On a recent trip up to Rochester, I had the pleasure of discovering a lovely little Italian place called the Mona Lisa Café. My mother and I stopped in there on a whim one afternoon for a cappuccino, but after entering the café and seeing all the delicious pastries and gelato and enticing smells of amazing food, we decided to stay for lunch instead.
We sat at a table by a large window and enjoyed a glass of wine while perusing the menu. At first we thought we would just split an appetizer, but there were just too many tasty choices on the menu to settle for just one item. We opted for a delicious Italian Panini and their amazing Greens and Beans appetizer made with escarole and cannelloni beans sautéed with heaps of garlic, savory Italian sausage, white wine, olive oil and bread crumbs topped with Parmesan cheese. WOW. Best thing I’ve ever tasted! I loved this dish so much I was inspired to recreate it at home, and my own version of Garlicky Greens and Beans with Sausage I now present to you. Delicioso!
Garlicky Greens and Beans with Sausage
- 2 cups Fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or chunks
- 1 1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage (may use chicken or turkey sausage if you prefer)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced or chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 large bunch of greens (I used collards, but you can use spinach, kale, escarole, or mustard/turnip greens)
- 1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
- Crusty bread or garlic bread, for dipping
- Rinse and drain potatoes, cut into quarters or chunks, depending on the size.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes for about 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- At the same time, add 1/2 inch of water to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausages to and cover with a lid, simmering for 10 minutes (without turning). Remove the lid, turn sausages over, and cook for another 5 minutes until almost cooked through.
- Meanwhile, measure out your liquids and dry seasonings and set aside.
- Chop the garlic.
- Wash the greens well and drain. Remove and discard the veins and stems, cutting leafy green parts off on either side into 1-inch strips.
- Remove sausages from pan and cut into coin-sized chunks. Drain fat from pan and wipe down.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil into the same pan and return to medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute while stirring often, for about 1 minute being careful not to burn garlic.
- Add additional 3 tablespoons of oil and start sauteing greens by the handful until they are just starting to wilt.
- Add cannellini beans, sausage, potatoes, broth, water and minced onion; bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Remove lid, add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the liquid reduces a little (you can simmer it down longer if you like a thicker stew or add more broth/water if you like a thinner stew).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the Greens and Beans in large bowls topped with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and crusty bread for dipping in the broth.
Substitute sweet Italian sausage with chicken or turkey sausage or omit all together and adjust water/broth down to 2 cups if you prefer a vegetarian dish.
Mona Lisa Cafe uses breadcrumbs and white wine in their dish which I omitted in my version because of the starch from the potatoes and adding a splash of white wine vinegar which gives it a nice tangy flavor to the broth. Feel free to experiment by topping it with toasted breadcrumbs and using some wine in place of the water in my recipe, but you'll need to adjust the amount of liquids down if you omit the potatoes from the dish so it's not too watery/brothy. The consistency should be of a nice light stew with a balance between the meat and vegetables and the broth.
Serve with a dry white Italian wine such as Pinot Grigio and crusty bread for dipping up the broth.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Italian Sausage and Kale Soup
White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs
Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta
All photographs, copy and content on this post and website are copyright © 2010-2013 Kristen Hess Styling & Photography and The Artful Gourmet. Please do not use, share or distribute in any way without my expressed permission granted. Thanks!
Good Food Ireland Authentic Irish Food
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Good Food Ireland (www.goodfoodireland.ie), the first-ever, all industry network driving food tourism in Ireland, offers the perfect online destination to shop, plan a food trip, obtain great Irish recipes and learn about authentic Irish food experiences. Good Food Ireland sets criteria for the “best in class” of Irish food and products and has created the Good Food Ireland Approved Provider status. There are over 450 Approved Providers that ensure consumers that all products and services meet the standards. At the newly redesigned website, www.goodfoodireland.ie you can:
- Plan a food journey to Ireland via “My Food Trip.” This feature is supported by a host of information including locations and details about hotels, restaurants, cookery schools, producer experiences, markets and festivals as well as an ongoing calendar of events. In addition, there’s the opportunity to meet the people behind the products. The feature allows the user to create, save and share their favorite food trip around Ireland. It’s like a wish list for the user when they come to Ireland.
