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Pomodori Ripieni di Riso (Tomatoes stuffed with rice!)

I have such fond childhood memories of my grandfather and my father making this dish every summer. Rice stuffed tomatoes with herbs and lots saucy love! This recipe is a lot easier than it appears here. You won’t regret making it and your kiddos will have so much fun helping too. I always did!

Ingredients:
7-9 large tomatoes. (Not overly ripe, firm is better here)
1 to 1 1/2 cups* of uncooked rice, rinsed
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 jar of Due Cellucci Tomato Basil (may not use it all)
1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Herbs: a medley of basil, oregano, thyme & parsley
1 teaspoon each salt & pepper (*this is just to start)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (the rice will absorb the spicy!)

Preparation:
1) Cut off the top 1/4 portion of each tomato, just a cap size (do not cut tomatoes in half!) Reserve the caps for later. Lightly oil each cap.

2) Spoon all the interior tomato meat and juices into a large mixing bowl. Work each tomato, being careful not to break through the skin. Leave enough tomato flesh all around the bottom and sides to hold the stuffing.

3) Break apart any large pieces of tomato guts, add one cup of rinsed and drained uncooked rice (* you can judge if you need to add more rice depending on size and quantity of tomatoes).

4) Mix in the olive oil, salt & pepper, all chopped herbs, half a jar of tomato basil sauce (or more depending on how many tomatoes you use), tomato paste, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar.

5) Taste for seasoning. You want this slurry to taste just a little extra* salty and tangy because the rice will absorb all the flavors – so don’t forget to amp up the flavors keeping that in mind. That goes for loads of herbs too! All flavors will become muted down when the rice absorbs all the liquid.

5) Stuff each tomato just under 3/4 of the way up (rice will expand!) and arrange in a large oiled skillet that can transfer to oven. Pour the broth around the tomatoes, about half way up, cover with foil or a tight lid (*tightly crimp foil around the rim of skillet so the rice will steam in the cooking.)

6) Cook at 375 for about 45 minutes. Check a little more than half way through, take a bite of rice to check how al dente it is, and continue cooking as needed. You may go an hour, just depends.

7) Once you determine rice is just near done, take off the lid and place each oiled cap back onto the tomatoes. Place back in oven, uncovered for about 5-10 minutes more. You can also add a little time under the broiler too, but really watch them carefully!

8) Drizzle some fresh olive oil over, garnish with any herbs and serve at table! Take a bow.

Notes:
Feel free to sauté an onion and mince a few Italian sausages, lightly toast some pine nuts, grate Parmigiano Reggiano into the stuffing or on top – these are all great add-ins that would make your stuffed tomatoes sing!

If you find yourself with a ton of leftover stuffing, stuff a bell pepper or a zucchini or squash – any will do. Or simply cook up the extra stuffing as you would do with rice. Or if you find you may not have enough stuffing to fill all your tomatoes, just add in more rice and Due Cellucci sauce to the mixture. And adjust seasoning as needed.

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Seared Chicken Breasts alla Vodka Sauce

We were craving our Vodka sauce – which isn’t just for penne, folks! – and in our busy household, we’re also big fans of one-skillet meals. So even though it’s high Summer, we decided to create a main dish with a lighter saucier version of our creamy vodka sauce, with chicken, fresh tomatoes, and basil. We love how it turned out, we think you will too!

Ingredients:
3 to 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
1 jar of Due Cellucci Vodka Sauce
1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
4-6 strips of smoky bacon, diced (or about 3/4 cup of cubed pancetta)
1 large onion, diced
3-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup of vodka OR 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (for added tangy zing!)
1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste

Preparation:
1) In large cast iron or skillet, add in the olive oil. Medium heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides, place into heated skillet. Let chicken get a nice sear, don’t move them for about 3-5 minutes. Lift a breast to check to see if nicely browning, then flip all breasts to other side and leave for another 3-5 minutes. Always check flame is not too high. Chicken does not have to be cooked through, just a light brown sear on both sides. Take chicken breasts out of pan and set aside.

2) In same skillet, sauté the diced bacon or pancetta to a light brown/light crisp.

