarian refreshing, light and high protein meal

Do you remember the recipe of my famous Italian rice salad (Insalata di riso)? That Italian classic very popular in summer at parties, pick- nick and cookout? Today I’m posting a very similar one, but in a vegetarian version and prepared with a  hulled wheat which is not gluten free but with a high nutrition value (over 16% protein): FARRO.       The reason I haven’t posted this recipe before  (even if it is absolutely one of my favorite in the warm season) is because I thought FARRO was impossible to find here in Mid West or at least too expensive.    Guess what? Yesterday I found it at my local groceries store, at a very affordable price and few hours after I was already cooking it!         For those who are not familiar with FARRO I can add that it’s a simple grain of 28 chromosomes that pre-dates spelt. It is prepared like brown rice and cooks in about 40 minutes (or can be soaked overnight to reduce the cooking time). It makes a fabulous pilaf, grain salad, risotto, addition to soup, or sprouted for breads and salads. When cooked, its dark, plump berries add sweet, full-bodied flavor, chewy texture, and high nutritional value (as already told) to every meal. It is a lovely, versatile grain very used in the Italian cousin.

My family and I love eating “farro” in a vegetarian way,  mixed with green and black olives, tomatoes, basil, sea salt and extravergin olive oil.  This salad is perfect for a refreshing meal at home or to take away, wonderful  for parties and cookout, and can last – if refrigerated and well stored – for a few days. It can be considered a full meal (remember FARRO’s high protein content!), but – depending on tastes – can be enriched with tuna, salmon, eggs, cheese or whatever you’d like.  The method to prepare it it’s simple: cut in small pieces all the “fresh” ingredients, and toss in the Farro once cooked, drained and cooled off.

2-4 servings INGREDIENTS

7.05 oz. (200 gr.) pearled farro

6 oz. (1 can) green olives

6 oz. (1 can) black olives

2-3 handful cherry tomatoes

fresh basil

optional: 1 garlic clove finely chopped

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste


Farro doesn’t need to be soaked overnight before being cooked unless you want it to be ready in less that 40 minutes. The label usually describes the cooking method and the pack I bought (exactly like the Italian one) needs to be rinsed in cold water and then dried in a colander, then put in a large pot with enough water.  The proportion indicated in my farro is 25 oz. (0,75 l.) water per each 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) farro.

In our case, to cook approximately 7.05 oz. (200 gr.) farro pour it in a pot filled with 50 oz. (1.5 l.) water. Bring it to boil, then cover with a lid and let it cook at low heat for 35-40 minutes.

Drain it very well in a colander and wash it with cold water. When ready, set aside for later.


While the FARRO cooks, you have plenty of time to prepare the dressing: wash the cherry tomatoes very well, cut them in half and take away the seeds, then cut them in even smaller pieces and let them drain in a small strainer. Then drain very well the olives and cut them in small pieces. Cut even the fresh basil as small as you prefer. If you don’t mind the taste of garlic, chop very finely a garlic clove.

Toss all these ingredients together in a nice bowl, and dress with few tbs. of extravergin olive oil and sea salt to taste (be aware: olives are quite salty, so be careful when you add the salt!). Finally, add the cooled and drained farro and mix the ingredients very well but gently to avoid smashing and pureeing the whole thing.

YOU ARE DONE!!! The only bad news is that your salad is not ready to be eaten yet: it needs to stay a few hours properly covered  and refrigerated so the flavor of the dressing will be absorbed by the Farro and make it extra tasty, and the salad will be exactly as refreshing as you would wish in a hot summer day!


TIPS: – This salad is quiet easy to be made but It takes some time to get ready so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare it a day before consuming it.

– Don’t underestimate the importance of draining the tomatoes. Some of them sometimes can be very watery and if not get rid off the excess of water your salad will become a disastrous bland soup!

– Be careful to not overcook the FARRO: you don’t want it to become mushy but to keep its nice  full-bodied flavor and texture.

