Spring Pasta Dishes

No matter what time of year it is, I still crave a delicious, satisfying pasta dinner. Once the cold weather passes and the warmer air arrives, those heavy pasta dishes need a lighter and fresher spin. I tend to cook a pasta dinner once a week, always a great go-to meal when the week is busy but you still want a comforting yet healthy, home-cooked dinner. Whole wheat pasta is a staple in my kitchen, usually of a spaghetti, penne, rotelle, rotini or orzo variety. Changing from regular pasta to whole wheat is a great way to add more fiber and protein to you diet, and basically give you more bang for your buck making you feel full faster.

My first pasta reci
pe is based on a dish I ate often while living and working in Torino, Italy during the 2006 Winter Olympics. Called "Rainbow Pizza" in English, this pizza seemed to be a regular on many menus in Torino and Milan. The combination of ingredients is so flavorful and colorful. The pizza dough is baked and drizzled with olive oil and freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Just as the pie comes out of the oven, it is covered in fresh arugula and ribbons of prosciutto. After working a long day at the International Broadcast Center dressing the broadcasters of NBC for the programming of the Winter Olympics, my friend and I would head to a little restaurant around the corner from the Media Village and indulge in a bottle of house wine and "Rainbow Pizza". So, the first recipe is a spin on that pizza but with pasta. The whole wheat Rotelle gives the dish a slight bite and coats well in the garlicky olive oil sauteed red onion and tomatoes.

The second recipe came about from one of those nights when there really isn't many ingredients to work with; and you just don't feel like going to the store. After a busy day, nothing helps me unwind more than cooking a yummy meal and enjoying it with my husband. With not many fresh ingredients on hand, I turned to frozen copped spinach, frozen chicken breast, and of course, pasta. This dish turned out to be warm and delightfully comforting-the perfect remedy after a long day.

Lizzy M.'s Rainbow Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thin

2-3 plum tomatoes, q
Sea salt and freshly ground black p
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 lemon wedge

2-3 cups fresh arugula (about 1 cup per person)

4 slices prosciutto, cut into long, thin ribbons (about 2 slices per person)
Freshly shaved Parmigiano Reg
giano or Pecorino Romano
Whole Wheat Rotelle Pasta or any pasta you like


1. Prepare pasta according to directions.

2. While the pasta cooks, in a
large saute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced red onions, salt and pepper, and saute for about minutes or until caramelized.

3. Next add the quartered tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes. After the 2-3 minutes, turn the heat to low, then add the garlic and a squeeze of the lemon wedge. Saute on low for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove the pasta from the heat
into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature for a few minutes. Toss the pasta with the sauteed onions, tomatoes, and garlic, fresh arugula and prosciutto. Serve the pasta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Lizzy M.'s Lemon Chicken and Spinach Florentine Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 chicken breast will serve 2-3)

Sea salt and freshly grou
nd black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

4-5 thin slices of lemon

1/2 medium red onion, chopped small

2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup cream (You can also milk, fat free half and half-whatever you have.)

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Lemon zest

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Whole Wheat Spaghetti (any long pasta will do- Fettuccine or Linguine)


1. Cook pasta according to p
ackage's directions.

2. While the pasta cooks, season the chicken breast with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and olive oil.

3. In a large sa
ute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, add the seasoned chicken breast and lemon slices. Saute for about 5-7 minutes on the first side, then turn over and saute for another 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest. Transfer the lemon slices to use as garnish for the pasta.

4. After the chicken rests for about 5 minutes, on a cutting board slice the chicken until it is almost shredded.

5. In the same large
saute pan, add a small amount of olive oil and heat. Add the red onions and saute for about 4-5 minutes or until caramelized. Next, add the sliced chicken and garlic. Allow to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

6. Add the spinach, sour cream, cream, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Cook the ingredients on medium to low heat until it becomes a creamy sauce. Turn the heat off of the sauce. Then, add the pasta into the saute pan and toss until well-coated in the spinach and chicken sauce.

