Mozarella cheese balls are like little bites of cheese heaven. Mozarella is a southern Italian cheese traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk.Fresh mozarella is generally but may appear slightly yellow because of the animal's diet. Because of its high moisture content, mozarella is served immediately but if kept in its brine in a vacuum-sealed package, they last for a week or more.
Anyway, this simple salad is more like a caprese salad but I added balsamic vinegar in the dressing for variation.
Ingrdients (Serves 2-3)
15 yellow cherry tomatoes
15 red cherry tomatoes
16 mini mozarella balls
small handful of basil leaves
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1) Whisk all the dressing together and set aside.
2) Wash and slice the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and arrange on the serving plates.
3) Place the mozarella balls and toss in the basil leaves over.
4) Pour the dressing over and serve.
Bruschettas are wonderful delicious appetizers and the fact that they just need a few minutes to prepare and assemble makes them even more delicious, don't they?? Usually, I chop the tomatoes and mix them with olive oil and basil leaves, season them with salt and pepper and serve them on toasted baguettes.
I thought I'll do it a little differently today. I marinated the tomato slices in a mix of balsamic vinegar, oilive oil and some bruschetta seasoning I came up on my own. Then I topped it off with basil leaves and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard dry cheese made from skimmed or partly skimmed cow's milk. It has a hard pale-golden rind and a straw-coloured interior but with a rich sharp flavor. They are aged at least for 2 years which results in their complex intense flavor. I found out that Parmigiano Reggiano is the original Parmesan Cheese. The Parmesan cheese we consume everyday is just an imitation of the original Parmigiano Reggiano and are only aged for 10 months. I realised after tasting some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano that nothing compares to its granular texture that melts in the mouth and I could taste the distinct aging in its flavor. This was not obvious in our regular Parmesan Cheese.
And did you know that there is something called Bruschetta Seasoning in the market? Having never come across such a seasoning before, my next best alternative will be to come up with my own, using what I had in my kitchen today and what is usually required for bruschettas. I used chilli flakes for a bit of spice, garlic granules and an Oregano, Basil and Tomato spice blend which I had bought long ago thinking I would definitely have a need for it someday. That day is today!!
You can come up with your own Bruschetta Seasoning too - just ensure these essential ingredients :
Dehydrated tomato pieces,
Dried Basil and
Ingredients (For 4 Bruschetta Slices)
4 slices of Ciabatta/Multi grain loaf
1 and 1/2 red ripe tomatoes, sliced very thinly into 8 round pieces
2 tsp Oregano, Basil and Tomato (OBT) Spice Blend
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Garlic Granules
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp EVOO plus extra for drizzling at the end and for drizzling on toasts before assembling
6-8 Basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt & Pepper
1) Mix the seasonings together - OBT Spice Blend, Chilli Flakes, Garlic Granules, Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO.
2) Then, soak the sliced tomato pieces in them and let them marinate for 10 minutes.
3) In the meantime, toast the ciabatta/multigrain loaf slices and drizzle EVOO over them. After 10 minutes, start assembling the marinated tomato slices over the toasts.
4) This will be followed by the chopped basil leaves, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of EVOO. Finish it up with a dash of pepper and salt. Serve as a quick appetizer or even with a warming soup of your choice. Best served warm. Enjoy!!
Meatless Minestrone is one of my favourite soups. Packed with vegetables, pasta and beans, it is wholesome goodness in a bowl. And it is so easy to prepare, like most soups.
I frequent The Soup Spoon a chain of eatery here in Singapore. It has a range of delicious soups which can be devoured with salads, wraps and sandwiches. For the longest time, I used to indulge in mostly their Mushroom Stroganoff - a chunky thick creamy mushroom soup served in a a bread bowl. Yearning for a change, my girls and I tried their Meatless Minestrone and then we wondered why didn't we try this before? It was so tangy and so full of goodness. Because it was quite thick in its tomato base, it quickly filled our hungry tummies.
I attempted to recreate their Meatless Minestrone last week. It was warmly welcomed at home. Try it on a cold rainy evening...you'll go to sleep, your tummy filled with warm nourishing soup under your equally warm blanket. With a smile, for sure! What a simple but perfect way to end an evening ...
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
2 cups of small shell pasta, boiled till al dente
4 tbsp EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tin of diced tomatoes, blended till smooth
1 cup of cubed carrot
1 cup of cubed zucchini
1 cup of cubed capsicum, any colour
1 cup of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced leek
5 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 tin of either kidney or cannelloni beans, drained
Watercress plants are an aquatic perennial herb found in abundance alongside slow running waterways and near natural springs. Watercress leaves and stems are both edible and are rich in many Vitamins - Vitamin A, C, E and K and other essential minerals. Obviously very low in fat and cholestrol and a good source of protein, folate, magnesium, potassium (I could go on and on here). But the best thing is it makes a great soup - both in western version nd the chinese version. I have posted the western version here wih home made croutons. Makes a great winter warming soup. The recipe is skinny too - only skim milk and olive oil has been used. You can substitute with butter and cream for added richness.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1) Cube the potato and chop the onion finely.
