Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vegging Out After the Holidays

After a month-long eating fest, starting from a Tuscan Thanksgiving and finally tapering off on Christmas Sunday, I am in need of a serious detox for my body.

Even Gionni, with his annoying super human metabolism, reaches his limit of munching on heavy foods.
Yesterday, we made several vegetarian dishes in the hopes of being forgiven by our livers.

So I figured, why not grab my camera and share these simple recipes with you? The lighting wasn't the greatest for all these so bear with me on the photos.

Pumpkin and Leek Soup - Zuppa di Zucca e Porri
Red & Yellow Pepper Sauce - Salsina di Pepperoni
Artichoke Spread - Crema di Carciofi

I've got to get a better photo next time!!!

Zuppa di Zucca e Porri 

This Pumpkin and Leek Soup is delicious and just happens to be meat free. It can even be vegan if you leave out the parmigiano rind. Make it super tasty by adding toasted walnuts and fried sage as a garnish!


  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 golden onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parmigiano reggiano rind
  • vegetable stock
  • 1 loaf Ciabatta or other crusty bread
  • nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 Cup Whole Walnuts & 20 Sage Leaves (optional but highly recommended!)

Ingredients for the Zuppa di Zucca e Porri

  • In a large pot, brown leeks, onion and cubes of pumpkin in olive oil for a couple of minutes, stirring so as not to let the oil smoke or crackle. 
  • Add in enough vegetable stock to cover the dry ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  • Drop in a piece of parmigiano reggiano rind and a little cracked black pepper. 
  • Stir, cover, and reduce heat. 
  • Cook until the pumpkin is super soft, about 25 minutes. 
  • Puree, then cook another 15 minutes to reduce out any water and to blend flavors.

While the soup is busy cooking, prepare the garnish as listed below:

  • Toast whole, shelled walnuts under a broiler for a few minutes. Be sure not to burn them!  
  • Rinse and pat dry sage leaves.
    Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan.
    Fry sage leaves until crispy.
    Place sage on a paper towel to absorb oil, sprinkle with salt while still hot.
  • Slice Ciabatta bread into 1.5 cm thick slices. Toast in the oven until crispy and gently rub with raw garlic clove. (Don't overdo it with the garlic! A quick, gentle rub! Otherwise it will overtake the whole dish!).
  • Place 2-3 slices of toasted bread in each bowl, then spoon soup into bowl. Now add the garnish: Arrange sage on top of toasted walnuts (the walnuts will act as a raft to keep sage from getting soggy or sinking!).
  • Additional dash (a mini dash!) of salt and pepper.


serve hot as a soup drizzled with Balsamic condiment, or better yet with fried sage and toasted walnuts, or serve warm on crostini.

I'll be making the soup again soon and adding the walnut and sage garnish. Photo on the way!


 Salsina di Pepperoni Rossi

Chopped red and yellow peppers.

This red and yellow pepper sauce is great on pasta or even served warm on crostini. If you want to add a little excitement, stir in about 1 tbsp. of cream cheese when using it as a pasta sauce.

Rigatoni, boiled in the artichoke water, tossed in Pepper Sauce.


2 red peppers
1 yellow pepper
1 golden onion
vegetable stock
Olive Oil
(Optional: 1 tbsp. cream cheese to make it richer)

Chop and clean 2 red peppers and 1 yellow pepper. Chop a golden onion. Brown them both in olive oil, then add in about 2 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about 15-20 minutes (be sure the peels are soft on the peppers!). Puree and boil again to reduce excess water.

spread on crostini or use as a pasta sauce (or even nice on nacho chips with black beans).


 Artichoke Spread

Carciofi Morellini of Tuscany

This artichoke spread is super easy, versatile and delicious. It makes eating your veggies fun.


4 Tuscan Artichokes or 2 Roman Artichokes
1/2 lemon, juiced
Extra Virgin olive oil of Tuscany

Clean artichokes by taking off outer leaves, peeling the stem, and chopping off the tips of flower. Boil for about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size of artichoke) until they are soft but not falling apart!
Drain and allow to cool.
In a blender, add the juice of 1/2 lemon and high quality olive oil and blend until creamy and smooth.

Optional Variations:

blend in 3 tablespoons of grated parmigiano reggiano & 1 tsp of white truffle oil
blend in 1 can of drained tuna (seen above) and a little extra lemon juice

spread on crostini or serve in a sandwich (or serve with toasted pita wedges)

Added bonus: I found this awesome blog about artichokes! Click here.


All 3 recipes can be served on crostini.

It is important to eat lots of vegetables, and if you have easy and tasty recipes it doesn't seem at all boring to eat your veggies!

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