7. Serve the pasta garnished with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and lemon slices.

I hope you will enjoy these spring-time pasta recipes. Never be afraid to pull things out of the freezer and throw something together. It is almost like a challenge. Try to make something out of very little and see what delicious dinners you can create! Happy Spring!


Rouge, a New American Bistro

Walking down 18th Street in
Center City Philadelphia, you will find a lovely block between Walnut and Locust Streets across from Rittenhouse Square Park that is reminiscent of the side-walk bistros in Europe. Recently when my mother was in town, on a sunny April day as the pink and white cherry blossoms were in full bloom, we ended up at this very spot noticing the park side restaurants' outdoor seating filled with diners enjoying afternoon refreshments. With one look at the New American Bistro, Rouge, we were sold. The doors across the front of the restaurant were all wide opened, so you could sit inside and still feel like you were outside. After our intense shopping spree, we were in need of a delicious snack and cool beverage.

Parched and hungry, we studied the menu and quickly decided on sharing "The Rouge Burger-on a Challah roll with caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese and and Pommes Frites", that is until we saw an elaborate cheese plate on the watiress' tray heading to the diners behind us. We immediately said-we must have that cheese plate! Our drink order of two glasses of a crisp, dry white wine came quickly. We chatted and enjoyed our refreshing vino in the warm sunshine overlooking the gorgeous park. The cheese plate arrived and was truly a work of art. On a large, round marble cheese board perfectly portioned samples of Bleu, Gorgonzola, Brie, and Goat cheese, fig preserves and quince spread, and a stack of fresh baked fruit and nut bread surrounded a heaping mound of berries, grapes and green apple sitting on a bed of spiced cashews.

We savored each and e
very bite of this artful cheese masterpiece. I can't wait to get back to Rouge to further explore their menu. If you are in Center City Philadelphia, then I highly recommend an outdoor snack break at Rouge. Order the cheese plate and wine and you just may feel as though you have been transported to France. For a taste of Paris this spring, visit Rouge on Rittenhouse Square.


205 South 18th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19130



Stuffed Artichokes: One Method, Two Recipes

Of all the seasonal fruits and vegetables, I most look forward to seeing beautiful, large green artichokes in the produce section when spring comes. This year, artichokes were nowhere to be found, except for little, brown shriveled chokes up until about two weeks ago. Usually, I hope to see artichokes in the stores around Easter time, but this year I had to wait a bit longer. In my family, eating stuffed artichokes in the springtime, especially on or around Easter, is tradition. I always recall one of our family's Easter celebrations at my grandparents' house in 1986, likely because there was a fabulous VHS recording of the festivities with my dad's cumbersomely large video cam with a shoulder bag included. My grandfather was busy making his stuffed artichokes while my grandmother was stirring her crawfish etouffe. My dad asked my grandmother on video what we were eating for dinner, and she announced in the most colorful of New Orleans accents, "Crawfish Etouffe and Stuffed Awtichokes!" My Paw Paw (my grandfather) allowed my sister to sample an artichoke leaf. After my 8 year old sis properly ate the yummy bite, she and my Paw Paw raised their hands in an Italian hand gesture expressing their satisfaction of the
goodness of that artichoke along with sounds of "Mmmmmmm".

Stuffing an artichoke properly is somewhat of an art form and can be as extravagant or as simple as the artist chooses. I tend to carry on the traditions that my grandfather and father have taught me over the years, which I believe to be the very best and most delicious method. Not only were stuffed artichokes big in my family, but they are also a staple of Italian cuisine in New Orleans. You can find stuffed artichokes on many New Orleans menus at both traditional New Orleans restaurants and Italian restaurants. Living in Philadelphia, I don't think I have ever seen a stuffed artichoke on any menu and don't really know anyone who is familiar with eating this dish. My husband never even knew about such a thing until he met me, and now he is my number one fan of my stuffed artichokes. There is something special about making this dish with someone and sharing in the delightful outcome. When visiting my foodie/catering queen/cook sister-in-law in Seattle one spring, we visited Pike's Place Market, where we found a gorgeous selection of artichokes. She had never had or made a stuffed artichoke, so we decided to make an evening of it with plenty of wine. The artichoke was a success and a wonderful bonding experience with my sis-in-law. Although making this dish can be fairly simple and easy to do alone, I say make it an evening with someone special.

