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Eggplant Prosciutto Involtini

August 21, 2014 Menu No Comments
Folded and ready to be served.

One of the more trendy dishes that you may find today on an Italian menu is Eggplant Involtini.

Inspired by the Italian word for ‘little bundles’, eggplant involtini is thinly-sliced eggplant, stuffed and rolled with a ricotta filling, then cooked in a basic tomato sauce. My wife and I always preferred to have our eggplant prepared thin, so involtini is a dish that we enjoy whenever we have the chance.

For my version of eggplant involtini, I’m replacing the ricotta stuffing with a garlic-herb goat cheese (one of my latest guilty pleasures) topped with a thin slice of prosciutto. There is no need for tomato sauce in this recipe (although feel free to add it on top if you wish).

When baked, the eggplant develops a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft and tasty interior, and is the perfect casing for the crispy and salty prosciutto and the creamy and tangy goat cheese.

This dish serves well as an appetizer or a main course.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, skin removed and sliced thin from top to bottom (you will get about 6-8 slices)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic herb goat cheese
  • prosciutto

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375˚. Lightly drizzle eggplant slices on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Place slices on a cooking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until eggplant starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven, flip the eggplant slices and place a dollop of the goat cheese on each slice. Top with a thin slice of prosciutto, then fold in half (rolling may cause the slices to break). Place the eggplant back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the eggplant is a rich golden brown, being careful not to burn the eggplant.

Serve and enjoy.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

Folded and ready to be served.

Folded and ready to be served.

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Mini Meatball Roll-Ups

August 5, 2014 Appetizer, Menu No Comments
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This past weekend I had gotten together with my closest college friends, as we celebrated our 20-something year reunion. While putting plans into place for our get together, we joked around about our daily diets of bodega-store eggrolls and street corner meatball sandwiches (we were starving art students at the time…don’t judge). This, of course, gave me the perfect idea for an appetizer to bring to our reunion. I simply cooked up some loose ground meat using my traditional meatball recipe mixed with a quick tomato sauce, then rolled it up in wonton wrappers with some shredded mozzarella cheese. What started off as a fun little idea turned into a creative, bite-sized alternative to a classic Italian party favorite!

There’s no real need for me to get too specific with ingredients for this recipe. I am well aware that the cook in every household, especially an Italian house, is partial to their own family meatball recipe. I do have my own meatball recipe listed below, if you are in need of one. One pound of your preferred meatball recipe, along with one cup of your preferred tomato sauce/Sunday gravy will work wonders. I used wonton wrappers because they roll up to a perfect bite-sized appetizer. You can also use eggroll wrappers for a larger portion, or any other pastry or dinner roll wrapper that you prefer. I also have listed below both a baking and stove top method for preparing the meatball mixture. I prefer baking my meatballs, but use whatever method you prefer. After all, it wouldn’t be a true meatball recipe if you weren’t able to make it to your liking!

Mini Meatball Roll-Ups

(You can use my quick sauce and meatball recipe below, or you can use your own preferred sauce and meatball recipe)
1 lb cooked meatball mixture*
1 cup tomato sauce, plus your preference of seasoning for taste (I used garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pack wonton wrappers (makes 52 wraps)

Oven preparation
Preheat oven to 375˚. Break up meatball mixture* into a glass baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until meat is cooked. You can check on it occasionally and carefully break the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Remove from oven when fully cooked, set aside to cool. Heat the sauce in a sauce pan, season to your preference. When the meatball mixture is cooled, break apart into small pieces (a few pulses in a food processor works well for this). Mix the sauce with the meatball mixture, set aside to completely cool.

Stovetop preparation
Heat 1 tbspn olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add meatball mixture*, breaking into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until loose meat is no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, season to taste. Simmer until meatball mixture and sauce are mixed well. Remove from heat, let cool.

Assembly
Place one tspn of cooled meatball and sauce mixture in the middle of a wonton wrapper, top with a pinch of shredded mozzarella cheese (be sure that the mixture is cooled, otherwise it will soften the wrapper). Roll the wrapper up half way from the bottom up. Lightly wet the top edge of the wrapper with water, then continue to roll and lightly pinch the edge to seal. Repeat until all wonton wrappers are filled or all meatball mixture is used.

