Leftover Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

13 08 2014

You’ve heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again…and again…and again. Leftovers don’t have to be boring! It takes mere minutes to use up last night’s leftovers, but in a completely different dish. And this is the reason I make meals that serve 3-4 people, when primarily I’m only cooking for me and the hubby…for the leftovers baby!

Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

The following makes 2 pizzas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

Preheat oven to 400.

Place naan on a pizza stone side by side. Distribute the leftover onions and peppers between the naan, evenly spreading all over. Next, top with the sliced sausage.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the sausage and peppers are heated through. Remove from the oven, top evenly with cheese and place back in the oven. Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.

Remove from the oven and top with some red pepper flakes and basil to garnish before serving.

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Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

12 08 2014

Given my Italian heritage, I should be able to make you a sausage, onion and pepper dish in my sleep. And…I pretty much can! The best thing about this recipe is that you really don’t need a recipe, you can just wing it! As long as you don’t burn anything, this will turn out savory and delicious.

You’ll typically find sausage, onions and peppers on my family’s go-to party menu, but we don’t normally use as many ingredients as I have in this meal. But thanks to my CSA share from Fresh Fork Market, I had more produce to use up. So I threw in some extras like tomatoes and fennel fronds that I normally wouldn’t add. And that’s what makes this meal versatile. Add what you like, remove what you don’t – it won’t make a difference. Just get a nice caramelization on the onions and peppers, and you’re good to go!

Italian Sausage with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4 Italian sausage links
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small candy onions, or whatever onions you like, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, whatever color you like, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Granulated garlic
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • Good handful of fennel fronds
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Fresh basil ribbons

Preheat grill to medium, try to keep the grill around 300 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350.

Poke two-three holes in the sausages with a knife – don’t poke all the way through. Place sausages on the grill and close lid but keep it slightly ajar. Grill until brown all over, a few minutes on each side. Remove from the grill.

In a large non-stick oven-proof skillet, heat 3 Tbsp or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to soften, tossing occasionally. Add peppers and continue to saute until onions start to brown and peppers soften, tossing occasionally. At this point add the tomatoes, fennel fronds and season with salt, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic – all to taste. The salt will help the onions and peppers give off some of their natural liquid. Saute for another few minutes.

Next, deglaze the pan with some balsamic vinegar, a good turn of the pan, about 2 Tbsp or so. Let the vinegar cook down, tossing with the onions and peppers. Next, add some chicken stock, just eyeball it, about 1/4 cup, and cook for another minute or two. You’ll notice the liquid start to thicken into a sauce. Remove from the heat.

Nestle the grilled sausages into the onions and peppers and cover the skillet loosely with foil. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and finish baking uncovered, another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Serve sausages along with the onions, peppers and some of the sauce from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil. I like to enjoy this meal with a big salad of baby greens dressed in red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic.





Grilled Kale, Quinoa and Cherry Salad

2 07 2014

Tonight we enjoyed this fabulous quinoa salad featuring Fresh Fork Market kale and cucumber. Pick your protein and enjoy it warm, at room temp or even cold – it’s that versatile. Serve it as a side dish, a salad or even an appetizer, making it perfect for summer potlucks too! I’ll be sharing this with friends and fam this holiday weekend! 🙂

Grilled Kale, Quinoa and Cherry Salad

The following serves 4-6 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat and A Beautiful Mess):

  • 1 bunch organic kale, large stems cut away, washed and dried
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dark cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1 medium organic cucumber, cut in half, seeded and chopped
  • Chopped parsley
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sharp provolone cheese, shaved

Preheat grill to medium.

Drizzle kale with a little olive oil and season with salt to taste. Grill over medium heat, 1-2 minutes on each side until a little char starts to form. Remove from the grill and cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice or tear into small pieces. Discard stems.

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mine called for 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water. To add some extra flavor, I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water. I recommend using the pre-rinsed kind of quinoa to save yourself time. Once cooked, allow quinoa to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the grilled kale, cooked quinoa, cherries, cucumber and parsley. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and garnish with sunflower seeds and shaved provolone. You can enjoy this salad warm, at room temperature or even cold.





Grilled Veggie Naan Pizza With Cauliflower-White Bean Spread and Balsamic Glaze

1 07 2014

I love making pizza out of Naan, healthy and still delicious! Last week’s CSA grab bag from Fresh Fork Market brought us beautiful green cauliflower and squash, which I knew would be tasty grilled and on a pizza. I turned half the grilled cauliflower along with beans into the spread to create the “sauce” for this pizza, then put the rest on top. Prep and grill your veggies over the weekend to save time during the week, say, for meatless Monday!