Since spring is the season for the best artichokes, I suggest planning your artichoke night in the near future to partake in the best of the crop. Look for weighty, large, green chokes with the leaves tight to the bulb. If the leaves are separating from the bulb and the artichoke is light, then it is likely not fresh. If you own a pressure cooker, then that is the best cooking vessel for the artichoke, however a large boiling pot will do just fine too. For my traditional stuffed artichoke, a variety of Italian cheeses are needed, as well as fresh lemon, garlic and bread crumbs. I like to use a mix of Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Provolone, and Mozzarella cheeses. You can use one or two of these or all of these. Don't feel like you can't go through with this recipe without every one of these cheeses. You can make a delicious stuffed artichoke with just a shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle Parmesan cheese. My first recipe below is my preferred traditional method and the second recipe will give you an idea of how easy it is to change up the recipe and make it your own.

Lizzy M.'s Traditional Stuffed "Awtichoke"

1 artichoke, was
hed and trimmed (1 artichoke can feed 2-3 people.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 whole lemon
2 garlic cloves, cut into large, thin slices
2-3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, broken into small pieces
2-3 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese, cut into small,
thin slices
2-3 oz. Provolone cheese, cut into small, thin slices
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella (You can also use a block of mozzarella cut into thin slices-whatever you have.)
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs


1. Start by preparin
g the artichoke by cutting off the stem. Cut off the very end of the stem, which is usually brownish and throw out, but reserve the rest of the stem. Next, turn the choke on its side and hold with a good grip. With a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4 inch of the choke. This will remove many of the sharp, pointy edges in the middle of the choke. After that, with kitchen scissors, starting at the bottom of the choke, trim off the remaining pointy tips of each artichoke leaf. Just cut off the sharp tip, leaving most of the leaf in tact for stuffing.

2. Once trimmed, place the choke under cool running water, while gently loosening the artichoke leaves by pulling them outward from the center. This will allow the water to clean the choke on the inside, also making the leaves easier to stuff. Alternatively, you can wash the choke by placing it upside down in a deep bowl, pot or clean sink of water. Move the choke up and down in the water, so the water can remove any dirt in the choke. Dry the choke and get ready to stuff! If you don't plan to stuff it immediately, then place in a bowl of water with lemon juice or a vitamin C tablet, so the artichoke won't turn brown.

3. On a large plate, place your choke to begin stuffing. First, drizzle a liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil into the center and all around the artichoke. Next, add a dash of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and Italian seasoning all over the choke. Finish this part by squeezing a large lemon wedge over the choke.

4. Now for stuffing. First, add a large slice of garlic clove down in the center of the choke. Disperse the rest of the garlic slices in random leaves throughout the choke. This will infuse a delicious garlic flavor. If you don't like or have whole garlic, then use about a teaspoon of garlic powder instead.

5. Starting with the hard cheeses (parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano), stuff the cheese slices all around the choke in as many leaves as possible. Next, add the provolone and mozzarella cheeses. Feel free to add as much or as little cheese as you like. The point is to provide an intense flavor combination from the variety of cheeses on as many leaves as possible.

6. Sprinkle the top of the stuffed artichoke with the bread crumbs, another squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil.

7. In a pressure cooker, fill with water without overflowing onto the basket and place the stuffed artichoke, used lemon wedges, and reserved stem into the pressure cooker basket. Close and lock the lid, and turn the burner to a high heat. Once you start to hear the steam whistling out of the cooker, then turn the heat to medium and allow to cook for 17 minutes. After 17 minutes, turn the heat off and let the cooker sit until the pressure of the steam has released. Most pressure cookers have a little button that is raised when the pressure is too high to open, and the button drops when it is safe to open the pressure cooker.

