Tag Archives: fresh mozzarella

A Semi-Grilled Supper: Bruschetta Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

Summer marches on at a breakneck pace. Not only is the time going by far too quickly, but the school year will be starting in just over two weeks. Summer has been wonderful even if I’ve only made a small dent in the plans I had for this time. Here in the Midwest, the weather has been on the hot and humid side. Yes, I know that’s what summer in the Midwest is like, but the hot and humid seems to cling to the days like static cling to polyester.

Grilling is still the cooking style of choice, but Mama and Papa can’t live by the grill alone. Once in a while we want pasta. I do not intend to put pasta to the “Can You Grill It?” challenge, at least not in its uncooked state. There is certainly the possibility of grilling the sauce ingredients and that’s what I did not long ago.

It really started because I had some tomato bruschetta ( click here for more about bruschetta) left over. It met all the pasta sauce requirements. Tomatoes in a highly flavorful liquid complimented with red onions, basil and garlic. I also had some Chicken Italian Sausage and zucchini (it isn’t summer without it). I had just enough whole grain penne left to make it a meal.IMG_2167

So the main characters were assembled and the sausage and zucchini begged to be cooked on the grill. Well, I may have had something to do with their decision. The whole grilling process was pretty quick since the sausage was already cooked and the zucchini (combined with some onions and dressed with some olive oil and  Italian seasoning) doesn’t take long to char lightly.IMG_2172

While everything was cooking I pondered what else might make this dish even better. A little fresh mozzarella and a hearty handful of basil seemed like the perfect additions. These were already on hand so it was one of those “no brainer” choices.IMG_2170

When the pasta was cooked to my liking, I saved several ladles of the pasta water to give the sauce a little more “umph” Everything came together in rapid fashion and a simple yet delicious supper was on the table.IMG_2173

Bruschetta Pasta with Grilled Sausage and Zucchini
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Bruschetta Pasta with Grilled Sausage and Zucchini
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the Zucchini, Onion, Italian Seasoning, and Olive Oil in a bowl. Toss to mix and set it aside.
  2. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook to your favorite level of "al dente" Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  3. While the pasta cooks, heat your grill to medium high. Place the sausage on the top rack. Heat a grill basket and add the zucchini onion mixture. Grill until the sausage is browned and the zucchini is lightly charred.
  4. Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch thick coins.
  5. Combine the drained pasta, sausage, zucchini and the reserved pasta water in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss to mix everything together. Add the mozzarella and basil and toss once more to combine.
  6. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

This is a wonderful way to use the bounty from the garden or the farmer’s market. Use whatever sounds or looks perfect to you. There is never a right or wrong when it comes to a supper filled with freshness and love.

 

Supper in the Summer: Pizza Frittata

I believe that we have established that summer is officially here. The calendar has caught up with the weather and we are (suntanned) shoulder deep in warm, sunny, summer. The warmer temperatures and the longer days make light suppers the thing to do. Of course, there is the required amount of grilling, but the stove can also turn out some fantastic meals often from the humblest of ingredients. Take the “incredible, edible, (& cheap), egg.” Can you say Frittata?

I’ve shared frittata recipes before, but there’s always room for one more. I call this a Pizza Frittata. Now don’t take the name too literally. This eggie wonder has the essence of pizza, that is, peppers and onions laced with garlic, seasoned with ground fennel and red pepper flakes. That’s right. Classic pizza toppings with what in my kitchen are the spices that make sausage Italian. Where’s the meat?  Not here. No need. This flavor combination doesn’t miss it. So, while it is delicious any time, it can be a Marvelous Meatless Monday Meal. (Don’t you love alliteration?)

This particular pizza was going to be the “Vegetable Lover” variety so it had to start with summer bright veggies. It is Mama D’s Kitchen, so onion and garlic had to be represented, tooIMG_1974

The magic took shape in my smallest of cast iron skillets which is the perfect size for a frittata for two. It is also the perfect vessel, as it can go from stove top to broiler without a worry. Olive oil coated the bottom of the skillet and in went the onions.IMG_1975I wanted them to caramelize a bit before the peppers and garlic joined them. Once everyone was happily co-mingling, I added the red pepper flakes and ground fennel. A quick note on ground fennel; it is not necessary. Crushed fennel seeds will work. You could go even more rustic and use the seeds whole, just give them a rub between your hands to release the fragrance (and a beautiful one it is).IMG_1977Every frittata needs  eggs and I used 5. Yes, four would have worked, but I was feeling a bit generous and hungry so five it was. I beat them well and added some fat free half & half along with grated Romano cheese and Italian Herb Blend. The eggs waited stove side with some sliced tomatoes and fresh cilegine that would become the final toppings.IMG_1980

So, when the time was right, I added the eggs to the skillet and cooked them until they were almost set. As mentioned in other posts, this is a process that involves patience, and a good amount of jiggling, lifting, and otherwise manipulating the mixture. Once everything was perfect, it was time to crown it with the tomatoes and mozzarella.IMG_1984A little more Italian herb blend and a drizzle of olive oil and under the broiler it went. This step doesn’t take long and should be closely monitored as beautifully golden can become horribly charred in a matter of seconds. I was vigilant and the frittata came out perfectly browned. IMG_1986It rested for 5 minutes and could sit even longer if needed. We were hungry, so we went with the 5 minutes. This was wonderful on its own, but as with any good Italian meal, a little crusty bread and a salad would be great.IMG_1989

Pizza Frittata
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Pizza Frittata
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a small oven proof skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the onions and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 - 7 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and the garlic and continue to cook another 5 - 7 minutes until everything is slightly golden.
  4. Beat the eggs with the half & half and grated Romano Cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet.
  5. Shake, tip and otherwise gently move the eggs around allowing the mixture to cook until almost set. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on the stove and your diligence.
  6. Preheat the broiler. When everything is almost set, top the eggs with the sliced tomatoes and the cilegine .
  7. Place the skillet in the broiler and cook until the top is lightly browned and the cheese has melted
  8. Remove from the broiler and allow to sit 5 - 10 minutes. Drizzle with a little olive oil, cut in half, and serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

The flavors were lovely. The onions and peppers retained a bit of crunch that complimented the creamy texture of the eggs. A crisp white wine was the perfect accompaniment. 

There are hundreds of ways you can take a frittata, so look at this recipe as your invitation to create your own adventure. 

Turkey Burgers Italian Style: Summer Supper on the Grill

The grill is Mama D’s summer kitchen. This is not news to anyone who spends any time here. Grilling recipes have filled many a summer post. My summer kitchen is now quite small, some might call it tiny; almost as tiny as my regular kitchen. I am proving to myself that at least in this, size does not matter. Our little grill has turned out some amazing meals and its location on the balcony offers a room with a view.

DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a sandwich that was made in burger heaven or at least the heaven inside my mind. It features veggies from our community garden paired with turkey Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella. This turkey burger was moist and juicy thanks to a very hearty dose of grated zucchini. The flavor was elevated by onion, garlic and Pecorino Romano cheese. A dash of Italian bread crumbs and an egg ensured that it retained its shape while it cooked to golden perfection.

DIGITAL CAMERA

This sounds very much like a meatball and the inspiration came from Turkey Italian Sausage Meatballs that I made not long ago. Those were broiled in the oven and graced a sandwich that was also quite delicious.

DIGITAL CAMERA

This time, it was a beautiful summer evening and the grill beckoned so I decided to make the leap to burgers and I’m so glad that I did. This recipe is the same for both the meatballs and the burgers and if you wanted to turn it into a meatloaf, I’m sure you will be happy with the results as well.

I started with a package of Turkey Italian Sausage links. It weighed in at around 20 ounces. I removed the casings by squeezing each link in the middle until the filling fell out. A childish method I admit, but I find it cathartic. I grated two heaping cups of zucchini which would be 4 – 5 small squash or about half of a baseball bat sized one. While the grater was out, I used it to grate a small onion and several cloves of garlic.

The sausage that I used was sorely missing fennel and red pepper flakes so I added some of each along with half a cup of each bread crumbs and pecorino romano cheese. The resulting mixture was quite wet so I added an egg. Yes, it initially makes it wetter, but it will help hold it together in the cooking process.

I chilled the bulk mixture for an hour or so (and you could even let it sit in the fridge over night) before I even tried to form the patties. Once I had four thick beautiful patties, I laid them on wax paper and put them back in the refrigerator and let them set up for several hours. If you are strapped for time, 30 minutes or so in the freezer works well. I strongly advise taking these steps. To ignore my directions could result in a mess on the grill and yes, I am speaking from experience.

I used a grill tray to cook the burgers. Once again, experience has taught me that you can never be too careful with turkey burgers. After somewhere near 6 minutes the burgers let me know they were ready to be flipped…they din’t stick to the grill when I went in for the single turn. Soon, thick slices of fresh mozzarella went on top so they could melt slowly as the second side cooked.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Tomatoes fresh from the garden grilled alongside the burgers in a makeshift foil pan that took advantage of a skinny space.

DIGITAL CAMERA

I even managed to toast the ciabatta rolls by propping them up against the burgers. If I do say so myself, my use of a small space was nothing short of brilliant. Once the burgers were done, my final flourish was some garden greens tossed lightly in olive oil and mounded on the bun to create a savory bed. The sandwich was a monster of deliciousness. We didn’t even need or want a side dish.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Italian Turkey and Zucchini Burgers
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Turkey and Zucchini Burgers
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the sausage meat and the zucchini in a large bowl. Toss lightly. Grate the onion and garlic directly into the bowl. Add the pepper flakes and fennel seeds and mix lightly again.
  2. Add the bread crumbs and cheese, tossing once again. Add the beaten egg and stir one last time until everything is completely incorporated. Cover the mixture and chill in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 hours or as long as overnight.
  3. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and form into 4 large patties. Place each patty on a piece of wax paper, cover and chill for 2 hours. You can also put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Heat the grill to high. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and allow it to heat up on the grill. Place the burgers on the grill and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and allow to cook for 6 minutes or so.
  5. Turn the burgers. If they stick let them cook another minute or two until they flip easily and are golden brown. Top each burger with two thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Put the lid on the grill and cook for another 6 - 7 minutes.
  6. While the burgers continue to cook, place the tomatoes and onions in a foil pan. Season with some Italian herb blend and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the pan on any vacant space on the grill.
  7. Spray the cut sides of the rolls with cooking spray and add them to the grill the last 3 minutes of cooking. In the meantime, toss the lettuce with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Assemble the sandwiches: Divide the lettuce mixture between the bottoms of the rolls. Top each with half of the tomatoes. Place the burgers on top of the vegetables. Top with the remaining tomatoes. Add the top part of the roll and serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Summer is here for at least another month, maybe more if the weather continues in its hot and sunny Midwestern pattern. The grill will be taking center stage for many weeks to come. It’s a pretty safe bet that you haven’t heard the last of Mama D’s grill adventures.