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Hey friends! This month I’m going to share with you my 3 favorite Holiday side dishes. These dishes I go back to year after year because they are so good and super easy to prepare.
My favorite Thanksgiving side dish is something that I REFUSED to touch as a kid. As a kid, I hated Brussels sprouts and there was NO WAY I would eat them, no way -no how…. I’m never going to put those things in mouth-not ever, not going to happen!
Then something changed. I think maybe my taste buds matured? (haha…probably not) Or maybe I lost a bet and had to pop one in my mouth (maybe more likely) Or…..I discovered a delicious way to make them….ummm, bacon, garlic and good olive oil (cervasi.please:)
The life changing moment when I discovered that a Brussel sprout was actually edible, was in Italy. In Italy, my sister ordered them and since I was in Italy, I had to try one. In Italy, I’ll try ANYTHING…. (ok…. not anything…. don’t go there.) I stabbed my fork in one and popped that green little thing into my mouth……OMG….my hatred for Brussels sprouts ENDED right then and there. Was it the charred bits of sprouts, the aromatic garlic, the bits or crunchy sea salt or the pancetta (aka Italian bacon)? I will never know (OK…. maybe I know but won’t tell) but all together it was so divine that I cannot even properly explain it….so let’s just move on!
Brussels Sprouts (yes it’s with a S…….Given my spelling acumen it’s kinda impressive that i know that don’t you think?) Anyway,,,the sprouts is a member of the Gemmifera Group of cabbages and grown for its edible bud (who really cares about this-just a fun fact that I needed to share)
I CANNOT tell you how many haters I have converted (probably close to a million?!) with this recipe…. you will be a lover not a hater-I promise!
This recipe is one of my “effortless entertaining” favorites. It is a perfect recipe because you can prep the Brussel Sprouts a day or two beforehand, have them laid out in the fridge on a cookie sheet and just POP them in the oven while you carve the turkey (or drink wine)….boom….……tasty PERFECTION!
Add this to your Holiday feast and your family will love you even more. So that’s all folks……one of my favs! Tell me what you think!
Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half or quartered depending on size
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Cervasi recommended)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the hard ends of the Brussels sprouts. Cut them in half. If larger sprouts, cut them quarters.
Mix sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan (don’t crowd them, use 2 pans if making a double batch) and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You should have some brown charred parts around the edges….I like mine reeeeeealy chared) Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt if desired ...I usually desire;).
You can now drizzle them with a balsamic glaze if you’d like and serve. The balsamic glaze adds a sweet touch to savory dish that just takes it over the top.
Sub bacon for pancetta as an option
This recipe can be made up to "tossing with olive oil" 2 days before. Keep the prepped ingredients in the refrigerator until ready to roast.
Add dried cranberries or nuts after the sprouts are roasted for a fun seasonal additional.
Leftovers are great in pasta or omelets.
Balsamic glaze is a balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thicker, fuller flavor. It’s great to drizzle over veggies, breads, even sweet dishes. You can buy it in the vinegar aisle or make it using regular vinegar.
Balsamic Glaze Recipe:
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.
2018 Cervasi Inspired Fall PopUp Dinner
This weekend truly encapsulated the essence of my blog……
My table united friends, acquaintances and strangers together to share a beautiful 5 course dinner. Our farm table, set outside in the cool temps of a Kansas fall, serenaded by Italian music with crickets playing percussion created a space for our diners to come together and enjoy a home cooked meal. Our guests dined together, making friends of strangers and bringing joy and fullness to all.
Our experience moved between spaces in our home. Our grazing began with my riff on a classic Negroni cocktail, seasoned with rosemary from my herb garden (ok, maybe not so classic!). The cured meats were the perfect accompaniment to the fresh figs, clover honey, nutty cheeses and herbed almonds. All this allowed our guests a comfortable moment of introduction.
The second course was Roman Artichokes, with the artichokes also graciously provided by Cervasi. This dish was inspired by an amazing dish my sister and I had in Rome. These very tasty artichokes had a perfectly browned and crispy outer crust created by baking breaded artichokes at a high temperature on a sheet pan coated with olive oil. They were finished off with lemon zest and sea salt and served with a lemon aioli.
The third course was a bit of a challenge between what I really wanted to do and what I realistically could pull off. The third course was entitled, Orzo “Risotto”. I wanted to serve a traditional risotto, but opted out because it was to be a 3rd course of a dinner party. Traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice and takes up to 35-45 minutes and would put me at my stove, carefully stirring in each cup of warm broth. And I didn’t want to use the standard restaurant trick by par-boiling the rice and finishing it later. Although I LOVE risotto done right, I’m not a fan of the thick, sticky par-cooked versions served at restaurants. I really wanted something that had the creamy, cheesy rich flavor risotto is so known for, but needed something more conducive to the live dance of cooking for a dinner party.
I decided to use the same technique but use Cervasi orzo (rice shaped) pasta instead. I was able to cook it in broth and wine just like traditional Risotto but in half the time to achieve the super al dente pasta I was wanting. I then finished it with a generous amount of freshly grated Cervasi parm and fresh thyme. This was so delicious and tender and exactly what I was looking to create. I topped this dish with toasted pine nuts; it was simple and comforting.
The fourth course consisted of grilled herbed shrimp skewers served with a simple squeeze of lemon. I grilled these with fresh herbs, again from my garden (can you tell I’m getting nervous about the cool fall temps taking my beautiful herbs garden away :) and a drizzle of Cervasi fruity extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
The fifth, but not final course, ‘cause you seriously have to go big or go home – well, I am at home – but people pay to join me at my table and letting them down is simply not an option. Cast Iron Skillet meatballs and marinara. I've long felt that if I could make the best meatball eva, I would be set for life. There's nothing fancy about it, but that's the point. A meatball is about as unassuming as food can get, but when done well, it packs more flavor and more soul per square inch than anything that humble has a right to do. Marinara made with deep red wine and simmered for hours, created a thick tangy smooth sauce that was a perfect contrast from the other courses.
Finally desert, which, as one might imagine, should be relatively light to lay on top of everything else our guests had enjoyed to this point. Affogato & Almond biscotti. This lovely mixture of hot espresso and a scoop of ice cream accompanied by homemade almond olive oil biscotti enjoyed by our outdoor fireplace, rounded out a lengthy dining experience that left guests with new friends, great memories, full bellies and content souls.
A big Thank You to Shawna Johnston & Elizabeth Pascoe for all the help in making this event what it was! I also want to thank Brock Hildebrandt for the beautiful photos that captured the essence of this evening….
I’m full of gratitude for everyone that supports me and encourages me to do what I love to do, may it come back to you 10 fold.….xx, Lauren
Click the button below to learn more about Cervasi, a local Italian speciality food importer bringing Italian deliciousness straight to KC and my very happy belly.
PS Many of the recipes will be posted riiiiiiiight here, very soon!
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