3) Add in the diced onion and sauté on medium, to a soft translucent brown, about 5-8 minutes, keep stirring.

4) Add in minced garlic, cook for another minute or so.

5) Add in a jar of Due Cellucci Vodka Sauce and one cup of chicken broth, stir well for a minute on medium low flame. Season with salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Taste for all seasoning. (*Keeping in mind that bacon and broth impart some sodium too). Add in the fresh Vodka OR red wine vinegar, give a good stir for another minute.

6) Place the chicken breasts (and any resting juices) into the simmering sauce, allowing tops of chicken to remain exposed. Lower flame and cover. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes on low (or until chicken is cooked depending on how thick the breasts are).

7) Sprinkle the halved cherry tomatoes around the chicken breasts and half of the torn basil, cover and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Reserve the rest of basil for garnish.

8) Over pappardelle pasta or polenta, spoon a generous amount of sauce and place each chicken breast, sliced, on top. Garnish each plate with rest of torn basil. Feel free to add more red pepper flakes too!

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Baked Halibut & Ratatouille with a Tomato Herb Remoulade

This is a wonderful one-skillet recipe for a saucy summer dinner – served with rice or simple pasta and icy cold white wine! A delicious explosion of summer flavors and ingredients. We made a fresh (non-mayo) cherry tomato and herb remoulade to spoon over. Choose a nice size skillet that will fit both the ratatouille medley and a large fillet of Halibut or other white fish. Also a great recipe with Salmon!

The Ratatouille and fish layer:
3-4 small yukon potatoes, peeled & medium diced
1 large red or orange bell pepper, large dice
1-2 medium size zucchini, cut into half or quarter moons
1 red onion, large dice
3 cloves garlic, fine mince 
1/2 cup or more of minced herb medley: oregano, thyme, tarragon, sage, basil, parsley – any and all herbs!
1/4 cup Olive oil, plus a couple tablespoons
Salt & Pepper
*Halibut or other firm white fish – 1-2 pound fillet. Depending on family size.

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 375

2.) Wash and peel potatoes, medium square dice. In a bowl, drizzle potatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper, a couple tablespoons of the minced herb medley and some of the minced garlic. Toss well and place into greased skillet, begin to bake potatoes for about 5-10 minutes on 375. Watch not to burn them, the potatoes just need a little head start before adding in the rest of ratatouille ingredients.

3.) Take skillet out of oven and add in the diced bell pepper, zucchini and red onion. Plus the rest of the minced garlic and herb medley, an additional tablespoon or two of olive oil, more salt and pepper. Mix everything well with the potatoes already in skillet.

4.) Return skillet to oven and continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes.

5.) Assemble the tomato herb remoulade (see below), set aside.

6.) Take skillet out of oven (again.) Place cleaned and dried fish on top. Lightly oil the fish, top and bottom, and season with salt and pepper. Place entire fillet(s) on top of the baked ratatouille layer, place back into oven for about 5-7 minutes. 

7.) Take skillet out of oven (again!!) and spoon the fresh tomato herb remoulade (recipe below) along the top of fillet, letting any liquid run off into the ratatouille layer.  Place back into oven for another 5-8 minutes, until fish is opaque and done, then pop temperature to broil for another 2-3 minutes to get a nice browning of the remoulade topping. Check for doneness, serve at table with rice or pasta.

The Tomato Herb Remoulade:
One container each of red and orange cherry tomatoes (you may have some leftover) Cut and quarter the tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups or more), 1/2 cup of the minced herb medley, 1/2 cup of Due Cellucci Sauce (Tomato Basil or Arrabbiata), 2 garlic cloves minced, 1-2 shallots fine chop, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Mix well. 

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Thai Influenced Tomato-Basil-Coconut Salmon

Often baked or broiled, salmon can get a little been there-done that. Sometimes salmon needs just a little extra, a saucy swim in the deep end of a delicious red pool, a sun-kissed browning under a broiler sun. Sometimes salmon wants to let loose and get saucy!