*If you not have a pressure cooker, then simply use a large boiling pot filled with about an inch or two of water. Cook your choke directly in the pot on medium heat for about 45 minutes. With this method, you will have to check often to make sure there is enough water in the pot. If there isn't, the choke will burn, so you need to add water as it cooks. If you have a steaming pot with a basket or one of those pasta pots with a colander basket, then use that with the same cooking time of 45 minutes. You can check to see if the choke is done, by trying to pull a leaf from the choke. If it separates easily, then it is done. If it is difficult to pull away, then cook for a bit more.

How to Eat...

1. Pull one leaf at a time to eat. Hold
ing the top of the leaf with your fingertips, use your teeth to scrape all of meaty artichoke goodness and stuffing from the leaf, then in a bowl throw out the tough remains of the leaf. Keep enjoying each cheesy, garlicky stuffed leaf until you get to the core of the choke, where the small, spiky leaves remain. At that point, pull out those leaves and put in the trash bowl.

2. You will then get to an almost fuzzy-like part, which is layered on top of the artichoke's heart. Sometimes, you can just pull this out with your fingertips until the heart is exposed. Other times, you may need a spoon or melon baller to gently spoon off that fuzzy layer.

3. Once the heart is cleaned, cut into quarters and let everyone enjoy, as this is the most flavor-packed part of the artichoke. You can also eat the stem, which tastes almost exactly like the heart. Have lots of napkins because this is a fun, messy and involved eating process, which can be best enjoyed with a glass or glasses of wine or over a nice long, family dinner.

Lizzy M.'s Herb-Garlic Onion Stuffed Artichoke

1 artichoke, w
ashed and trimmed (1 artichoke can feed 2-3 people.)
Extra virgin ol
ive oil
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 of lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs


1. Follow steps #1-#3 in the
first recipe.

2. Mix the lemon zest, garlic, red onion, parsley, Parmesan and bread crumbs in a bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

3. With a spoon, stuff as many leaves as possible with the zesty onion mixture.

4. Then, cook just as described in step #7 in my first recipe.

You can stuff anyth
ing into an artichoke. Try a Greek-style with feta cheese and Kalamata olives or a hearty treat with Gorgonzola or bleu cheese and bacon. You can also simply steam the artichoke in olive oil and lemon and prepare a dipping sauce. A hollandaise-style sauce or a pesto sauce would both make for fabulous condiments to a simply steamed choke. You are only limited by your imagination with what you can do with this season's bounty of artichokes. Enjoy them now while the best of the season is still available at your local markets.


The Hotel du Pont

Located at 11th and Market Streets in Wilmington, Delaware, you can find the classic, world-renown Hotel du Pont, a historic treasure approaching its 100th anniversary. Opening its beautiful doors in 1913, The Hotel du Pont strived to be a great European-style hotel of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

With only 80,000 residents at the time in the quaint city of Wilmington, it was surprising that as many as 25,000 visitors came to see the hotel within its opening days. The visionary, Pierre S. du Pont, the owner of the Dupont Company, a company providing scientific solutions globally, planned this hotel originally with 150 guest rooms, a main dining room, a "rathskeller" or bar, a men's cafe and bar, club room, ballroom, and ladies' sitting rooms. The stunning French and Italian craftsmanship is evident in each and every room of this hotel. The hotel went through many c
hanges over the years especially during the 1950s, however, today the lobby has been restored to the elegant, timeless grandeur that it once beheld in its beginning days. The guest rooms have also been renovated to reflect the preservation of the history and charm in a modern way.

Many high-profile guests have walked through the doors of The Hotel du Pont including historic figures like Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, and Joe DiMaggio. Entertainers such as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington, Elizabeth Taylor and Whoopi Goldberg have enjoyed spending time in the grand Hotel du Pont. Besides the glorious lobby and guest rooms, The Green Room (the main dining room) features French cuisine in a beautiful setting with gold chandeliers, panels of oak, Italian mosaic and original paintings. Large, comfortable wingback chairs and incredible floor-to-ceiling drapes give you the sense that you are dining like royalty. The consecutive 24-time winner of the four diamond AAA award, The Green Ro
om's Executive Chef, Keith Miller, offers a menu that utilizes the best seasonal ingredients combined with a creative touch. You can dine any time of the day in The Green Room with breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

