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Archive for Pasta-Pizza

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Superseedz Organic Flavored Pumpkin Seeds & More Good-For -You

1. SUPERSEEDZ ORGANIC, SHELL-LESS PUMPKIN SEEDS

We have long been a fan of Superseedz, the best pumpkin seeds we’ve ever had.

Now, the line has added organic varieties (photo #1).

Editor’s Note: Those seeds growing inside a thick-skinned squash are safe from surface pesticides, but consumers want what consumers want: the word “organic” on the package.

The flavors include:

  • Organic Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds
  • Organic Garlicky Dill Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds
  • Organic Pink Himalayan Salt Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds
  •  
    Eat them from the bag, toss them onto cottage cheese or yogurt, pasta (photo #2) or grains. Garnish salads and, with the new Dark Chocolate Sea & Salt flavor, garnish cupcakes and other desserts.

    In addition to the crunchy great taste, you’ll be adding protein, magnesium and iron.

    Don’t overlook the regular line:

  • Sweet Flavors: Cinnamon & Sugar, Coco Joe, Maple Syrup & Sea Salt
  • Savory Flavors: Curious Curry, Really Naked, Sea Salt, Somewhat Spicy and Super Spicy
  •  
    Allergen-friendly, Superseedz are gluten free, nut free, egg free, dairy free, fish and shellfish free and soy free (except for the curry flavor). They have up to 9g of protein per ounce, and provide 15% RDI of iron and zinc.

    For guilt-free snacking, see them all at Superseedz.com.
     
     
    2. AQUASANA CLEAN WATER MACHINE

    If you prefer filtering your tap water to purchasing water—whether to please your palate or to eliminate contaminants—you may have tried a Britta or ZeroWater pitcher filtration device, or even a larger countertop unit.

    But if you’re kitchen-space-challenged as we are, you have neither space in the fridge nor on the counter top for one—without sacrificing something else.

    Thanks to Aquasana, we no longer have that limitation. The company, which specializes in water filters for sinks and showers—plus handsome individual water bottles with built-in filters—has come up with a space saver countertop unit that nicely hugs the side of the kitchen counter next to the fridge (photo #3).

    The Clean Water Machine has the same Aquasana professional filtration system that keeps the good minerals dissolved in your tap water (calcium, magnesium, potassium). It filterd out 99% of asbestos, chlorine and lead, and 96% of 62 other harmful contaminants, including pesticides and pharmaceuticals.

    Just 4.5 inches wide and 17 inches long, the Aquasana Clean Water Machine dispenses a gallon of filtered water by the glassful or the pitcherful, and includes a glass carafe (photo #4) to bring to the table.

    The device is electric, and claims to remove “10x more contaminants than leading gravity pitchers.”

    Instead of slowly trickling through the filter via gravity, Aquasana’s electricity-driven motor filters a half gallon in a minute.

    Two filters, each making 320 gallons of clean water, are included.

  • A light lets you know when the filter needs to be changed.
  • A second pitcher lets you keep a space-saving pitcher in the fridge, or wherever else you want it.
  •  
    Aquasana Clean Water Machine is available in black or white, and is sold at retailers including Costco, e-tailers and from the company website.

    The list price is $129.99 ($124.99 at Costco), but today the Aquasana website offered us a 30% discount on anything.

       

    Superseedz Organic
    [1] Superseedz: one of our favorite snacks and garnishes, available in snack and family packs (photo courtesy Superseedz).

    Pumpkin Seeds On Pasta
    [2] Superseeds as a garnish: Add crunch, flavor and nutrition (photo courtesy Superseedz).

    Aquasana Clean Water Machine
    [3] The space-saving Aquasana Clean Water Machine fits snugly against the fridge (photo courtesy Aquasana).

    Aquasana Carafe

    [4] You can bring the built-in pitcher to the table, or fill the graceful carafe, included (photo courtesy Aquasana).

     

     

    Leonardo's Pizza Sauce

    Pasta Sauce

    [5] and [6] Leonardo’s Pizza Sauce (photos courtesy Leonardo’s).

     

    3. LEONARDO’S PIZZA SAUCE

    The majority of commercial pasta and pizza sauces are made with average tomatoes—those with no natural sweetness (they’re cheaper for the manufacturers).

    As a result, the sauces are are typically sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, resulting in hidden sugar that no one needs, plus a sauce that often tastes sugary.

    Many Americans have grown to accept that everything from mustard to vinaigrette has added sugar. Personally, we dislike sugary notes in savory food, and eschew the practice of adding sugar.

    When we find an NSA (no sugar added) brand that tastes really good—like a tomato sauce should—we give it a shout-out.

    In 1990, Leonardo’s Pizza began as one pizzeria in Burlington, Vermont. It got so much attention, People’s Choice Awards, professional and Yelp reviews, that it opened more pizzerias in New England.

