Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pepperoni Pizza Meatloaf!

What a weird concept. I don't know why I was even thinking it. But I was taking my mom on her weekly grocery shopping trip and I was thinking of making meatloaf for dinner. Then I just started thinking to myself, "self, what would pepperoni pizza meatloaf be like?" I decided that adding some tomato sauce, pepperoni, Italian seasonings and mozzarella cheese would make a meatloaf kind of pepperoni pizzay.

I started off with two pounds of ground turkey. My logic being that if I'm making a meatloaf with cheese and pepperoni in it, I should probably try and save some calories and fat somewhere. I don't know how much I succeeded with this, but it makes me feel a little better about it.

From there, I took half a large sweet onion, chopped and three cloves of garlic, chopped, and sauteed them in a little olive oil. I do this for all my meatloaf. I like the sauteed vegetables more than adding them to the meat raw. It's just another level of flavor.

While the onions and garlic are getting all nice and soft and sweet, I chopped up some pepperoni in bite size chunks. Using the same twisted logic as the reason for ground turkey, I decided that if I saute the pepperoni, it will release some of the oil and I won't have all that oil in the meatloaf. As it turns out, that wasn't so twisted after all!

I also chopped the mozzarella into bite size chunks.

Now that everything is chopped, sauteed or ready to go, I mixed it all with the meat... the onions/garlic, the pepperoni (about a cup or so), the cheese (same amount), 3/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs with a hearty pinch of salt, about 10 grinds of pepper, two tablespoons dried parsley, one tablespoon dried basil, one teaspoon dried oregano, and about half a cup of crushed tomatoes. Form the meatloaf and then pour about another half cup of crushed tomatoes over the top. And then top with thinly sliced pepperoni.

Bake at 350 for at least an hour. I suggest that you not use a loaf pan because even though you cooked some of the oil out of the pepperoni, there will still be some and if you bake it in a baking dish instead, you can drain it out.

This is a BIG meatloaf. It will take time to cook. And for a first try at something I just made up in my head on the way to the grocery store, it was pretty damn good! Sure, I now know that there are lots of recipes online for Pepperoni Pizza Meatloaf, but I had never looked one up until after I made it. I wasn't really surprised. Not much is original anymore.

You definitely want the pepperoni on top to be crispy, the cheese to be oozy and in general the whole thing to be a big mound of yummy deliciousness.

I served it with some orzo with asparagus. I think if I make it again, I might add an egg to the mixture. It didn't fall completely apart, but it was a little messy. It was even better the next day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

I am a lover of Caprese Salad, but only in the summer when I can pick tomatoes right out of my garden and they are fresh and juicy. And then my friend Elaine told me about Ina Garten's Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad and decided to give it a go. We were not sorry! It's delicious and different.

Of course, I made some small variations to the original because Ina calls for sugar and I really really loath when sugar touches a tomato. So I started out with 12 Roma tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise and then scoop out the seeds. Place them cut side up and sprinkle with chopped garlic, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

These go into a low oven (the recipe says 275, but the first time I tried this, the tomatoes charred, so I changed it to 225) for 2 hours. When they are done they should be soft and caramelized on the bottom. Let them cool to room temperature.

When they are room temperature, layer them with slices of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with chopped basil then drizzle with more olive oil and balsamic. This was so incredible and really does quench the taste for caprese!

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
courtesy Ina Garten

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.

Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. If the slices of mozzarella are larger than the tomatoes, cut the mozzarella slices in half. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.