Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

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Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle – Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle

Ingredients:
6-8 links of Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced in strips
1-2 Peperoncini or Banana Peppers, sliced in strips
1 Yellow Onion, cut in wedges
2 cups Plum Tomatoes, diced
4-6 cloves Garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Parmesan, shaved for garnish.

Directions:

  • Poke the Sausage with a fork one or two times.
  • Place the Sausage in a skillet on medium heat with the Water, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Only flip the Sausage once or twice. You are basically poaching the Sausage, but by the time it is cooked, the water will have evaporated.
  • Remove the Sausage to a broiling pan, and place in the Broiler.
  • De-glaze the Skillet with the White Wine.
  • Add the Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes and Herbs to the Skillet.
  • Heat through, stirring often so that nothing sticks or browns; about 5 minutes.
  • Check on the Sausage, and flip so that both sides get broiled.
  • Continue heating the Onions and Peppers for about 2-3 more minutes. If the skillet is small, and thus the mixture very deep, you should cover and let the steam help cook the Onions and Peppers.
  • Plate the Onions and Peppers on a platter, and then arrange the Sausage on top. Serve the Parmesan on the side.

Makes 6-8 Sausages

NOTES: This dish is great by itself or divided into Hoagies. You can use Salsiccia Piccante (Spicy Italian Sausage) if you prefer. Additionally, you may choose to top with Mozzarella, though I think the crunchy nutty flavor of the Parmesan can’t be beat. You can also do the Sausages on the Grill. If you do this, you can cook the Peppers and Onions in the Skillet starting with the adding of the Wine.

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 lb Baby Spinach, cleaned
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced length-wise thinly
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lemon
6-8 Tbsp grated Parmesan, or equivalent shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions

  • Heat the Oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Garlic, and saute for 30 seconds to let the oils infuse with the Olive Oil. Stir, and do not let it brown.
  • Add the Baby Spinach with tongs.
  • Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to wilt, using the tongs to stir so none burn.
  • Squeeze the Juice of the Lemon over the Spinach, and toss.
  • Plate the Spinach and top with the Parmesan.
  • Keeping in mind, the Parmesan can be salty, season to taste.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTE: I love sauteed spinach, but prefer to use Baby Spinach because it usually comes prepackaged, cleaned, and is easier to eat. I like mine Lemony, Garlicky, with a mix of Hot from the Crushed Red Pepper soothed by the nutty, salty Parmesan. This is also a very QUICK side dish to make, and can often be done with oil used for accompanying chicken dishes–so less mess!

Bruschetta al Pomodoro – Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:
1 Baguette
1/4 cup Parmesan
6-8 Plum Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 cloves Garlic, whole
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2-3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove. There should be enough room for the tomatoes, but they should not yet be put in the pot.
  • Remove from the heat, and place the tomatoes in the hot water for 1 minute.
  • Using tongs, remove the tomatoes.
  • Carefully remove the skin with a knife; and then cut in half and remove the seeds and juice.
  • Dice the Tomatoes and set to the side in a large bowl.
  • Add the minced Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Herbs, 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper to taste; Stir well, and leave to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Slice the Baguette into 1/4″ thick rounds, on a diagonal.
  • Using a pastry Brush, liberally brush on the 1/2 cup of Olive Oil. You may need more or less, depending on the baguettes.
  • Place in the oven and toast for about 5 minutes, or until the the bread begins to turn golden.
  • Remove the croutes from the oven, and while warm, rub the whole garlic over the tops of them.
  • Sprinkle liberally with the Parmesan. You may use less or more, depending on the size of the croutes.
  • When ready to serve, spoon the Tomato topping onto the croutes.

Serves about 10 as an appetizer.

NOTES: You can use bigger bread pieces and serve this as a salad or meal. With regards to serving as an appetizer, you can also choose to leave the tomatoes in a bowl with a spoon, and arrange the Parmesan croutes on a tray, and allow the guests to top their own. Bruschetta is a central Italian food, that consists of grilled bread with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, and other toppings like Prosciutto or grilled vegetables. I prefer the traditional tomato-basil relish, myself. This used to be my favorite appetizer when we would go to Italian restaurants–a special occasion as they were always expensive in Georgia. Who knew the food was so inexpensive and EASY to make!

