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Favorite Italian Easter Recipes

From , former Guide

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Natale con i tuoi, la Pasqua con chi vuoi -- "Christmas at home and Easter with whomever you wish"is an old Italian saying. However, people have a way of returning to the hearth, and Easter is an occasion for far-flung families to reunite around a well-set table, renewing the bonds that tie. Traditions vary greatly from place to place, and here are some of my favorite Italian Easter recipes.

Pani Pasquali, Easter Breads

Recipe requests vary with the time of year. Before Christmas it's the Seven Fishes, and come spring people ask for Easter breads of one sort or another. These are not the standard breads one buys day-to-day in Italian bakeries, but rather something more: Breads that contain cheese, breads that contain sausage or salami, breads that contain hard-boiled eggs...More Info

Brodetto Pasquale

This is a rich Roman soup made with lamb and beef, and thickened with egg. Very traditional too, and comfort food of the finest kind; the Roman expression annà in brodetto (to go in brodetto) means to be "high on the hog."
Want something even richer? Neapolitan Easter soup.More Info

Torta alla Pasqualina

This is a savory Ligurian Easter pie made with spinach and many eggs, which, in addition to having obvious religious symbolism, were once a harbinger of spring (chickens that lay eggs year round are a recent development). Traditionalists make the puff pastry with 33 layers.More Info

Abbacchio Brodettato, Kid (or lamb) in an egg and lemon sauce

This is a Roman dish; the egg-and-lemon combination in the sauce is quite similar to what one finds in either Jewish Italian dishes or Greek dishes, so it could be quite old. In discussing it, Mr. Jannattoni says:
In gastronomic jargon the verb brodettare means to thicken a dish with egg yolk and lemon juice. It is especially the fate of the kid to star in this most classic of Easter dishes. Indeed, until quite recently it wasn't Easter in Rome unless there was capretto brodettato on the table.More Info

Kid, Cheese & Eggs: Capretto Cacio e Uova

Kid (or lamb) stewed with cheese, eggs, and peas, is one of the most standard Neapolitan Easter dishes.More Info

Fresh Peas

Fresh peas are one of the most eagerly awaited signs of Spring in Italy, and no Easter table is complete without them. The preparation is quite simple, and quite old too -- Maestro Martino, writing in the 1450s, gives essentially the same recipe.More Info

Sauteed Artichokes and Potatoes: Carciofi e Patate Soffritti

Artichokes and potatoes are a fine combination, and there are many different renditions of it. In this case, they're sautéed, and go beautifully with the lamb that's the centerpiece of an Italian Easter meal.More Info

La Pastiera Napoletana

Neapolitan Cuisine has many dishes identified with one festival or another, which in the past were made only then. One of the most important is the Pastiera, a centuries-old dish that appears in innumerable versions, each made according to a closely guarded family recipe.
Nobody escapes its allure, writes Caròla Francesconi, an allure due not so much to its goodness as to a subconscious love that's transmitted from generation to generation.More Info

Black Easter Rice: Riso Nero di Pasqua

This is a Sicilian Easter recipe; unlike most black risotti, this owes it color to chocolate rather than squid ink, and is therefore a dessert. Ms. Di Leo says it was traditionally prepared by those living in the province of Messina as a votive offering for the Madonna Nera di Tindari.More Info

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina

The more traditional recipes for this classic orangy Florentine Easter cake call for lard and require that you make a starter loaf with the yeast. This recipe, pried by my mother-in-law from Il Rossino, a pastry chef in Florence's Via Centostelle, does not, and is good enough to be eaten rear round.More InfoRelated Guide Picks

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Pizza Rustica  

Adapted from Carlo’s Bakery, Hoboken, N.J.

Enlarge This ImageJoshua Bright for The New York Times

Pizza rustica at Carlo's Bakery, home of the Cake Boss.


Time: 21/2 hours, plus time for cooling



6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound chilled salted butter, cut into large pieces

5 large eggs, beaten



12 ounces prosciutto, in 1/4-inch dice

8 ounces boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice

8 ounces pepperoni, in 1/4-inch dice

8 ounces soppressata, in 1/4-inch dice

8 ounces mozzarella, in 1/4-inch dice

8 ounces provolone, in 1/4-inch dice

2 pounds ricotta

4 ounces grated pecorino Romano

10 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon pepper

1 large egg, beaten, for brushing crust.


