Tag Archives: parmigiano

Wild Mushroom Quesadillas



Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until light brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden brown and all of their liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

Divide the cheese mixture and mushrooms evenly among eight tortillas and season each with salt and pepper.  Stack the tortillas to make four double-layer tortillas and cover each with one of the remaining tortillas.  Brush the top of each quesadilla with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 8-11 minutes, .

Top each quesadilla with the chili oil, cut into quarters and serve.


Summer Squash with Smoked Paprika

Summer squash has started to appear in local greenmarkets and reminds me of a yellow squash dish my mother used to make.  We grew squash in our garden and I always preferred sauteed squash to baked.  After trying to recreate the dish from memory, I found that the addition of smoked paprika really made this a more interesting dish and have added up to a tablespoon depending on my mood.

This makes a great side dish and also stands alone over pasta, lentils or quinoa.  Vegans can omit the sour cream – I find that doubling the vinegar works well when making the dish without dairy.



Cut the squash into 1/4 inch thick discs (if using patty pan, half or quarter for similar size)

Heat oil in a large skillet and cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until the garlic just starts to brown. Add squash and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add the salt, pepper and paprika and mix well.  Continue cooking until the larger discs of squash just starts to wilt.  Pour in the sour cream or yougurt and stir until well distributed.

Remove from heat.  Add the parmigiano (if using) and season to taste with salt, pepper and paprika.  Ready to serve.


Why flax seeds?  I have been reading a lot about omega 3 lately and trying to work it into my diet more often (rather than relying solely on supplements).  One of the best sources of omega 3 is ground flax seeds and thinking about the groundness of the seeds led me to pesto – the root of the word is the same as pestle and both derive from the Latinpestâ” (to pound or crush).  It seems that many people have negative connotations for flax seeds – that the texture is weird or flavor will be unpleasant.  But, i’ve tested this recipe on some discerning palates and everyone thought that the nuts used were either 100% walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts.  Be sure to taste before and after adding the salt – I usually avoid salt in pesto recipes, but because the Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano is so rich and flavorful and has less of a salty profile than generic Parmigiano Reggiano, I do add salt to this preparation.  As always find it better to start with a little less – you can add more, but if you start with too much, fixing the taste is difficult.




Grind the flax seeds.  Combine the garlic, flax seeds, walnuts and salt in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle, for a more ‘authentic’ consistency) and blend until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending slowly.  Add the Parmigiano 1 tablespoon at a time, blending for short beats until the mixture forms a thick paste.  The pesto can be put in a container, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and then stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Without this preservation layer, the pesto discolors very quickly and the garlic flavor will turn bitter in a matter of days.

Scrambled Egg ‘Bruschetta’

This is is a simple recipe for children to help Mom (or another adult) prepare for Mother’s Day (or any other time).   They will feel like they are finishing up a special treat when they spoon the egg – ricotta mixture onto the toasted bread!  Removing 2 of the yolks provides the start for homemade mayonnaise and also cuts down the cholesterol in this dish significantly.  If you happen to have some extra tomato confitcherry tomato chutney or even tasty tomato sauce lying around, it can be spooned onto the bruschetta before the eggs.  Finish with a touch of Lucini Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and dig in!



Toast (or grill, if so inclined) your baguette slices and then brushed with a small amount of olive oil.  Whisk together the eggs, onions, turmeric and salt in medium bowl until well combined.  Pour the olive oil to a nonstick skillet and heat for 1 minute at your medium setting.  Add the egg mixture and stir constantly until the eggs  are mostly cooked through, but a bit runny in parts – about 2 minutes.   Remove the eggs from heat, mix in the ricotta and stir just until incorporated, but the ricotta remains distinct.

Plate your toasts and spoon the egg – ricotta combination on top.   Grate the parmesan cheese onto the egg and season with more salt and freshly ground pepper.

Macaroni and Cheese

This macaroni and cheese recipe is quite simple to prepare, but full of wonderful complex flavor.  This is a fun dish to prepare with children, especially cheese lovers, who can help out by mixing together the different cheeses.  (Here is a great article and a video with tips for getting kids interested in the kitchen.)  The spices are optional and are excellent candidates for replacement. Using basil, oregano and parsley instead of those listed below provides an Italian twist, while chili powder, oregano and cumin make a Mexican mac and cheese.  Almost any short pasta will work, but tubes and options with ridges will ‘grab’ more of the cheesy goodness.  Cavatappi, cavatelli, farfalle, fusilli, gemelli, orecchiette, penne, rotini and, of course, macaroni/maccheroni are all excellent choices.


1 lb      dry Pasta (see the list above or just use your favorite) macncheese
4 TB    Unsalted Butter
1/3 C  all-purpose Flour
4 C       Milk , heated
8 oz    Extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated large
4 oz    American Cheese, grated large or chopped
4 oz    Asiago cheese (fontina and gruyere work in a pinch)
Black Pepper, ground
1 tsp   Mustard Powder (aka dry mustard and mustard flour – do not use ‘wet’ prepared mustard)
1 tsp   Smoked Paprika (optional)
1 tsp   Hot sauce (or more, optional)
1/4 C  Parmesan cheese, grated fine
1/4 C  Bread Crumbs, preferably homemade

Boil a large pot of well salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°. Grease a deep casserole (3 or 4 quart) with olive oil (or butter).