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 med/large yellow onion, finely diced (shallots are also great here too!)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp or more (a nob) of ginger, peeled, and minced or grated
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream
1 jar Due Cellucci Tomato Basil Sauce
3-4 Salmon fillets (about 4-6 oz. each)
2 large handfuls of fresh basil leaves (save some for garnish)
Salt & pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1-2 teaspoons of lime juice (save some wedges for garnish)

Preparation:
1. Sauté the diced onion in the coconut oil on a medium flame, to a soft translucent brown, about 5-8 minutes. Choose a large saucepan that can also transfer to the oven and fit all your fillets.

2. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes. *Note: we also like to add a little more garlic and ginger toward the end, just before transferring to oven broil. Aromatics lend an additional impactful brightness at the end of a simmer.

3. Reduce flame to low, add the jar of Due Cellucci Tomato Basil Sauce, being careful that pan is not too hot or it will sizzle and splatter.

4. Add the entire can of coconut milk. Stir well and simmer the combined sauce for a while – about 5-10 minutes, on a low flame. You want to thicken the sauce a bit. Give a few squeezes of lime and a handful of torn basil leaves. Salt & pepper to taste and some red pepper flakes to taste. Stir.

5. Lightly salt & pepper your salmon fillets (no need to remove skin). Carefully slide fillets into the sauce and place a cover over the saucepan to steam fish a little on top while they gently simmer for 2-3 minutes. You can cook salmon to your desired doneness, baring in mind that you will be finishing this dish in the oven broiler, where it will continue to cook more. *Here is where we like to add in a few more gratings of garlic and ginger to the sauce and over the tops of the salmon fillets. With a fork, gently stir the fresh aromatics into the sauce around the salmon to incorporate.

6. In the meantime, turn oven on to broil. You can also spoon a little sauce onto the tops of the salmon fillets to get a little additional color under the broiler. Transfer entire saucepan to the oven. Move oven rack to farthest position from broiler flame. The freshly grated aromatics will toast under the broiler too. Watch carefully, you don’t want to burn the tops!

7. Serve over steamed rice or pasta. Garnish with leftover torn basil leaves and squeezes of lime.

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Spicy Beans and Shrimp in Arrabbiata Sauce

Butter beans, shrimp and briny salty anchovies swimming in a spicy Arrabbiata sauce is one of our many happy places! We love a pasta dish that has hearty components and bold flavors – and we especially love spicy!

Ingredients:
3-6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large shallots, sliced (or minced if preferred)
4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced (or minced if preferred)
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste (keep in mind that anchovies are salty)
6 anchovy fillets (we used Cento canned)
1lb of peeled & cleaned shrimp (if frozen thaw fully)
1 can of Butter beans or Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar of Due Cellucci Arrabbiata sauce
1 package of your preferred pasta (we used a spinach linguini!)
A handful of basil leaves and grated parmigiano for garnish

NOTE: We love spicy food – but feel free to omit (or kick up) the red pepper flakes as desired.

Preparation:
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-low.  Add the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes. Stirring constantly to keep from burning. Season with some salt and pepper, but keep in mind that the anchovies will impart salt too.  Sauté lightly, about 1-2 mins. Then add the anchovies and break them apart, while stirring all. (Also, make sure to start a large pot of well salted water to boil for the pasta.)

2. Add the shrimp and lightly sauté on each side, coating them in all the flavors already in the pan. No need to cook the shrimp to entirely done, as they will be added back in later. Once lightly browned on each side, remove them and set aside.

3. Reduce heat to low, carefully pour in a jar of Due Cellucci Arrabbiata sauce. Stirring and heating for about a minute, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of pan.

4. Add the rinsed and drained butter beans. Stir a bit. Add in all the shrimp and any juices that accumulated on the plate. Stir and let simmer on low. Taste for seasoning and adjust.

5. Cook pasta to desired doneness and drain. Or you can also add your pasta straight to the sauce if you prefer everything mixed together at stove-top – in which case just use tongs to transfer pasta to the sauce skillet – and make sure to undercook your pasta a little, as it will continue to cook in the sauce. Or you can portion cooked pasta onto plates and spoon the spicy bean and shrimp sauce over each plate of pasta.

