Tag Archives: italian

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Spring is in the air, and that means salad season is here! I want lots of big, beautiful, fresh salads full of awesome, yummy ingredients. With Easter around the corner, we’re all on the lookout for delicious dishes to make for a big group dinner, so I’ve decided to share this Big Italian Salad with you just for the occasion.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

My boyfriend is half Italian so over the years my consumption of olives, cured meat and artichokes has increased, and you could say, they have added more flavour to my life (though, he might have a little something to do with that too!). We try our very best to eat salads regularly, but find it challenging to keep ‘em interesting. There’s only so much tomato and cucumber you can consume before you hit a salad slump. And let’s face it, when all is said and done, I’m a meat and carbs kind of gal.

Yum. Meat.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

But the great thing about my Big Italian Salad is, it has meat! And cheese! The parmesan and salami add just the right amount of salty creaminess. Fresh romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet bursts of cherry tomatoes, crunchy licorice-infused fennel and velvety artichokes. Finally, the bright pop of the olives brings the whole salad to life.

This, my friends, is not your average, boring salad.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

A light, lemony vinaigrette that incorporates some of the artichoke marinade ties the whole dish together. Before you can say “you can’t make friends with salad” you’ll be happily chowing down on a big mouthful of all things Italian.

Big Italian Salad
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Big Italian Salad

This Big Italian Salad is full of awesome, fresh ingredients. Romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy fennel, creamy artichokes and salty salami, olives and parmesan.
Course Healthy, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 small head of Romaine lettuce roughly chopped
  • 1 small radicchio finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 half fennel thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup green and kalamata olives pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 ounces salami or your fave cured meat finely diced
  • 227 grams marinated artichokes finely sliced, marinade reserved
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggianocheese grated

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons marinade from the artichokes
  • 1 half lemon juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the cheese in a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor or medium bowl combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Slowly add oil while whisking or mixing on low.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and sprinkle cheese over top. Toss and serve immediately.

I could seriously eat this entire bowl in one sitting. The salad is so fresh and lightly dressed that all the other flavours are allowed stand out, and it’s addictive. But, one must learn to share, so here you go my friends, some salad to go with your roasted ham.

What are you making for your big Easter dinner?  Let me know if you liked my Big Italian Salad and what type of cured meat is your favourite!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?

Canned Tomatoes

My boyfriend’s “Nonna” – his Italian grandmother – grows and cans her own tomatoes and the resulting tomato sauce over fresh gnocchi is simply to die for.  This year, my friend and I wanted to start canning our own tomatoes.  I felt like I was preparing for the apocalypse, stocking my pantry with so many mason jars of canned goods!  We didn’t have time to go and pick our own tomatoes, so we ordered two crates from the West End Food Co-Op a grocery store where you can order large quantities of produce from local farms.

For nine hours we slaved over 50 pounds of perfectly ripened, shiny red tomatoes, making homemade ketchup and 15 liters of canned tomatoes!  I absolutely loved the homemade ketchup (featured below in the large jar).  Homemade ketchup is a thinner consistency than store bought ketchup, but much tastier! 

Homemade ketchup

Homemade ketchup

The canning process is very simple, we just had A LOT of tomatoes.  I can’t wait to make to make fresh pasta sauce this fall!  Now I just need to master making homemade gnocchi, and then I can recreate “Nonna’s” food at home.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 7 x 32oz (quart) mason jars

Canned Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 20 pounds of ripe tomatoes, washed throughly
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prep the jars in a water canner. Set them on a rack and fill with water until jars are covered and boil for at least 10 minutes. Keep hot until ready for use.
  2. Place lids in hot water (not boiling) until ready for use.
  3. Blanch tomatoes in a another pot of boiling water for 45 - 60 seconds. Immediately place in an ice cold water bath.
  4. Remove skins (they should peel off easily - otherwise adjust blanching timing), remove stems and any bruised or discoloured areas.
  5. Pack whole tomatoes into the hot mason jar, pressing them close together. Try not too pack them too tightly or too loosely, they should be comfortably placed together so that they're aren't any big gaps . Use a wooden chopstick to help pack the tomatoes and remove air bubbles.
  6. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace from the top rim.
  7. Wipe rim and carefully place down lid. Screw on the bands until they are just tight (do not overtighten).
  8. Place jars in canner, ensuring the top of the jars are covered with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 85 minutes.
  9. Remove the jars without tilting and cool upright for one day.
  10. Check seals (they should be curved downward, and when the band is removed you should be able to hold the jar by the edge of the lid).
  11. Store in a dark, cool place.

Notes

Each mason jar holds 7-8 tomatoes each. I prefer canning whole tomatoes with no added salt so that I leave my options open for when I decide to use them.

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/09/12/canned-tomatoes/