Grilled Veggie Naan Pizza With Cauliflower-White Bean Spread and Balsamic Glaze

The following makes 2 pizzas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat, with inspiration from Martha Stewart and Better Homes and Gardens):

  • 2 whole wheat naan
  • 2 small yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 small head green cauliflower (or any color you like), cut in half down the center
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat grill to medium. Drizzle squash and cauliflower with a little olive oil and salt to taste. Grill, flipping occasionally, until beginning to char. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, grill the red pepper whole until charred well all over. Remove from the grill to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. This will trap the steam and help to peel the skin. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin and remove the seeds from the pepper – do not run under water. Slice into bite-size strips.

Place half of the grilled cauliflower in a food processor along with the beans, garlic, chicken broth, lemon zest and juice.  Pulse to combine. Stream in 1 Tbsp of oil or so. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add additional oil if needed.

Preheat oven to 425.

Place naan on a pizza stone. Spread some the cauliflower-bean dip on the naan, as if it were a sauce. Top with the remaining grilled cauliflower, squash and red pepper (if you have leftover veggies that won’t fit, no worries, enjoy on a salad for lunch the next day!). Top with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

While the pizza bakes, heat balsamic vinegar over low heat in a small saute pan, stirring often, until reduced by half. Remove from heat and allow to cool, it will turn into a syrupy consistency.

Remove pizza from the oven and garnish with red pepper flakes and the balsamic glaze.

Store leftover cauliflower-bean dip in a covered container in the fridge. Enjoy as a snack with veggies, whole grain chips or use as a sandwich spread.





Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

7 04 2014

Caprese is a classic Italian salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, dressed with olive oil. I took this simple starter up a notch, turning it into an easy, meatless main or side dish made with healthy barley.

Warm Barley Caprese

Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • Couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian cheese blend or mozzarella, shredded
  • Grated parmesan
  • Fresh basil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Rinse barley thoroughly with water, drain. Cook according to package directions. Mine called for cooking the dried, rinsed barley in a large pot of water for 35-45 minutes. Then drain and return to the pot, much like pasta.

After the barley is cooked, make the sauce. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the garlic. Cook garlic a few minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the tomatoes. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste. Next, wilt in the spinach over low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked barley and stir well to combine.

At this point you could enjoy the dish as is if you wanted, garnished with parmesan and basil. Or you could mix in a little shredded Italian cheese blend and some basil, then transfer to a small casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with a little parmesean and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dish out the barley, top with more basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar just before serving.





Cauliflower Pizza With Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms

9 04 2013

I’ve been seeing cauliflower pizza crust pics pop up all over Pinterest and I’ve been meaning to give this a whirl. Using cauliflower for the crust is a cool trick to eliminate traditional pizza dough and add another serving of veggies to your meal. Glad I finally tried this recipe, of course I did put my own riff on it…see below 🙂

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower Pizza With Chicken and Mushrooms

Cauliflower Pizza With Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms

The following makes one thin-crust pizza (2-3 servings):

  • 1/2 head fresh cauliflower, riced
  • Garlic, either 2 cloves minced or a good sprinkling of garlic powder
  • 1 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded plus more for topping
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 package baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, sliced
  • Couple handfuls of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 and prepare your pizza stone or baking sheet – either spray with non-stick spray or line with foil. If using a pizza stone you won’t have to do anything.

Chop cauliflower into florets and add to a food processor, pulse until the texture is similar to rice. Saute cauliflower “rice” in a large skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl combine the cooked cauliflower, garlic, cheese, egg, basil and oregano. Spread the “dough” out evenly on the pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden, crispy on the edges and cooked through the middle.

All of the recipes I’ve found for cauliflower pizza tell you to remove from the oven and add your toppings…to use precooked toppings and be sure not to use too many as the crust is thin. Then broil the pizza for 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. This Girl’s tip: Once the pizza crust was cooked I thought it was too thin to hold the toppings, so I decided to serve the toppings loosely spooned over the top and eat with a fork and knife. It’s still pizza, just my riff on it and it turned out great 🙂

You can make or prepare your toppings while the pizza crust cooks. My toppings included chicken, mushrooms, sliced red onion, garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute in a large skillet until browned. Remove and set aside. Add onion to the pan and saute a few minutes, next add garlic, and cook until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes and cook until mushrooms are browned, stirring occasionally. Add chicken back to the pan and deglaze with a couple turns of balsamic vinegar. Cook for another minute or so to allow the toppings to soak in the vinegar.

Be sure to cool the pizza crust for a few minutes before cutting. Drizzle the top with a little olive oil and season a little with salt. If you’re following my version, I recommend adding the toppings after cutting into slices to make it easier to serve. Also, serve with a salad to round out the meal.