1. For the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together 6 cups flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter, large fork, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and knead for 1 minute. Add about 1 1/4 cups ice water, a little at a time, to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a large smooth ball, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

2. For the filling: Mix the meats, cheeses, the 10 eggs and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into two pieces: two-thirds for the bottom crust and one-third for the top. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of the dough into a rectangle to line the bottom and sides of a 10-by-15-inch glass baking dish, with some overhang. Add the filling and smooth it lightly. Moisten the edges of the dough with a little water.

4. Roll out the remaining dough to cover the top of the dish with some overhang. Trim off excess dough and crimp the edges to seal. Poke several sets of holes across the top with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush top and edges with the beaten egg, then return to the oven until golden brown, another 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely before serving.

Yield: One 10-by-15-inch pie.





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Gnocchi Recipes, Potato and OtherwiseMost gnocchi are potato based, but they can be made with all sorts of other flours. In addition to being good as a first course, some of the latter kinds also do nicely as side dishes. And there are sweet gnocchi for dessert!

Gnocchi, Potato and Otherwise

Gnocchi, Potato and Otherwise: Gnocchi are little dumplings, and though gocchi di patata -- potato gnocchi -- are the best known, there are many other tasty varieties of gnocchi.

Basic instructions for making Potato Gnocchi

Tired Of Pasta And Don't Feel Like Making a Risotto? Gnocchi (pronounced nee-okkee) are an excellent alternative: They're fantastic with all sorts of sauces, from a simple summer tomato sauce to the richest winter meat sauce. Olive Garden® Dinner Menu - View Our 2 For $25 Menu Like The Eggplant Parmigiana.

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Gnocchi RecipesFind the Top 10 Results on Peeplo for: Gnocchi Recipes! RecipesQuick & easy gnocchi recipes. Join our recipe sharing community.

Alessio Pesucci's Ricotta Gnocchi With Squash Blossom Sauce

Mention gnocchi and most people think of potato gnocchi, because they're the most common kind. However, the word gnocco (pronounced neeocco) means dumpling, and they can be made many ways. Chef Alessio Pesucci made ricotta gnocchi this time, and served them with a tasty squash blossom sauce.

Making Aunt Emma's Gnocchi alla Romana Lite: An Illustrated Recipe

Gnocchi alla Romana are tremendously satisfying, but they are also rich, to the point that dieticians would frown on one's making them too often. This variation Elisabetta's Aunt Emma learned while living in Rome many years ago is much lighter: It doesn't have any eggs, and reduces the milk as well.

Michela's Gnocchetti Cimbri with Leeks, Pancetta, and Cauliflower

Michela Chiarolaro makes a quick, surprisingly easy, extraordinarily tasty variation on gnocchi, and seasons it with a rich cauliflower and leek sauce. Winter comfort food at its best, and the sauce will be quite nice over regular potato gnocchi or pasta too.

No-Fail Gnocchi

This no-fail gnocchi recipe comes from Leatrice, who writes, I thought I'd send you a no-fail recipe that's shockingly easy. Generally I'm not a "short-cut cook" but I think you'll agree that this is the way to go. The recipe was passed on to me from my sister-in-law, who is married to a Sicilian, and it was given to him by his Italian restaurant-owner friends. GNOCCHI (depending on how much you like to eat, serves 2):

Michela's Gnocchetti Cimbri with Leeks, Pancetta, and Cauliflower

Michela Chiarolaro makes a quick, surprisingly easy, extraordinarily tasty variation on gnocchi, and seasons it with a rich cauliflower and leek sauce. Winter comfort food at its best, and the sauce will be quite nice over regular potato gnocchi or pasta too.

Roman Gnocchi -- Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi alla Romana are surprisingly good; indeed their only defect is that they have a way of disappearing off your plate. Artusi begins his recipe for them with, "I hope you will like these as much as my guests have. If you do, make a toast to my health if I’m still alive, or say a rest in peace if I’ve gone to push up cabbages." He goes on to suggest that you double the recipe if you are serving more than three people.

Gnocchi with Sardines, or Gnocchetti con le Sarde

A quick, easy fish sauce for gnocchi. Quite tasty!AdsPotato GnocchiBrowse Potato Gnocchi and other Pasta Cheese Fresh Gnocchi On Sale 8 Boxes Only $46.76

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Gnocchi with Artichokes and Walnuts -- Gnocchi con Carciofi e Noci

Gnocchi with Artichokes and Walnuts, or Gnocchi con Carciofi e Noci: Artichokes and walnuts might sound like an unusual combination, but instead work quite well.

