Fridays in Lent: Meatless One-Pot Meals

Growing up in a big Catholic Italian family, makes the season of Lent as much cultural as it is religious.  Even though I no longer practice faith from the Catholic tradition, lent and the practices around it remain.  This 40 day period begins on Ash Wednesday (which was Wednesday, February 14th this year… Hello, Valentine’s Day!) and continues until Easter.  It commemorates 40 days of prayer and fasting Jesus spent in the dessert. Most of my family members gives up something (usually chocolate, coffee, sweets, or alcohol) individually for the duration of lent.  Outside of a food-motivated Italian family, I know people who have given up gossip, social media, or…

3-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner-IN: 2 Menus!

1-Hour, 3-Course Gourmet Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day is fast approaching!  While I love trying new restaurants and date-nights out with the hubs, I do not love eating out on Valentine’s Day.  I know I’m a crusty-old-married-gal, but I know I’m not alone here.  I hardly know anyone who goes out for Valentine’s honestly, but alas, restaurants are packed so I know young love birds and romantic loyalists are out there.  Maybe I could benefit from fewer romance skeptics and people who reject the notion of greeting card holidays (i.e. 95% of Seattle).  Either way, I’m making a reservation at my own dining room table.  For two, please. The past two…

Whole Roasted Branzino with Mint-Basil Relish

This recipe is part of the main course to a 1-Hour Sicilian inspired 3-Course Valentine’s Day menu.  To see the complete menu and a detailed shopping list, visit this post!  One of my favorite foods ever.  Probably my favorite Italian entree.  Yes, even more than pasta!  Whole roasted branzino! Branzini is the plural form in English, but in Italian its branzini – regardless of a singular or plural number.  Not to get too scientific, lets get everyone on the same page with a fish mini-lesson.  Branzini are in the Moronidae family of fish, which makes them a “temperate bass” – hence why they are commonly marketed as European Sea Bass in the US.  Native…

Rosemary Roasted Fennel and Red Potatoes

This recipe is part of the main course to a 1-Hour Sicilian inspired 3-Course Valentine’s Day menu.  To see the complete menu and a detailed shopping list, visit this post!  I mentioned my love of fennel in the Sicilian Fennel Salad recipe from course one.  And guess what…. Fennel is baaaaack.  Remember when I talked about recurring flavor threads?  In this menu, fennel is one of them! (The rosemary and squeeze of lemon are too!)  This time instead of crunchy and refreshing, its roasted: caramelized, mellow, and sweet. Fennel is underused. Underrated. And under-appreciated.  Period.  It’s great in salads, roasted, or even grilled!  Treat it like a cross between an onion, celery, and kohlrabi…

Sicilian Fennel Salad

This recipe is the first course on a 1-Hour Sicilian inspired 3-Course Valentine’s Day menu.  To see the complete menu and a detailed shopping list, visit this post!  Fennel salads are classic Sicilian fare!  It must be the fresh sea air.  Or, how well fennel pairs with the island’s abundance of frutti de mare  In Sicily, there are countless variations of this dish. Restaurants and families alike put their own stamp on it.  Fennel is a constant, and its almost always citrusy. The most common variation involves sliced oranges, grapefruit, olives (usually black), and fresh herbs (usually mint). A handful of raisins can also be quite common.  The black olive and…
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