We have a great post for you to bring you into the May 24 long weekend. We would like to introduce you to a new friend of ours, Fina Scroppo. I will leave it to Fina to give you all the details about her amazing career and self-published cookbook because I would never be able to do them justice. Her fantastic cookbook is filled with many great recipes. I personally love this cookbook because it’s a healthy spin on Italian food and there are a lot of unique recipes that will keep you inspired for years to come! I also love the stories that Fina includes in her book about her cooking traditions and experiences – it gives each recipe a personal touch that makes them special.
Fina Scroppo – “The Healthy Italian”
We asked Fina to create a fun menu for the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend. She has kindly included three great recipes for you to try this long-weekend at your barbecues and celebrations. We hope you enjoy this passionate cook and mother as much as we do! Also, I highly recommend picking up her cookbook – it is a great one to add to your collection!
Summer Entertaining From The Healthy Italian + Recipes
By: Fina Scroppo
Writing a cookbook can be a dream come true and it’s been no different for me. You could say that The Healthy Italian has been a lifelong passion project. After more than 20 years as a magazine and book editor, I decided to merge my journalism experience with something I absolutely love – cooking. Next to being a mom, self-publishing a cookbook that includes so much of my heart and soul has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but like nurturing and raising children, it’s also been one of the most fulfilling.
Several years ago when I began to turn an idea into reality, I wanted to create a cookbook that resonated with moms like me, who balance a busy work-home-social life (let’s face it, the social part is vastly skewed to kids’ activities!) and want a resource to get easy, approachable and healthy meals on the table.
Easy. Approachable. Healthy. All important and all key to getting families back into the kitchen and simply cooking. But how do you inspire families to do it? Well, I did it the only way I could. I shared my approach and my stories. For decades, I’ve leaned on what I know best – Italian cooking – and made those dishes with better-for-you ingredients that are now readily available in our grocery stores, including whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables and herbs, low-sodium products, better fats, leaner meats. My dad’s involvement in the grocery business further deepened our passion for produce. I combined all this experience and paid attention to convenience but ultimately, I’ve focused on great taste. I’ve had to or my family would have staged a rebellion.
To make it even more engaging for readers, I’ve paired every recipe in the cookbook with a photo because in the age of Instagram, everyone gets inspired by a visual. And I set out to make each page come to life with colour, information boxes, nutritional data, tips and ideas to make meal-planning even more fun and approachable.
I also wantedto create a book that gives women a way to gather family and friends around the table in their own homes without it adding to their stress, so I’ve spent just as much time perfecting the stories I share about each recipe as the recipes themselves. For example, one of the fondest memories of my childhood summers was the Sunday family picnic, organized at a nearby conservation area. By 7:30 a.m., the phone would already be ringing off the hook and the women would be confirming the “menu.” Someone was always assigned to bring a big bowl of boiled potatoes, dressed later with fresh herbs and a simple vinaigrette to accompany the steaks grilled on the charcoal barbecue. For me, celebrating who we are and sharing it with who we love is paramount, and it’s one of the reasons why I wrote The Healthy Italian.
On that note, when Julie and Meg invited me to create a menu for the upcoming Victoria Day weekend, or for any weekend you’re entertaining al fresco, I was thinking not only of easy, delicious recipes to post but also unique and fun ways to serve them – what better way to start a conversation? From The Healthy Italian, my Potato Herb Salad or Summer Rice Salad, for example, can be scooped out into individual martini canapé cups or colourful ramekins. A typical Caprese salad of bocconcini and tomatoes gets a refresh as skewers paired with prosciutto, melon and arugula. Make entertaining easy – go ahead and throw the Multigrain Thin-Crust Pizza Dough on the barbecue while you sip a Prosecco with friends. Or start the evening off with a colourful plate of Belgian endive & Treviso radicchio (with their colourful slender leaves that resemble flower petals) topped with gorgonzola and candied walnuts. There’s no shortage of menu options to serve at your next family gathering, girls’ night or soirée. To start you off, we’ve taken three recipes from The Healthy Italian. As we kick off the outdoor entertaining season, here’s to family, friends and good, healthy food! For more ideas and recipes, visit www.thehealthyitalian.ca
Excerpted fromThe Healthy Italian: Cooking For the Love of Food and Family
Zucchini & Herb Patties (Frittatine di zucchine e erbe)
2 eggs, beaten
1 egg white ½ cup chopped green onions or finely minced onion
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp 1% reduced-sodium cottage cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh mint
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chickpea flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups finely grated zucchini (see tip)
Serving sauce (optional)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic crushed or minced
Pinch sea salt
Combine all patty ingredients except chickpea flour, baking powder and zucchini in a large bowl. Mix well. Stir chickpea flour and baking powder into bowl with wet ingredients until well blended. Fold in zucchini until completely coated into mixture. Mixture will seem thick at first but will quickly soften to a paste.
