Ribollita- Italian Veggie and Bread Soup

Ribollita image

Ribollita (click on link for video) is historically a Tuscan peasant dish. It was originally made by reheating (Ribollita literally means Reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup and adding to it some day old bread.

I first tasted Ribollita almost 20 years ago while I was studying in Florence, Italy. I was reminded how much I loved the dish when I had it again at an Italian restaurant in Seattle about 4 years ago. This hearty comfort dish is full of veggies and legumes which makes it a perfect meal on a cold February day.  I had a hard time finding a recipe that matched what remember tasting in Florence ages ago so I decided to try and recreate it myself. I hope your family loves it as much as mine do!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp if extra virgin olive oil (+ 2 Tbsp for garnishing)
  • 5 gloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chipped
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. I prefer San Marzano Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes if you can find them
  • 32 fl. oz. of Beef, Chicken or Veggie Broth. I prefer beef or Veggie
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 large fresh sprigs of Rosemary
  • 13 oz. can of cannellini beans. Puree half the can in a blender. Set the other half aside.
  • 1 large loaf of sourdough bread with the crust removed
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano for garnish.

LET’S COOK!

  1. In a large deep pot saute the garlic over medium heat for about a minute or until golden
  2. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the can of tomatoes, the container of broth and the salt. Stir these ingredients and allow to come to a boil over medium/high heat.
  4. Once it comes to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and add the fresh Rosemary and the. Cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the Rosemary and add the pureed cannellini beans.  Mix and let sit for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and puree. I pureed mine using an immersion blender. You can also puree the soup in a heat proof blender.
  7. Add the other 1/2 of the cannellini beans.
  8. Tear pieces of the sourdough bread. Slowly add the bread while continuously stir the soup. Continue to add the pieces of bread until the soup is nice an thick and the bread is soft
  9. Laddle soup into bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle parm and ENJOY!!

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Veggies Your Kids Will Eat: Baby Elotes aka Mexican Corn

Elotes2

If  you desperately trying to get your kids to EAT THEIR VEGGIES, I’m very confident that this recipes will win your little ones over! My son won’t eat regular corn, but he devours these baby elotes!

BABY ELOTES-MEXICAN CORN:

INGEDIENTS:

1 package of baby corn (approximately 18 pieces)

2 tbsp of butter

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp of light sour cream

2 tbsp of mayo

¼ cup of grated cotija cheese or grated parmesan cheese

smoked paprika to sprinkle

1 tbsp of chopped parsley

LET’S COOK!

  1. Heat butter in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. When butter melts add baby corn and cover. Cook for 2 ½ minutes. Flip corn. Cook for another 2 ½ minutes then remove from heat.
  2. While corn is cooling, mix the sour cream and mayo together well.
  3. Once corn is room temperature, sprinkle with salt and place on serving platter.
  4. Brush the corn with sour cream/mayo mixture.
  5. Sprinkle cheese generously over corn
  6. Sprinkle smoked paprika lightly over corm
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve!

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Ricotta Meatballs with Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pep & MB

No child can resist the classic comfort of spaghetti and meatballs! I present to you a super easy pasta dish paired with the most amazing meatballs you’ve ever had! Cacio e Pepe with ricotta meatballs is a twist on the classic favorite!

RICOTTA MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

½ lb 85% lean beef

½ lb 85% lean veal

½ lb 77% lamb

¼ cup of light cream

½ cup of ricotta

1 egg

½ cup of planko bread crumbs

1/3 cup of grated parmigian cheese

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

LET’S COOK! 

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together planko bread crumbs, grated parm, salt, fresh basil and fresh parsley. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together beef, veal, lamb, ricotta, light cream and egg.
  3. Add the bread crumb mixture to the meat mixture and mix well.
  4. Clean your hand and roll the meat mixture into balls. Space evenly on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. Let cool and enjoy!!

 

EASY CACIO & PEPE PASTA RECIPE - Pecorino Romano cheese can have a bit too much bite for my children’s taste, so I’ve altered the cheese ratio of this recipe slightly.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

½ cup of Pecorino-Romano

½ tbsp of crushed black pepper

¾ lbs of whole wheat spaghetti or tonnarelli

LET’S BEGIN!

  1. Boil a large pot of salted water.
  2. Combine the Parm Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and pepper in a large glass bowl.
  3. Add at least 2 tbsp of cold water and mash into a thick paste. Add more cold water if necessary. Spread paste evenly and set aside.
  4. Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook to aldente
  5. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the bowl with the cheese paste.
  6. Stir the pasta quickly in the glass bowl.
  7. Add a bit of starchy pasta water if  the sauce looks to thick.
  8. Serve and eat immediately!

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Pistachio Pesto Gnocchi with Peas, Edamame & Avocado

Gnocchi

My 5 year-old son approached me after dinner the other night and in the softest, sweetest voice EVER said, “Mom, you know what we haven’t had in lowng (long) time? We haven’t had gnocchi (pronounced perfectly).” This only affirmed that my real title in the home is not “mom”, but rather “personal chef”….a title I should loathe, but instead I’m actually quite proud of.

