Every Day simple pasta sauce

  • 1 clove garlic cut in half
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Cups or 12 0z canned imported Italian pear shaped tomatoes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried Basil or 3 leaves fresh Basil
  • 1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put oil, salt and garlic in pan, heat gently.  Add tomatoes that have either been put through a food mill (this removes the seeds) or through a blender.  Cook a simmer for about 20 minutes until it thickens.  Meanwhile put pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Cook 1 lb pasta such as rigatoni, spaghetti or penne in boiling water until it is al dente.  Serve with pasta sauce, add grated Parmesan cheese at the table.  This is a dish that is made in 30 minutes from start to finish and is so easy that I’ve taught my granddaughter and her friends to make this when they were in Fifth Grade.

Serves 4.

Fresh Tomato and Basil pasta sauce


  • 4 fresh sweet tomatoes – do not use Roma Tomatoes as they are really best for sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped fine
  • 4 – 6 fresh basil leaves torn
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste
  • 16 oz Penne pasta or Rigatoni pasta

While you boil the water for the pasta with 1 Tbsp of salt in the water, coarsely chop the tomatoes.  Add the chopped garlic, basil and olive oil  Cook the pasta until it is al dente.  Toss the pasta with the sauce, add the parmesan cheese and serve.

I love serving this when the tomatoes are coming in quickly in the garden.  It is so easy and so delicious.


Sauteed Eggplant


This is a delicious and easy way to prepare eggplant.  Use long, thin eggplants because you want the seeds to be very small.  The large globular eggplants can be bitter.  To serve four.

  • 4-6 small eggplants IMG_1359
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic cut in half
  • olive oil – about 1/8 to 1/4 Cup, eggplant absorbs a lot of oil
  • few leaves of fresh basil, torn roughly
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes halved

Peel and dice eggplant into chunks about 2″ square.  Saute in olive oil along with the garlic.  When the eggplant is nicely browned and soft add basil and tomatoes.  Cook a few more minutes, taste for salt.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Lasagna with Speck, cream & eggplant

Lasagna with Speck, cream & eggplant

This is another recipe from my wonderful sister-in-law, Maria Grazia.  It is definitely not low calorie, but you won’t eat this every day.  For those not familiar with Speck, it is a cured, smoked raw ham product, similar to Prosciutto, from the northeast part of Italy.  Here in Seattle, we are able to purchase Speck at Pacific Food Importers.  For the eggplant, you want the long, thin type since the big globular eggplant is a little bitter when the seeds get large.  For vegetarians, leave out the Speck.

  • 1 Cup of heavy cream
  • long thin eggplant, cut in 1/4″ dice and sautéed in a little olive oil until soft.
  • 1/4 Cup Speck diced fine
  • 1/4 Cup of ricotta cheese.  I like Belgioso Ricotta con latte
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • lasagna pasta sheets.  I use Barilla.  I presoak the Barilla lasagna sheets in a pan of tepid water for about 20 minutes.  They become just like fresh, cooked lasagna and are easy to trim to fit your pan.  This is so much easier than making my own lasagna sheets.
  •  butter to smear on the bottom and sides of your lasagna pan so the lasagna won’t stick.
  • IMG_1364photo is before cooking

Layer starting with the lasagna sheets, cover with cream, sprinkle on speck, eggplant and parmesan cheese.  In second layer  add ricotta cheese to the remaining cream.  Continue layering as before, using no more than four to six layers of lasagna sheets.  Top with remaining eggplant, speck, and Parmesan.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake on top rack of the oven until golden brown on top.  If the lasagna is at room temperature when you put it in the oven it will take 10-15 minutes usually.  If it was refrigerated first, it will take about 30 minutes.

String Beans Italian Style

String Beans Italian Style


When my garden overwhelmed me with string beans this week, I knew it was time to pull out my easy recipe for them.  I grow the long thin French beans called Haricot Vertes as they are tasty and delicate.   All of my relatives in Italy make this dish.  It can be served hot or cold.

  • String beans
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil
  • pot of boiling salted water

Bring pot of water to a boil.  Add trimmed beans – I only take off the tough stem end.  Cook until bright green and can be easily pierced with a fork.  Do not overcook the beans.  If they turn grey-green, you have overcooked the beans.  They will be a little bitter in taste when cooked that way.  Drain, pat or spin dry in a salad spinner.  Add olive oil, garlic & salt to taste.  If you want to vary this a little, you can put on the juice of 1/2 half of a lemon.

Fish filets with garlic parsley topping

This is a recipe that my mother-in-law taught me to make.  We often make it as it is super easy and very tasty.  Tonight I was tired after a busy day, so I took to frozen Tilapia filets from the freezer, put them in an oven proof pan, topped them with the mixture and microwaved them for a quick and tasty dinner.  I do prefer to bake the fish in the oven as the bread crumbs get a little golden, but this worked.


  • 2-4 white fish filets or trout that are opened
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 6 sprigs of flat leaf parsley minced with the garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • plain bread crumbs

Mix garlic, parsley and olive oil.  Spread evenly over your fish filets that are in an oven proof pan.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake in 400 degree oven until fish flakes.  If you want to use the microwave, cook covered on high for about 6 minutes depending upon the thickness of the fish.


Risotto cooked with Red Wine

This is another recipe from my sister-in-law, Maria Grazia.  We also had this dish in the Piedmont region of Italy in a village called Terruggia.  It was delicious both places.  IMG_1262

  • 2 Tbsp of onion chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice.  If you cannot find either rice you can use a short grain rice.  Pacific Food Importers in Seattle carries both types of rice.  www.pacificfoodimporters.com
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 Cups of vegetable or beef broth.  If you use canned beef broth, dilute it with 1/2 Cup of canned broth to 3 cups of water
  • 1 Cup of good red wine.  Nebbiolo is a red wine from the Piedmont area of Italy and would be lovely if you can find it.
  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring the broth to a very slow simmer on a burner near where you will cook the risotto.
  2. Melt the butter in the oil in a 10″ – 12″ heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook just until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the rice, stir quickly until all of the rice is coated with the oil/butter combination.
  4. Add the white wine, cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth, stirring until the rice absorbs the liquid.  Keep adding the broth.  Taste the rice after about 15-20 minutes, see if it is almost al dente, not soggy.
  6. Add the red wine and cook stirring until all the wine is absorbed.
  7. Add the parmesan cheese, and serve promptly.