Baked Zucchini Sorrento Style

I had the luxury of cooking with my dear friend Luciana in Sorrento, Italy last fall.  This simple dish reminded me of a similar one my mother made for us – and her mother made for her, but with eggplant.  That will post another time!  Cooking in Sorrento taught me the Napoli style of cooking that my mother grew up on.  All the dishes are simple and classic.  This one is no exception.  The cheese we used in Italy is called Caciocavallo (Ka-ch-e-o-cava-llo).  I was lucky enough to find it at Whole Foods.  This dish in Italy is fried in olive oil and believe me it is luxurious.  I tried to keep the calories down and baked my zucchini instead, but let me tell you – the original is fabulous!!!  You will need a Misto if you do don’t want to use the olive oil Pam. The taste is remarkably similar to the one I had last fall in Italy.  My recipe is for a side dish, but you can double it as a main course if you’d like.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

4 medium zucchini, sliced about an 1/8th of an inch thick on a mandoline

1 cup tipo “00” flour from Napoli

1-1/4 cup Caciocavallo cheese, shredded

5 tablespoons Romano cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil spray or olive oil

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Slice the zucchini and set aside – it will sweat but dont dry off, this will keep the coating on when cooking.  Spray very well 3 sheet pans with olive oil spray.  Mix together the flour and salt and pepper and put it in a flat dish long enough to dredge zucchini.  After dredging, place slices on the sheet pans and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 13 minutes or until brown, turning once.

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Spray a 2 quart glass casserole dish with olive oil spray.  Start layering zucchini, 1 tablespoon Romano and  a sprinkle of the Caciocavallo.  Continue until you have made 5 layers.  Bake for 15 minutes, until top layer of cheese is melted.

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As a side dish, this serves 6.

 

Gluten Free Macaroons

YOU WONT MISS THE FLOUR

Macaroons have always been a family favorite – They are a gift that my brother John and nephew Darryl live for.  My husband and I put them in the freezer.  Not only do they last longer but they are awesome frozen since they really don’t freeze through. When I modified my recipe to omit the flour (Brother and nephew haven’t tried these yet) I found that you can really taste the coconut.  I’m trying to eliminate 90% of the sugar in my diet due to my health, so I reduced the amount of sugar and I am substituting unsweetened coconut for some of the sweetened.  Play with it.  If you like a sweeter cookie, use all sweetened, not a real sweet tooth, use all unsweetened.  That’s the direction I’m moving.  I’d love to hear how they turned out.

3 large egg whites (I use cage free from the farm and the whites are very thick and beautiful)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla

9 ounces unsweetened flaked coconut (I love Bob’s Red Mill – flakes are big and crunchy)

5 ounces sweetened coconut

 

Beat all ingredients except coconut until glossy and frothy – about 3-4 minutes on medium high.  Add the coconut and mix thoroughly with a heavy spatula, taking care to really work the coconut into the wet mixture.  I find it easy to actually rub the mixture together with the back of spatula, keep turning over.

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When mixed, use a #40 scoop (a little over 2 tablespoons) and drop on 2 parchment lined cookie sheets, 12 per sheet.Give them a little smash on top so they are not very high, but not too flat. Bake at 325 degrees for about 17 minutes, or until brown, switching tray positions and rotating them so they brown evenly.  Makes 24 cookies.

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Aren’t they beautiful ???

 

 

Mellow Mushroom

Okay – this is not from Italy – not from my family – but soooo worth posting…Portabello Mushrooms are Italian, right???

On a trip down to the Masters with my husband and some friends, my friend Doreen and I ventured out to find some healthy local gluten free food.  We came across a place in Augusta called the Mellow Mushroom.  It was everything we were looking for. The decor was painted with bright colors, with retro 60’s graffiti on the walls and 60’s – 70’s music playing  The gluten free menu items were wonderful – we almost couldn’t choose.  We settled on a stuffed portobello mushroom with spinach, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and a smidge of mozzarella – plated on a bed of mixed greens and drizzled with a balsamic glaze.  We lucked out the next day and found one in Greensboro on the way back to our rental – jumped all over the vege pizza with a great gluten free crust.

There are tons of locations – all far from Connecticut – but if you can get to one – DON’T MISS IT.

 

mellow mushroom

Marinara Sauce

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Marinara Sauce

2 cans of Pastene – Kitchen Ready crushed tomatoes (my absolute favorite if I’m not using fresh tomatoes)

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 small onion, chopped very fine

1 large clove of garlic, chopped fine

fresh ground pepper to taste

Locatelli Romano cheese (a favorite of my Dad’s) – add to finished dish to taste

Garnish:  chopped basil or parsley – adds a nice fresh bite

Add the oil, onions and salt, cook till translucent, add the garlic and cook just until it becomes aromatic. DO NOT LET THEM BROWN!  Add the rest of ingredients and stir.  Cook on a medium high heat – NO COVER.  You’ll need a screen for over the pan – it will splatter.  Cooking it fast and on a higher heat (stir so it doesn’t stick) will keep the fresh taste of the tomatoes.  This literally takes 15 minutes.  I say why buy a jar of sauce if you can make this so quickly.

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Enjoy it as much as my great niece, Julie, enjoys her macaroni with gravy!