My response to this sweet boy’s request was a delicious bowl of pistachio pesto gnocchi with peas, edamame and avocado….that’s how ya add a little color to gnocchi! I hope you enjoy it as much as he did. Spring has sprung!

Pistachio Pesto Ingredients:

  1. 2 garlic cloves
  2. 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  3. 3 cups loosely packed basil
  4. 1 lemon zested and juiced
  5. 1 orange zested and juiced
  6. 2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  9. 1/2 Avocado (DO NOT ADD AVOCADO IF YOU PLAN ON STORING THE SAUCE FOR LATER )
  10. 1/2 cup of thawed organic frozen peas
  11. 1/2 cup of thawed organic frozen edamame

Just like you, I’m a home cook learning the deets of healthy family cooking one day at a time so I borrowed the following gnocchi recipe from Geoffrey Zakarian of Food Network. It is SUPER simple. These fluffy and light gnocchi take about 5 minutes to make.

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe: Click Here For Gnocchi Recipe

Put It All Together!

  1. In a food processor combine ingredients 1 through 9.
  2. Pour into a bowl and add the peas and edamame
  3. While the gnocchi are still warm add about 2 to 3 heaping table spoons of the pesto sauce, garnish with grated cheese and serve immediately.

 

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Crunchy Baked Eggplant Sticks!

IMG_3533

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 cup of planko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 large eggplant cut into 3 inch long by 1/2 inch wide sticks

Let’s Cook!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup of grated cheese and 1/4 tsp of salt into the eggs.
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix together; planko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 cup of the grated cheese.
  4. With one hand dip the eggplant sticks into the egg mixture and coat all sides. Allow the excess to drip back into the bowl, then gently drop into the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. With your other hand coat the eggplant stick in the bread crumb mixture. Pat gently to thoroughly coat the eggplant.
  6. Place the coated sticks onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then move to the middle shelf and broil for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with your kids favorite dipping sauce. These taste great with tomato sauce, pesto sauce and even ranch dressing.

Click here to see if my kiddos liked them…

 

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Boozy Limoncello Panettone Bread Pudding! Say What?!!

bread pudding

What to do with all that leftover Panettone from Christmas???? Turn it into a delightfully warm and gooey bread pudding. My recipe takes it to another level by adding limoncello and lemon curd!! This is my husband’s all-time favorite dessert.

Ingredients for Bread Pudding :

  1. 1 loaf of Panettone broken into small pieces (break apart by hand so that it looks more rustic)
  2. 1 1/2 cups of Milk
  3. 2 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream
  4. 4 Eggs
  5. 1/2 cups of Sugar
  6. 1 cup of Limoncello
  7. 1/4 cup of Lemon Curd

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

  • 3 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1 cup of Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Limoncello

Let’s Get Baking!

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 1.8 quart rectangular baking dish with butter.
  3. layer the bottom of the pan with the pieces of Panettone.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together ingredients 2 through 7.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the pan.
  6. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake on middle rack for 35-45 minutes. Pudding should be lightly brown and a toothpick, when inserted, should come out clean.
  8. Let cool (slightly) then top with gelato or limoncello whipped Cream (see recipe below)

Whipped Cream Directions:

  1. Place your mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 cup of whipping cream to the bowl.
  3. Whisk until you begin to see stiff peaks. Whisking with an electric mixer will work best.
  4. Fold 2 Tbsp of limoncello into the whipped cream.

panettone 2

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No Zuppa For You!! Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

pasta e fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a comforting classic Italian soup that I loved as a kid. My mother always served it with a large piece of crusty bread that went down before I even picked up my spoon.

As a mom, I love Pasta e Fagioli because it’s a great way to get even the most “Veggie Averse” child to eat their vegetable and legumes. Below is my family recipe along with ideas for how you can get even your most picky eater to gobble it up.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb orcchiette pasta (swap with your kids favorite pasta)
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans rinsed
  • 1 can of pinto beans rinsed
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups of chicken Stock
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (preferably homemade)
  • grated parmigiana to top each bowl
  • CRUSTY BREAD to dip!

Time To Cook!

  1. Cook your pasta al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend together 2 cups of chicken stock and one can of cannellini beans.
  3. In a deep pot saute the carrots, onion, garlic and celery in 1/4 cup of olive oil until tender. Add the rosemary sprigs to the veggies while they cook. (NOTE: feel free to add pancetta or sausage to make heartier meal)
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt.
  5. Once the veggies are tender add the chicken stock/cannellini bean puree from blender to the pot with the veggies. (NOTE: IF YOUR CHILD IS VEGGIE AVERSE; 1. remove the rosemary sprigs, 2. to the blender with the chicken stock/bean puree, add the veggies, 3. blend thoroughly. Return the mixture to the pot.)
  6. Add 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans and 1 can of rinsed pinto beans.
  7. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
  8. Add 3/4 cup of pasta sauce.
  9. Add cooked pasta.
  10. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of ground pepper.
  11. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
  13. Ladle into a soup bowl, top with grated cheese and serve with a big hunk of crusty bread!

