June 20th, 2016
Archive for Italian
Several months ago one of my friends introduced me to a little sandwich shop where they specialize in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. They have all different kinds, such as a French Dip grilled cheese, a Monte Cristo grilled cheese, and even a Thanksgiving grilled cheese with turkey and mashed potatoes on it. The restaurant is called Cravings Bistro, and it’s in Pleasant Grove, Utah. So the first time I went there, I had one of their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and some of their Creamy Tomato Basil soup. I thought it was so good, and since I didn’t have a recipe for a really good tomato soup, I decided I was going to try to duplicate the one at Cravings Bistro. I started off with a recipe by Barefoot Contessa, but I made several changes to it, including adding brown sugar because I liked how the soup from Cravings Bistro was sweeter than hers. I also used a food processor to blend up the ingredients just before serving it because I think it makes the soup look more appetizing. And guess what, my husband and I did a taste test with my soup and some of the soup from Cravings Bistro, and both of us thought mine was even better! But, shhhh, don’t tell them because theirs is really good, too!
At Cravings Bistro, they serve their Tomato Basil Soup with grilled cheese croutons, so I decided to do the same thing for my photograph. To make the croutons, I just made regular grilled cheese sandwiches with good-quality bread, and then I cut off the crusts and cut the sandwiches into 1-inch squares. Then I put the squares on a baking sheet and toasted them in a 300-degree oven for five minutes. They were very tasty with the soup, too.
Recipe by Barefoot Contessa/Heavily Adapted by Winner Dinners/Inspired by Cravings Bistro
3 pounds Roma/plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce can) plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (32-ounce container) chicken stock
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the tomatoes, carrots, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes and carrots in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, rosemary, thyme, chicken stock, and brown sugar. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes and carrots, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. In batches, process the soup in a food processor until well blended. Return the soup to the pot and heat through.
Have you ever wondered about the word “antipasto?” I’ve often seen it on menus in Italian restaurants and thought it was a strange word because in English “anti” means “against” or “opposite of.” I wondered if antipasto meant “without pasta,” but I never bothered to look it up, so I didn’t know. Recently I asked my son about it. He lived in Italy for two years, so I knew he would have the answer. It turns out antipasto has nothing to do with pasta at all. In Italian, it just means appetizer. And if it is spelled “antipasti” with an i at the end instead of an o, it’s just the plural of antipasto—meaning more than one appetizer.
Anyway, this is a really good salad. I always serve it with both Ranch and Italian dressings because I like creamy-based dressings, and my husband likes the oil and vinegar varieties.
I like to serve this salad as a main dish with some nice bread on the side, but you can also serve it as a side dish with an Italian main course. Either way, I’m sure you’ll love it. What’s not to love about a salad with pepperoni in it???
Recipe Adapted by Winner Dinners/Origin Unknown
Serves about 8
1 large head of Romaine lettuce, torn in pieces
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 (7-ounce) package of thinly sliced pepperoni, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (10-ounce) package of grape tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 (2-ounce) can of sliced black olives, drained
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup bottled peperoncini peppers, drained well and sliced
Ranch or Italian dressing
In a large salad bowl, make layers of torn lettuce, Mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, grape tomatoes, garbanzo beans, olives, green onions, and peperoncini. Serve with Ranch or Italian dressing.
This is a copy-cat version of an Italian soup that is served at The Olive Garden Restaurant.
And speaking of olive gardens, my son happens to be on a two-year mission in Italy right now, and he once helped a man to harvest his olive trees because the man’s wife, who usually helps, was ill. So here is a picture of my son Craig harvesting olives in Italy.
This is the man who owns the olive trees.
And here are the olives that will be used to make olive oil.
Anyway, back to the soup. It’s filled with lots of yummy ingredients like spicy Italian sausage, potatoes, onions, bacon, and collard greens. The base is made with a mixture of chicken broth and a little bit of cream. It tastes so good that you just might think you’re in Tuscany. Enjoy!
Recipe Slightly Adapted by Winner Dinners/Origin Unknown
1/2 pound of spicy Italian sausage links
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14-ounce) cans of chicken broth
2 small baking potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup pre-cooked bacon pieces (sold as a salad topping)
2 cups of collard greens, chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place the sausages on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about 25 minutes. This will partially cook them. Halve the sausages lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Meanwhile, cook the onions in the olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until the onions are almost transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, and pre-cooked bacon pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the collard greens, sausage, whipping cream, salt, and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes longer.