Tag Archives: zucchini

Meatloaf Calabrese

The word “Meatloaf” often harkens traumatic images of your mom’s signature recipe for the nights where she literally didn’t give a _________ and threw some protein, carbs, and other questionable fixings into a bowl, baked it, and called it dinner.

ewwww

She’s making meatloaf again???

And so, sadly, meatloaf often gets a bad rap. I, however, can assure that not all meatloafs are created equal. I grew up on my mom’s meatloaf and always jumped for joy when I found out that she was cooking it. But of course, my mother is Italian so the meatloaf was undeniable phenomenal. Well, now you can have phenomenal meatloaf too because I am gifting the recipe to you!

Meatloaf 9

Italians do everything better.

Yummm

This is Meatloaf Calabrese. My Italian family is from Calabria in Italy (things from Calabria are called Calabrese) and this recipe comes from there. Actually, the base of this recipe is for our Stuffed Bell Peppers which are a tad more elegant. Of course, when they came to America, they created a meatloaf incarnation of the dish that was more convenient for busy American weeknights. You will notice that this recipe calls for raisins in addition to beef, red pepper flakes, and other such ingredients; so you are probably thinking, “What in the damn hell?”

raisins and beef

Raisins and beef!?

Trust me, it is delicious. Savory beef and herbs, spicy red pepper and onion, and sweet raisins and tomato all work to complement, contrast, and balance each other PERFECTLY. This meatloaf could honestly be fed to royalty and they would knight the cook.

Now, about the “recipe”. Remember when I started this blog and I told you that not all my recipes provide precise measurements because of the Italian tendency to just feel the dish out as you go? Yeah, well that applies here. This is a recipe that you just have to touch and feel, adjusting as you go. I’ve never been able to get a straight answer about measurements for this dish.

just feel it

Just touch it…

I ask, “How much tomato sauce?” The response I get is, “I don’t know, you just have to touch it and you will figure it out!” So that is what I do and so I have never found myself able to fully break down the recipe. Sometimes I find it needs a touch more this or that. I look, I touch, I feel, I sense, I am guided by my great nonna Isabella. So this recipe is for those who feel pretty confident in the kitchen and are open to a little experimenting with out provided precise measurements.

Here’s the trick though, you’ve got to cook it with love for the people you are cooking for and passion for the quality ingredients you are using to nourish your body and satisfy your soul. If you infuse the food with this love and positive energy, it’s going to turn out great no matter.

cheers.gif

Let me know it goes! Buona Fortuna and Buon Appettito!

Meatloaf Calabrese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound grass-fed, organic ground beef
  • About ½ cup diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • About ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Splash red wine
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 zucchini shredded or 1 Portobello mushroom thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375̊ F.

Put the beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the marinara, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasonion, red pepper flakes, a ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the wine, and the egg in a large bowl.

Toast the bread, lightly wet with water from the sink. Remove the crusts and squeeze the liquid out until you are left with a mushy crumble. Throw in the bowl with the other ingredients.

Mix by hand until ingredients are well combined. Add the raisins and mix again until the raisins are well distributed.

Grease a meatloaf dish with olive oil. Add ½ of the meat mixture. Layer on the zucchini or mushrooms over the meat. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese over the vegetables. Add the rest of the meat mixture. Over with ¼ cup of the marinara. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese

Bake for 1 hour until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with additional marinara sauce as desired. Enjoy!

Johnny’s Frittata

In the morning, I like to have a really nutritious, protein packed meal to start my day off right. This frittata is exactly that. Eggs and whites, spinach, vegetables, and avocado make this one power house breakfast. I make this for breakfast for myself almost every day because it is just so good and sets me up for success throughout the day.

Johnny Frittata

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 full eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 5 cubes avocado
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salsa, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 ̊F. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onion, pepper, tomato, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté the vegetables until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook till wilted.

In the meantime, beat the eggs, egg whites, and paprika together in a large bowl. Once the spinach is wilted, pour the egg mixture into the pan so that it covers all the vegetables and spinach. Drop the avocado cubes throughout eggs.

Place in the oven and cook until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove and plate. Top with salsa and serve!

Summer Spaghetti

I write this on June 21, 2015, the Summer Solstice. It is a glorious warm and sunny day in Huntington Beach, CA that seems to foreshadow a luminous summer season ahead. As we dive into this summer, my foodie mind begins to think of foods that I should be making and eating to truly be able to taste this special season.

When I think of summer and food, I think of bright citrus flavors, fresh green herbs, seasonal vegetables like zucchini and summer squashes and plump cherry tomatoes, and succulent and lean seafood. And seeing as this particular day is a Sunday, I also think of pasta as it is traditional in my Italian-American family to have more Italian style dishes for traditional Sunday Supper. And so, today I combine all these flavors in one in my Summer Spaghetti.

This dish is very easy to make, requiring little effort, and is actually on the lighter side for a pasta dish which is perfect for summertime. Having this for dinner makes me feel like I am back in Italy on the Amalfi coast overlooking the blue Mediterranean while enjoying a delicious meal. I hope you can imagine the same as you enjoy this dish!

Summer Spaghetti

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 1b shrimp (figure 4-5 shrimp per person), deveined and removed of their tails
  • 1 zucchini squash cut into ½ rounds, then cut in half
  • 1 summer squash cut into ½ rounds, then cut in half
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil
  • ½ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until veggies are tender.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. (PROTIP: Throw a spaghetti noodle at the wall, if it sticks to the wall, it’s done!)

Place the shrimp in a small baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast for 5 minutes until shrimp are pinkish orange.

In a large pasta bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, remaining olive oil, ½ the basil and parsley, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, and ½ the parmesan cheese until well combined.

Drain the spaghetti and place in the bowl with the lemon mix. Add the additional parmesan and toss to coat. As you toss, the cheese will melt and toss the noodles! Add the veggies, shrimp, and remaining herbs. Toss until well mixed.

Garnish with additional parmesan cheese and herbs if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

Summer Spaghetti