Be sure to encourage your kids to break up the bread and dunk it into the veggie rich sauce!

 

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Spaghetti, Zucchini and Turkey Pie! Oh My!

spaghetti pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Zucchini Spiralized
  • 1/2 lb of Spaghetti
  • 3/4 lb or Ground Turkey
  • 2 Cups of Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup of ricotta
  • 1 Cup of Italian Blend Shredded Cheese (Provolone, Asiago, Fontina). You can also use high quality Mozzarella.
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Grated Parmigiana
  • Salt and Pepper

Let’s Start Cookin!

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook the ground turkey, breaking the meat into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper and any of your favorite Italian spice.
  3. Cook spaghetti al dente, drain and add about 1/4 cup of sauce to keep the pasta from sticking.
  4. Combine the spiralized zucchini and the cooked spaghetti. Set aside.
  5. Beat together eggs and 1/2 cup of the grated parmigiana.
  6. Add 1 cup of sauce, ricotta and egg mixture to the ground meat. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the ground meat mixture to the spaghetti. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the spaghetti mixture to you pie dish.
  9. Top with 1/2 cup sauce and shredded cheeses.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Just before serving broil for 5 minutes.
  12. Devour!

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Roasted Corn Salad!

Roasted Corn

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my fruits and veggies. I’m always going out of my way to make my barbecue sides more than just an after thought.

Here are two dishes that I make regularly. They are quick, easy and huge crowd pleasers for the young and old.

Spicy Roasted Corn with Cotijo Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn
  • 2 green jalapeno, deseeded and diced
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Grated Cotijo Cheese
  • Cilantro
  1. In a large skillet melt the butter
  2. Add the shallots, red onion, jalapeno pepper and red pepper. Cook until they begin to get tender
  3. Add the roasted corn and salt. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the corn is warm.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with Cotijo cheese and garnish with cilantro

 

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Raising a Fruitivore

images-1

I’m on a mission to convert my youngest child, my little carnivore, into a part-time fruitivore. My four year-old son Harris loves his animal protein. He has no problem putting down lamb chops, burgers, salmon, mahi mahi or shrimp when prepared to his liking and dipped in massive amounts of ketchup (not complaining). But when it comes to fruit, he won’t bite.

So this summer I decided I was up for the challenge. I realized that my child’s long term health was more important than my short term sanity and so I devised a plan.

1. I  starved him. I’m kidding! But seriously I made sure that come snack time he was hungry. Over-snacking  is an epidemic in this country. All of those delish crunchy prepackaged foods work wonders on curbing our children’s appetite for whole foods. So yeah, we nipped that in the bud. Click here to read a fab article from the Chicago Tribune which discusses America’s “culture for snackism” and its effect on our children.

2. I cut the convenience food & made it mandatory.  In the same way that I taught my son to share, not to hit when he is frustrated, to say “excuse me” and “thank you,” I also decided to teach him how to eat well. Teaching our children healthy eating habits should be a priority. We owe it to them. The new rule effective immediately was that all snacks had to be fruit. Done and done. We got rid of  the chips, crackers and snack bars and replaced them with fruit (mostly in season). The result:my kids ate more of their actual lunch/dinner and you’ll see what happened next.

3. I found a”Gateway Food.” The “polite one bite” wasn’t working for us. There were tears, foot stopping, irrational conversations. I knew I needed a vehicle to get the juicy, in-season fruit into his adorable little mouth.  I needed a Gateway Food.

The tricky part was finding a Gateway Food that was just as healthy as the fruit. He loves anything covered in whipped cream (who doesn’t?), but that would defeat the purpose. Then it hit me his Gateway Food is yogurt! The kid cannot go a single morning without a yogurt.

Introducing Yogurt Fruit Fondue*!fruit fondue

  1. Mix Greek yogurt with cinnamon and honey (alternatives: orange zest, applesauce, agave, peanut butter, maple syrup)
  2. Finely crushed walnuts
  3. Finely crushed granola
  4. Finely crushed graham crackers

Skewer the fruit with toothpicks and let your kids dip the fruit into the yogurt then into a crunchy topping of choice.

*to all the foodies out there…I know that fondue traditionally uses a HOT cooking medium

How did it go you ask? Check it out for yourself!

Homemade yogurt fruit pops, parfaits and shakes are all great ways to introduce fruit into your kids diets.  I’ll be posting a few of my favorite fruit pop recipes next week!

Follow me on Twitter @finicky2foodie for more tips on how to convert your finicky eater into a full-fledged foodie!

 

 

 

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