Place the wrappers on a lightly sprayed baking sheet (you will need two baking sheets if you are making all 52 wrappers). Lightly spray the rolled wraps with cooking spray. Bake in the oven at 375˚ for 20 minutes or until the wrappers are golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

*Dom’s Meatball Mixture

1 lb ground beef. pork and veal mixture
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbspn Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 tbspn milk

Combine and thoroughly mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.

meatball rollups

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Nutella, Strawberry & Banana Stromboli

July 22, 2014 Menu No Comments
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Being a writer of an Italian-themed food blog, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have quite a few tasty guilty pleasures – with Nutella and stromboli way up on top of my list. I’ve posted a number of stromboli recipes on my blog over the years, and Nutella…well, how can I not love Nutella? Last week, I allowed both tasty worlds to collide as my daughter Julianna and I put a frozen puff pastry sheet that we hand on hand to deliciously good use. This was a fun and easy recipe that my daughter and I both enjoyed working on together. Time was mostly spent waiting on the pastry sheet  to completely defrost (which took a good 30-45 minutes). Once the pastry sheet was defrosted, I had Jules spread an even layer of Nutella as I sliced up some fresh strawberries and bananas. When spreading the Nutella, we left a one inch border on all four sides, which would allow us to fold and tuck the pastry sheet and not have any Nutella run out when baking. Once rolled, jelly-roll style, we brushed a little egg wash on the top of the rolled pastry, then topped it with a sprinkling of cinnamon. We baked it at 400˚ on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes. In just a short amount of time, we had a piping-hot dessert ready to be shared with my wife and our younger daughter Ava, served up with a little whipped cream on the side. I’m sure you can go all kinds of fun and crazy directions with this recipe…and I plan to do so, especially when the fall weather rolls into town in a few months. Be sure to keep it fun, let the kids get involved, and I guarantee that it will make for a tasty and memorable evening for you and your family!

nutella2

Step 1: Using one defrosted puff pastry sheet, spread an even coating of Nutella. Be sure to leave a one inch border on all four sides, which will make for easier rolling and sealing. This is a fun and easy step to have your kids handle, as you prepare and slice the fruit topping.

nutella3

Step 2: Place the fruit slices evenly on top of the Nutella spread. Be sure not to over-pack it with fruit, otherwise it will be difficult to roll the pastry shell – possibly breaking the shell if over-packed.

nutella4

Step 3: Roll the pastry sheet jelly-roll style. Fold the top and bottom ends down before the final roll, so that both ends are tucked in and sealed.

nutella5

Step 4: Place the rolled pastry onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush the top of the pastry with an egg wash, then sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Be sure to add a few vertical cuts to the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Place the cookie tray into a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

nutella6

Step 5: When cooled, slice it and serve it on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!

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Italian-style Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches

July 11, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments
ShrimpPoBoy

I was inspired to put this dish together a few weeks back when I saw Rick Moonen’s Catfish Sloppy Joe sandwich featured on The Food Network. I put a different spin on it by using my own Sloppy Joe recipe (found here), replacing the ground meat with shrimp. I also added zucchini and Old Bay to the mix for additional taste. I like to think of this sandwich as a cross between a Sloppy Joe and a Shrimp Po’Boy…a Sloppy Po’Boy, if you will. Unlike a true Po’Boy, these shrimp are not battered and fried. I also used a crusty Italian roll instead of a baguette…as long as the bread is good, there’s no need to be picky as far as I’m concerned. Whatever you prefer to call it, this is definitely a hearty and tasty sandwich, easy to make, and perfect for the summer season.

 

 

 

Italian-style Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches

Makes four sandwiches

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, each piece cut into thirds
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
salt & pepper
Old Bay seasoning

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the zucchini, stir together and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the shrimp, stir together. Cook until all shrimp are pink.

Add the can of tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning  to taste.

Stir together, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens up.

Serve in a crusty roll.

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