I had the pleasure of indulging in a lovely dinner at The Green Room. The menu is sophisticated with a slight edge maintaining the classicism and integrity of the hotel while embracing the modern trends of today's culinary arts. The appetizers start you off strong with items like "Hudson Valley Foie Gras-golden raisin two ways, chipotle-vanilla
brioche and three salts", "Citrus-Smoked Salmon Wrapped Diver Scallops-buckwheat bilini, golden trout roe and dill emulsion", or (my favorite named-dish) "A Study in Local Mushrooms-exotic mushroom consomme with porcini-dusted sweetbread, mushroom foam, and a rosemary-scented smoked mushroom skewer". With amazing choices like these, it was difficult to decide but we opted for the "Seafood Boudin-Blanc-beluga lentil ragout and truffle pistou" (shown above). This dish is reminiscent of a true boudin sausage but becomes something all its own, possessing rich flavors of the sea in this complex seafood sausage blend but the real enhancement and intensity of this dish comes from the truffle pistou, an oil-based cold sauce.

Following appeti
zers, soups and salads are offered like the "Warm Wilted Spinach and Purple Cress Salad-wild boar bacon, shallots, quail egg, and goat cheese vinaigrette" or "Sweet Onion-Almond 'Cappuccino'-crispy ris de veau and onion crostini". Entrees are perfectly suited for meat and seafood lovers alike. "Loin of Colorado Lamb-pommes puree, braised baby fennel, lemon-thyme bourbon whiskey pan sauce" (shown above on the right), and "Charbroiled Veal Chop-brandy grilled pears, forest mushrooms, and white truffle emulsion" satisfy those carnivore cravings.

Seafood lovers can
delight in "Butter Poached Tiger Prawns-'sous vide' artichoke and black olives, ale stewed wheatberry, smoked tomato broth" or "Line-Caught Black Sea Bass-salsify-pistachio-shiitake saute, crispy shiitake, and sauce foie gras". For the best of both worlds order the "Surf and Turf-grilled 6-oz. black angus filet, calvados demi, lobster medallion, frisee, petite vegetables and parisienne potatoes" (shown above on the left). If that's not enough, the chef has new specials daily like the one I tried featuring cod with a filet of seared cod and cod mousse shaped into scallops drizzled in truffle oil, surrounded with seasonal vegetables and topped with parsnip crisps (shown above). If this menu is intimidating at all to you, then feel free to order from the bar menu with classics that are sure to satisfy.

Even with all the intrigue
of the dinner menu, the "After Dinner Enjoyments" or dessert menu certainly takes the cake. Executive Pastry Chef, Michele Mitchell creates exquisite confections like "Sweet Cream Cheese Panna Cotta-sour cherry compote and graham cracker tuile" or "Lemon Grass Scented Creme Brulee-wild strawberry juice and vanilla bean tuile". A true chocolate lover's heaven can be found with "Three Chocolates Tasting-milk chocolate milk shake, white chocolate almond terrine, and moist chocolate ganache cake". For something that is as beautiful as it is delectable, try "Our Signature Dessert: Amaretto White Chocolate Raspberry Napoleon-thin layers of dark chocolate between white chocolate amaretto mousse with fresh raspberries and berry coulis" (shown on the left). If I could make this, then it would certainly be my signature too. Rich, chocolaty, and creamy with touches of sweet, tangy fruit and almond flavors make this signature a true masterpiece.

Whether you are visiting the Wilmington area or live in or near Wilmington, Delaware, then I highly suggest a trip to the legendary Hotel du Pont, especially its extraordinary Green Room. You are sure to soak in the history of this near century-old landmark hotel. After walking through the doors, you will immediately feel as though you have been transported to an old European city. Take advantage of this feeling, enjoy a cocktail in the bar and dine the night away-you can even sleep over.


