Italian Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Italian Wedding Soup

Welcome to 2022! Italian Wedding Soup was on the menu after seeing this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, IowaGirlEats. I had the ingredients on hand and needed to take a meal to my daughter after giving birth to my 5th grandbaby. Be careful that you don’t eat all for the tiny meatballs when they come out of the oven. They are delicious! Next time I would make a double or triple batch of the meatballs, so I would have them in the freezer when I want to make the soup. Serve with a hearty Italian bread.

Italian Wedding Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 parmesan cheese wedge rind (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry gluten free orzo
  • 3oz fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • For the Pork Meatballs (makes ~75 meatballs):
    • 1/2 cup small-torn pieces of soft gluten free white bread (crusts removed first)
    • 1/4 cup finely grated onion + juices
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned, pressed, or finely minced
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Pepper, to taste
    • 1lb ground pork (I used Italian Sausage)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. For the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or non stick sprayed foil. To a large bowl add torn bread and grated onion then mix to combine and let sit for 1 minute. Add parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper then stir to combine. Crumble ground pork over the top then use your hands to mix until just combined.
  2. Use a teaspoon to portion meatballs out then gently roll in your hands and place on prepared baking sheet – meatballs can be very close together but not touching. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Set meatballs aside – can be done a few days ahead of time.
  3. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and shallot/onion, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes. If the vegetables are taking too long to soften, I like to add a glug of extra chicken broth to the pot then place a lid on top and let them steam for a few minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and parmesan cheese rind (if using) then turn heat up to high to bring liquid to a boil. Add pasta then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until pasta is al dente, 20 minutes or so. Add cooked meatballs then stir to combine. Bring soup back up to a bubble (may need to turn heat up a touch) then add spinach and cook until wilted and tender, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Whisk egg and parmesan cheese together very well in a small dish. Give the soup a couple of big stirs to get the liquid swirling in one direction then slowly stream in egg mixture. Continue to stir to create small threads of egg (NOTE: the eggs are NOT curdled, they are COOKED – like egg drop soup!) Taste then add more salt and/or pepper if desired. Let soup sit and thicken for 10-15 minutes before removing parmesan cheese rind, scooping into bowls, and serving.

Recipe from Iowagirleats

Family Favorites · Garden · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Panzanella

Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes.  It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia).  The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.

It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden.  Fresh, flavorful and healthy!

PANZANELLA

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large, fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons capers, drained

VINAIGRETTE:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
  • In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers.  Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.  Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Recipe from Food Network, Barefoot Contessa

Italian Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Zuppa Toscana…Copycat of Olive Garden recipe

My daughter, Megan, told me this was a great recipe.  As mentioned in my Roasted Fennel post of last Friday, we garnished the soup with bits of the fennel and loved it. From now on, it will be a traditional side served with the soup, and a slice of hearty Italian bread.

The original recipe called for heavy cream, but we liked the soup without the cream and without the extra fat. Next time I would add chopped carrots and celery.

ZUPPA TOSCANA…COPYCAT OF OLIVE GARDEN RECIPE

1 lb. Italian sausage
2 large russet baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I omitted)

  • Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.
  • Brown sausage in your soup pot.
  • Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
  • Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
  • Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
  • Add bacon.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn to low heat.
  • Add cream (optional) and heat.
  • Tear pieces of kale into bowl and pour steaming soup over the top.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food.com

New Favorite

Italian Pie…Buon appetito!

Italian Pie is a family favorite for my good buddy, Jan.  She suggested I give it a whirl. I can certainly see why it’s a favorite.  The crisp crust paired with the hearty meat layer and the yummy cheese layer result in a wonderful, easy meal for your family. Pair with a nice salad, French bread and you’re set!

Next time, I plan to serve it with a side of marina sauce for those that may enjoy a little extra tomato flavor with their pie.  Buon appetito! 

ITALIAN PIE

1 refrigerated pie crust

  • Bake a pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust). Pierce unbaked crust with fork and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.  While the pie crust is baking, brown the meat layer:

Meat Layer

1 pound ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper

  • Cook ground chuck, onion, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings until cooked through.  Drain.

Cheese Layer:

1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
garlic salt & pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Combine all cheese layer ingredients together

Assembly:

  • Pour cooked meat layer into baked crust.
  • Top with cheese mixture.
  • Sprinkle top of Italian pie with 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkle with dried parsley.
  • Place aluminum foil around the crust edge to protect from over baking.

  • Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

New Favorite

Pignoli…almond and pine nut decadence!

Italian Tony’s Market in the Denver area makes wonderful Pignoli.  Pignoli cookies are an Italian American confection, similar to a macaroon and topped with pine nuts. This week I was in search of a recipe I could make them at home. There were many wonderful recipes but this recipe was my final choice.  They were fantastic!

PIGNOLI COOKIES

12 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups pine nuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil; lightly grease the foil.
  • Mix almond paste and granulated sugar in food processor until smooth.
  • Add confectioner’s sugar and 2 egg whites; process until smooth.
  • Whisk remaining 2 egg whites in small bowl.
  • Place pine nuts on shallow plate. With lightly floured hands roll dough into 1 inch balls. Coat balls in egg whites, shaking off excess, then roll in pine nuts, pressing lightly to stick to dough.
  • Arrange balls on cookie sheets, and flatten slightly to form a 1 1/2 inch round.

  • Bake 15 to 18 minutes (watch carefully because each oven and baking pan is different) until lightly browned.  Let stand on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com:  Pignoli Cookies 1

Family Favorites · Gluten Free · New Favorite

Hearty Minestrone…winter delight!

With the frigid cold this past weekend, it was the perfect time to make Hearty Minestrone.  My good friend, Maribeth, introduced this recipe to me several years ago and it is a winter delight!  Pair it with a crusty, hearty bread, a nice glass of red wine and you can please family and friends alike.

This soup freezes beautifully!  With our busy schedules, what a treat to be able to have this soup on hand for those crazy, busy days we all have.  If you are gluten-free, eliminate the noodles.

Mmmm…making me hungry for another bowl of leftovers!

HEARTY MINESTRONE

2 pounds chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
4 quarts water
1 cup sliced celery
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
16 ounce can dark red kidney beans
15 ounce can garbanzo beans
16 ounce can pinto beans
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 small zucchini
1 pound Italian sweet sausage, sliced
8 ounce package kluski (homemade style) noodles

  • In a large kettle, combine chuck roast, 1 teaspoon salt and water. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until beef is tender.
  • Remove meat from kettle and set aside. Remove fat from broth by letting kettle cool in refrigerator and then lifting hardened fat off top and discarding. Break meat into 1-inch pieces and combine with broth in a very large stock pot.
  • Stir in celery, onion, carrot, tomatoes, parsley, tomato paste, salt, oregano, basil, kidney beans with liquid, garbanzo beans with liquid, pinto beans, spinach, zucchini and sliced sausage.

  • Simmer, covered, until vegetables and sausage are tender, about 1 hour. Soup may be frozen at this point.
  • To serve, cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse, drain and add to hot soup. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian Bread.

Yield: 8 quarts

Adapted from Creme de Colorado Cookbook 1987