Coat a medium non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set to medium-low heat (no hotter or patties will brown too quickly). Working in batches, drop zucchini batter by the scant tablespoon, about four at a time in the skillet and cook about 1½ minutes per side or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, coating skillet with cooking spray each time. Keep warm and serve immediately. Enjoy on their own or serve with sauce, if using.
To make serving sauce, combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
TIP: Trim the ends of zucchini, but don’t peel skin to get the most of its nutritional impact. Use a box grater to shred zucchini so it cooks more evenly.
VARIATION: When in season, try substituting an equal amount of finely chopped zucchini blossoms for 1 cup of the grated zucchini.
Makes about 18 to 20 patties
30 min or less
PER PATTY (BASED ON 20) 23 CALORIES | 1 G TOTAL FAT (0 G SATURATED FAT) | 1 MG CHOLESTEROL | 110 MG SODIUM | 2 G CARBOHYDRATE | 1 G FIBER | 2 G PROTEIN
Traditional “Summer” Rice Salad (Insalata di riso d’estate)
1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 can (6 oz/170 g) flaked light tuna (skipjack or yellowfin preferably) in water, drained
2 slices reduced-sodium extra-lean deli-style prosciutto cotto or ham, chopped (about 1.2 oz/35 g)
12 sweet pickled onions, halved
¾ cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ cup chopped red or yellow pepper or combined
1/3 cup black olive slices, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook rice in a medium pot according to package directions. Drain and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine rice, tuna, prosciutto cotto, onions, artichoke hearts, red peppers, olives and parsley. Toss until well combined.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour dressing over rice and mix well. Serve at room temperature or chill for 2 to 4 hours before serving.
VARIATION: Substitute about ½ cup of summer fresh peas for the prosciutto cotto and make this salad meatless. For a gluten-free and vegetarian alternative, replace the Worcestershire sauce (not available as a gluten-free product in Canada and it’s made with anchovies) with Bragg Liquid Soy Seasoning, which is also a lower-sodium alternative.
MAKE AHEAD: Can be made one to two days before serving. Hold back the tuna until just before serving.
30 min or less
PER SERVING 245 CALORIES | 10 G TOTAL FAT (1 G SATURATED FAT) | 11 MG CHOLESTEROL | 251 MG SODIUM | 32 G CARBOHYDRATE | 4 G FIBER | 11 G PROTEIN
Pistachio Granita (Granita di pistacchio)
1 cup large unsalted dry-roasted pistachios, shelled
3 cups water
1/3 cup honey
½ cup almond milk
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
Grind pistachios in a food processor until they’re extremely fine. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Whisk in honey until fully dissolved and remove from burner to cool. Stir in almond milk, vanilla, salt and ground pistachios. Whisk gently to ensure the pistachios are well incorporated. Let mixture cool completely.
Pour mixture into a non-reactive, freezer-safe pan or bowl. (I use a 9 x 13-inch glass baking pan.) Cool down for 10 minutes, whisk mixture gently and carefully place in freezer on a flat surface to chill for about 2 hours when mixture will start to form ice crystals. Use a fork to scrape icy bits from sides and mix well. Place back in freezer and repeat scraping every 30 minutes to an hour. Scoop into glass cup or bowl and serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD: Prepare ingredients the night before and freeze. Pulse granita in the bowl of a food processor until smooth just before serving.
PER SERVING 155 CALORIES | 7 G TOTAL FAT (1 G SATURATED FAT) | 0 MG CHOLESTEROL | 9 MG SODIUM | 22 G CARBOHYDRATE | 1 G FIBER | 3 G PROTEIN
Thank you for sharing this with us Fina!
Happy Victoria Day Everyone!
Julie Miguel is a digital content producer with a specialization in food media as well as an active food blogger. The focus of her blog, Daily Tiramisu, is to empower home cooks to be fearless in the kitchen and she does this by taking traditionally difficult recipes and making them easier to execute.