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Use a Vegan bread and omit the Parmesan.

Bresaola Salad

Ingredients:
8 oz Bresaola, chilled
4 oz Parmesan (block)
8 cups Arugula
1 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
8 Figs, quartered
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)
Balsamic Vinegar (for drizzling)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Lemon, cut in quarters

Directions:

  • Arrange the Bresaola on a platter or on individual plates (this serves 4). You will be making the salad in the middle of the plate, and will want the Bresaola to extend beyond the Salad like a border. If you are using small plates, the pieces should cover the entire area. If you are using a large plate, try to cover the entire area, but focus on the outer edge. Make it look decorative and pretty.
  • Mix together the Parsley and the Arugula.
  • Place the Arugula/Parsley in the center of the plate on top of the Bresaola, utilizing it as a border.
  • Place the Figs and Cherry Tomatoes decoratively among the Arugula.
  • Using a Cheese shaver, or a vegetable peeler, slice curls of Parmesan and place on top of the Arugula.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, and drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Serve the wedges on the side of the Salad, and instruct the diner to squeeze the Lemon over the salad, just before consuming.

Serves 4

NOTES: Bresaola is one of the treats that I ran into when moving to New York. I had been aware of Prosciutto in Georgia, but had never seen Bresaola. They are very similar, only that Bresaola is an air-dried beef tenderloin. Its origins are in northern Italy near Lombardy. I simply love it!

Bresaola Crostini
Ingredients:
1 loaf Ciabatta
8 oz Bresaola
4 oz Parmesan
4 cups Arugula
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
6-8 Figs, quartered
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Slice the Ciabatta into 1/4″ slices. You may choose to slice each slice in half, so that they are bite-size pieces.
  • Arrange the slices on a Baking Sheet.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush on Olive Oil on both sides.
  • Bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let the Crostini cool completely.
  • Arrange the Bresaola on the Crostini. You may fold the pieces, but do not want any hanging off the crostini too far.
  • Using a Vegetable Peeler, shave a slice of Parmesan and place it on top of the Bresaola.
  • Next, top with the Arugula, not putting too much.
  • Place a quarter of Fig on top of the Arugula, and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar, and a little more Olive Oil.

NOTES: This is a flavorful appetizer that takes the Bresaola Salad from the dinner plate to your hand.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Ingredients:
4 Plum Tomatoes, halved vertically
2 Tbsp Bread Crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded
1 tsp Parsley, dried
1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Place the Tomatoes cut-side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and crimp the Aluminum foil to act as an edge around the tomatoes. Prick the Tomatoes with a fork several times.
  • In a bowl, combine all other ingredients, and mix well.
  • Use your hands or a spoon, and divide the topping on each of the Tomatoes
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Lower heat to 250°F, and roast for another 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

NOTES: I love roasted tomatoes. This is a quick and easy way to make them, that you can start before you start cooking, and let cook till you’re ready to serve. It is also very hard to mess up, unless you spill one onto the floor! You can try to grill them as well. To do that, you will cut them, rub with olive oil, and grill. Then place on an aluminum-lined grate, and cover with the topping.

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Fennel Salad

Ingredients:
2 medium Fennel Bulbs
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Shaved Parmesan Cheese to taste

Directions:

  • Trim the Fennel of any Stalks, and Fronds; trim any fibrous material with a peeler. Reserve Fronds for garnish.
  • Cut Fennel Bulbs in half vertically and remove the fibrous cores.
  • Laying each side flat, cut the Fennel horizontally into thin crescents.
  • In a large bowl, toss the Fennel crescents with the Olive Oil, Lemon, Salt & Pepper
  • Move to serving dish(es).
  • Chop of the Fronds.
  • Garnish the Fennel with the Sesame Seeds, Fronds, and some shaved Parmesan slices.