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring sauce to a simmer and continue to whisk until it thickens. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 more minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of the American cheese and 1/2 cup of the Asiago (or Fontina). Add the paprika and hot sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine the remaining cheddar, American and Asiago cheeses. Spread one third of the pasta over the bottom of the casserole dish. Top with half of the shredded cheese and a third of the sauce. Repeat, using another third of the pasta with the remaining cheese and half of the sauce. Finish with the remaining pasta and sauce. Sprinkle parmesan and bread crumbs over the top.

Bake until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving for a consistent presentation.

A splash of Lucini Basil – Infused Extra Virgin or Lucini Chili – Infused Extra Virgin olive oils on the plated mac and cheese before serving adds yet another dimension of great flavor and aroma.

Sardine and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

I have been reading a lot lately about the health benefits of sardines and trying to work them (and similar fish such as mackerel) into my cooking repertoire.  This recipe utilizes sun-dried tomatoes; their sweetness stands up well to the oils (omega-3!) and saltiness of the fish.  If you do not have any vegetable or poultry stock available try orange juice for a fresh citrus twist.


  • 8 oz        dried Pasta (i use fusili or penne, but choose your favorite)
  • 2 TB        Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1               small red Onion, chopped
  • 2 TB        Garlic, minced fine
  • 3 TB        Pine Nuts (or Flax Seeds)
  • 1 can       Sardines in olive oil (3.75 oz), chopped large
  • 1/2 C      Vegetable Stock (Chicken Stock will also work)
  • 1              dried Chili pepper, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp  Black Pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp  dried Oregano
  • 1/4 C      Sun-Dried Tomatoes (dried or olive oil-packed)
  • 1/3 C      Lucini Organic 3 Year • Parmigiano Reggiano


Boil a large pot of well salted water.

As the pasta is reaching boil, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and pine nuts; cook for two more minutes.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost tender (‘al dente’).

Stir in the stock, chili pepper and oregano.  Bring to a boil and reduce stock by a half.  Add the sardines and sun-dried tomatoes and when they heat through, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the pasta is  ready.

When the pasta is ready, drain well and add it to the sardines.  Turn the heat off and mix well in the pan.  Let stand for 2 minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce.  Add the parmesan and mix again.  Divide onto serving plates, and top with more grated Parmesan cheese, if so desired.

Chicken Riggies

Up close & personal

Up close & personal

This is a simplified version of one of my all-time favorite dishes. Chicken Riggies are native to the Utica-Rome area of Central New York, a dish developed to use leftovers from area events like pot-luck dinners and church or school banquets.

The original version, which was shared by Marc Jacksina, once King of Riggies at Joey’s Restaurant in Utica, (perhaps the finest practitioner of this dish) and now chef/co-owner of Lulu Restaurant in Charlotte, NC, uses a homemade tomato sauce. Here, I use Lucini Roman Tomato Cream Soup as the base, which not only eliminates the time-consuming step of preparing the tomato sauce, but also adds a tasty twist to the original. And while most versions call for pecorino romano, I substitute Lucini Organic Pamigiano Reggiano, which has a deep creamy and nutty flavor that pairs incredibly well with the many flavors in the dish. While it may not be “authentic”, this version assumes the loose spirit of the original – I have eaten versions with mushrooms, sausage, and even alfredo sauce (which i would not recommend).

1. Oven Roasted Green Peppers
2. Rigatoni
3. Chicken and Riggie Sauce

1. Oven Roasted Green Peppers

3           Large Green Bell Peppers
2 TB    Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 425.
Coat whole peppers evenly with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Wrap the peppers in foil and roast for 20-25 minutes, until the peppers are soft and cooked completely. Allow to rest until cool enough to handle and then remove skin.

2. Rigatoni

1 Lb Rigatoni
Well Salted Water

Start this step early enough so that the water is boiling 5 minutes after starting step 3. Boil the Rigatoni until just al dente.

3. Chicken and Riggie Sauce

3 TB   Sweet Onion minced
3 TB  Shallots minced
2 TB  Garlic
2 TB  Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lb  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (if possible, use Free Range Organic)
1 Bottle Lucini Roman Tomato Cream Soup (or your own red sauce)
3-5    Hot Cherry Peppers seeded and chopped (optional, but highly recommended; use red for color contrast)
3        Roasted Green Peppers
½ C   Lucini Organic Parmigiano Reggiano grated
1 Tb  Butter (optional)

Heat olive olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, shallots and garlic and heat until the vegetables are translucent. Slice the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and add to pan, stirring occasionally and turning the chicken pieces until white on all sides. Add the soup and cook for 10 minutes. Cut the green peppers (step 1) into long, thin slices. Add the pepper slices, parmigiano and butter; cook for 5 more minutes.

To Serve:

Combine the Rigatoni (2) and sauce (3) in a large bowl. Transfer to individual plates or bowls and top with more parmigiano.