Chef Chuck's Lentil Salad

Insalada di Lenticchie
Happy New Year/Felice Anno Nuovo 

A lentil salad to start the New Year gives you lots of good fortune.  An Italian tradition is to serve lentils for your first meal of the new year, right after midnight! I used orecchiette pasta which captured the tasty lentils.  A healthy side dish to serve along with sausage.  This lentil salad can be served hot or cold.

Lentil Salad
1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1/4 pound small pasta
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 
cut in half
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Bring lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile cook 1/4 pound of pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Use a large bowl and combine the lentils, pasta, tomatoes and onions, drizzle olive oil on. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper toss gently. Add more olive oil and seasonings to your liking.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Pesto

Trofie al Pesto
This pesto pasta recipe is unique in it's own way with the additive of potatoes and trofie pasta.  Trofie is a hand rolled pasta, sometimes hard to find in the states.  It can be achieved by making homemade pasta, cutting small pieces and rolling it on the table.  The texture was appealing between the potatoes and the pasta.  A quick and simple recipe for the whole family to enjoy.

Pasta with Pesto

1 pound pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1 cup pesto
1 1/2 cups parmigiano cheese, grated

In a large frying pan heat olive oil add cubed potatoes and salt, cook and stir occasionally till golden brown.  Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling water add salt and pasta, cook till al dente.  Add pasta to potatoes top with pesto and mix.  If needed add a little pasta water, then sprinkle with cheese and serve.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Polenta with Rib Eye

Polenta con Bistecca

This creamy polenta recipe is made with yellow corn meal and topped with rib eye steak.  Polenta was considered a poor man's meal, and there are many different ways to prepare it.  The best way to prepare polenta is to use a copper pot and a fireplace!  It is often spread on a large wooden board and set in the middle of the table for all to share.


4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup yellow corn meal
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated

In a large pot boil water add salt and slowly pour in cornmeal whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.  Reduce heat to low and continue stirring till the polenta thickens.  Remove from heat and add the softened butter and parmigiano cheese, season with salt.  Serve hot or pour into a buttered pan and refrigerate then cut into slices.  You can pan fry these slices or brush olive oil on each piece and grill.

Rib Eye

1 Rib Eye steak
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
beef broth
heavy cream

Brush steak with red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper and place in an extremely hot cast iron pan, cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Remove and set on a board cover with foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  To make gravy, add about 1/2 cup broth and 1 tablespoon heavy cream to pan stir and allow to reduce.

Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Meeting Top Chef " Lidia "

It was my pleasure to meet the great Italian chef "Lidia" in New York City.  Her kindness was just as great as her cooking, as we all know! I had a successful press conference in the city, where my food line was  launched.  Chef Chuck's Cucina project consists of "made in Italy" foods and wine products.  We have a unique handmade pasta line.  The King of cheese, parmigiano reggiano and grana padano.  An all natural jams and marmalade line made with only the freshest ingredients.  A condiment line with many homemade sauces, such as pesto, figs, white truffle....  Also a line of tomato sauces and extra virgin olive oil, and to top it off an excellent wine producer from below the Italian Alps.  The goal of the project it to be on the American market by 2012. 

Chef Chuck's Brushetta

This brushetta recipe is a simple, healthy appetizer or a starter great for any gatherings.  Use rustic Italian bread, fresh ripe tomatoes, plump white beans and your best extra virgin olive oil.  There are countless toppings with other ingredients, so have fun creating unique and delicious combinations.


Italian Rustic Bread
Garlic Clove
Cannellini Beans
Fresh Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
Basil or Parsley, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Slice bread to 1/2 inch slices, toast in a 450 degree oven.  In a small bowl combine beans, tomatoes, basil or parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil, toss gently.  Rub garlic on toasted bread and place toppings on each slice, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

Pasta con Salsiccia e Zucchine 

This pasta recipe was made with Cencioni pasta, hot spicy Italian sausage, zucchini and cherry tomatoes.  I made parmigiano cheese frico to give this dish a bit of a crunch. 
The flavors combined together were delicious.

Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

1/2 pound pasta
3 hot sausages, broken up
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small zucchini, diced small
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup parmigiano cheese
salt and pepper

In a 8 inch non stick frying pan grate parmigiano cheese and cook on low till it forms and sets, remove with a spatula and set aside.  In a large frying pan heat butter add garlic and remove sausage from casings break sausage up add broth and cook on high for a few minutes.  Remove garlic and discard.  At this time start cooking your pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Add to the sausage pan the zucchini, tomatoes, 1tablespoon parsley, salt and pepper.  Cook on low when pasta is finished add to the sausage mix and serve with remaining parsley, and broken up frico ( parmigiano crisp). 
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Italian Grilled Ham and Cheese

Formaggio alla Griglia e Prosciutto
A toasty warm sandwich composed of creamy mozzarella, ham off the bone, and a juicy ripe tomato drizzled with olive oil.  I spread butter and red hot pepper flakes on Artisan Italian bread to give this sandwich a little spice. 

Italian Grilled Ham and Cheese

Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
Ham on the bone, sliced thin
Tomato, sliced thin
Sliced bread
Olive oil
Red Hot Pepper Flakes

Place mozzarella on bread top with tomato slices drizzle olive oil on tomato.  Then add ham and top with  bread slice.  Coat each side with butter mixed with red hot pepper flakes.  Grill or place in a panini maker and toast on each side till golden brown and cheese melts.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Blueberry Torta

Torta di Mirtilli

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, we all have so much to be thankful for.  This blueberry torta is the perfect way to start your day with a cup of coffee.  I used almond flour, fresh blueberries and a sweet icing.