2) Clean and wash the watercress leaves and stems.
3) Heat a deep soup pot and pour 2 tbsp EVOO. Fry the chopped onion, minced garlic and potato cubes for 3-5 mins.
4) Add in the vegetable stock and skim milk and cover. Cook for 5 mins till the potato cubes are done.
5) Add the watercress leaves and stems and cook for another 3-5 mins.
6) This is how it would look at the end of the cooking time.
7) Process this in a blender and return it back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
8) To make your own croutons, cut bread into cubes and fry them in a pan with EVOO till they turn light brown on all sides. I used foccacia bread for that earthy meditaranean taste.
9) Serve with homemade croutons and a swirl of EVOO. Top it off with a few low fat Feta Cheese crumbles for that extra flavor.
A simple dish of roasted potatoes and portobello mushrooms. Potatoes when roasted in oven has a delicious burnt taste and married with pan roasted portobellos, you get a little taste of heaven! Using only 6 ingredients, this recipe could come in handy for your next weekday dinner.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
Calzones have originated in Naples, Italy and are shaped like folded pizzas. It forms a nice semi circular form when folded over and it is rather easy to hold in your hands and devour the luscious fillings while standing or walking. A typical calzone is baked in an oven and one can insert any type of fillings vegetarian or otherwise.
As a rule, Calzones are usually stuffed with cheese be it Ricotta, Parmesan or Mozzarella. Here I have done the Calzone like the Gourmet Boscaiola Pizza in one of my earlier posts using Fontina Cheese instead.
After baking, the Calzones are usually served with Marinara Sauce or topped with a combination of olive, garlic and parsley.
The following recipe yields 8, 6 inch calzones.
Ingredients ( Calzone Dough)
3/4 tsp white sugar
1 and 1/4 cup warm water ( 110 deg F or 45 deg C)
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tsp Italian seasonings
Some extra bread flour for dusting rolling board
Method ( Calzone Dough)
Place the warm water in a bowl and dissolve the sugar in it.
Then sprinkle the yeast on the top but do not stir. Leave it to get foamy for about 10 mins.
After 10 mins, add in the salt and olive oil and stir.
Add in the bread flour and the Italian seasonings and mix for a few minutes. You would have got a ball of dough by now.
Remove this dough and place it on a floured rolling board. Knead to form a smooth dough. Add in a little olive oil or extra flour to help.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a loose towel and let it rise for around 2 hours near a warm place.
In the meantime, prepare the fillings.
Spinach and Mushroom Filling
Ingredients ( Filling)
4 tbsp Olive Oil
8 cloves Garlic, minced
10 cups Spinach, washed
16 button mushrooms, washed, dried and then sliced
Salt to season
150 g Fontina Cheese, sliced thinly into 32 squares ( 4 for each calzone)
Method ( Filling)
Take a sauce pan and heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in it. Fry 4 minced garlic cloves till slightly brown, put in the spinach , add a generous pinch of salt and cook till it wilts. Check for salt and set aside.
Take the same saucepan and heat the other 2tbsps of olive oil in it. Fry the other 4 minced garlic cloves again till slightly brown and then put the sliced mushrooms, another generous pinch of salt and fry till the mushroom slices are cooked and water has all evaporated. Set aside. Check for salt and set aside.
Slice the Fontina cheese and set aside.
After 2 hours, preheat the oven to 400 deg F..
Roll out the dough on a floured board to a big tube and then cut into 8 equal slices. Leaving the other pieces in the mixing bowl, roll out one of the pieces into a 6 inch circle.
Arrange the cooked spinach and mushrooms on one side of the circular dough only. Place 4 pieces of Fontina cheese and fold over like a curry puff. Then pinch the sides till it seals the calzone. Repeat for the rest of the calzone dough slices.
Place the calzones on a well oiled baking tray and brush the calzone with more olive oil
Bake for 25 mins till the dough browns at the edges and underneath.
Enjoy warm with red chilli flakes or just on its own.
What better way to incorporate our favorite Pasta Marinara with a warm soup? Make a delicious comforting Pasta Soup of course! I had just made fresh vegetable stock yesterday and decided that it would be ideal to cook this for dinner.
You can use any type of pasta but Angel Hair Pasta is thin enough to go well with his soup. And to give that protein power, I added a can of kidney beans. Cannellini Beans or Small Red Beans do work as well too.
Ingredients (for 2 as a main meal or for 4 as a side dish)
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green zucchini, cubed
1/4 red/yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 cup Marinara sauce (See Note)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 cups of Veg stock
200gm Angel Hair pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 can (15oz) Kidney Beans/Small Red Bans/Cannellini Beans, drained
Salt and Ground Pepper
Red chilli flakes/Parsley flakes
Cook the pasta, al dente, according to instructions and keep aside.
