Mediterranean Spiced Meatballs in a Fragrant Sauce

The weather today is just gorgeous.  Early this morning, I went for a six mile hike with the pup.  We were trudging through mud and snow about 7:30am, then as the morning progressed, the sun continued to magnify, and it warmed up significantly.

Days like this are perfect for “transitional foods.”  This is the exciting time of year where it is still cold enough to keep making those crock-style dishes, yet is warm enough to add a little spring flare to it.  Edible flowers and “weeds” are starting to bloom, and gardens are ripe for the pickin’ of spring greens around here.

My Egyptian Walking Onions are at a nice tender age right now, and would be perfect seared in butter and smashed into some red-skinned potatoes.

This is one of my favorite meatball and sauce recipes.  I adapted it from an old cooking magazine, that I am not even sure exits anymore.  It is so fragrant and spicy, with a hint of fresh squeezed lemon and orange juices, fresh herbs, and garden vegetables; that you really get the flavor of a Mediterranean summer.  I serve it over Israeli cous cous and basmati rice which is also peppered with fresh herbs and citrus.

Mediterranean Meatballs in a Fragrant Spiced Sauce

Meatballs:

1/2 lb.  ground pork

1/2 lb. ground chuck

1/4 C onion, grated

1 egg

1T olive oil

2T cornstarch

1/2t each kosher salt, cracked pepper, fresh ground coriander seeds, fresh ground cumin seeds

1/4t each red pepper flakes, allspice

3T olive oil for sauteing

Sauce:

1C diced onion

1/2C  carrot, shredded

1T tomato paste

2t smoked Spanish paprika

1t each dried thyme, fresh ground cumin, ground ginger

1/2t cinnamon

1- 14.5oz can San Marzano tomatoes

1/2C chicken stock

1C zucchini, shredded

3T fresh squeezed orange juice

1t salt

Cous cous & Basmati:

1C dry Israeli cous cous, cooked

1C  dry basmati, cooked

3T extra virgin olive oil

1T lemon juice

1T lemon zest

1t orange zest

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3C fresh chopped parsley

salt and pepper

1. Meatball: Combine all ingredients in to a ball.
Shape in to 24 meatballs
* Heat remaining 3T of olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
*Brown meatballs on all sides, remove from skillet with a slotted spoon.
2. Sauce: Using the same skillet, over medium heat, saute
the onion and carrot until soft.
*Stir in the tomato paste,paprika, thyme, cumin, ginger, and cinnamon.
* Add the tomatoes, with their juice, zucchini, the meatballs, and the chicken stock.
*Cover pan, simmer for 10 minutes.
*Stir in orange juice and salt.
3. Cous cous and basmati: Cook cous cous and basmati, separately,
according to manufacturers directions.
* Toss both grains together in a pot, add the rest of the ingredients.

 

 

 

Basmati Rice

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Pork Scallopine & Juniper Berries

I have to admit, I am in love with Mediterranean food.  The copious amounts of sun soaked olive oil and produce picked from the yard moments before you eat it sets my heart a flutter.

One of my favorite quick meals in the fall and winter is pork scallopine and juniper berries.  The juniper berries lend to a nice peppery spice in the dish.  Normally, I like this dish with some fat buttered noodles, but this time I used up some millet I had in the pantry.  The millet was nice because the small granules soak up the sauce and become very flavorful and moist.  Millet is also a nice gluten free alternative that is very healthy.

 

Pork Scallopine & Juniper Berries

4-6 pork escalopes, trimmed
1T balsamic vinegar
1T salted butter
1T olive oil
6 cloves of garlic cut in half
1/4C cream sherry
3 sprigs of rosemary
15 juniper berries, crushed lightly
S & P
*Serve with buttered noodles or cooked grain, and green beans
 and shallots sauteed in butter and sprinkled with smoked salt

1.  Boil the cloves of garlic for 5 minutes to
 soften; drain & set aside
2.  Meanwhile, brush the pork with some of the
balsamic vinegar and sprinkle
with salt and pepper
3. Melt the butter and olive oil
in a large pan on medium heat
4.  Add the pork and sear until brown, about 3 minutes,
 turn over and cook one more minute
5.  Add the sherry, remaining balsamic, rosemary sprigs,
 garlic, and juniper berries
6.  Simmer for 2 minutes, remove pork, and simmer
till slightly thickened
7.  Spoon sauce over pork, serve with noodles and beans

Pork on FoodistaPork

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Meatless Mondays

don't have a cow sign

Meatless Monday is a very good thing.  As much as I love meat, I whole heartedly agree that this is an important movement for us to abide by.  Not only are you doing something good for your health, but you are doing something great for the planet as well by reducing your carbon footprint.  The meatless monday’s website is very informative if you would like some more information on the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s.’

When I told my husband what I was making for dinner, he grumbled a little bit, but when it came time to chow down, boy did he ever!

This is a very flavorful recipe, and I bet your husbands and/or children won’t even know how many yummy vegetables are in it.

This sauce takes about 2 hours to simmer, so leave plenty of time to make it.  Weekends are a good time to prepare lengthy recipes so your weekday meals are quick and easy to make. This recipe also makes a double batch, so it is perfect to put half in the freezer for a quick meal next time!

I encourage all of you to make this sauce over the weekend, and enjoy your quick, easy Meatless Monday night dinner!

