Stracciatella Soup – Roman Style Egg Drop Soup

My daughter’s favorite soup is the Italian Stracciatella soup. I can’t even begin to describe how happy it makes me that she likes it so much. My 17-year-old daughter is very bright, amazingly intelligent, and wise beyond her years. She knows a lot about many things, including health issues. But when it comes to eating veggies she is the worst. For years, I’ve been trying to get her to like vegetables, with limited success, I must say. However, over the last 3-4 years things have improved a little, and there are some vegetable dishes that Tamar doesn’t only eat, but she actually loves. One of them is Stracciatella soup.

tamar-eating-soup

The soup has very few ingredients, but each one of them is a serious health booster. It literally takes no more than 10 minutes to make, and it is satisfying and delicious as a meal on its own. I made a few tweaks to the original recipe to make it gluten and dairy free just for the heck of it (the original recipe calls for semolina and Parmesan cheese). ½ cup of grated Parmesan can be added to the soup with the rest of the ingredients, for a creamier flavor, but we usually make it without the cheese and enjoy it just the same. If you are allergic to corn or just don’t want to use it, feel free to omit the cornmeal. Soup will be less thick, but still thick enough to satisfy.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken stock
1lb fresh spinach leaves, or 1 10oz frozen spinach unthawed
1 bunch flat parsley, chopped, thick stems discarded
3 tablespoons cornmeal (or semolina)
salt and black pepper to taste
4 eggs, beaten

Preparation:

In a large pot, heat the chicken stock. When boiling, add the spinach, the parsley, and the corn flour. Add salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Drizzle the beaten eggs into the soup, while using a fork to whisk them briskly in the pot. The idea is to create egg drops in the soup, not to have a big lump of egg. Ladle soup into a bowl and enjoy!

If you wish to make the soup ahead of time, make it without adding the eggs. When ready to eat, bring the soup to a boil and mix in the eggs.

straciatella soup

Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

This dish is very unpretentious and is one of the easiest dishes to make. Yet, it always satisfies my cravings for old world kind of food – grandma’s rich, slow cooking dishes.

My youngest son can’t have enough of this vegetable dish. He will eat it with each meal and also in between meals, as a snack. What else can a mother ask for?

Amitai zucchini

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
6 medium zucchini cut into ½” cubes
3 medium tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a medium pot.

Add the zucchini and sauté on high heat, stirring the zucchini occasionally, until some of the zucchini browns a bit, like in the picture below.

zucchini sauteed

In the meantime, cut the tomatoes in quarters and place in a food processor. Using the pulse button, crush the tomatoes.

Once the zucchini is golden, add the crushed tomatoes, the garlic, and the salt. Stir well, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 10 – 15 minutes covered.

zucchini in sauce

If there is too much liquid in the pot, cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered, on high heat.

You may enjoy this dish as a side dish, as a pasta sauce, or mix it with some eggs in a pan for a hearty breakfast.

Eggplant in Tomato Sauce – Old World Vs. New World

In Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines there is a tradition of opening a meal with an assortment of dishes in small plates scattered on the table. In the Middle East it is called Mezze. In Spain they call it Tapas. If you are a little bit familiar with the concept, you probably know that there is a huge selection of dishes that can be served as part of a Mezze, depending on the country and local traditions. Obviously, they are not all served at the same time, which makes the Mezze part of the meal interesting and slightly different every time.

This eggplant dish may be part of a Mezze. I know there are different variations on this dish (the most known to Americans is probably the Italian Caponata), but my first version (out of the two presented here) is the one I learned from my mother and my grandmother. To me, this dish is comfort food. As simple as it is, eggplant in tomato sauce is one of the dishes that make me homesick.

This dish is a great example of how I keep the spirit of an old world dish, while taking a shortcut to match it to my busy Western life. As I mentioned above, this post includes the two versions of the dish. The result is pretty similar, although it’s hard to beat the original recipe.

Eggplant in Tomato Sauce – original version

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 3/8 inch (1 cm) wide rings
Kosher salt
Oil for frying
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ – 1 cup water
3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon sugar (optional)

Preparation:
Sprinkle the sliced eggplants with kosher salt on both sides. Place in a colander with a plate underneath and set aside for 30 minutes, to extract the liquids out of the eggplant. Then hold 2-3 slices at a time, facing each other, and gently squeeze them between the palms of your hands, to get more of the liquids out. Be careful not to break the slices while squeezing.

Most people think that the reason for salting the eggplant is to get the bitterness out, which may be true for some eggplants (not all of them are bitter). The main reason, though, is that after salting and squeezing the eggplant, it absorbs much less oil when frying, and it tastes better from the salt.

You may skip the whole salting/squeezing part if you have no time or patience, but know that you will end up with eggplant soaked with oil.

Heat the oil (about ¼ inch high) in a large casserole. When oil is hot, place the squeezed slices of eggplant in it in one layer. You will probably need to make 2-3 batches.

eggplant-frying

Fry the eggplant on one side until it starts browning, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and do the same. Remove the slices from the pan and place them on a plate covered with paper towel.

When you are done frying all the slices, set the eggplant aside. Discard of the oil in the pan, except for 2-3 tablespoon (you kind of have to eye it).

Return the pot to the stove, add the onion and saute it for one minute. Add the tomato sauce and stir it in quickly and constantly for 30 seconds, so that it doesn’t burn. Add the water, garlic and spices. Mix well to dissolve the tomato paste in the water and cook, covered, on medium low heat, for 5 minutes.

