Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Broccoli Rice Casserole

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My Broccoli Rice Casserole is a great side dish, wonderful for the holidays, and perfect for family get-togethers.

I’m using a quick-cooking long-grain white (Basmati) rice because it’s my favorite. You could definitely substitute short-grain rice like Arborio which also would be delicious, it’s a personal preference. I’m also using frozen broccoli florets for this dish.

Most Broccoli Rice Casserole recipes call for sour cream, here I’m substituting Mascarpone cheese because whenever I can add Mascarpone to dishes, sweet or savory, I do.

One other option I’ve added to this recipe is to add a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs over the top of this dish, totally up to you. Let’s get started.

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Basmati Rice

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Tuscan Soup (6)

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Breadcrumbs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (2-quart) casserole dish, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, colander, 1 rimmed baking sheet pan, aluminum foil, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, chef’s knife

Note: One bag of rice makes about 2 cups of cooked rice. I made both bags of rice to ensure I’d have 2 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients:
1 pound (16 ounces) of frozen broccoli florets, thawed, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups of long-grain white rice, parboiled (Basmati, Success Boil-in-a-bag)
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (substitute short-grain rice, Arborio rice)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, extra butter for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of chicken broth/stock, reduced-sodium or unsalted (substitute vegetarian broth)
2 cups of whole milk (substitute 2%)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
2/3 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature (substitute sour cream)
1 cup (8 ounces) of mild Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese mix (substitute sharp cheddar)

Topping: optional
Combine
1/4 cup each of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs and Panko
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by buttering the baking dish and placing it onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Fill a large pot with water. Submerge the 2 bags of quick-cooking rice. Bring up to a boil, add a pinch of salt, cook the rice, according to box directions, only half the time, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, remove the 2 bags, allow the water to drain, open, and dump the parboiled rice into a medium-size mixing bowl. To the same pot of hot boiling water add the broccoli, stir, for 1 minute, drain into a colander, transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

In the same pot, add the butter, onions, and garlic and sweat them for a few minutes or until translucent (you don’t need to develop any color)n add the flour, stir it all in for a minute then add the milk and stock. Whisk well to get rid of any flour lumps and simmer while stirring the whole time until the mixture thickens.

Add the seasonings, whisk them in to combine really well, then add the 2/3 of the cheese and Mascarpone cheese followed by the partially cooked and drained rice and broccoli.

Give everything a big stir (at this point the mixture is runny and that’s exactly what you want because the rice will soak up the sauce as it cooks) pour into the buttered baking dish, cover with foil. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese (this would be the time to add the seasoned breadcrumb mixture over the top if desired) place back into the oven, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot. There you have it my Broccoli Rice Casserole.

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Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

2015-04-16 12.37.46

I’m giving this traditional Italian vegetable soup a makeover. I’ve added chicken sausage meatballs to what was an already perfect soup. Now it’s even heartier. This is my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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Fennel

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Cookie Dough Scoops

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Kale

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Olive Oil

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Chicken Broth

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E.V.O.O.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time 48 to 50 minutes minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor, 1 (6-quart) saucepot, cookie dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, Microplane, mesh sieve

Ingredients For Chicken Sausage Meatballs:
1 pound of ground chicken breasts
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

Ingredients For Ribollita:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/4 pound of pancetta, diced
1 cup of (leafy-top) carrots (2 medium-size carrots), diced
3 ribs of celery (1 cup), diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans of Cannellini beans, 1 (15-ounce) can drain and rinsed, 1 (15-ounce) can purée
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of nutmeg freshly
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups of chopped kale
3 cups of Savoy cabbage, chopped
5 slices of good sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/2 a cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
*E.V.O.O for drizzling over the top of each bowl

Directions For Chicken Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray each one with non-stick cooking spray.

In al large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the list above, except the ground chicken, mix to combine. Add the ground chicken last. Using a fork, combine all the ingredients (flavorings) throughout the ground chicken. Do not overmix.

Note: Every few scoops of the meat mixture spray the inside of the scoop with non-stick cooking spray for easy removal. After forming a few meatballs, lightly spritz your hands with warm tap water. This will give your meatballs a smoother texture.

Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop the meat mixture into your hands to form the meatballs. Lightly spray the tops of all the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, use this time to prep all the vegetables from the list above. Once you’ve prepped the veggies the meatballs should be ready to come out of the oven. Set the two trays of meatballs aside.

Start the Ribollita.
Over medium heat, add the olive oil and diced onions. Sauté until soft and translucent but not brown. Add crushed red pepper flakes and diced pancetta, cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Next, add the diced carrots, celery, and bay leaf stir to combine. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook together for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften. At this point, add the whole canned tomatoes with their juice. Use a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes.

Next, add the chopped cabbage and kale, and freshly grated nutmeg, cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the greens wilt down. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the puréed Cannellini beans, stir to combine. Next, add the whole beans, again stir to combine.

Pour in the unsalted chicken stock. This is the point when you add the cooked meatballs. Still on medium-low heat simmer for another 15 minutes. At this point add in the cubed bread and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. The bread will dissolve and thicken the soup. The Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs is done at this point. Turn the heat off add the fresh basil leaves, stir to combine.

To Serve:
Ladle a good helping of the Ribollita into large porcelain soup or pasta bowl. Add a nice helping of the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finally. lightly drizzle your best *E.V.O.O on top. I promise, if you love really good soup or a delicious stew, I would say try making my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

*E.V.O.O. is the acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

2014-07-15 15.43.59

Home alone, with the whole day to myself. I went to the Farmers’ market and picked up a couple of handfuls of green tomatoes, and knew the mission at hand was to make my Fried Green Tomatoes. 

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes (approx. time)
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 3 medium-size bowls

Ingredients:
4 cups (1 quart) of vegetable oil
2 large green tomatoes, ( 6 slices) sliced 1/2-inch thick ends discarded
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
3 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, plain
2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Mixed greens for garnish

Directions:
Slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle, both sides, using 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a large plate and allow the tomatoes to stand for 15 minutes. Pat both sides of the tomatoes dry with paper towels.

Set up three bowls for the breading staging area. In the first bowl add the all-purpose flour. The second bowl, add the buttermilk and cayenne pepper, whisk to combine. The third and final bowl, add the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, and freshly chopped Italian parsley, whisk to combine.

Start by dredging the tomatoes in the flour then into the buttermilk mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a large platter. Repeat this process until all the tomatoes are breaded.

In a large sauté pan, pour the vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch in the pan) and heat over medium heat. Place the tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of three ( 2 batches), depending on the size of your pan. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. Fry for about 3 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Gently turn the slices and fry the other side until browned. Transfer them to a large plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Immediately sprinkle with Kosher salt.

To serve, arrange mixed greens on two serving plates. Place 3 Fried Green Tomatoes on each plate.

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