Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Italian Favorites!

Good morning and happy Friday!! I'm so excited to be here, sipping my coffee in the company of only felines & canines, all the two-legged family members still snoring or off to work. I adore my Friday morning alone time!

I have a couple of recipes to share with you, both by Giada De Laurentiis (love her!) and both using up the springtime vegetable bounty. Though I don't have many veggies ready for picking in my garden yet, I did have just enough leaf lettuce to make a small salad. What a thrill it is to go out to one's own garden and prepare a meal using fresh ingredients that we've grown ourselves! It really makes you appreciate the hard work that went into growing it, no?

The first recipe, Pasta Ponza, I made last night to rave reviews. Quick, easy and oh-so-delicious! I served it alongside the aforementioned salad and a nice loaf of Italian bread. I know, it's pretty high in calories/fat/POINTS but it was truly worth it, I promise! Besides, I've decided that it works better for me to eat less of the "real deal" instead of so many substitutions, but more about that later.

Pasta Ponza

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4 cups cherry tomatoes -- (12 ounces) halved
1/4 cup capers -- rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil -- plus extra for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt -- plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- plus extra for seasoning
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 pound ziti pasta
1 1/4 cups romano cheese -- (Pecorino Romano)
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley -- chopped

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 450 Calories; 10g Fat (20.7% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 69g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 24mg Cholesterol; 769mg Sodium. 9 WW POINTS.

Beren and I are leaving for Ormond tonight, will be spending 10 blissful days of vacation up there, yay! Before we head north, though, I'm going to make my children one more healthy meal because God knows what they'll eat while I'm away. *grin*

Tomato Vegetable Casserole

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1 medium potato -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yam -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper -- seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion -- thinly sliced into rings
2 small zucchini -- cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes -- cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
Fresh basil sprigs -- for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, yam, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.

Serves 6.

Start to Finish Time:
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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 208 Calories; 11g Fat (47.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 209mg Sodium. 4 WW POINTS.

Enjoy,and have a Beauty-Full Day,


  1. I love Giada too! Her roast chicken recipe is my favorite.

  2. I love Giada! What a stunning picture of her!

  3. Wow...the vegetable casserole sounds fantastic! I will have to give that one a go! YUM! Thanks for sharing!