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National Pizza Day: A Slice of Shared Italian-American History

(Originally published Feb. 8, 2017 for National Pizza Day) This year you will likely eat about 23 pounds of pizza. And you’re not alone in your cheese-laden love affair. Collectively, Americans will devour about 3 billion pizzas before the end of this calendar year. September 20 is National Pepperoni Pizza Day, and we should take a minute to consider whether there is any other single food that has captured our cultural creativity or embraced our ever-changing, national heritage more than this versatile staple? Pizza embodies the region where it is made. For independent pizzeria owners, it’s a labor or love. More than 75,000 pizza restaurants make up 17% of all restaurants nationwide. In the U.S., pizza has become a passion. But of course we know, like most foods, Americans can’t take credit for its invention. The origins of pizza could actually be credited to anyone who first learned the secret of…

Spinach, ricotta stuffed peppers, a satisfying vegetarian alternative

Spinach, ricotta stuffed peppers are just the kind of recipe I like — cheesy, flavorful and easy to make. Best of all, they’re vegetarian, so it’s another satisfying meat-free dish to add to your recipe box (aka Pinterest page) if you’re cutting back. For the filling, cook up some garlic and onions, then add spinach and season. Mix ricotta and parmesan, then add to the spinach and mix more. Stuff this into 5-6 pepper halves and bake. I also like to toss tomatoes into the pan to get them right to the point that the skin slides off and the juicy middle pops in your mouth. Serve with rice or pasta if you’re making going for a dinner, but just a pepper, and some tomatoes — and maybe a small slice of bread — can make a fantastic light lunch. *Note, mushrooms are also a great addition. Chop up some of your favorite fungi and add to…

Tomato, zucchini, goat cheese and thyme tart recipe

Any recipe that uses up a good amount of veggies is a hit with me. I tend to go overboard at the farmers market — this time of year everything looks so delicious! — but it’s important not to let food go to waste. According to a Guardian report, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away amounting to $1,600 in annual food waste for every family of four. With this staggering number in mind, I’ve made it a point recently to keep recipes on hand that use unusual vegetables, vegetables in bulk, or difficult herbs sometimes delivered in the CSA. Juices and stews are great for this task, but sometimes your veggies are just too darn pretty to hide. Tarts and galettes are a great option for showcasing those shiny vegetables, while also allowing plenty of space for layering and packing in leftover produce. You could easily throw in another layer of zucchini to…

Caprese garlic bread, a can’t miss

Garlic bread and sauce can be a meal in my house. But what do you do to give an upgrade to this basic bread staple? Add melty mozzarella, fresh sliced tomatoes and green basil, of course. Serve as a side with pasta, or eat all on its own. Caprese Garlic Bread Serves 6-8  Ingredients 1 loaf Italian bread, halved 1 stick butter, softened 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella 2 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 cup balsamic reduction 6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced Himalayan cooking and table salt Directions  Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium bowl, add butter, garlic and salt. Mash together until soft and blended. Spread mixture on both halves of bread. Place bread halves on a baking sheet, and bake about 15 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted and just barely brown. Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella over both halves of the loaf. Top with tomato slices, and bake…

Fresh and easy summer tomato, peach, jalapeño gazpacho

If you’re expecting an abundance of tomatoes, let me suggest an easy way to them up: gazpacho. Gazpacho is a traditional dish from the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Cities in the area, including Córdoba and Seville, average summer temperatures nearing 100ºF, so it’s no wonder locals have their pulse on what makes a refreshing but nutritious summer meal. Unappetizingly, the vegetable-based, soup-like dish is sometimes referred to as a “liquid salad” or “cold soup” — but don’t let that scare you. The flavors fall somewhere between tangy vegetable juice, veggie soup and Mexican salsa, but it’s a unique dish all on its own, that in no way begs to be warmed. When your fruit baskets start filling with an excess tomato crop, try whipping up a batch of gazpacho and serving with a loaf of garlic bread. You’ll keep yourself, or your family, full, cool and satisfied. Summer tomato, peach,…

Guilt free foods you can eat endlessly without gaining weight

Everything in moderation. But luckily, “moderation” with these 15 foods means something much more than most. The high water content, high fiber content and low calorie counts mean that you can pretty much eat these foods until you’re totally sick of them without seeing a bit of added weight on your frame. Of course you can overdo anything, but for a quick guide of what to guiltlessly grab from the fridge, start here. Blackberries Eating blackberries aids in digestion and helps us to stay alert. They are said to tighten tissue and give our skin a more youthful appearance. Like most berries, blackberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants known as bioflavonoids. Get all of this for only 62 calories per serving. Kale With 33 calories per cup, eat as much kale as you want without worrying about your waistline. It also contains three grams of protein and 2.5…