This medley of Mediterranean flavors is a great make-ahead dish for company—all you have to do is sauté the spinach just before serving.
Italian Sides & Salads
When Nancy Liguori doctors up recipes to make them healthful and delicious, she's got the credentials to back up her creations. After getting her MD in 2004, Nancy worked in the health care communications sector before enrolling in the Natural Gourmet Institute's part-time chef's training program. This recipe was an improvisation during her final culinary school class, which focused on Sicilian cooking. “We had extra green beans and red bell peppers, so I decided to roast them and treat them in the classically Sicilian agrodolce style by tossing the vegetables with orange and lemon juices and then drizzling them with reduced balsamic vinegar,” she explains.
The oven broiler "grills" greens to wilt them into a crisp-tender topping.
White gazpacho is traditionally made with lots of raw garlic and merely garnished with grapes. Here we've toned down the garlic and bumped up the fruit factor for a cold soup that's sweetly satisfying.
One large pot of boiling water does all the cooking for this salad. The addition of the vegetables has been timed so that they’re all done at the same time. Using a strainer to remove the vegetables from the water stops the cooking fast and leaves you with a hot, lightly seasoned broth to boil the pasta in.
Crispy yet chewy slices of herb-flavored focaccia go well with dips and make great bases for a large variety of toppings. Try replacing the rosemary topping with Parmesan, prepared pesto, herbes de Provence or sesame seeds.
Gremolata is an Italian garnish of lemon zest, minced garlic, and fresh parsley that's traditionally sprinkled raw over a dish. Here, it's stirred into sautéed Brussels sprouts. A squeeze of lemon juice heightens the flavors.
This recipe, from Claire Criscuolo, founder and proprietor of the New Haven, Conn., veg eaterie Claire’s Corner Copia, pays homage to Criscuolo’s father, who’s of Sicilian descent. To help tamp down the peppery-mustardy, bitter taste of broccoli rabe, Criscuolo says, “I blanch it in a small amount of lightly salted boiling water for just a minute, then drain it, reserving the water for a soup.”
This easy no-toss salad is elegant enough for special occasions. Though the romaine hearts must be eaten shortly after grilling, the dressing can be made up to two days in advance. The recipe calls for a stove-top grill pan, but you can also try it on an outdoor grill—just keep a close eye on the romaine hearts, since outdoor grills get hotter than the stove-top variety.
Grilling tomatoes concentrates their sunny sweetness and adds a hint of smokiness, mellowing their acidity.