Italian Cooking

Italian Cooking

In Food

This site offers a variety of recipes that particularly focus on Italian Cooking. Everyone enjoys a hearty meal and Italians are the best at creating these concoctions using an amazing array of ingrediants. Italians offer many assorted garden delights like marinated eggplant, marinated artichoke hearts, caponata (assorted garden vegetables), roasted peppers, mixed garden salad ala vinaigrette, cheese peppers in red wine vinegar, button mushrooms vinaigrette, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes should be picked or bought at peak season, beginning about mid-July through late September. I find that the first crop is usually the best quality.

Tomatoes should be almost perfect – ripe, red in color (the higher the intensity of red the higher the lycopene content), minimal seeds, minimal water, thick, meaty, and blemish-free skin–spotless, unmarked, and sweet.

If you find tomatoes in your batch that are discolored or spotted or have other imperfections, these would be the perfect candidates to use for “Puree” Canning.

To preserve tomatoes in their natural state is a beautiful thing. To store this product in abundance is a “simple treasure” that you can enjoy all year round.Related: Potatos

Every year during peak season, mid-July through late September, I look forward to canning my 300 jars of tomatoes. This supply is for my family, and also to fill gift baskets for friends and neighbors.

I use two canning methods for my tomatoes, pure plum and puree. I use two methods because it allows me to have more options regarding the texture of the tomatoes for my desired recipe.

For example: If I’m making steak pizzaiola – I want my tomatoes crushed with skin; If I’m making a traditional Italian sauce with meat – I want my tomatoes smooth; If I want to make a Tuscan tomato soup – then I want to use my puree Tomato.

Pizza, of course, can vary. It can be smooth and it can be crushed with skin. Some dishes call for scattered or torn tomatoes which are excellent for Foccachia bread
Another misconception about tomatoes – Tomatoes are not only used for making pasta dishes. There are hundreds of dishes used with tomatoes that do not include pasta at all.

To name a few: shrimp marichiara, veal/chicken cutlet parmagiana, tomato soup, assorted types of fish – pizzaiola style – or zuppa di pesce, beef – like beef stew, veal/fish/chicken in many varieties – cooked, baked or steamed with tomatoes,vegetables cooked with tomatoes – like stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant, beef or chicken soup – with added tomato for color,tripe – baked mussels, assorted pizzas,vegetable minestrone dish, garnished hot dogs with onions savored in a hot tangy tomato sauce, rissotto dishes, cacciatori dishes made with braised chicken or meats like duck, quail, pheasant, etc., etc. The list is endless. Tomatoes can enhance almost any dish.


Beet and Apple Salad

In Recipes

The beets can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. The salad can be prepared 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Garnish with the cheese and nuts just before serving.


1. To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk the balsamic and cider vinegars, sugar, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. If the beets have their greens attached, trim the greens, leaving about 1-inch of the stems attached to the beets. Scrub the beets under cold running water. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a long, sharp knife, about 1 ½ hours depending on the size of the beets. Cool completely, without unwrapping the beets.
3. Unwrap and peel the beets. Cut into ¾-inch cubes. Place in self-sealing plastic bag and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
4. In a large bowl, toss the beets and apples with the dressing. (The salad, at this point, can be stored up to 1 day.) Place a lettuce leaf on each plate, and spoon the salad onto the lettuce. Top each salad with the cheese and walnuts. Serve chilled.

Road Test Results: I sort of followed these directions. I sort of ignored them, too. I roasted the beets in foil, which does produce fantastic results. However, check your beets after about 45-minutes. Tender is one thing, over-cooked beet jelly is another. I didn’t cool the beets as suggested. I didn’t have time. They sat in foil in the refrigerator until I was ready for them, and then I peeled and diced them and tossed the salad ingredients together, dressing, cheese, nuts, and all. I used walnuts which I roasted a little in a pan, if only to crisp them up. I didn’t use red lettuce leaves, though I understand where Rodgers is headed, that nice composed look. I didn’t have the leaves, and I didn’t have time to screw around with composition. I had a miserable cold, and I had to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table. So this apple and beet salad, for the few of us interested at the table, was served as a side dish, something of a cross between salad and vegetable.

It was the one dish I could taste – that crisp blast of vinegar – and I loved it. I found the leftovers about a week later, tucked into the back of the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. I could taste by then, and the flavors of the salad had had ample time to marry. Simply delicious.