I did a (mostly) Italian-inspired recipe series on Facebook, and I thought I’d share the recipes here! I hope these provide inspiration for easy recipes that are comforting and warming. Buon appetito!
Warm Artichoke Bruschetta
Makes 6 appetizer servings
- 6 oz marinated baby artichoke hearts
- 3 T mayonnaise
- 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 T dried Italian seasoning herb blend
- 1 t garlic powder
- 1 baguette, sliced on bias into thin 1/4″ slices
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Coarsely mince the artichoke hearts into 1/3″ pieces. Add the mayonnaise, grated cheese, dried Italian seasonings, and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly.
- Using a spoon, spead artichoke mixture onto baguette slices, spreading to the edges.
- Place artichoke-covered baguette slices onto a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until slices are browned and artichoke mixture is hot and ‘melted’. Remove from oven, let cool for 1-2 minutes, and serve warm.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese and White Truffle Oil
Makes 4 servings
- 1 lb fresh brussel sprouts
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 t salt, or to taste
- 1/2 t pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 – 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
- to 1 1/2 t white truffle oil
- Wash and halve the brussel sprouts and place in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
- Pour over oil and mix thoroughly together, massaging the oil over the brussel sprouts. Add salt, pepper, and cheese and mix thoroughly.
- Place brussel sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes, until outer leaves are well-browned and crisp. Remove from oven and toss with white truffle oil. Serve hot.
Creamy Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon
Makes 6 entree servings
- 5 T unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 C heavy cream
- 2/3 C nonfat milk
- 1 lb fresh fettuccine pasta
- ½ C grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
- 2 T scotch whiskey
- salt, ground black pepper
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.
- Melt the butter over very low heat in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta, and add the shallot. Cook until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream. Heat until the cream comes to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- When the water comes to a boil, add 1 T salt and the pasta. Cook until almost al dente. Drain the pasta (reserving some of the pasta cooking liquid) and add it to the sauté pan.
- Add the milk, cheese, salmon, Scotch, ¼ t salt, and pepper to taste. Cook over very low heat, tossing to combine ingredients, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking liquid (or milk) if it is too thick. Divide among bowls or plates and serve.
Cheesy Eggplant Couscous Casserole
Makes 2-3 individual entree servings
- 1/2 eggplant, sliced 1/8″ thick
- 2/3 C Israeli couscous
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/2 to 3/4 C tomato sauce (to taste)
- 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 C bread crumbs (I used panko)
- 1/3 to 1/2 C grated mozzarella cheese (to taste)
- Cut the eggplant into thin (1/8″ slices, if possible), sprinkle with salt, and set aside. Preheat an oven to 375 deg F.
- In a 1 quart saucepan, saute 1/2 T olive oil with israeli couscous over medium heat until couscous is lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Slowly add 3/4 C boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and spread into bottom of a casserole dish (two 4″x8″ individual-sized dishes or one 9″x5″ loaf pan).
- Layer the tomato sauce on top of the couscous.
- Drain any moisture that may have come off of the eggplant, and slightly overlap 1/2 of the slices in a single layer. Lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the Parmesan grated cheese. Layer the remainder of eggplant slices on top similarly, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
- Evenly sprinkle the panko bread crumbs on top of the casserole, and then evenly sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese on top of that.
- Place in the preheated 375 deg F oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the eggplant gives way easily when pieced with a fork and the cheese is golden-brown. Serve hot.
Cheesy Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini
Makes 2 entree servings
- 2 medium-sized zucchinis
- 1 pre-cooked sausage of your choice (bratwurst, polish, etc.), chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 C shredded mozzarella
- olive oil, vegetable oil
- Dice the sausage into 1/2″ cubes and the onion into 1/4″ cubes. Finely mince garlic. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
- Halve each zucchini lengthwise and hollow out with a small spoon, leaving a border of ~1/4″ thickness. Brush with olive oil and set aside. Take hollowed-out zucchini flesh and chop finely.
- In a small-medium skillet, heat a mixture of 1/2 t olive oil and 1/2 t vegetable oil. When hot, add minced garlic, onion, and chopped zucchini; saute until fragrant and tender, 1-2 minutes. Add chopped sausage and saute for 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, mix, and saute for 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat.
- Stuff zucchini halves with equal parts of sausage mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the stuffed zucchinis.
- Place in oven and bake for 25 min or until zucchini is tender and the cheese is golden-brown. Remove and serve hot.
Did any of these appeal to you? My husband’s favorite was the creamy fettuccine with salmon because it reminded him of a favorite pasta dish that he used to enjoy in Hong Kong. I couldn’t name a favorite, but the artichoke bruschetta has been a long-time regular on my entertaining menu.