Blueberry Torta  
2 cups fresh blueberries
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla 

Place blueberries in a bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar on top, set aside. In a mixer cream butter and sugar together for a minute, add 1 egg at a time, then vanilla. In a food processor chop almonds till powder form. Slowly add sifted ground almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt. Using a 9 or 10 inch pan, butter well, pour in batter, top with blueberries. Bake 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes. Drizzle icing on a warm torta.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Mascarpone and Mushrooms

Pasta con Mascarpone e Funghi

A great pasta dish with a creamy mascarpone sauce and earthy mushrooms.  I choose Trottole pasta because of it's uniqueness in shape.  Sprinkle fresh chopped sage on top for an added flavor.

Pasta with Mascarpone and Mushrooms

1/2 pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
salt and pepper

In a large pot add salt and cook pasta till al dente.  Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat olive oil and butter add mushrooms and cook a few minutes.  In a bowl whisk  yolks, parmigiano, and cream set aside.  Add mascarpone to mushrooms and stir till melted, add pasta to pan with a little pasta water.  Stir in yolk mixture and combine all ingredients, season with salt, pepper and sage.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

A traditional dessert found in Italy, panna cotta, is a molded chilled custard like dessert.  Panna cotta, meaning cooked cream, has a silky smooth texture. I made this one half chocolate and half vanilla.  It can be served with fresh whip cream, a caramel sauce, raspberries, or pears thinly sliced. 

Panna Cotta

4 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate

In a sauce pan add cream and sprinkle gelatin over and let sit 5 minutes.  Heat and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in sugar and vanilla and stir a few more minutes. Pour half the batter into a bowl for the vanilla cream.  Add chocolate to the sauce pan and stir till all melted. Pour chocolate in glasses and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Then slowly add in vanilla and refrigerate.  Pour into glasses and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Makes 8 small cups. Use a butter knife and go around edge of cup. Dip bottom of each cup into hot water for 20 seconds or so then turn upside down on plate.  Decorate plate with shaved chocolate and or fruit, serve.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Frico with Vegetables

Frico con le Verdure

A crispy parmigiano cheese frico with fresh sauteed vegetables is a superb appetizer to serve for the holidays.  Easy to assemble in a small frying pan. Melt grated parmigiano cheese till crisp, add sauteed vegetables and wrap the crisp while it is still warm.  Serve with cheese or dip.  I used the finest Parmigiano Reggiano in the world, made by my friends in Parma Italy, the Pelagatti family.  Thank you for the hospitality during our visit.

Frico with Vegetables

parmigiano cheese, grated
1 zucchini, cut in thin strips
1 carrot,cut in thin strips
1 potato,cut in thin strips
chives, sliced thin 
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a frying pan heat a drizzle of olive oil and sauteed the vegetables with a touch of salt and pepper.  In a separate small frying pan on medium heat add grated cheese.  When crisp forms and sets it's done.  Remove and fill with vegetables and roll while crisp is still warm.

Chef Chuck's Risotto with Rosemary and Potatoes

Risotto con Rosmarino e patate

A creamy risotto made with diced potatoes, white wine and earthy rosemary.  While in Italy, I visited Canossa school in the Brescia area where the culinary students served me a wonderful lunch. One of the courses was this dish which I enjoyed very much, it was  an experience I will never forget.

Risotto with Rosemary and Potatoes
1 3/4 cup arborio rice or carnaroli rice
3 tablespoons butter
1 potato, diced
1/4 of a onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth, warmed
3/4 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
drizzle of olive oil

In a large pan heat half of the butter and saute potatoes and onions for a few minutes.  Add rice and toast for 2 minutes, slowly add broth one ladle at a time.  Always stirring, this process will take about 20 minutes.  Add the remaining butter, cheese, rosemary and parsley.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Chef Chuck's Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Minestra di Broccoli e Cavolfiore
A steaming hot bowl of broccoli and cauliflower soup is so inviting to take out the chill on a cold Autumn day.  In under thirty minutes you can make a delicious vegetarian soup.  

Chef Chuck's Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup
2 cups broccoli 
2 cups cauliflower
2 small potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
salt and pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon thyme
parmigiano cheese, grated

In a large pot heat olive oil and 1 cup water, add broccoli and cauliflower and simmer for 12 minutes.  Add salt and pepper then add small potato chunks and warm broth.  Mix together cream and yolk add this to boiling soup and stir.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes with lid on.  Sprinkle in thyme and serve with grated parmigiano cheese.  Optional add red hot pepper flakes.

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Shrimp and Artichokes

Cannolicchi con Gamberi e Carciofi
A pasta dish inspired from our recent trip to Lake Garda in northern Italy.  Succulent shrimp sauteed in a light red sauce with cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes and a touch of fresh basil. This blend of marinated artichokes and a touch of the sea gives this dish a memorable flavor.
                                                                                                                                                          Chef Chuck's Pasta with Shrimp and Artichokes
1/2 pound pasta
8-12 medium shrimp, peeled
1 cup artichoke hearts 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted boiling water till al dente.  
Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat olive oil add garlic and saute for a minute, remove and discard.  
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, artichokes, salt and pepper saute for a few minutes.  Add shrimp and cook a minute or two.  Strain pasta and combine with other ingredients, stir to coat and sprinkle basil leaves on top.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina