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BEEF SHORT RIBS RAGU

These hearty one pot meals especially during the Winter is LIFE! I think I get more use out of the slow cooker during the colder months than any other time of year, but with that comes big batch cooking for even tastier leftovers along with really easy prepping so that you can do whatever you need to do for the day while it slowly cooks.

This Beef Short Ribs Ragu recipe is among my favorite next to my Braciole & Italian Sausage recipe. It’s perfect for cold days and also for the holidays. But I’ll admit I’ve made this when it wasn’t cold because it’s that good. And often when I’m being good with my choice of eats, I won’t ignore the craving for this! Okay, believe it or not it doesn’t require anything fancy to make. Cooking it long and slow is the main ingredient to making this taste amazing. Normally I would use 1/2 cup of a dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon but there have been times I didn’t have any or forgot to get wine and it came out just as good.

There is one ingredient you don’t want to ditch when making this, and that’s the pecorino Romano cheese. Make sure you go to the cheese section and buy the block of pecorino. Not the grated. It is often compared to Parmesan cheese but the difference is that it’s made of sheep milk; giving that much stronger pungent taste. AND IT GOES SO PERFECT WITH THIS DISH! Trust me. You can use the leftover block of Romano in place of Parmesan cheese, over any pasta dish, or shaved over salads. It can also be stored tight in a freezer bag in the freezer for future uses if you don’t plan to use the rest of it so quickly before the expiration date.

One last thing! If you’re not feeling pasta, you can definitely serve this over a baked potato, polenta, Italian inspired quesadillas, and even top a homemade pizza with the shredded meat. Never feel you’re limited to only one dish when you make a big batch of food. Enjoy!

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BEEF SHORT RIBS RAGU
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Instructions
  1. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and bring to high heat. Brown all sides of the short ribs about a minute each side. Lay the short ribs into a slow cooker set for 8 hours on low.
  2. Drain the excess oil from the pan, place the pan back on the stove on medium heat. Add the beef broth and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Then, add the onions, carrot, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Stir for about two minutes and transfer into the slow cooker.
  4. Add the bay leaf, tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, dry red wine (optional), and Romano cheese chunks. Stir gently and cover the slow cooker to cook.
  5. Feel free to stir everything once half way through if you like. It should be ready in as little as 6 hours but 8 hours is perfect.
  6. Remove each short rib onto a large cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat. Place the shredded meat back into the slow cooker, add salt as needed, stir, and serve over pasta.
Recipe Notes

I recommend using a spoon to scoop the pools of fat at the top. You can also do so by scraping the solidified fat at the top after it’s been refrigerated.

CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST

Don’t roll your eyes and runaway! Hear me out. I came up with this  concoction of an amazing pizza crust alternative for many reasons. NOT because gluten free and low carb is a fad these days. I’ll explain.

You don’t have to be gluten free or low carb to be healthy or to eat healthy rather. Not everyone is gluten intolerant (not allergic, big difference). But there are benefits to avoiding wheat flours in general. Not entirely as it varies from person to person. Although, obesity is a huge issue in the U.S. and now many other countries around the world. Diabetes and heart disease tends to go hand in hand with obesity at some point in a persons life. Keeping your carbohydrate intake to a moderation is one of the single best things you can do for yourself to PREVENT the above mentioned. Monitoring it is also one of the better things you can do for yourself if you’re already obese and/or have other health issues that can be easily managed by dietary habits. So, because I’m all about moderation and compromising on this food blog, THESE are the reasons why I wanted to make this and share this. Okay, on to the good stuff…

This is actually a very easy recipe to make and you can make it ahead of time, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use. There’s no yeast involved and no hours of waiting for dough to rise, knead, rise yadda yadda. You can make many of these, freeze it until you’re ready to use. Win win especially with how tasty this is. You can use dairy-free cheese if you’re lactose intolerant or simply replace the cheese entirely with an extra egg. And just a heads up, you might have to eat this pizza with a fork… which I’m sure is the least of anyone’s worries so long as it tastes good. Most parts of Italy you’ll find eat their pizza with a knife and fork so it’s not a sin!

There’s no wrong way to dress a pizza. We all know this. If you’re looking for a good red sauce you can always use my go-to Homemade Marinara. If you like your pizza sauce on the sweeter side just add a little bit of sugar to the marinara when heating it up. Last thing, when squeezing the water out of the cauliflower be careful to start… it does retain heat for a long time so don’t burn yourself. And squeeze the heck out of it. You’ll be surprised how much water is in cauliflower. Have fun!

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CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST
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Instructions
  1. Cut the florets off the cauliflower head, place them into a food processor and run it through until everything is riced super fine. Place everything into a bowl and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 5 minutes.
  2. Fold the cheesecloth in half and place over a strainer, pour the steamed cauliflower into the cheesecloth and let it cool for about 15-20 minutes. Grab all corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the cauliflower over and over until all the water is removed.
  3. Toss the cauliflower back into the bowel making sure it’s not hot still. Add the egg, Romano cheese, mozzarella, garlic powder, oregano, and salt. Mix everything kneading it altogether like a dough.
  4. Place some parchment paper onto a baking sheet and spread the cauliflower dough in any shape you like to no thicker than ¼ inch. Bake at 450 F for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Top the pizza crust with any of your favorite sauces, cheeses and/or toppings and bake for about another 10-15 minutes.

TURKEY PANCETTA WRAPS

This is soooooooooo good, especially for the coming Summer days. It’s not heavy and so fresh in flavors. You can make this the night before if you have plans the next day and want to bring food. Whether you’re going to the beach, picnic, anywhere. You don’t have to slice them up into individual small bites but if you do it’s perfect as an appetizer. I personally just love throwing it into a wrap and eating it like a burrito but you do whatever your heart desires. Feel free to use chicken and bacon instead. And if you’re not a fan of arugula, try spinach! There are plenty of variations to make so you’re not left board. Use what you love is what’s most important.


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TURKEY PANCETTA WRAPS
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Instructions
  1. Place the pancetta slices on a large baking dish and bake at 400 F degrees for 12-15 minutes or until crispy. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with cooking spray and lay the turkey breast side by side. Sprinkle the sea salt, pepper, Italian seasoning on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 F degrees for about 20 minutes give or take. Remove and let cool.
  3. Rough chop the turkey and place in a large bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese, whole grain Dijon, arugula, and honey. Crumble the pancetta into the bowl. Mix everything together really well.
  4. Spread the mixture onto one end of our tortilla and wrap it up.

PORTOBELLO PIZZA

Going low-carb conscious has been a fad diet that’s stuck for many years because when done properly can be a very healthy lifestyle, reaping many benefits like the obvious weight loss but also help manage diabetes.

For the most part, in a healthful manner; a low-carb diet can be beneficial for those who are gluten intolerant as well since it does rule out most refined breads or anything of high carb made from wheat, barley and rye. While I’m personally not gluten-intolerant, I do find myself to have more sustainable energy throughout the day by eliminating these refined carbs for the most part, and find healthier alternatives that tastes just as good. If not, better!

I kept this recipe super basic and simple so that you have a clean slate to add any of your favorite toppings. I love getting turkey Italian sausage and using that once in a while or doing a quick saute of some thinly slice bell peppers, onions, black olives… okay, seriously anything! I’ve done a Greek style of fresh red onion, sauted spinach with garlic and crumbled feta. SO GOOD! And if you really want to get creative, instead of marinara you can use an alfredo sauce to make a white pizza which up to you can omit any cheese or not. I love keeping marinara on hand, freezing small containers. There’s nothing better than a Homemade Marinara!

One more thing before I shush! Use baby bella mushrooms instead for bite-sized appetizers. All you have to do is remove the stem (no gills) and you don’t have to broil before stuffing them. As always, have fun and get creative. Make the recipe your own and if you come up with something amazing, please share!

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PORTOBELLO PIZZA
Instructions
  1. Remove the stems and use a grapefruit spoon (even a regular spoon will work) to scrape against the gills going along the curvature of the mushroom. Throw them away.
  2. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Place the mushrooms in the dish and drizzle the tops with a little olive oil. Place the baking dish in the broiler on high for about 3-5 minutes depending on how thick the mushrooms are.
  3. Flip them, broil for another few minutes and remove from the broiler.
  4. Spoon the marinara sauce into the mushroom caps, sprinkle with as much or little red pepper flakes and grated Romano cheese. Then, top with your favorite shredded cheese and garnish with dried oregano.
  5. Place the baking dish back under the broiler for about another 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

MAPLE CAPOCOLLO HARICOT VERTS

I think one of the most common vegetables I see people eating from a can is green beans and it just makes me wonder WHYYYY!!! When you can make some of the best tasting green beans FRESH and reap so much more nutritional benefits. There’s always the usual quick saute of green beans in a pan with olive, sea salt, pepper and maybe some garlic but this recipe is even better. Sure you’ll spend a few extra minutes assembling everything but it doesn’t take long and it’s so worth it. I wanted to take the idea of bacon wrapped veggies and go another step beyond that so I chose to use capocollo. Capocollo is an Italian dry-cured pork usually available spicy and found at the deli counter. It’s literally a must have on any Italian sandwich and now it’s a must have for roasted green beans.

You can always use regular green beans but keep in mind they’re a bit thicker so you may want to use fewer in a bunch for the recipe. Although haricot verts (also known as French green beans) are thinner, they have a better flavor and retain it’s crisp texture when you cook them. I recently made these to go with a grass-fed Bison filet that I found at Whole Foods; it was to DIE FOR. If you don’t have dark brown sugar, don’t worry light brown sugar will do just fine. You can also just use maple syrup alone instead. When baking at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, I still make sure the capocollo looks crispy like bacon to determine when it’s done. Some ovens may require longer time. But don’t worry, you won’t get sick, it’s cured meat so it doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through. Let me know how they taste for you. It’s definitely one of my favorites.


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MAPLE CAPOCOLLO HARICOT VERTS
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
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Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Gather 8-10 green beans in a bunch, making 4 bunches.
  2. On a large working surface, lay four slices of capocollo overlapping each other vertically. Lay the first bunch of green beans on top of the capocollo, starting at the bottom. Slowly roll up wrapping the capocollo snug around the green beans. Place on a baking dish. Repeat for the last three bunches.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup and brown sugar together. Brush the tops of the capocollo wrapped green beans generously. Crack fresh black pepper on top.
  4. Lightly drizzle the tops with olive oil and bake for about 12 minutes at 400 F degrees.