6. Garnish with freshly torn basil, additional red pepper flakes, and if desired, some grated Parmagiano!

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Creamy Cheesy Cauliflower alla Vodka Casserole

This recipe is a delicious way to get healthy cauliflower into your kiddos’ mouths!  And a wonderful low-carb option in lieu of traditional Penne alla Vodka.  The recipe calls for a quick parboil of the cauliflower florets before mixing with the rest of the ingredients and baking off in the oven.  But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the whole process!

Ingredients:
2 large heads of cauliflower, cored and broken down into medium-sized florets.  Discard leaves and core
1 jar of Due Cellucci Vodka Sauce
4 tbsp heavy cream
4 tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
6-8 slices of Provolone cheese.  Enough to cover, depending on the size of your casserole dish
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil for garnish at end

Optional flavor:  We also diced up 4 strips of bacon, one medium onion and sautéed both in the skillet for 3-5 minutes before adding in  all the other ingedients.

Preparation:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on stovetop.  In the sink, also fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and ice.

2. Once stovetop water is boiling, drop all the florets in and give them a good dunk.  It just takes a minute or so of parboiling to get florets to an al dente stage.  Drain cauliflower into a colander in the sink, and immediately transfer to the large bowl of cold water to stop them from cooking any further.  Then strain and transfer all the florets to a clean kitchen towel on counter, and let them sit and drain well.  You want the florets well-drained of excess water before mixing with all the other ingredients.

3. Combine the cauliflower, vodka sauce, heavy whipping cream, melted butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and toss well to coat all.

4. Transfer into a 9 x 13 baking dish (or equivalent) and top with slices of Provolone cheese.

5. Bake in a preheated 375 degree (F) oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is completely melted.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Top with chopped fresh basil and serve.

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One-Skillet Braised Chicken with Tomato-Coconut Broth

We were inspired to try our spin on this one-skillet braised chicken dish from the moment we peeped our (salivating!) eyeballs on Colu Henry’s recently featured recipe in NY Times Cooking.  Being an Italian/Indian household, this sublime (and easy!) one-skillet meal hit all the “YES PLEASE!” marks at our blended dining table!  We’ve adapted it here, using our Due Cellucci Traditional Sauce and other changes.  We think you’ll love it as much as we did!

Ingredients
• 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, at room temperature
• Kosher salt and black pepper
• 2 tablespoons of quality coconut oil (olive oil is great too!)
• 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
• 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 (2-inch) nob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
• ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes (*we added a full teaspoon for extra hot!)
• 1 jar of our Due Cellucci Traditional Sauce (Arrabbiata or Tomato Basil Great too)
• 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
• 10-20 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
• Steamed Basmati rice, for serving
• 3 tablespoons of roughly chopped cilantro or basil
• Fresh limes, quartered, for serving

Preparation
1. Pat chicken thighs dry, season with salt and pepper. In a deep large skillet or cast iron, heat oil over medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until nicely browned – 5 to 6 minutes. You can check to make sure you’re not burning the skin side after about 2-3 minutes into the searing.  Turn and brown the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2. Turn heat to medium-low, add the red onion and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with some salt and pepper.

3. Add in one jar of your preferred Due Cellucci sauce (we used Traditional) and add in the can of coconut milk.  Stir all until combined, scraping along bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.  Place chicken thighs back into the skillet along with any juices that have accumulated, skin-side up. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

4. Sprinkle in the halved cherry tomatoes among the chicken thighs, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as needed.

5. Serve chicken on top of bowls of rice, spooning additional sauce all over.  Top with chopped cilantro or basil and squeezed lime, if you like.

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Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Red Chard

This warm and hearty soup (stew) cuts right to the bone (in the best way!) on a cold winter’s night — a one-pot complete meal with loads of legumes and vegetables packed in!  You could easily make it vegetarian by skipping the sausage and chicken broth.  And too, you could veganize it by skipping the grated cheese at the end.

