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!
Tamarind Shrimp Soba Noodles
This is a typical Asian dish with warm, smooth and bright flavors. Soba noodles are typical Japanese noodles made of buckwheat and wheat flours (you can find soba and most of the ingredients in this recipe in any Asian store, Kaluystan’s in NYC, Whole Foods or online).
The velvety flavorful sauce is semi-sweet and made with tamarind concentrate and coconut milk, infused with bright tangy Asian flavors – lime, red Thai chili, crispy shallots, mint and fennel seed. The shrimp are grilled to perfection (you can also sauté them if desired), then tossed with the Soba noodles and sauce to make a light, refreshing dish for Springtime. Garnish with cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews or diced mango for some extra layers of flavor.
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
36 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ cup tamarind concentrate (or use paste dissolved in coconut milk, strained)
1 cup coconut milk
4 Keffir lime leaves (or 1 tablespoon lime zest)
1 red Thai chile, diced
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, ground
½ cup rice vinegar
½ pound buckwheat soba noodles
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Garnishes: chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews, diced mango
Heat a 6-inch sauté pan over a medium heat and add the oil and shallots. Cook the shallots until golden brown and slightly crisp. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Shrimp Tamarind Mixture
In a small bowl, mix the tamarind concentrate and coconut milk. Add the shrimp, lime leaves or zest, chili, mint, garlic, fennel seed, rice vinegar and crispy shallots together and let marinate for at least 1 hour up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Tamarind Coconut Sauce
Remove the shrimp from the marinade and reserve the marinade.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add the soba noodles. Immediately add a cup of cold water to the pot. When it comes back to a boil, drain the noodles. (You can also sauté the noodles in some sesame oil after boiling and draining them, over high heat to crisp them on the bottom before serving).
Shrimp on Grill
Heat a 10-inch sauté pan or a grill over high heat, cook shrimp for 6 minutes.
Pour the marinade into a 2-cup sauce pan and bring to a boil, and reduce until thickened. Return the reduced marinade to the shrimp and divide the noodles among plates (or a large serving platter for the table), and serve the shrimp with sauce over the warm noodles.
Garnish with desired toppings: cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews, cubed mango.
Adapted from recipe by Richard Ruben, Techniques of Healthy Cooking, Institute of Culinary Education.
Similar recipes you may enjoy:
Epicurious Coconut Shrimp with Tamarind Ginger Sauce
Chipotle and Tamarind-Glazed Shrimp
Soba Noodles in Sesame Ginger Sauce with Grilled Veggies
Camille Cooks Sauteed Shrimp with Tamarind and Soba Noodles
Vindaloo Beef Curry
Vindaloo Curry is a spicy Indian curry made with a variety of spices, vinegar, coconut milk and crushed tomatoes. Its origins come from the Goa region of India, however, the Vindaloo name is derived from a Portugese dish Carne de Vinha d’Ahlos which was typically made with pork, vinegar and chiles.
I used a Vindaloo spice blend from Penzey’s Spices to avoid mixing up 100 spices of my own – it’s a lovely blend of coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, brown mustard, red pepper, jalapeno, cardamom, turmeric, Tellicherry black pepper and cloves, giving the curry a sweet and spicy flavor. I took the liberty to add a little bit more garlic powder, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and cumin to give it a little more kick and some fresh chopped cilantro to give it a bright flavor.
It sounds super spicy, but the vinegar, coconut milk and pureed tomatoes soften the spices up into a creamy, tangy, delicious sauce – you can also make Vindaloo Lamb, Shrimp, Chicken or Pork – just substitute the meat of your choice. Great with Basmati rice (I used Brown Basmati) and/or Naan Bread for serving. If you want to make the curry ahead of time, it can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 pounds lean beef steak, trimmed and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons Vindaloo curry powder (Penzey’s)
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp Black Tellicherry peppercorns
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/4 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 (14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 (14 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
Brown Basmati rice, steamed for serving
Cilantro, chopped for garnish
In a large pot, par boil potatoes for about 3-5 minutes until slightly softened. Heat oil in a large skillet and saute the beef over medium-high for about 5 minutes until slightly browned.
Indian Vindaloo Spices
Mix the Vindaloo curry powder with a few tablespoons of water to make a paste. Add the curry paste to the beef along with the other spices, salt and peppercorns; stir together and cook for about 3 more minutes.
Seasoned Beef & Potatoes
Add the parboiled potatoes, vinegar, beef broth, coconut milk and pureed tomatoes to the beef and potatoes; stir all ingredients together and bring to a boil.
Simmering Vindaloo Curry
Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the curry until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Crush some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon into the curry sauce to thicken it slightly.
Vindaloo Beef Curry
Serve with a side of white or brown cooked basmati rice and chopped cilantro for garnish. Warm toasted naan bread is also delicious with the curry. enjoy!