Gnocchi with Chestnut Flour and Squash Recipe - Gnocchi con Castagne e Zucche

A tasty fall recipe for gnocchi that also contain squash and chestnut flour!

Ciciones -- Sardinian gnocchi, with a beef sauce

Ciciones: Sardinian gnocchi, with a beef sauce. One generally associates gnocchi with potatoes, but semolina is also an excellent base for them. Here they gain a pretty, brilliant yellow color from saffron. The recipe is Sardinian

Versilian Squash Gnocchi -- Gnocchi di Zucca alla Versiliese

Versilian Squash Gnocchi, or Gnocchi di Zucca alla Versiliese: Italian yellow squash is one of the most frugal foods there is, and is also a food that many of the generations old enough to remember the Second World War want little to do with, because in many areas little else was available for the duration. If it doesn't bring back terrible memories, on the other hand, these are quite nice. If Italian yellow squash is not available where you are, butternut squash is a good substitute.

Stringy Potato Gnocchi -- Gnocchi di Patata alla Bava

Stringy Potato Gnocchi, Gnocchi di Patata alla Bava: The word bava actually means drool, of the stringy kind produced by some dogs. However, in this case we're referring to the stringiness of the cheese sauce, not the reaction of the diners to hearing what's on the menu. The recipe is one of the newer creations from the Valle D'Aosta, and has become extremely popular.

Bread Crumb Gnocchi With Cheese Sauce, Gnocchi Al Taleggio

These gnocchi are made with breadcrumbs, and served with a tasty Taleggio cheese sauce.

Eggplant Gnocchi -- Gnocchetti di Melanzane

Eggplant Gnocchi, or Gnocchetti di Melanzane: Annina posted this the It.Hobby.Cucina newsgroup a couple of years ago, and observes that the gnocchi are tasty and as delicate as one can expect a gnocco to be. Also, that the scampi that go into the sauce should be fresh.

Artusi's Recipe for Gnocchi alla Romana

Pellegrino Artusi only included a few Roman dishes in his classic, La Scienza in Cucina, and modern Romans say he doctored what he did include, and some imply he developed this recipe for Gnocchi alla Romana. It is quite good, so good he begins with: I hope you will like these as much as my guests have. If you do, toast me if I'm alive, or say a Rest in Peace if I've gone to push up cabbages.

Aunt Emma's Gnocchi alla Romana Lite

Gnocchi alla Romana are tremendously satisfying, but they are also rich, to the point that dieticians would frown on one's making them too often. This variation Elisabetta's Aunt Emma learned while living in Rome many years ago is much lighter: It doesn't have any eggs, and reduces the milk as well.


Ian asked for trofie, Ligurian gnocchi made with flour, water and a little bran; they're made between Camogli and Bogliasco, and are a specialty of Recco. They're hand made, with pointy ends, and Alessandro Molinari Prdelli notes, in la Cucina Ligure that Ligurians don't use the back of a cheese grater or the tines of a fork to shape gnocchi with hollow fronts and decorated backs, but wrap the bleb of pasta around a finger so as to obtain a small tortiglione with pointy ends.

Gnocchi alla Romana with Leeks and Speck

Gnocchi alla Romana made following the basic recipe are quite simple. And tasty too, but simple enough to invite variations. Here's a simple one based on leeks and speck, the glorious smoked ham of the Südtyrol. If you cannot find speck, use Prosciutto.

Gnocchi with Wild Spinach & Hot Pepper -- Gnocchetti con Orapi e Peperoncino

Gnocchetti con Orapi e Peperoncino, or Gnocchi with Wild Spinach & Hot Pepper: In the past the people of the Abruzzo Region often seasoned their pasta with wild greens, rather than a meat-based sauce. Orapi are a local variety of wild spinach that isn't available outside the Abruzzo; in the absence of wild spinach I would substitute for them with a mixture of regular spinach and a little broccoli rabe.

Pin -- Gnocchi from Piacenza

There are many different kinds of gnocchi in addition to the now standard potato variety. These, from Piacenza, combine greens with ricotta and Parmigiano. To serve 6:

Gnocchi made with Greens -- Gnocchi di Erbette

A simple, tasty variation on the more standard potato gnocchi, from Emilia Romagna.

