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LifestyleColumnistsMarge Perry

3 Simple Italian recipes

Chicken thighs simmered with tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers

Chicken thighs simmered with tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions.  Credit: Marge Perry

CHICKEN CACCIATORE

2 pounds chicken thighs (4 to 6 pieces)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomato

1. Season the thighs with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the chicken, skin sides down, and cook until it is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion, garlic, red and green bell peppers, celery and crushed rosemary to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are softened, about 3 more minutes.

4. Stir in the tomatoes and nestle the chicken in the vegetables. Cover the pan and simmer very gently over low heat until the thighs reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees, about another 16 to 18 minutes. Makes 4 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 438 calories, 36 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 25 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 650 mg sodium

TIP: The cacciatore may be made ahead and and reheated, and also freezes well. 

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ITALIAN-STYLE HERB MARINATED PORK CHOPS

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, mustard and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the pork chops and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and season with the salt. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high, and cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the thickest chop registers 145 degrees.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 234 calories, 24 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 402 mg sodium

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BAKED RIGATONI WITH SAUSAGE RAGU

12 ounces rigatoni

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, squeezed from the casings

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions; drain.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break into smaller pieces, until it is no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the onions, garlic, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil; immediately reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is somewhat thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sausage mixture over the bottom of the baking dish; top with about half the pasta. Top the pasta with about half the remaining sausage and repeat with the remaining pasta and sausage. Top with the Parmesan and bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 18 to 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 308 calories, 21 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 870 mg sodium

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