- Shop for authentic Irish products at Good Food Ireland’s online store where Good Food Ireland Approved Provider foods are available for purchase 24-7 (LIVE early March 2013). All products are the highest quality food the island has to offer and include: Kilbeggan Organic Porridge, Ditty’s Oatcakes, Irish Farmhouse Cheese, Ballymaloe Relish, Burren Smoked Irish Salmon, Seymour’s Traditional Irish Shortbread and more.
- Find and create delicious contemporary Irish dishes at home with recipes from Ireland’s top chefs including Ed Cooney, Executive Head Chef of Dublin’s five star The Merrion Hotel, and a chef for the Obamas when they were in Ireland and Maurice Keller, Good Food Ireland Ambassador Chef. Some of the recipes include Bircher Muesli made with Irish Porridge Oats, Traditional Irish Stew, Brown Bread and Salmon Fishcakes.
“St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to learn about Ireland’s secret gems — its locally produced ingredients, great food and great people,” says Margaret Jeffares, founder and managing director of Good Food Ireland. “Good Food Ireland was created to make it easy for food lovers everywhere to travel to Ireland and to experience our bounty first-hand, but even if you can’t do that, we now offer some of our finest products, bearing the Good Food Ireland Approved Provider seal, here in the U.S. and are happy to share delicious recipes that can be enjoyed not only on St. Patrick’s Day but every day.”
I had the opportunity to meet the Good Food Ireland’s Ambassador Chef Maurice Keller, TV Personality Clodagh McKenna and Founder Margaret Jeffares at Dean & Deluca flagship store in Soho in New York City earlier this week for a special cooking demo and tasting event of some of their authentic Irish foods.
Below are some great photos of the event and the tasty Irish goods that I sampled, available at www.goodfoodireland.ie or at Dean & DeLuca:
Chef Maurice Keller
Good Food Ireland Chefs
Making Salmon Fishcakes
Chef Maurice Keller and Founder Margaret Jeffares
Ditty’s Celery & Sea Salt
Ditty’s Irish Oatcakes
Ditty’s Irish Oatcakes & Dubliner Irish Cheese
Burren Smoked Salmon & Irish Trout
Kilbeggan Irish Porridge & Seymours Biscuits
Smoked Salmon on Oatcakes
Dubliner Irish Cheese & Ballymaloe Relish on Oatcakes
Good Food Ireland also shared their recipe for the amazing Salmon Fishcakes and Irish Porridge so you can make some Irish goodies yourself for St Patty’s Day! enjoy.
2 shallots finely chopped
1 lb Salmon Filleted and skinned
Kerrygold Butter 1 Tablespoon
Dry White Wine 5 fl oz
Chopped Parsley 1 Tablespoon
Mashed Potatoes – no cream no butter
For the Coating:
2 Tablespoons Plain Floor
2 oz soft white Breadcrumbs
Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f gas 6
Butter and season a tray. Sprinkle with the shallots and sit the salmon on top. Drizzle with white wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes – the salmon should be firm to touch but still pink in the middle.
Sit the salmon in a colander over a pan to collect all the juices.
When all the juices have drained, place in a small pot and reduce on a stove to a nice syrup consistency.
Break up the salmon into flakes, add the syrup and chopped parsley, then fold in the potato until you have a binding texture. Check for seasoning and roll into 12 to 18 ball shaped cakes.
To Breadcrumb – Lightly pass through the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, repeat the process again.
To Cook – Deep fry at 180c/ 350f for 4-5 minutes drain well.
Serve 3 per portion on a bed of steamed baby spinach and lemon butter sauce.
Traditional Recipe Cooked with Water or Milk
Porridge Oats 2 oz
Milk 7 fl oz
Heat the milk, add porridge oats and cook for 1 min serve with honey or salt
Bircher Muesli made with Irish Porridge Oats
Porridge Oats 5oz
Irish Honey 1oz
Milk 20 fl oz
Natural Yogurt 14oz
Banana 1 whole chopped
Apple 1 Grated
Combine ingredients and devour!