Ingredients:
3-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2-4 large links (about 1 pound) of sweet or spicy Italian sausage
1 large brown onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced into half-moons or diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced (reserve about half to add toward the end of the cook)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 jar of our Due Cellucci sauce.  We like Tomato Basil or Arrabbiata for this recipe
6 cups of water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 entire bunch of red or rainbow chard, ribboned or chopped (keep the ribs!)
1/4 cup or more of chopped parsley for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese to finish
Drizzle of fresh olive oil to finish (optional)

 

Preparation:
1. Heat some of the olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a large pot, on medium-high heat.  When hot, add the sausage links and brown them all around.  Don’t worry about cooking them fully.  Once browned, reserve them to the side to cool.  Then slice the links into 1/2 coins or chop all into a chunky dice/crumble, depending on how you prefer them in the stew.

2. Add a little more olive oil to the pot, if needed, then the onion, celery, carrots, and about half the minced garlic.  Sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring throughout, just to lightly soften.

3. Add the rinsed and drained lentils, the bay leaves, and water or broth.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are about half way done, sort of al-dente, then you can add the jar of Due Cellucci sauce, some salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.

4. When the lentils are cooked, add in the rest of the minced garlic, the chopped chard and cook until the leaves and ribs are just tender, about 3-5 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as desired.

5. To finish, divide among bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil and top with fresh Romano or Parm and chopped parsley.  Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

    

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Tomato Basil Soup & Scrumptious Crunchy Grilled Cheese Sammie!

Have lunch (or dinner!) on the table in 5 minutes!


Ingredients:
1 Jar Due Cellucci Tomato Basil Sauce
1/2 cup Chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 cup Heavy Cream (optional)

Preparation:
Simmer Tomato Basil sauce and broth in medium stock pot over medium heat for 3-5 minutes (until hot).  Using a hand-held immersion blender (or conventional blender), purée the mixture until smooth.   If a creamy tomato soup is desired, add heavy cream and simmer about a minute more.  Makes about three 1-cup servings.

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Tomato-Braised Butter Bean Gratin (Fagioli Casserole!)

Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat them, the more…  you will fall madly and deeply in love with BEANS!!  We wanted to create a hearty fall casserole, replacing the usual pasta with something new, something hearty enough to be a meal in and of itself, and BEANS (Fagioli in Italian!) fit the bill – perfect for a rustic hearty casserole, specifically, a Butter Bean casserole!  (For a meaty version, see sausage add-in below.)


Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
1 large carrot (or 2 regular carrots), small diced
Salt & Pepper to taste (and red pepper flakes if desired!)
1-2 loose cups kale, well chopped, ribs removed (we used Lacinato kale)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white or red wine, (we used red)
1 Jar Due Cellucci Sauce – Traditional, Tomato Basil (or Arrabbiata for spicy)
4 cans of Butter Beans (rinsed and drained)
3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth or water
3/4 cup of shredded Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Fresh Basil or Parsley for garnish

NOTE: We love spicy food – but feel free to omit (or kick up) the cayenne or red peppers if desired.

OPTION:  For a MEATY VERSION, mix in 2-3 large Sweet or Spicy Italian sausage links, well chopped and sauté them along with the initial vegetables (Step 2 below)

Preparation:
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

1. Chop all vegetables.

2. In a deep sauté pan, braiser, or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots.  Season with some of the salt and pepper.  Keep stirring and cooking until the vegetables brown lightly, about 10 minutes or more.  You want to build up some brown bits and flavor.

3. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck brown bits, then simmer until it disappears, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Add the chopped kale, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until well collapsed, then add the tomato sauce and bring back to a simmer.

5. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick, add up to 3/4 cup broth or water, 1/4 cup at a time.  Simmer the mixture together over medium/low for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.  *Keep in mind that the cheeses you add will impart some sodium too.

6. Turn off heat and mix in a little of the Parmesan and Mozzarella.  Transfer the mixture to a 3-quart casserole baking dish.

7. Sprinkle the top, first with mozzarella, then the Parmesan and Panko on top of that (mix these two together in a small bowl along with a drizzle of olive oil), and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper colour, you can run it under the broiler (Carefully!).  Garnish with chopped basil or parsley.