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Back to the Kitchen: Italian inspired recipes for alfresco dining

Posted By Karen Young On September 26, 2010 @ 11:24 pm In Food,Recipes | No Comments


This time of year I am usually thinking about all of the abundant fall harvest and what chilly weather favorites I can recreate. Not this year….way too hot! I am trying to move into some autumn roasting and sautéing, but I am still grilling and dreaming of Tuscany and mainly eating  alfresco! Join your friends in your garden and enjoy these Italian inspired outdoor dishes!

Roasted Garlic

6 whole heads garlic

1/2-cup olive oil

Salt/ freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.Trim the points of the heads of garlic exposing the tops of the cloves. Place the heads together in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 250 and roast 1 hour more. Serve the garlic with crusty bread and assorted cheeses. One of life’s most simple pleasures!

Roasted Red Peppers

12 large red bell peppers

1/4-cup olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Turn all gas burners on high. Place peppers directly on flame watching very carefully, Turn until the entire pepper is a burnt a bluish, black color. Place in plastic bag for 15 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. Under cold water rub the skin off and slice into strips. Loosely layer in a bowl drizzling with oil mixture. Serve with crusty bread, in salads or you can make a soup.

Grilled Vegetable Platter

3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved

3 yellow squash sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 Japanese, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed

12 green onions

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1-cup goats cheese, crumbled

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. Meanwhile whisk 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle with goat’s cheese and serve.

Roasted Beet Salad

1 pound beets, washed, steams trimmed 1/2 inch above beetroot

1-tablespoon horseradish

6 Sage leaves, sliced

Pinch salt and pepper

8 ounces goat cheese

Place beet in a tightly covered casserole dish. Pour enough water to cover 1/2 inch at the bottom. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. It is cooked when the skin is slightly wrinkled and removes easily with your fingers. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove skin and cut into about 8 1/4 inch pieces. While still warm mix well with horseradish, sage, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. Mix well again. Add the crumbled goat cheese. Mix and serve.

Tuscan Bread Salad

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced, divided

4 slices (1/2-inch-thick) Italian bread, about 4 inches in diameter

1 head romaine lettuce

1 cup Black Ripe Pitted Olives, drained

1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced

1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves

Freshly grated Parmesan

Combine 1-tablespoon olive oil and 1 clove garlic; brush over both sides of bread slices. Grill bread 2 to 3 minutes per side in ridged grill pan or broil 1 to 2 minutes per side until lightly toasted. Reserve outer leaves of lettuce. Tear or chop enough inner leaves to measure 6 cups. In large bowl, combine torn lettuce, olives, tomato and beans. Cut grilled bread into cubes; add to lettuce mixture. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons oil, remaining garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper; mix well. Add to lettuce mixture; toss well. Arrange outer leaves of lettuce on 4 serving plates; top with salad. Sprinkle basil and Parmesan over salads.

Halibut In Wine Sauce

4 Halibut fillets (about 2 ½ pounds)

1 small onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

1 tomato, chopped (about ½ cup)

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoon parsley, snipped

Dash of salt and pepper

1/3-cup milk

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sautee onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add fish, tomato, wine parsley salt and pepper. Cook over low heat 10 minutes until the halibut flakes. Remove fish and keep warm. Whisk together milk and cornstarch and add to the skillet. Stir and cook until thick and bubbly. Pour over halibut

Pistachio Crusted Chilean Sea bass

1 lb. Chilean Sea bass

1-cup ground pistachios

1 cup Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped

2 shallots chopped

1 stalk lemon grass, chopped

3-garlic clove, chopped

1 stick butter, softened

1 bay leaf

1 Table. Whole white peppercorns

2 cups white wine

1-cup cream

Brush fish with Dijon mustard and coat with herbs, Panko and Pistachios mixture. Bake at 375*F. for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile put shallots, garlic, wine, peppercorns, lemon stalk and bay leaf in a medium sauce pan. Reduce slowly to a syrupy consistency. Strain through a fine sieve.

Add cream and reduce a little more. Whisk in the butter a little at a time over low heat until all the butter is used. Sauce should be creamy.

Seafood and Fava Fussilli

1 pound fussilli

8 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 large onion, diced

⅓ cup olive oil

Juice and zest of 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

24 clams

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 cups fava beans

A few threads of saffron

4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 pounds shrimp, cleaned and deveined

Cook pasta until al dente; save the water. Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent; add lemon juice and 3 cups of pasta water. Salt and pepper to taste and reduce to ½ cup. Add clams and cook until they open, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove clams from sauce and keep warm. Add tomatoes, fava beans, saffron, oregano leaves, thyme, hot pepper flakes and more pasta water, if necessary, and bring to boil 1 minute. Lower heat and add shrimp; cook until shrimp are done. Add clams, pour over pasta, garnish with lemon zest and serve.

Shrimp Scampi

1-pound Shrimp peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

4 Garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Juice and zest from 1 lemon

1 lb cooked Fettuccine

Heat butter and oil in a skillet. When hot, add the shrimp and cook over high heat, turning shrimp constantly. As soon as the shrimp turn pink, add the parsley, garlic and basil. Keep tossing for no more than another minute; remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, add salt and pepper and add the other 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve over hot fettuccine.

Noni’s Ricotta Pie

3 pounds Ricotta

1-pint heavy cream

1/2-cup flour

2 cups sugar

1-tablespoon vanilla

9 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

Beat the eggs until thick. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the vanilla, cream and flour. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips Grease a baking dish well and pour the cheese mixture in. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

Polenta Cake

1½ cup Cake flour

1¼-cup cornmeal

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ cup honey

¾ cup half and half

6 tablespoons sweet almond oil

Preheat oven to 400°.

Grease and flour loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients, then add remaining ingredients and mix with wooden spoon until well combined. Spoon into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

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