Immerse the eggplant slices in the tomato sauce, one by one. Once all slices are in the pot, shake the pot a little and twirl it to get the sauce all around the eggplants.

Cover the pot and cook covered for 15 minutes.

eggplant-ready

This dish may be served hot, cold, or at room temperature. Serve it as a Mezze, side dish, in a sandwich, or even as pasta sauce.

And now, here is my version to this wonderful dish:

Eggplant in Tomato Sauce – innovated version

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, cut into ¾ inch cubes
3 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
7 medium tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
3 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking oil spray. Spread the eggplant cubes on the baking sheet, sprinkle a little bit of salt on top, and spray the eggplant again with the oil.

eggplant-cubed

Bake in the preheated oven until the eggplant starts to brown and shrink, about 20-30 minutes.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and saute the onion until golden.

Add the pureed tomatoes, the sliced garlic and the spices. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, lower the heat to medium low, and cook until the eggplants in the oven are ready.

Remove the eggplants from the oven, and add them to the pot with the tomato sauce. Give a stir, cover the pot and cook for 15 more minutes.

cubed-eggplant-cooked

I’ll let you be the judge as to which version is better. Let me know…

And have a great weekend!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

My husband, Doron, came up one day with this yummy side dish. Obviously, he did not invent it, but he put his spin on it with balsamic vinegar. So at home we refer to it as Daddy’s creation. When it just comes out of the oven, it’s very hard not to stand by the baking dish, and nibble on the crispy sprouts. By the time we are ready to sit down and eat, half the dish is gone. That’s how good it is.

There are two ways of making this dish: the yummier way, and the lazier way. There are no big differences in the preparation itself , except that it is easier to clean the covered baking sheet than the cast iron skillet, hence the lazy way. But for some reason, it comes out yummier when prepared in the cast iron skillet. Have your pick:

Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts cut in half
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Yummier way:
Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet on the stove. When oil is hot, arrange the Brussels sprouts, in the skillet, face down, in one layer. You may have to jam them in there, to get everything in the skillet. Add the garlic cloves, and sprinkle salt and pepper on top, but do not stir.

When the Brussels sprouts are browned on the bottom, transfer the skillet to the oven, and bake until the sprouts are soft but crispy, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove skillet from the oven (don’t burn yourself), and immediately drizzle the Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar. Toss well.

Lazier way:
Combine the Brussels sprouts with the garlic, oil and spices in a large bowl. Toss well to get the sprouts and garlic well covered in oil and spices.

Spread the sprouts face down, in one layer, on a baking sheet covered with tin foil.

img_1741

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes, stirring the Brussels sprouts occasionally, to get them brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Toss well.

Speedy Beef Meatballs

This is yet another dish that I made in a hurry. I bought a nice amount of ground beef at Costco the other day, because I planned on making hamburgers for lunch. But if you know Costco, you must know that the amount of meat I bought was way too much for one meal (or two, or three). I didn’t want to freeze the remaining meat, so I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I also had about 3 pounds of tomatoes that I wanted to eventually turn into tomato sauce. I was in the middle of my work day and didn’t want to spend much time on cooking, so the first idea that came into mind was meatballs in tomato sauce, the speedy way.

This is what I had to work with:

Ingredients:

3 lb tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
2 ½ lb ground beef
1 cup parsley, leaves only
1 egg
2 tablespoons chicken soup powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

I rinsed the tomatoes, placed them in the food processor and crushed them into a coarse puree.

Chopped an onion and sautéed it in oil. Once it turned golden, I added a the sliced garlic. Into that I added the crushed tomatoes, sprinkled some salt and pepper, and once it all boiled, I lowered the heat and let it simmer.

In a large bowl, I combined the ground beef, egg, parsley that I chopped thinly in the food processor, onion powder, salt, pepper, and my secret ingredient – chicken soup powder. I skipped the bread crumbs because of Doron, who is completely off carbs (except for Friday night) for the past year.

Once my meat mixture was well combined, I proceeded to creating balls and placing them directly in the tomato sauce. Every once in awhile, I gave the pot a shake, to make room for more balls.

The only mistake I made was that I covered the pot with a lid once all the meatballs were in, and let it cook covered. Although I did not add any water to the pot, the sauce became somehow watery. Had I left the pot uncovered, the liquids would evaporate and the sauce would be thicker. That was easily fixed, though. I let the meatballs cook longer, this time without a lid.

Bottom line is, even though they weren’t authentic Italian meatballs, these speedy meatballs came out great. The kids ate them over spaghetti, of course. Doron and I had them with some veggies. Doesn’t my plate look gorgeous?

speedy meatballs

Paleo Turkey Meatloaf

The original recipe for this meatloaf is taken from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). I love the original version, but made a few changes to fit it to Doron’s Paleo diet. I omitted the breadcrumbs and the ketchup, switched thyme with oregano (for the heck of it), changed the amounts of the ingredients to suit my needs, and…here is my Paleo version

Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 lb ground turkey
2 eggs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 340F.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, including the sautéed onion, and knead until the turkey mixture is well incorporated.

Arrange the meat on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and using your hands, shape it into a long loaf. You may need to wet your hands when shaping the loaf, in case the mixture is sticky.

Bake for an hour for a moister meatloaf, or for an hour and 20 minutes for a drier loaf.

paleo turkey meatloaf