– I usually eyeball the ingredients so it was particularly hard on me this time to give you exact quantities. So do not hesitate to add or take away some of the ingredients if they don’t match your tastes.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog again! I hope you liked my recipe and I am curious to know if FARRO was familiar to you before reading my post.. .was it?

As usually I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you did, please leave a like, a comment, or share on social media and don’t forget to subscribe to receive for free my new recipes every (or better,  almost every) week! Your help is precious to support my blog!





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10 Italian meals ideas to obseve Lent in a relaxed way

I’ve already told you that most Italians are catholic (even though the number of atheists has increased a lot lately), and because of our historic legacy with Vatican, Italians have grown up being taught mainly Catholicism. I am catholic as well, and I do observe fasting from meat starting from Ash Wednesday and every following Fridays until Easter, so I would like to share with you some of my favorite recipes that I prepare to make sure my family follows this religious tradition every year. These recipes will make your menu appealing (and different from the boring “FISH AND CHIPS”) even for your possible guests or member of the family that doesn’t follow any religious rule, without spending a fortune, and variating from seafood to vegetarian dishes.. I would add that skipping meat every now and then is also very healthy, so even if you don’t plan to follow Lent fast, well, you may enjoy this “meat free” list anyway!

1. TUNA FISHBALLS : Easy, fast, kids friendly and perfect for a cold lunch or light supper. 2. TUNA PASTA SALAD  : Fill the bellies of those more hungry with a delicious and fresh pasta, ready in 20 minutes, light and cheap.

3. OVEN BAKED SALMON: Baked in twenty minutes, kids friendly, super tasty and healthy.

4. BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PORCINI RISOTTO: make sure you use vegetable stock and here you go a filling meal, perfectly suitable for a fancy  “meat free” dinner.

5. WHITE WINE RISOTTO: If you are fond of “risotto”, this options is absolutely perfect even if you promised to give up drinking alcohol for Lent. All the wine will evaporate while cooking, but the risotto will keep the wine aftertaste. And if you need to review the rules for a perfect risotto, give a quick look here.

6. EGGPLANT LASAGNA: you will load your plate with a scrumptious “meat and carbs free” entrée, and enjoy it to the very last bite.

7. CAULIFLOWER AU GRATIN: Another delicious way to bake veggies in a healthy way and that will conquer even the more demanding palates.

8. ITALIAN COLORS SANDWICH: In case you need a meal to go, this sandwich is perfect and delicious, and, obviously, meat free. 9. ITALIAN BRUSCHETTA: while watchin a sports match, or just on a lazy (cooking free) Friday night. 10. VEGETABLE SOUP, BUTTERNUT SOUP, PORCINI SOUP, LEEKS SOUP: Very good for detoxing, energizing, fasting, of course soups are always a smart meal to warm up yourself and stay light.

I could go ahead and list more menu ideas, but first I would like to know if you found this one useful at all… Did you? If you’d like more Italian idea for a good “meat free meal” just leave a comment, and I will collect more good recipes just for you! 

Talk to you soon!


Green beans and bacon rolls: a tasty side dish.

The recipes I am sharing today is quite basic (I would say almost trivial) but maybe not everybody knows it, and since my blog is many times directed to “first approach cooks” learning this quick, easy but absolutely delicious and scenic recipe could be of some use for someone (or at lest I hope so 🙂 ).  And last, but not least, I totally love the combo green beans and bacon, which I found out that in USA is quite unusual, since most of the time, you see these rolls made with green asparagus instead.   Before to start describing the method, I have to admit that when I eat green beans in restaurants here in Midwest I don’t like them much because they are served almost raw (and still crisp). I prefer steaming the green beans first, in this way they are more tender and tasty.  But let’s go back to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS for about 4 servings

1 lb. green beans

1/2 lb. bacon


Rinse and dry the green beans, place them in a stained steel pot with one inch of water and put the lid on. At high heat wait until the water inside the pot start boiling, then (always keeping the lid on), switch to low heat and steam  the green beans for twenty minutes. Once steamed, dry in a colander.