Tuna Steak with Kalamata Gremolata

Continuing with my endeavor to eat healthy, whole foods, which includes incorporating more fish in my diet, I tried a new spin on a simple tuna steak dinner. I forget how much I adore tuna. Not only do I eat it raw in sushi, but I also enjoy tuna salad and certainly love a tuna steak. High in protein and low in fat, tuna, preferably Yellowfin tuna is an item you want to buy on the same day you plan to use it for optimum freshness. 3-4 ounces of the tuna should suffice for each serving. Talk to your fishmonger at your grocery store or market. They are happy to help you with the proper serving size and welcome questions about their product. This idea came from a recipe I saw Rachael Ray do on her show, 30 Minute Meals on The Food Network. She made a Sicilian feast with an anchovy and Kalamata olive pasta and tuna steaks with a citrus gremolata. A "gremolata" is a condiment or topping to add to a meat or seafood dish usually prepared with herbs, garlic and lemon zest all finely chopped. I love the idea of using a gremolata to add an extra flavor boost to any simply prepared protein. Since I already had Kalamata olives, lemons and parsley, I decided to make the gremolata out of those ingredients and use it to top a seared tuna steak. With leftover red kale and spinach in my fridge, wilting those greens would make for a perfect bed for presenting my tuna steak. I had planned on adding some grains to this dinner but the tuna steak looked hefty enough with the greens and gremolata that I chose to skip the carbs for this meal.

The health benefits
of eating fish are endless; it is good for your body and your brain. It took me a long time to embrace fish and seafood. I was the kid who ordered a hamburger at a seafood restaurant while my parents and sisters tore through a huge plate of boiled seafood like shrimp and crab. Some may judge and think-how could you be a true New Orleanian without loving seafood? Well, eventually I did come around. I certainly always enjoyed eating crawfish at crawfish boils, even when I was young. I was properly taught by my Paw Paw how to remove the head, peel the boiled, red crawfish and get the most meat out of each piece of spicy, hot mud bugs! At some point in high school, I found an appreciation for sushi, which definitely made me more open to try different kinds of fish. Now, I enjoy many kinds of fish and even love oysters. If you aren't into fish, then I encourage you to just start trying it. I never, ever thought I could stomach an oyster until I ate a perfectly fried oyster at Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans. Just taste it because you won't know how much you love something until you try it!

Lizzy M.'s Seared Tuna Steak with Kalamata Gremolata

1/2 cup Kalamata olives
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 -4-5 oz. tuna steak (1 per person)
Sea salt
Half of lemon, slice into large pieces (Use to cook with the tuna and also use as a garnish.)
Greens (Use any kind of green that you have like kale or spinach.)


1. On a cutting board, chop the olives. Add the chopped parsley, grated garlic, lemon zest and black pepper on top of the olives. Run your knife through all of these ingredients together and combine them. Place in a bowl and set aside.

2. Season each side of the tuna steak with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a squeeze from a lemon wedge and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.

3. In a large saute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the tuna steak(s) and allow to sear for about 5 minutes. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges over the tuna and drop into the pan. Gently flip the tuna steak to sear the other side for another 5 minutes.

*Do not over cook your tuna steak. For the best flavor from your tuna make sure to buy it on the same day that you plan do use it. Also, tuna is best when it is raw and pink in the center. You may have to adjust the cooking time depending on the size and thickness of your tuna.

4. In another small saute pan, heat the greens with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Allow the greens to wilt down by cooking on a medium to low heat for about 4 minutes.

5. When serving, first add a generous amount of greens to the the plate. Place the tuna steak cut in half on top of the greens. Spoon the Kalamata Gremolata on top of the tuna along with a lemon wedge from the saute pan.

Experiment with cooking different kinds of fish, and you will be an expert in no time. There is no need to limit your diet to the same old chicken or beef because there are so many other wonderful things out there to enrich your diet. So open your mind and your kitchen to something different. Change is good.


Easter Dinner Spread

After finding the highly acclaimed Kielbasa (Polish sausage) at Czerw's Polish Kielbasy in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, our Easter dinner turned out to be quite the success. Also, with the addition of beautiful hors'doevres like my sister-in-law's caramelized onion and brie pinwheels and cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, our Easter celebration was a tasty treat enjoyed by all. The stars of the meal included a spiral ham and of course the smoked Kielbasa served with homemade mustard and beet horseradish prepared by my mother and sister-in-law. The starches of the meal included a delicious, hearty baked macaroni and cheese topped with bacon. Rice salad with mango, cashews and coconut, and a sweet, buttery pineapple stuffing completed the starches. Cabbage cole slaw and asparagus with lemon peel rounded out the meal. Loaves of Challah bread were served with bunny shaped butter. Everyone had seconds of this meal. Many thanks to Czerw's for providing my family with the best Polish sausage we have ever tasted, the perfect addition to our Easter dinner!