Stuffed Shells with Vegetable Ragu

1 Carrot, peeled
1 stalk of celery
4 cloves garlic
1/2 large onion, roughly 1/2C
1 small (1/4C) zucchini, shredded
3T extra virgin olive oil
1-28oz Can San Marzano tomatoes, diced or pureed
2t dry basil
1t dry oregano
1 1/2t kosher salt
1t fresh cracked pepper
2 sprigs of rosemary
1T balsamic vinegar
1T red wine
12 jumbo shells, cooked and set aside
1 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella
1/4C parmesan
2t fresh parsley
  1. In a food processor; mince the carrot, celery, garlic, and onion.  Be careful not to turn it into mush.  You can do this by hand as well if you have the time.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium
  3. Add the minced vegetables, and cook for about 7-10 minutes until soft and starting to brown a tad
  4. Add in the zucchini and the diced tomatoes.  *You can process the tomatoes if you don’t like large chunks
  5. Add in dried spices, rosemary, salt, pepper, wine, and balsamic vinegar
  6. Uncovered; let simmer for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring occasionally
  7. When ready to assemble; spread 1C of sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish
  8. Stuff each shell with about 1T worth of fresh mozzarella (shredding the mozzarella ahead of time may make it easier to use)
  9. Place the shells in your casserole dish, sprinkle with a little more salt, cracked pepper and fresh parsley; top with 1 1/2-2 more cups of sauce and sprinkle with parmesan
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes in the oven on 350 until cheese is melted and sauce starts to bubble
  11. You can also broil the top for the last 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and golden brown

Conchiglioni

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An Early Morning Walk in Bologna…

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Winter (Summer) Vegetable and Chorizo Stew

Ever wonder what to do with all those luscious summer vegetables that you put in your freezer to use later, but only forgot about?

Well….

This stew if perfect for a super fast, rich, and filling dinner without being too heavy.  I adore all the smoky and spicy flavors that come out of the chorizo and soak in to the vegetables.

I REALLY love how quick and easy it is.  I can chop some veg, stew it with the chorizo for 20 minutes, bust out some yoga, throw the cilantro on and call it done!  It is even EASIER if you already have the vegetables chopped and ready to go in your freezer from summer harvest.

I  also love this dish because it gives me the perfect intro for talking about Winter Sun Farms.  Winter Sun will harvest all year, clean, portion, package, and freeze the produce, then either deliver to you or have a pick up spot for you to get your CSA package from them.

How great is that?

Local, fresh-frozen, happy, healthy produce for you to enjoy in the cold, dreary months.

Best part is….

you don’t have to wait for berry season to roll around again, just open your freezer and you will have neat little containers of all the farmers’ finest right there at hand.

MMMMmmm…. berry pie anyone???

I really have to give Winter Sun kudos.  They are keeping summer stock alive and not having product go to waste, plus, they are promoting farmers and local foods all year round—exactly what we need in this economy.  It is nice to know where your winter food comes from as well as your summer food.

Winter Vegetable and Chorizo Stew

7C butternut squash, in 1″ cubes
1/4C olive oil
8oz chorizo
4C onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2t salt, more to taste
2t fresh cracked pepper
1-14oz can tomatoes, diced
1/3C beef stock
1 hot chile, minced
2T mexican oregano
2T paprika (smoked is nice too)
1 lb of green beans, cut in half
1C corn kernals
1 /4C minced cilantro

1. Peel the sqaush with a peeler, remove seeds, and chop in to cubes.
2.  Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot
3.  Remove chorizo from casing, drop in to pot, and break up pieces with a spoon.  Cook on medium until browned
4.  Stir in onions, salt and pepper, cook until soft and starting to brown
5.  Add garlic, and cook for one minute
6.  Add in squash, tomatoes, stock, hot chile, and spices.
7.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until squash is tender
8.  Add in corn and beans, cook another 5-10 minutes

*Garnish with cilantro and serve

Chorizo

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Haitian Farmers Burn Monsanto Seeds

To remain neutral on my blog, I am keeping all opinions about Monsanto to myself, but I was sent these links just recently and thought I would share.  The articles are a few months old, but none-the-less important.  Happy reading!

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_20852.cfm

http://www.otherworldsarepossible.org/another-haiti-possible/haitian-farmers-commit-burning-monsanto-hybrid-seeds

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Italian Olive and Lamb Pasta (Tagine dish #2)

Last Fall, my husband and I went touring around Italy.  Sienna and San Gimignano were some of my favourite towns.  The olive bushes were everywhere throughout the town of San Gimignano.  The leaves of the bushes are a beautiful silver green like a sage or a salvia bush.

 

 

The Tuscan landscape was everywhere you looked as well.

 

It was rainy, and quaint…a perfect day to enjoy some afternoon pleasures such as the local wine and cured meat plates along side a window view of the Tuscan valley.

At home, we enjoy this lamb dish a few times a year during the cold months.  It has a rich sauce that the pasta seems to drink up, and is warming with the red pepper flakes and large chunks of garlic.  The olives pair well with lamb and rosemary….I only wish I had some of those exquisite fresh olives from Italy.

You can pick up some lamb at your local farmers market or direct from the farm.  Around here, we are bountiful with local meat farmers.  East Fork Farm has wonderful lamb for purchase.

Italian Lamb and Olive Pasta

1.5 lb leg of lamb in 1" cubes
2T olive oil
sea salt/cracked pepper
3 sprigs of rosemary
3 cloves garlic, in large chunks
1/2t red pepper flakes
2T balsamic vinegar
1/2C sherry or chardonnay
10 large green olives
  1. Heat olive oil in tagine or medium skillet over high heat
  2. Saute lamb until brown, add in salt and pepper
  3. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, turn down to medium heat
  4. Add in balsamic and cook for a few minutes until it starts to caramelize and thicken
  5. Deglaze pan with sherry/wine, add in olives and rosemary, cover with lid and cook 20 minutes until tender.
  6. Serve with butter and garlic pasta noodles

Olives

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