Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad with Figs and Mint

Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad with Figs and Mint
Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad
with
Figs, Mint, Macadamia Nuts

Light, lemony, and refreshing. Perfect for a picnic side dish or a lunch on the veranda served with a chilled glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Nuts and fruit, lemon and mint – pair with crema di ricotta to make a pasta salad just meant to be enjoyed on a warm day in brilliant sunshine.

Fresh figs have two seasons in California – the first two weeks in June, then the second season runs August through October. If fresh figs are available, by all means try them in this salad – but if not, dried figs work just as well.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad Recipe

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Mini Fruit Tacos Showcase Fresh Berries

Fruit Tacos ~ Ricotta, Berries, Sopapilla Taco Shells

Mini Fruit Tacos

Sopapilla Taco Shells
Lemon-Orange Ricotta, Orange Marmalade
Fresh Berries, Pistachio, Vanilla Yogurt, Mint

Perhaps we are spoiled here in Southern California, with a bounty of fresh fruit all year around, but savvy cooks don’t simply create dishes with fresh ingredients, the key is serving those fresh ingredients at their peak.

Summer is the peak season for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. To delight your family, serve these seasonal gems in a mini taco shell!

This taco shell is inspired by sopapillas, a dessert popular in the Southwestern US and in Latino culturesThe crispy fried pillows of dough are originally thought to have originated in Albuquerque, New Mexico over a couple centuries ago. Sometimes served as a savory dish with meat, cheese and chiles – it is most often served as a sweet treat, simply adorned with honey or cinnamon sugar.

These fruit tacos are filled with lemon-orange ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, fresh berries, and garnished with pistachio nuts, vanilla yogurt and mint. And while they make a charming summer dessert – the citrusy cheese filling and orange marmalade make them quite suitable for breakfast on a brilliant July morning as well.

Nature’s beautiful colors and the petite presentation are positively enchanting. The textures range from crispy to creamy – with nutty and fruity flavors, made even brighter by the use of citrus and salt. Something magical happens when a conventionally savory taco is turned into something little and sweet.

 Mini Fruit Tacos Recipe

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La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

calabria, calabria dinner, my calabria
Discovering Calabria – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

Inspired this past weekend, by the recent gift of a new Calabrese cookbook, my friends and I prepared an authentic Southern Italian feast. The setting was beautifully simple, complete with herbs, flowers and citrus fruits from our gardens. For the menu, we adapted seven recipes from My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher, with outstanding results.

We enjoyed exploring this lesser known regional cuisine, learning about the remote and somewhat mysterious Calabria as we constructed our menu. Dusty and hot mountainous regions, steep slopes, and narrow coastlines all contribute to the uniqueness that is La Cucina Calabrese.

We served esoteric Italian wines with the meal, wines that paired well with the simple yet robust Calabrese cuisine. Unfortunately we had difficulty locating wine specifically from Calabria, but we certainly were not disappointed with the fabulous bottles that graced our table. And we enjoyed Gino’s locally famous homemade limoncello to cap off the affair.

Unlike most of our dinner parties, the dishes were served family style. There was plenty of conviviality and great food & drink, as we experienced Southern Italy via Southern California.

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Spaghettini with “Italian Sausage,” Green Chard, Lemony Tofu Ricotta

Whole Wheat Spaghettini
Vegetable Protein Italian Style Sausages
Spicy & Garlicky Green Chard
Lemony Tofu Ricotta

Creating Heart Healthy dishes is a fun adventure for me. I feel like I have discovered a whole new cuisine! In this dish I use whole wheat pasta for the extra fiber, a green leafy vegetable, vegetable protein to replace pork sausage, and tofu to replace ricotta cheese. Eating vegetable-based meals several times a week helps me to control my cholesterol. And these meals are so satisfying, I don’t miss the meat or cheese.

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