Good Food Ireland Products
Ballymaloe Country Relish: A delicate balance of tomatoes and gentle spices, this delicious relish was created by Myrtle Allen of the famed Ballymaloe House in County Cork. It is made from only the finest ingredients, containing no artificial additives. The relish is extremely versatile and is excellent with beef burgers, French fries, cold meats, cheese, sausage rolls and salads. It is also wonderful in sandwiches or served with light meals, picnics or barbecues.
Burren Smoked Irish Salmon: All Burren Smoked Salmon is 100% Irish. It is farmed in the most pristine waters off the west coast of Ireland where there is no pollution. The entire smoking process, from filleting to packing is still done by hand in the small, family-owned smokery.
Cooleeney Cheese: Established in 1986. Jim and Breda Maher established Cooleeney Cheese on the family farm with the ambition to produce a range of artisan cheeses using the milk from their own Friesians. They launched their first cheese on the Irish market that same year and national and international awards over the next two years created a great awareness and interest in Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese.
Ditty’s Irish Oatcakes: Handmade with rolled oats from County Armagh, these light, nutty, wholesome biscuits have a just-baked crispness. They are made by Ditty’s Home Bakery, a third-generation bakery based in Castledawson, Northern Ireland. The delicious biscuits that reflect a combination of sweet and savory flavors are handmade using only the finest locally-sourced ingredients.
Seymour’s Shortbread: Seymour’s biscuit bakery hand makes these Irish butter shortbread cookies with the finest Irish butter. They are created in Bandon, West Cork using local creamery butter, freshly delivered from the nearby co-op. The shortbread has a dense, crumbly texture but is not too sweet. It’s perfect for pairing with tea, hot chocolate or a glass of cold milk.
Kilbeggan Porridge: The oats in this “creamiest-ever porridge” are grown by fifth-generation farmers on the Lalor family farm in Kilbeggan, Ireland. Grown and processed naturally with no synthetic chemicals, this is perhaps the most delicious oatmeal you’ll ever eat.
About Good Food Ireland
Good Food Ireland is a grassroots industry network aimed at promoting innovations in Irish food, the country’s commitment to sustainable, authentic products across food, hospitality and travel industries – incorporating farmers, chefs, hoteliers and outposts of cultural interest. The organization seeks to promote its authentic products in the U.S. and to inspire Americans to travel to Ireland to experience the contemporary cuisine and engage with its citizens and culture. The cross section of agriculture, food & culinary, production/manufacturing and tourism industries seek to grow and sustain the Irish economy.
Margaret Jeffares, Founder & Managing Director of Good Food Ireland. Margaret’s career in tourism and hospitality has spanned almost 25 years. Living on a farm with her husband, Des, in Co. Wexford, she had a strong knowledge of the agri-food industry in Ireland. This combined with her experience in tourism led Margaret to identify a major gap in the market for the development of a strong food and tourism proposition for the island of Ireland. Therefore, she launched the all island umbrella brand “Good Food Ireland” and set the standard for Food Experience in Ireland.
Maurice Keller has travelled the world as Ambassador Chef with Good Food Ireland, showcasing the highest quality food that the island has to offer. Formerly, he was the chef-proprietor of Arlington Lodge Country House Hotel in Waterford City, Ireland. Having worked for many dignitaries, Maurice’s philosophy is simply based on using the best quality local produce he can find.
Clodagh Mc Kenna is a well known TV food personality and the familiar face of “Irish Food Trails” on PBS. She is also the author of four best-selling cookbooks that include Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries, The Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook, Fresh from the Sea and Homemade. A trained chef from the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School, Clodagh will share her culinary vision regarding the incorporation of farm fresh produce.
Dean & DeLuca | 560 Broadway at Prince Street | SoHo NYC
Parmesan Garlic Shells with Spinach, Zucchini and Ham
This is a super easy and tasty dish that I whipped up one night with some of the ingredients I had on hand. It’s a light and savory pasta dish made with large shell pasta, sauteed spinach, zucchini and ham with garlic and a creamy parmesan alfredo sauce, with a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Perfect dish for a weeknight dinner, with some crusty French or Italian bread, a green salad and glass of wine. You can also substitute whole wheat pasta in any shape or size you please. Cooked diced bacon or prosciutto are also delicious in place of the cooked ham. If you want to experiment with the veggies, try broccoli or peas or yellow squash, what ever your heart desires!