Milk Gnocchi -- Gnocchi di Latte

Most gnocchi are savory. But not all, these milk gnocchi are a tasty vanilla-laced dessert from Artusi.

Roman Gnocchi -- Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi alla Romana are surprisingly good; indeed their only defect is that they have a way of disappearing off your plate. Artusi begins his recipe for them with, "I hope you will like these as much as my guests have. If you do, make a toast to my health if I’m still alive, or say a rest in peace if I’ve gone to push up cabbages." He goes on to suggest that you double the recipe if you are serving more than three people.

Corn Meal Gnocchi -- Gnocchi di Farina Gialla

According to Pellegrino Artusi, Corn meal gnocchi are easy on the digestion: "Should you feel somewhat bloated because you have over eaten, you will be able to neutralize the sensation with these gnocchi, which have very little substance. You will be even more successful in your recovery if you follow them with another easy to digest dish."

Gnocchi in Brodo

A slight variation on standard gnocchi, served in broth.

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

A touching story and a tasty recipe to greet the birth of a little girl.

Four Gnocchi Recipes

From The Artisan: Four recipes from Alessandro Pradelli's Grande Libro della Cucina Italiana: Gnocchi alla romana (semolina) alla piemontese (potatoes & flour), al formaggio (cheese) and di pane (bread & flour).

Sue's Gnocchi Recipes

Several recipes from various sources, including gnocchi alla romana, spinach gnocchi and sweet potato gnocchi. The results all commented upon, which is a big help!




Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:
25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
2 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
6 servings


  • *6 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups strong espresso, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 24 packaged ladyfingers
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish


In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.

Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.

Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

* Raw Egg Warning

Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

Copyright 2012 Television Food Network G.P.
All Rights Reserved








Best Italian Ricotta-Cheese CookiesCreated by Lenda Italian Ricotta cheese cookies... can never have enough of these!Average User Rating (out of 4) / 4
Biscotti a Riccio - Curled CookiesCreated by Cooking with Nonna Biscotti a Riccio (Curled Cookies)... made famous by "Il Gattopardo" and still made for the Easter Holidays in the Agrigento area of Sicily. The mix of these ingredients ...
BiscottiniCreated by Cooking with Nonna Almond Biscottini... so delicate and delicious!Average User Rating (out of 4) / 4





Bruschetta: Story of a Slice of Bread



It began with a simple slice of bread rubbed with olive oil and transformed into countless recipes and worldwide popularity. What makes bruschetta so special?


Bruschetta (pronounced brü-ˈske-ta), like pizza, used to be very simple. It's not hard to imagine its early appearance centuries ago, in one of the many rural parts of central of Italy, where bruschette is believed to have originated: Picture a contadino (someone who works the land) in the Tuscan hillside, warming himself at the fireplace before dinner. He'd unceremoniously cut a thick slice of hard bread, wetting it with a bit of water, and then roast it over the coals. When the bread was wonderfully warm and toasted, he'd take a clove of garlic and rub it over the slightly charred top. Ecce bruschetta! (This is bruschetta!) It started out that simply.

The term bruschetta (the plural form is bruschette) originates from the Latin verb brusicare, "to burn" - and actually refers to the bread itself (though today, in the US, it is often used to refer to the topping instead). So, if we talk about the origins of bruschette, we ought to say a word about the kind of bread that was eaten centuries ago. Most likely, it would have been what we now call sourdough country bread, made with grey flour - that is, a whole-wheat bread from which not all the bran has been removed. This bread, or variations of it, was baked in community wood-burning ovens located in the outskirts of burgs, villages and small towns. Depending on the size of the village, the oven would be used just a couple of times a month. To keep the bread edible, people would often moisten it with water and reheat it over the fire. The simplest form of bruschetta is probably just about as old as bread itself, and almost as basic.

Today, a Google search for "bruschetta" yields nearly 1,400,000 results. In the last twenty years or so, bruschette has become very popular indeed. The subject is written about in books and magazines; chefs discuss the newest variations on television. In many countries around the world - particularly in the US, UK and Germany - there has been a great interest in this simple way of eating, which sometimes is not kept so simple. The idea is skyrocketing. But, in Italy, there has always been, and still are, basically just two ways to have a bruschetta. The first consists of a grilled slice of fresh bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. This was also a tradition at the frantoio (olive oil mill) where farmers were eager, in late autumn, to taste the freshly pressed green oil. (It is interesting to note that for centuries, olive oil was not available to most people: Landlords were not so keen on giving the precious oil to their workers or contadini. The workers more generally ate air-cured pork lard, which was usually more accessible.) The second traditional Italian bruschetta is made with chopped tomatoes, without the seeds and juices, and a few leaves of basil - with some personal variations, of course, such as the addition of garlic, onions and fresh herbs or rughetta (arugula) and extra virgin olive oil.