Wrap about 5 green beans a time with half a slice of bacon. Place in an oven sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 420 F. (200 C.) for about 20-30 minutes. YUMMMMM what a delicious smell!!!!

Serve in a cute serving dish well arranged and still warm, and people will love it!



– There is really no needs to add extra condiments to these rolls: while baking, the bacon releases all its salt and fat, and the green beans will absorb all the taste.

– The quantities I gave you are merely approximative: when cooked like this, I could eat the all bunch by myself!

– Considering the baking, and the avoid of using condiments, this side dish is quite a  low calories, low carbs and high protein source.

– This side dish is so scenic that it would be perfect for a special dinner (why not for a Valentine’s day one?) and is also very versatile because you can prepare the wraps ahead of time and bake them at dinner time.

Did you like this recipe? Have you ever made green beans this way? Which is your favorite way to prepare green beans?

Please, leave a comment, and If you’d like to receive one recipe weekly for free, subscribe! 

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


Eggplant Parmigiana: like a tasteful lasagna, made just with veggies

Maybe it’s because I am getting older ( 😉 ), but recently I found myself thinking about long time ago memories, and that inspired this post was the one about my childhood when, during our traditional summer vacation, my family and I used to go to the middle Italy in a place where to get to the beach you had to walk 25 minutes through the wild nature, and you could admire the ruins of some Roman baths.  Since it took so much to get there, we usually brought some clothes to build a tent (the sun was so hot!) and food and drinks for the entire day. Our favorite snack my mom made for us were sandwiches filled with “vegetables frittata” or those filled with “eggplant parmigiana“.  That wonderful beach still exist,   is called Torre Astura, and is situated about one hour and a half by car from Rome. Sorry for the digression, but if it ever happen to you to be around there, you should definitely visit that idyllic place!  Now let’s go back to my recipe!  The “eggplant parmigiana”  or simply “parmigiana“, is a typical Italian dish (according to somebody, typical from Sicily region, to other, typical from Campania region) made off fried eggplants baked in the oven with tomato sauce, basil, garlic and pecorino cheese.  You would probably point out: FRIED?!?!  Yes, traditional Italian Parmigiana requires fried eggplants, but for me and my family I prefer to grill the eggplants instead, and honestly this way not the taste of the dish gets lost, but just the calories and fats!! Plus, if you want your Parmigiana to be even more light, you can decide to use just mozzarella or low fat cheese (any kind of cheese would work if it melts fine), but honestly when I cook for my family or I have guests,  I don’t pay too much attention to the amount of cheese I use, and believe me… it’s delicious!  This scrumptious dish could be served as a main dish or as a side one. In this recipe I’ll give you the ingredients for an 8’x12′ glass pan, which could be a perfect meal for two people, or a side for about six.  I assure you… when you’ll taste Parmigiana,  you will feel like on a paradisiac beach under the Italian sun.. just kidding 🙂

INGREDIENTS for a 8’x12′ glass pan

about 2 medium sized  eggplant

about 1 can tomato sauce (cooked the Italian way)

mozzarella cheese to taste, cut in cubes

provolone cheese to taste, in slices

singles to taste, in slice

grated parmesan cheese to taste


Once you already have the tomatoes sauce done, this dish is pretty easy and quite fast to make.

The part that requires time is to wash the eggplants, cut them into thin slices, dust the slices  with sea salt and let them rest for about half an hour. This way they will loose their water. Before to grill the eggplants slices in a pan (no oil or butter needed to grease the pan), just dry the slices with a paper towel, and start grilling the eggplants on both sides.

Arranging the parmigiana is quite alike making lasagna:  layers of eggplants, tomatoes sauce and cheese alternated until you finish your ingredients. With the ingredients listed up here, you should obtain about three layers made so:    1) a few tbs. of tomatoes sauce on the bottom of the pan; 

2) one layer of eggplants (don’t worry you don’t need to arrange them in a fancy or geometric way, just try to fill up all the empty spots). 

3) Another few tablespoons of tomatoes sauce;

4) all the kind of cheeses you have spread out about evenly, and a generous dust of grated parmesan.  And then again:  1) Eggplants, 2) tomatoes sauce, 3)  cheeses, 4) parmesan until  all the ingredients are gone.