Czerw's Kielbasy


Chicken Sausage and Red Kale Stir-Fry with Farro

Working on the healthy eating endeavor, I have been experimenting with whole grains. Last week, my focus was on the whole grain, farro. Also known as emmer wheat, farro, was one of the first domesticated crops in the Far East. It is actually known as farro mostly in Italy and emmer wheat in other locations. This ancient grain is limited in cultivation in this day in age but production in Italy continues to grow. It is also produced in Morocco, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Albania and in the United States as a specialty product. I had heard about this whole grain, which is filled with nutrients, fiber and protein, from the Food Network. In a mission to find this grain, I searched through Whole Foods and was surprised at how difficult it was to find this item. Finally, in the rice aisle, I came across a little vacuum sealed bag of farro. There was only one expensive option available, but I went for it anyway to give this grain a shot.

After locating the farro, I ne
eded to figure out how to make this into a meal. Without a plan, I wondered through the produce section looking for a vegetable. As I checked out the greens, the red kale stood out to me. So with red kale in hand, I thought about what protein would work best with this. After considering fish, I saw fresh spinach and feta cheese chicken sausage in the meat case. I decided to create a "stir fry" style meal with crumbled chicken sausage, red pepper, red onion, red kale and diced tomato served with farro topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Not knowing what to expect with cooking farro, I was delighted to realize that cooking this grain is actually quite simple and not fussy at all. Following the directions, I allowed for the farro to soak in water for 25 minutes. Then I brought the water and farro to a boil before lowering the heat to a simmer. The farro simmered uncovered for 25-30 minutes, and turned into plump, tasty grains. I would describe this grain as a mix between brown rice and Israeli couscous. Check out this healthy, easy recipe for a great week night meal.

Lizzy M.'s Chicken Sausage and Red Kale "Stir-Fry" with Farro

1 tbsp Extra virgin
olive oil, divide in 2 parts
Dash of crushed red pep
1 medium red onion
or half of a large red onion, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper
, sliced
long and thin
Sea salt
Freshly ground black
2 links chicken sausage
(Try a s
pinach and feta chicken sausage or an Italian chicken sausage. Use 1 link per person.)
2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced

1 can diced tomatoes
, drained

1 bunch of red kale
, stems removed and roughly chopped

, cook as directed

Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Use parmigiano reggiano as a substitute.)


1. Soak farro for 25 minutes.

2. Bring farro to a boil and then bring the heat down, so the farro is simmering. Allow for the farro to simmer for 25-30 minutes.

3. While the farro is cooking, heat a large saute pan on medium to high heat. Add half of the tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan and a dash of crushed red pepper. Next, add the sliced red onion and red pepper to the pan. Saute for about 3 minutes.

4. Squeeze the chic
ken sausage out of the casing and into the pan. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage. Saute with the onio
ns and peppers for about 5 minutes. Lower heat if needed.

5. Grate the garlic into the pan and stir well. Allow the garlic to saute for just 1-2 minutes before adding in the diced tomatoes. Cook for about 7 minutes.

6. Pile the red kale into th
e pan and carefully turn to mix with the other ingredients. Cook the kale with the stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes or until the kale is wilted. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper here if needed.

7. Serve the chicken sausa
ge and kale stir-fry topped with a generous spoonful of farro. Drizzle each plate with the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil and grate fresh Pecorino Romano cheese on top.

Enjoy this healthful, colorful meal any night of the week to provide you and your family with an excellent combination of vitamins, nutrients, fiber and protein. Experiment with different whole grains, and see what you and your family like. There's more out there than just rice and pasta, so try something different today.
Related Posts with Thumbnails