The widespread popularity of bruschette today is no doubt due to the fact that they are a wonderful way to start a meal - especially when accompanied with a good bottle of wine, or with a summer aperitivo. There is something particularly gratifying about these appetizers because they are usually served warm and provide instant color and festivity to the table. Sometimes bruschette can even be a meal in itself, especially for lunch. Since just about anything that goes well with bread is also suitable for bruschette, the possibilities for fresh toppings are virtually limitless. Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers can be used raw - chopped with just a bit of olive oil, garlic and herbs. Grilled zucchini and eggplant make great toppings; cooked artichokes and mushrooms are also favorites.

These toppings can also be combined with various cheeses like mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmigiano, or goat cheese. Due to the very small amount of vinegar used, all the toppings also make a great base for certain pasta sauces - particularly tasty with the addition of other vegetables, quickly sautéed with a bit of olive oil, or cream. They are also ideal as enhancements for curry dishes - curry, by the way, has begun to be incorporated in pasta recipes in many Italian restaurants today. Adding just a spoonful of one of these toppings will provide a real zing to your favorite recipes.

Quick Tip: When making Bruschette, don't grill the bread for too long. It should be crunchy but still moist. Any good quality, fresh bread can be used, but try to avoid industrially produced bread, or any bread that tends to break into crumbs. It is difficult to prepare bruschette with such bread, and more importantly, difficult to eat them.

Click here to see a full line of Imported Italian Bruschetta



Fig Crostata

Gourmet  | November 2009

by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

main ingredients Dried FruitButterEggWalnutFruitFig

type Pie/Tart


Food Dictionary cooking videos enlarge image

yield: Makes 8 servings

active time: 1 hr

total time: 3 1/2 hr

A rich filling is studded with walnuts and imbued with citrusy notes of orange, then packaged between a crust and a lattice top, both made from... more ›


For pastry dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

For fig filling:

  • 12 ounces soft dried figs (preferably Calmyrna), stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts (6 ounces), coarsely chopped

  • Equipment: a 9-inch springform pan

  • Accompaniment: mascarpone

print a shopping list for this recipe


Make pastry dough:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Add yolks, vanilla, and water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated and dough begins to form large clumps.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together (using a pastry scraper if you have one), then divide dough in half and form each half into a 5- to 6-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make fig filling while dough chills:
Simmer figs, water, orange juice, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, covered, stirring occasionally, until figs are soft and mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped (mixture should not be smooth). Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly. Stir in butter, eggs, vanilla, zest, and walnuts.

Make tart shell:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter springform pan. Roll out 1 portion of dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round (dough will be soft; chill or freeze briefly if it becomes difficult to work with). Peel off top sheet of parchment and carefully invert dough into pan. (Dough will tear easily but can be patched together with your fingers.) Press dough onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan, then trim excess. Chill tart shell until ready to assemble crostata.

Roll out remaining dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round. Peel off top sheet of parchment, then cut dough into 10 (1-inch-wide) strips and slide (still on parchment) onto a tray. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

Assemble crostata:
Spread fig filling in shell. Arrange 5 strips of dough 1 inch apart on filling. Arrange remaining 5 strips 1 inch apart across first strips to form a lattice. Trim edges of strips flush with edge of shell. Sprinkle crostata with sugar.

Bake until filling is slightly puffed and pastry is pale golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely, then remove side of pan. Serve crostata with mascarpone.v

Cooks' notes: •Dough can be chilled up to 3 days.
•Crostata can be made 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature.◊

out 7 minutes more. Add the vegetables to the bread and sausage mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine.



Nut and Seed Biscotti Recipe

March 2, 2009

The other afternoon I set out to make thin, biscotti-style crackers. They were to be densely pebbled with all manner of nuts and seeds - green pistachios, rust-toned hazelnuts, and off-black poppy seeds. I envisioned nuts and seeds packed together like pebbles in concrete, with barely enough flour and egg to bind everything together. I'd double-bake them - first in a loaf pan, after which I'd slice them thinly. Then back in the oven on a baking sheet until crisp.