Parmesan Garlic Shells with Spinach, Zucchini and Ham
- 1 bag of medium-large shell pasta (fresh or dried)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thin and halved
- 1 bag of fresh spinach (leaves), chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 cup of cooked Virginia ham, diced (can sub cooked prosciutto or bacon)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- PARMESAN GARLIC SAUCE:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons flour
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons neufchatel or cream cheese
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
- 1 green onion, sliced for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta shells and cook according to package directions until al dente (about 8 minutes dried, 3 minutes fresh). Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a medium-large saute pan and add zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and cook for about 8-10 minutes until zucchini is soft. Add 1 tablespoon of garlic and saute for another minute or so until garlic starts to brown. Remove zucchini-garlic mixture from saute pan and set aside in a medium-large mixing bowl.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the saute pan and heat for a minute or so. Add the fresh chopped spinach, salt and pepper to taste, and red pepper flakes, stirring through. Saute spinach about 3-5 minutes until wilted. Add the cooked diced ham and saute another few minutes until browned. Remove spinach and ham from saute pan and add to cooked zucchini in mixing bowl.
- To make the Parmesan Garlic Sauce:
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 1 minute.
- Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, another minute.
- Whisk in the milk, a sprinkle of sea salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the Neufchatel and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute.
- Combine the cooked pasta shells, 1/2 cup cooking water from pasta, sauteed zucchini, spinach and ham to the alfredo garlic sauce, stir thoroughly to mix ingredients for another minute or so.
- Sprinkle additional salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste into the pasta mixture. Remove from saute pan and place in a large serving bowl. Top pasta with chopped fresh parsley and green onions, and top with more parmesan cheese to taste.
- Serve the pasta with some crusty bread, a green salad and glass of wine.
You can also substitute whole wheat pasta in any shape or size you please. Cooked diced bacon or prosciutto are also delicious in place of the cooked ham. If you want to experiment with the veggies, try broccoli or peas or yellow squash, what ever your heart desires!
Other Recipes you may enjoy:
Smitten Kitchen’s Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
Spinach and Artichoke Pasta
Pioneer Woman’s Pasta Primavera
What Katie Ate’s Conchiglia with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cream Sauce
Recipe Girl’s Spaghetti with Cremini Mushrooms, Lemon & Thyme
In Jennie’s Kitchen Pasta Carbonara
Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Strata
I love waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh brewed coffee and breakfast cooking in the kitchen. This is a delicious brunch casserole that’s perfect for the holidays and feeding a crowd. It’s filled with delicious sauteed ham, onions, baby bella mushrooms, garlic and dill, over a thin layer of torn whole grain bread (I use low carb bread and only 4-5 slices instead of a whole loaf of bread, and you can actually skip the bread all together if you want it to be more of a frittata), then topped with lots of gooey cheddar cheese. Bake the casserole until its light and puffy, let cool and then serve cut into squares with a green salad or fruit salad and whole grain toast. If you want to switch up the herbs, try Herbs de Provence or Fines Herbes instead. Experiment with different cheeses or meats if you like too (Brie, Monterey Jack, Bacon or Sausage), or spice it up with some red pepper flakes or a dash of Tabasco.What’s great is you can reheat it easily and have some yummy brunch/breakfast for a couple of days if you’re only cooking for a few people. Delish!
Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Strata: Best Brunch Casserole. EVER.
Author: Kristen Hess
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 4-5 slices of whole grain bread
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped (or ½ teaspoon powder)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups of cubed ham
- 2 cups of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dill
- 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat a medium saute pan over medium heat.
- Tear bread into medium size pieces and layer in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ greased casserole dish.
- Whisk together eggs, milk and cream of mushroom soup in a large mixing bowl.
- Saute onions, garlic, ham, mushrooms and dill until soft and tender about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Layer the ham, mushroom and onion mixture over the bread in casserole dish.
- Top with egg mixture evenly.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top in an even layer.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until strata is puffy and cooked through.
- Let cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares for serving.
Recipe adapted from Taste and See, Calvary Chapel Finger Lakes.