Take a medium sized pot and fry the onions in EVOO till translucent.
Fry the minced garlic next, again only till translucent and the garlic aroma fills the air.
Add in the zucchini and bell pepper cubes and cook till they are half done.
Add in the Italian, other seasonings and the marinara sauce and let it start bubbling for a few minutes. Do remember that marinara sauce comes with its own sodium hence watch out for the salt.
Pour in the veg stock and the kidney beans and boil for 2-3 minutes.
Lastly add in the cooked pasta and let the whole soup boil for 5 mins.
Serve warm immediately with any bread sides eg Garlic Bites, Bruschetta Bites, Avocado Bites, Gourmet Boscaiola Pizza. Keep red chilli flakes and parsley flakes on the side as accompaniments.
I like Rinaldi Traditional Marinara sauce as it is light and not loaded with seasonings.
Continuing with bites, I added mixed cocktail fruits to tomatoes to give the regular bruschetta a sweet tropical twist. I liked the sweet flavor but you be the judge when you make them on your own. Another super easy recipe but a sure winner!!
Aglio Olio Pasta is one of my favorite types of pasta because it is lighter on the stomach and yet so flavorful. While I don't mind my pasta in tomato or creamy sauce, I especially like Aglio Olio because it leaves some space in your tummy for seconds, sides or best of all desserts. Tiramisu is my all time fav of desserts. Haven't had a slice of Tiramisu for quite some time. ( My friends in SG - you know now what to get for me when I am there for vacation in June!! )
Aglio Olio means Garlic and Oil in Italian and this is one dish that you can cook with minimum ingredients. I am always on the lookout for dishes with minimal ingredients and yet flavorful and healthy. Just makes our lives a lot easier, doesn't it?
Some tips when cooking Aglio Olio
1) Pasta should be cooked in above normal salted water to add overall flavor.
2) Do not add oil when cooking the pasta as this will prevent the pasta from absorbing the salt.
3) Pasta has to be al dente and not under or over cooked.
4) Reserve some pasta water to bind the ingredients and the starch in the water will give a smoother finish to the dish.
5) Because you are working with minimum ingredients, the quality of the ingredients are utmostly important. Use fresh ingredients and good quality EVOO.
6) Authentic Aglio Olio is plain but it is now quite popular to add in vegetables to make it a complete meal.
Ingredients( for 4)
3 tbsps EVOO
4 servings of pasta , boiled aldente in salted water according to box instructions.
Keep 1/2 cup pasta water.
1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and pounded ( If you love the taste and the heavenly aroma of garlic -you can increase to 2 bulbs)
1 medium zucchini washed, cut into half and sliced thin
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 and half red bird's eye chili ( reduce if you prefer less spicy), sliced thin
Peel and pound the whole bulb of garlic. It is essential that you use this amount of garlic to enhance the flavor of Aglio Olio.
Take a big pot and start frying the garlic in olive oil. Watch the pot to ensure the garlic does not get burnt.
Then add in the sliced bird's eye chilli and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add in the sliced mushrooms and zucchini. Toss in some salt at this juncture.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the boiled pasta and let it absorb the flavor of the garlic. If you find it too dry, add in some pasta water - 2 tbsp should be enough. Check for seasonings.
Serve immediately with delicious Broccoli in Baked Potatoes ( My next post), Roasted Vegetables or Roasted Rosemary Potatoes.
I found this recipe online accidentally while sourcing for baked pasta dishes. As usual, I have tweaked the original recipe and this time I hv excluded the garlic, egg and nutmeg.
I have now a baked pasta dish favored by my family. Ricotta Cheese in baked savory food - what an incredible delicious idea! I wasn't aware that ricotta cheese even existed till I came to Penn.
Baked pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese is a complete fulfilling meal. It is sure to be a winner with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 lb/ 6oz medium shell pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups marinara sauce ( See Note )
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups low fat Mozarella Cheese
4 Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to season per your preference.
Preheat oven to 375 deg F and get a 10inch by 7 inch baking dish ready.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese together.
Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the baking dish.
Put half of the cooked pasta over the marinara sauce.
Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mix over the pasta and spread it out evenly.
Top this layer with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the process with the remaining marinara sauce, the cooked pasta and the remaining spinach ricotta mix.
Finish it off with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and toss the chopped basil leaves.
Using your fingers, press the entire mix gently part by part so as to get a good layered finish when cut after being baked.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 mins. Then uncovered for another 10-15 mins till the sides are slightly browned and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm with additional chilli flakes or hot sauce.
Marinara sauce can either be made at home or you can buy from any grocery store. I like my Marinara sauce to be light and not overwhelmingly loaded with Italian spices, sugar and salt. I tried a few brands before I came across Rinaldi's Marinara Sauce.
We loved the combination of so many types of cheese and hence the second time I baked this dish, I doubled all the cheese! It became heavy and we just couldn't go for seconds! I believe the above combination is the best. But, do try out different quantities - every family has its own preference.
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.