NOTES: Fennel has a nice strong anise flavor that is complemented by the Sesame seeds and salty Parmesan Cheese. This salad is a great salad for a Spring day.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Omit the Parmesan.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Maple Sage Sauce

Ingredients:VegetarianNut Alergy Warning
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Maple Sage Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Sage, minced

Garnish:
1 cup Walnuts
Grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • In a saucepan, start heating the stick of Butter on low heat. Use low heat to prevent smoking
  • As the Butter melts, it will start to caramelize along the edges.
  • Stir in the Maple Syrup and the Sage, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or so.
  • Pour on the Gnocchi, and garnish with Walnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi. This is a dish that is great for an Autumn night. I recommend it with a side of green beans.

Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:Vegetarian
1/4 cup Butter
4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Sherry
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Romano, grated
1/2 cup Asiago, grated
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan, combine the butter and Flour.
  • Heat on low heat stirring constantly for 3 mins.
  • Add the Sherry and Cream, stirring constantly; heat for 10 minutes
  • Add the Garlic, Nutmeg, and Cheeses.
  • continue to cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted.

Makes about 4 servings.

Serving Suggestions:
Pour over Fettuccine or your favorite Pasta.

Pasta al Pesto con Gamberi e Asparagi – Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Shrimp and Asaparagus Pesto Fettuccini
Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Fettuccine

Ingredients:Shellfish Alergy Warning:
1 lb jumbo Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
1-2 cups Asparagus, cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 cup Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Pasta (Linguine or Penne are best)
1 cup Pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Water for boiling
Salt for Pasta water

Directions:

  • In a large pot, add Water and Salt.
  • When boiling, add Pasta, and cook till it is al dente; strain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat Olive Oil on low heat and add Shrimp, Asparagus, and Garlic.
  • Heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The Shrimp is done when completely pink, and the Asparagus is a bright green.
  • In a serving bowl, toss the Pasta with the Pesto sauce.
  • Add the Shrimp and Asparagus with oil, continuing to toss.
  • Top with Parmesan cheese.

NOTES: Shrimp and Asparagus are an exceptional paring of flavors, probably one of my favorites. If you do not have Pesto available, use fresh Basil and Parsley.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
1 handful of Fettuccine (could use Farfalle, Penne, or Spaghetti)
1 cup Zucchini, cut into half-rounds
1 cup Broccoli cut into small florets
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Peas (frozen is best)
1 cup yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Tomato, diced
1 cup fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup fresh Basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or shaved
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (and Salt for water)

Directions:

  • Fill a pot with water 3/4 the way full, and add 1 Tbsp Salt. Bring to a boil.
  • When boiling, add the Pasta and cook until al dente, draining and leaving un-rinsed in the colander.
  • In a skillet, add some of the oil, the garlic, Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli. Saute until tender, being sure to stir and not burn the Garlic, about 3-5 minutes.
  • In a serving bowl, place the herbs and Parmesan cheese.
  • Add the Pasta and mix the herbs and Parmesan Cheese using the Olive Oil to lubricate.
  • Add the Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli mix as well as the Tomatoes to the pasta and mix well.

NOTE: Some people prefer to julienne their vegetables when using long pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti, but I don’t. I think the chunks of vegetables is more natural. Not all Pasta Primavera’s are the same. The American versions tend to add cream, making an almost Alfredo sauce. This style was developed in New York in the 1970s, inspired by dishes similar to that above.

Variations:
The vegetables one uses is up to taste. You can use Carrots, Asparagus, Eggplant, Yellow Squash–your tastes are the limit. To be true Primavera, though an emphasis on Spring and early Summer vegetables should be observed…though I won’t tell if you don’t.

American Style:
Add 1/c cup Cream to the Oil and Garlic in the pan

With Chicken/Shrimp:
Add 1 cup sauteed Chicken or Shrimp (think bite size pieces)

V›Ɣ – Leave out the Parmesan Cheese.

Pesto

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:Nut Alergy WarningVegetarian
4 cups Fresh Basil
4 cloves Garlic
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 cup Pignoli (Pinenuts)
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

  • Place Basil, Garlic, Pignoli and Parmesan in food processor. Drizzle some Olive Oil over the ingredients. Cover, and pulse. Using the feeder, add the Salt and more Olive Oil. Continue to Pules until a course mixture like a paste.

Taste the mixture. You may choose to add more Parmesan Cheese or oil for desired consistency.

Makes 4 Cups of Pesto.