As with many cookies or crackers you can certainly experiment with shape. These make a nice, three-bite base for a generous slather of goat cheese topped with a bit of chutney. You could also incorporate any number of spices, herbs, or zests into the cracker dough, or experiment with your own medley of nuts and seeds. The next time I may slice them the long way - a bit more challenging, but I suspect it would result in an even more dramatic (while still being rustic) cracker.

The best of the best were the crackers I sliced thinnest. They had good snap, toasted up beautifully, and were notably better than their thicker counterparts. As I mention in the recipe, I used a serrated knife and a combination of two knife techniques. 1. A back-and-forth slicing motion (if there were lots of nuts at the surface of that partiular slice) 2. A fast and decisive single cut. But the real key to easy slicing is making sure the loaf is well baked through. Let me know if you end up making these with your own ingredient twists - you can post to the comments, or if you have pictures post them to the 101 Cookbook Flickr group.

Nut and Seed Biscotti Recipe

My seed mixture was a blend of 1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, 1/3 cup each of lightly toasted walnuts, pistachio nuts, and pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. If you don't have white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour should work. I'm also anxious to try these with spelt flour to see how it goes.

1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (see head notes)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, fine grain
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Rack in the middle. Lightly butter or oil a 1-pound loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, nuts and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add the flour-nut mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined. The dough will be quite thick. Scoop into the prepared pan and press the dough into place using damp fingertips. You want to be sure everything is nice and compact, level on top, with no air bubbles hiding in there. Bake for 45-50 minutes - or until the loaf tests done. If you under-cook the loaf at this stage, it makes slicing difficult. Remove loaf from the oven, and turn the oven up to 425F.

Immediately run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the loaf, remove it from pan, and set the loaf upside down on a cutting board. Using a thin serrated knife (or the thinnest, sharpest knife you have), slice the loaf into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet. brush tops with a bit of olive oil and bake for 3-4 minutes or until the bottoms are a touch golden and toasty. Pull them out of the oven, flip each one, and brush the other side with olive oil. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or until nice and crisp. Let cool.

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen.

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Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake RecipeJuly 30, 2008 | by Heidi | Filed under Breakfast / Brunch Recipes, Gluten Free Recipes, Heidi's Favorites, High Protein Recipes, Low Carb Recipes, Pies and Tart Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

I threw together this zucchini-flecked ricotta cheesecake when I got home from the farmers' market the other day. The green and yellow squash skins along with a nice amount of chopped dill visually pepper the interior of this savory cake. I used just enough egg to hold things together, creating a simple batter made primarily of ricotta cheese but also flavored with a bit of garlic, shallots, lemon zest, and a few straggler ingredients I found lounging around the kitchen seeking higher purpose. Lighter and less egg-y than a quiche it takes a while to bake, but minimal time ahead of that. I suspect that along with a few sides, it would be a welcome addition to any picnic basket.

Keep in mind this is a ricotta based cheesecake - not one based on cream cheese. The texture is going to be different (and delicious) in its own right.

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

To shred the zucchini use a box grater - most micro planes are too fine, you want shredded zucchini, not mush. Feel free to play around with the "add-in" ingredients - for example, use whatever chopped herbs you like. I had dill on hand, and I like how it tastes with summer squash, so dill it was. I suspect anything from chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or chives, to spices, chopped spinach, or corn could work here. Also, when I have the time and inclination I'll drain the ricotta through cheesecloth to get even more moisture out of the cake, but to be honest, most times I won't bother. Lastly, I use a springform pan here, but you could use an equivalent baking dish or deep tart pan as well.

2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.

In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn't quite golden, I'll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8.


Makes about 4 cups


  Lazy Ways to Burn 1,000 Calories »


I Knead a Pizza By jannid on Aug 12, 2011 10:00 AM in Recipes


“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.” - Yogi Berra

“Yes, that will be all. No thank you. I don’t need bread sticks or soda.” As I punched the disconnect button on the cell, I paused for a moment to think about the soon to arrive pizza. Over the past few years, I’ve tweaked my food choices in a number of ways. I cook more often so I am in control of the ingredients, read labels, eat less fast food, and make better choices in restaurants. But when the urge for pizza strikes, I continue to automatically punch the phone number so conveniently entered into my cell. Not a very mindful eating thing to do. So what's a pizza lover to do?

