Friday, February 19, 2010

Italian Dinner for Two

Since I have the last chance to cook for A for a while, I wanted to make something special as a sendoff. I'm sure once he's in Berlin he'll be in donerkebab heaven, but for now I wanted him to enjoy some nice Italian.

My menu was a little off season, since I made a Southern Italian Ratatouille inspired by the Food network, and I really wanted to use a little zucchini. The multitude of different vegetables really hit the spot.

Italian Salad
  • Head of lettuce (arugula, or romaine, or a mixture)
  • Handful of black or kalamata olives, pits removed
  • approx. 1o cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper (I used jarred to make my life easier)
  • olive vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Tear lettuce into forkable bites.
  2. Toss in other ingredients.
  3. Mix in the vinaigrette.

Olive Vinaigrette

  • 3 tbs green olives with pimento and juice
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • handful of basil leaves
  • fresh bunch of parsley leaves
  • black pepper
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs grated Parmesan
  1. Mix all ingredients in the blender, adding oil and Parmesan last.

Southern Italian Ratatouille

  • 1 zucchini, sliced on the horizontal
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can of mushrooms or one pound fresh button or cremini mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, frozen
  • handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tbs thyme or rosemary (or both)
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add 1 onion and half of the garlic and saute until golden and aromatic. Add zucchini slices and saute on medium low until soft. Remove from the pan to another plate or oven dish.
  2. Heat the other half of the olive oil in the same pan as before. Add the other onion and the rest of the garlic and saute. Add the mushrooms, spinach, red bell pepper, thyme or rosemary and salt and pepper. Saute until softened.
  3. Mix the mushroom and zucchini together, add the chopped tomatoes and basil and toss.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Keep warm in oven if necessary, while preparing the rest of the meal.

This makes a lot of ratatouille, or 4 servings. However, the leftover ratatouille is versatile for use in leftovers! I used some the next morning in a delicious egg omelet. I plan to use the rest for an appetizer, on top of say, bruschetta. Or, it can be served over rice, with potatoes, or tossed into some tomato puree and vegetable broth to make a delicious soup!

Shrimp Pasta with Herb Cream Sauce

  • pasta for two servings, I used whole wheat rotini, about half pound for two very hungry people
  • half pound shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cooking cream
  • 1 can crushed peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup torn basil and parsley leaves
  1. Set water to boil with a pinch of salt and a splash of oil. When boiling, add pasta and cook to instructions.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add the diced garlic and and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are just cooked, turning from grey to pink. Remove shrimp from pan. I bought frozen raw shrimp, so I was not able to peel and devein until after this step.
  3. Peel and devein shrimp at this time if you have not already.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil and parsley to the pan and simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Add oyster sauce, cream and white wine and simmer for another 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add basil and parsley leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. (For a little heat, add some crushed red pepper flakes.)
  7. Strain pasta and return to pot. Add sauce and shrimp to the pasta and toss thoroughly.

Wahlah! Yummy and easy, but still tastes so gourmet.

Bon Appetito!

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