Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alfresco Italian

This time of year eating all of Spring’s bounty is a must. Also on the top of my list is eating Alfresco. Growing up on an Irish- Italian family we ate many meals outside with bread and cheese for a springtime simple pleasure!

Roasted Garlic

6 whole heads garlic
1/2-cup olive oil
Salt/ freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350.Trim the points of the heads of garlic exposing the tops of the cloves. Place the heads together in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 250 and roast 1 hour more. Serve the garlic with crusty bread and assorted cheeses. One of life’s most simple pleasures!

Roasted Red Peppers

12 large red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Turn all gas burners on high. Place peppers directly on flame watching very carefully, Turn until the entire pepper is a burnt a bluish, black color. Place in plastic bag for 15 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. Under cold water rub the skin off and slice into strips. Loosely layer in a bowl drizzling with oil mixture. Serve with crusty bread, in salads or you can make a soup.

Grilled Vegetable Platter

3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
3 yellow squash sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 Japanese, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
12 green onions
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1-cup goats cheese, crumbled

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. Meanwhile whisk 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle with goat’s cheese and serve.

Tuscan Bread Salad

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
4 slices (1/2-inch-thick) Italian bread, about 4 inches in diameter
1 head romaine lettuce
1 cup Black Ripe Pitted Olives, drained
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
Fresh grated Parmesan

Combine 1-tablespoon olive oil and 1 clove garlic; brush over both sides of bread slices. Grill bread 2 to 3 minutes per side in ridged grill pan or broil 1 to 2 minutes per side until lightly toasted. Reserve outer leaves of lettuce. Tear or chop enough inner leaves to measure 6 cups. In large bowl, combine torn lettuce, olives, tomato and beans. Cut grilled bread into cubes; add to lettuce mixture. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons oil, remaining garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper; mix well. Add to lettuce mixture; toss well. Arrange outer leaves of lettuce on 4 serving plates; top with salad. Sprinkle basil and Parmesan over salads.

Shrimp Scampi

1-pound Shrimp. Peeled and devained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 lb Cooked Fettuccine

Heat butter and oil in a skillet. When hot, add the shrimp and cook over high heat, turning shrimp constantly. As soon as the shrimp turn pink, add the parsley, garlic and basil. Keep tossing for no more than another minute; remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, add salt and pepper and add the other 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve over hot fettuccine.

Noni’s Ricotta Pie

3 pounds Ricotta 

1-pint heavy cream 

1/2-cup flour

2 cups sugar
1-tablespoon vanilla
9 eggs 

1 cup chocolate chips

Beat the eggs until thick. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the vanilla, cream and flour. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips Grease a baking dish well and pour the cheese mixture in. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

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