The sodium content alone for a typical delivery pizza should have made me reconsider my devotion to delivery. I've got awesomely easy and delicious recipes for sauce and pizza crust, so I plugged the ingredients into the Calorie Count analysis and discovered that my pizza has less calories, sodium, and fat than delivery! The nutrition links for each step - crust, sauce, and my usual toppings are with the recipes at the The Mindful Palate.

Have you ever made a homemade pizza? Even if you are not set up to mess about in the kitchen with flour and yeast, there are still lots of good options for you. Frozen bread dough, both whole wheat and white, sit in freezer cases of stores everywhere just waiting for you to thaw it, shape it, top it, and bake it. Only have a toaster oven? No problem; make great pizza in a few minutes in pre-made pizza shells, whole wheat muffins, or flat bread. Following a low carb way of eating? You still have pizza crust options! Try making your dough out of flax meal. Here's a link to an flax crust recipe. Or try the fantastic cauliflower pizza dough in the recipe list below.

If you do have a couple hours to spare, making traditional dough is tremendously messy, fun, and the tastiest of all the options. Don’t be afraid of kneading it’s really quite simple, can be a terrific stress reliever, and it is nearly impossible to over knead by hand.

Things you knead to remember:

  1. Keep the bag of flour and a measuring cup handy. Sprinkle the dough and the kneading surface liberally when things get sticky. Sticky means the dough does not have enough flour, so add a bit at a time until it is not sticky.
  2. If you like to be precise for calories, keep track of the amount of flour used in kneading, and should it exceed the amount requested by the recipe, simply create a new recipe analysis for it on Calorie Count! Or, better still, use a recipe that weighs the flour instead of one that uses cups. That is the only way to make sure your calorie count is right on the money as measured flour tends to pack and the amount used will be different every time!
  3. For the most efficient kneading and the most awesome crust texture, use the weight of your body, push the dough with the heal of your hands, fold the dough in half, turn a bit, repeat – depending on the type of bread recipe this can go on for 3-20 minutes. For my pizza dough, you will need to knead for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add flour in less liberal quantities as you continue to knead until the dough is no longer sticky, smooth and is noticeably firmer. It's fun to feel the consistency change as you knead.
  5. Test to see if the kneading is complete by poking a hole in the dough with your finger; if it springs back up your kneading is done. Or try pinching a piece – if it has the smooth consistency of an earlobe it’s done. Either method is fine. I prefer pinching; maybe that's because it seems more Italian and befitting of pizza dough.
  6. Make your favorite homemade pizza dough on any day that is convenient for you, shape into rounds, wrap in plastic, and freeze! When you decide it's pizza night all you have to do is take it out of the freezer in the morning and thaw in the fridge for a better than delivery dinner.

Why knead so much? Yeast dough needs the gases evenly distributed so the dough will rise correctly. Kneading also encourages the development of gluten – that’s the stuff that will make the dough springy and create a marvelous texture in your crust.

This Traditional Pizza Crust is my go-to crust. Make it in a couple hours the way my Italian Aunt-in-law taught me!

Try Benny the Chef’s Pizza crust if you want to make a stunning pizza the Roman way! After reading about his crust, check out Benny The Chef's other recipes!

Eating low carb? You can still eat a terrific pizza crust with Your Lighter Side and Jamie's Cauliflower Pizza Dough!

Grilled Pizza is the most awesome thing in the world you can do with your marvelous home made dough. The process is described at The Mindful Palate.

You'll need some great sauce for your fantastic crust; this pizza sauce is easy to make, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week for quick pizza making at any time.

Many thanks to Benny and Jamie for contributing their recipes for this newsletter! Count your calories, watch your sodium, and enjoy one or two delicious slices of pizza with a large crispy colorful salad or a big bowl of minestrone soup. It's deliciously easy with your friends here at Calorie Count.

your thoughts…

Have you ever made a pizza from scratch? Are you a dough pincher or poker? Do you avoid pizza because it is too high in calories, fat, or sodium or do you just change your pizza thinking? What are your favorite toppings? Have you tried using fresh mozzarella? Do you prefer to use a pizza stone or baking sheet or grilling? What flour do you prefer - white, whole wheat, other, or blend? I wonder how many calories are burned in a good 10 minute kneading session, does anyone know?*