Involtini

Ingredients:
3 eggplants, about 1 pound each, trimmed and cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick (about 16 slices total)
¾ cup olive oil, or as needed
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pine nuts
cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes until plump, then drained
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ cups drained canned crushed tomatoes
1 large ball fresh mozzarella in 1/4-inch slices

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a ridged cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and cook, turning, until soft and (if using a ridged pan) crisscrossed with grid marks. Set aside and allow to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine feta, pine nuts, raisins, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, bread crumbs, garlic, lemon zest, mint and parsley. Mix in egg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Spread eggplant slices on a surface, and divide stuffing evenly among them, placing 1 to 2 tablespoons at one end of each slice. Roll up slices tightly to secure filling, and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or other shallow baking pan in which rolls fit snugly in a single layer).
4. Pour crushed tomatoes on top of eggplant rolls. Arrange mozzarella slices in a line lengthwise down center of pan. Drizzle olive oil evenly over pan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Bake until cheese has melted and eggplant is bubbling and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese
1/2 of 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine everything EXCEPT 1/2 c of the mozzarella, 2 TBS of parmesan cheese, and chips.
3. Spoon mixture into baking dish, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
4. Bake mixture at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
5. Serve warm with chips.

Pizza del Giorno

5 cups halved, sliced yellow or red onions (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 oz. spicy fully-cooked smoked sausage, sliced
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 12-inch pizza crust
1/4 c broken walnuts, toasted
8 oz. mozzarella, sliced
1 TBS chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 c roasted red bell pepper or pimento strips

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Saute the onions with the sausage in olive oil in a large skillet for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.  Add a little more oil if needed.  Add the balsamic vinegar and mix.  Place the onion-sausage mixture onto the pizza crust.  Top with walnuts, cheese, chopped herbs and bell pepper or pimento strips.  Bake 15 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 6 servings.

Focaccia Flat Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water.
  2. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad)

Ingredients:
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 – inch thick
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 c fresh basil leaf
coarse salt
freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp drained capers (optional)
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
In a circular design around the side of a serving plate, alternate fresh mozzarella slices on a large platter (or on individual plates if you are doing individual portions) with sliced tomatoes, overlapping for effect.

Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Sprinkle capers over the top.

Just before serving, drizzle some olive oil.

Note:  This dish should never be allowed to sit in oil for any length of time and become soggy, and no vinegar of any kind goes on true Insalata Caprese.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

I guarantee that these will be a hit at any party or potluck!  Somehow always the topic of conversation and always the first to run out.

These are always a hit!

INGREDIENTS
20 fresh mushrooms, stems removed
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons Italian-style seasoning
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange mushroom caps hollow side up in the baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix together garlic, parmesan cheese, onion, bread crumbs, green bell pepper, parsley, Italian-style seasoning and black pepper. Slowly stir in approximately 1/2 the butter, enough to make the mixture slightly moist. Generously fill the mushroom caps with the mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Dama Bianca (Fennel and Celery Salad)

2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks discarded
6 pale inner (white) celery stalks, leaves discarded and stalks thinly sliced
1 (1/2-lb) ball buffalo mozzarella (optional), roughly torn
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons good-quality fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Halve fennel lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise about 1/4 inch thick.  Toss with celery and arrange on a platter with mozzarella. Whisk the sauce together and drizzle over the salad.