- Classic Greek Moussaka
Classic Greek Moussaka, (pronounced moos-sah-KAH) is one of the most well known of all Greek dishes and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as is Lasagna in Italy). This tasty Greek delight is a culinary experience to those who sample it for the first time. I first tried it when I worked at a Greek diner in Buffalo, New York during college, and then once again on a trip to the Greek Islands a couple of years ago. Needless to say, the real Greek Moussaka blew the Buffalo diner version to pieces, so I decided to take a stab at making it myself for my Big Fat Greek Birthday dinner party.
One of the most delicious versions of Moussaka I tasted was in Santorini, Greece. It was served in a glazed clay pot, and had a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it.
Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and ootatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.
I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.
You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you
make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.
3 large zucchini (or eggplants)
3 large potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 lg onions, chopped fine
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red Greek wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb butter
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 quart of milk
4 eggs; beaten until frothy
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Cut the zucchini and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the zucchini slices quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil. Set aside.
remaining oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are
golden brown. Add the ground meat and cook 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat.
Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt and
pepper. Stir this mixture into the meat and simmer over low heat,
stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the
mixture from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter
and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Meanwhile,
bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,
stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove
it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg and
Grease an 11×16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with
crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini and potatoes and meat sauce
in the pan, sprinkling each layer with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Pour
the ricotta cheese bechamel sauce over the top and bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Cut
into squares and serve.
Spicy Seafood Risotto
In the spirit of Mardi Gras, I was in the mood to make something spicy with seafood and rice and thought I would do something different than make the typical Jambalaya or Shrimp Etoufee dish. In one of my Italian Cooking classes at The Institute of Culinary Education, we made a Shrimp Risotto which is a typical Italian-style rice dish. Delicious as it is, I wanted to make it with a twist, by adding some Creole seasoning, lemon, red pepper and mussels steamed in white wine to the recipe. It’s super creamy and flavorful, and takes a little bit of time and patience to make. But one taste of the savory shrimp mixed with mussels, lemon and wine with a spicy kick of Creole makes it all worth the effort.
The mussels take about 10-15 minutes to make, so you’ll want to get started on these when you have about 10-15 minutes left to cook the rice in the broth (or you can make them ahead of time and keep them on the burner on low to keep them warm so you can add the mussels to the risotto at the end). If you want to just eat the Shrimp Risotto with the Mussels in wine sauce on the side, you can do that too! Just add some crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of white wine and you’ve got yourself a big, fat, happy meal to celebrate Mardi Gras. Enjoy =)
Spicy Seafood Risotto
1/2 lb medium shrimp
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 parsley stems
2 tbsp parsley leaves, minced fine
6 cups of water
juice of 1/2 of a lemon, plus 1 tsp lemon zest
Pinch of saffron
1 cup canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained and pureed
Red pepper flakes
1 tsp Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning or Emeril’s Essence is great)
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 c Italian short-grain rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 c white wine
Steamed Mussels (see recipe following)
Shell and devein the shrimp (reserve the shells). Cut each shrimp into thirds. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.
In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and the shrimp shells and saute until the garlic is fragrant and the shells turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley sprigs and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 6 cups of water, lemon juice and zest and the saffron; bring to a boil, reduce to heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Strain the broth and return it to the pan. Add the pureed tomatoes and season with red pepper flakes, Creole seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve over low heat.
In a large casserole or skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook until it begins to get golden, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook until it’s slightly translucent.
Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add a 4 ounce ladle of the shrimp stock and cook, stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed.
Continue adding broth and cooking until the rice is on the firm side of al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.
Add the shrimp and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Shell the steamed mussels (see recipe following) and add to the risotto. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.
To prepare the mussels for cooking, sort through them and throw out any that are open or don’t close when tapped. Be sure to rinse and swirl mussels in a basin of cold water to rinse out any dirt or debris trapped inside them, but don’t let them soak too long or you’ll lose the natural sea flavor. With a brush, scrub the outsides well under running water, and pry off any barnacles with the back of a knife. Twist or cut off any beards or hair-like tufts and rinse again, keeping the mussels cold until ready to use.
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 c chicken stock
lemon juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 lbs fresh mussels
In a large saucepan or pasta pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the wine, chicken stock and lemon juice, and season with saffron, salt and black pepper. Add the red pepper flakes to taste, depending on desired heat (if using). Add the mussels to the pot and cover with a lid; increase the heat to medium-high. Steam the mussels, until they open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Remove mussels from the shell (or add them whole) to the shrimp risotto. You can also serve them in a big bowl in the wine sauce separately as an accompaniment to the risotto. Serve the with some crusty garlic bread and a green salad, along with a glass of crisp white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc is great!)
Makes 6 servings.
Recipes adapted from The Institute of Culinary Education, Techniques of Italian Cooking
Other Risotto Recipes you may enjoy:
CD Kitchen’s Cajun Risotto
Smoky Mountain Cafe Cajun Risotto
Jamie Oliver’s Seafood Risotto (Risotto ai Frutti di Mare)
Emeril Lagasse’s Seafood Risotto
Anthony Bourdain – Seafood Risotto in Venice Video