Bake at 400 F (200 C) for 30  minutes, or until all the cheese is melted… and enjoy!


Tips: – to have a great “Parmigiana” you need super fresh eggplants: when you buy them make sure they are hard and not ripe and use them right away without letting them in your refrigerator for too many days.. Eggplants ripen very fast, and when they started having too many seeds and change color inside, they may be still edible, but they turn extremely bitter. And so will turn your Parmigiana if you are not careful.

– As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I usually ate Parmigiana as a cold dish, like it is, or to stuff a panini… YUM! A perfect lunch for a working day or snack for a pick-nick!  

–  I could be wrong but to me it seems eggplants are not a very popular vegetable that people  buy in the Midwest: well, after you will try this recipe you will eat more eggplants, and this will be very good for you because they have tons of good properties!

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

share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,


Baked Cauliflower au gratin: A Light Delight!

Lately I realized how rarely I publish side dish recipes. Maybe in my mind side dishes seem less than exciting, or something I assume everyone either already knows how to prepare, or just doesn’t give much thought to. Well, the recipe I am writing about today is not only my favorite way to cook cauliflower, but also a “skinny” and “low carb” one! I don’t much care for raw or unseasoned cauliflower, but this cooking technique makes it so delicious! I learnt it a few years ago when I was following a sort of diet (the Zone Diet), in an effort to eat better and get in shape. Well, even when I stopped being quite so careful with my diet, I kept cooking this dish for me and my family because is really so tasty and healthy, and super easy to prepare. Cauliflower is so very good for our health that finding a way to make eating it a pleasure is a total “win-win!”

Gratin” is a widespread culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter, or béchamel sauce (white sauce). So generally it means a dish pretty heavy on calories and fat. However in this specific case, the crunchy brown crust is created by covering the boiled cauliflower with mozzarella cheese cubes and grated parmesan (in a precise ratio, of course, if you want it to be a ZONE DIET meal) and then baking at 400 F for about one hour. The method to prepare this plate is quite simple, it only takes a little patience to boil the cauliflower first, and bake it after.

INGREDIENTS for a 10′ x 8′ pan

1 medium sized cauliflower

2-3 handful mozzarella cheese cubes (I buy the one in slices and make the cubes out of it)

grated parmesan cheese (for dusting)

sea salt to taste

red wine vinegar


Start by cleaning the cauliflower. Separate the heads from the steams, and wash.

Arrange the cauliflower in a stainless steel pot, with just an inch or so of water. Drizzle the vegetable with red wine vinegar. (It will not leave any taste, it is just a tip to avoid your kitchen smelling of cauliflower the entire week!). In my pot, I put the lid on, let the water reach the boiling point, then move the pot to low heat and let the cauliflower steam for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it; the cauliflower should become tender but keep its shape- not become mush.

Once the cauliflower is steamed, arrange it neatly in a 10′ x 8′ pan (my favorite, in this case, is a glass one). Cover it with the mozzarella cubes, and then sea salt to taste and a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400 F for an hour… and you’ll obtain this appealing crust on top…

Looks yummy, huh? Oh, I assure you, it IS!!!

Serve it still warm and enjoy! Even the pickiest kid will love it!



– If you want to give even more flavor to your cauliflower, you can use different kind of cheese like Provolone or Asigo for the topping.

– If you have leftovers, the cauliflower will be delicious even the day after (up to five days if properly stored and refrigerated), but of course it will loose the crunchiness.

– I called this a “side dish” but honestly, considering that it contains proteins, carbs, and fats, you can just eat it as a “complete meal” if accompanied by a portion of fresh fruit.

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Italian bruschetta: make your SuperBowl red and green!

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

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 a healthy snack alternative to enjoy during the most famous American Sport Event, with a touch of “Italianity”!


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


 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!



  • 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
  • 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:


 *I was not paid or sponsored for this post.  All content and opinions are my own.  This post is affiliated with 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,