    When home-baked pizza began trending, Leonardo’s bottled their sauces for home cooks, in:

  • Original
  • Asiago
  • Chipotle
  • Garlic
  •  
    Pizza sauce is typically thinner than pasta sauce, so it spreads evenly and flatly on the crust (chunkier sauce is designed to cling to strands of pasta). Leonardo’s aims to give you the best:

    “We hunt for the most delicious vine-ripened tomatoes. We gather the finest cheese we can lay hands on. And we combine them with extra virgin olive oil and selected spices. This produces intense flavors, setting a strong foundation for your homemade pie.”

    We had fun pairing the sauces:

  • Topping the Asiago Pizza Sauce with a thick layer of cheese and fresh basil.
  • Topping the Chipotle Pizza Sauce spicy with andouille sausage and oregano.
  • Topping the Garlic Pizza Sauce with roasted garlic cloves and fresh thyme.
  •  
    You can also use the sauces as simmer sauces for beef, chicken, fish or tofu; and of course, on pasta, grains or vegetables.

    Buy the sauces online from Leonardo’s, or from these retailers.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Spaghetti With Zucchini Noodles

    Zoodles - Zucchini Noodles & Pasta
    [1] Cacio e pepe, “cut” with zucchini noodles (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Zucchini Noodles
    [2] Zucchini noodles, spiralized and ready to cook (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Cacio e Pepe

    [3] A classic dish of Cacio e Pepe. Here’s a recipe from Philo’s Kitchen.

     

    Two years ago, when zucchini noodles became the rage, many of us ran out to buy spiralizers—simple gadgets that turned a zucchini into ribbons of vegetable “pasta.”

    You can now buy spiralized zucchini in bags.

    A big bowl of pasta with bolognese sauce and scads of grated cheese can be lightened, both texturally and calorically, is an attractive substitute.

    We’ve previously written about Cacio e Peppe (KAH-chee-oh ay PEP-pay, cheese and pepper), an ancient pasta dish (in fact, one of the most ancient dishes in Italian cuisine).

    The classic recipe is a quick one Grated cheese—cacio in Roman dialect, referring to a sheep’s milk cheese like pecorino romano—becomes a creamy, cheesy sauce when mixed with a a few spoons of the hot water used to cook the pasta.

    The result: creamy sauce, obtained combining best quality Pecorino Romano and a few spoons of the water used to cook the spaghetti. The starch that leaches from the spaghetti into the cooking water combines with the grated cheese in just the right way.

    But Good Eggs has taken it one step further in the name of lowering the carbs: They mixed conventional wheat pasta noodles with zucchini noodles.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF CACIO & PEPE

    Casio e Pepe, a Roman dish, was easy comfort food. The ingredients were very portable and did not spoil. Roman shepherds and travelers needed only water and a fire to create a stick-to-your-ribs meal.

    The classic recipe has no butter or cream, ingredients which are used to make creamy Alfredo sauce. There’s just pasta, salted water to cook it, cheese and ground black pepper. Some modern recipes use a bit of olive oil to bind the ingredients.

    All the ingredients are ancient foods:

  • Pasta has been found dating to about 2000 B.C.E.—a plate of rice noodles in northwest China. After trade brought the concept west, the Arabs, Estruscans, Greeks and Romans used their local grain—wheat—to make noodles similar to the pasta we eat today. The Romans kneaded flour into dough, which was cut into strips called laganum—similar to what we now call lasagna noodles.
  • Sheep’s cheese similar to pecorino romano has been made since at least since the time of the ancient Greeks (some sources date it to 3000 B.C.E.). Pecorino is the word for any sheep’s milk cheese; pecorino romano is an aged grating cheese.
  • Peppercorns, the fruits of a flowering vine, grew wild for millennia in India before being cultivated. About 2,500 years ago, pepper was traded to Greece, and then to the Roman Empire. Rare and precious, it was often used as currency. Peppercorns have been found in archaeological sites, and with the mummy of King Ramses III of Egypt (d. 1212 B.C.E.). To stop Alarico, the king of Visgoths, from sacking Rome in 408 B.C.E., he was given a ransom comprising 5,000 pounds of gold, a parcel of land and 3,000 pounds of peppercorns.
  • Salt, inexpensive and ubiquitous today, was so precious that throughout history, wars were fought over it. In addition to its value enhancing the flavor of food and drying food for lean times, salt is critical to man’s survival*. Salt comes from two main sources: evaporated sea water and the sodium chloride mineral deposits known as halite (rock salt), themselves the evaporated residue of dried-up underground lakes and seas.
  •  
    Ready to combine the ingredients into a hot dish of pasta…with some zucchini?
     
    RECIPE: CACIO & PEPE WITH PASTA & ZUCCHINI NOODLES

    Ingredients For 2 Main Course Servings

  • 8 ounces spiralized zucchini
  • Olive oil to sauté
  • 12 ounces fresh spaghetti (substitute† dried pasta, substitute any thin, flat or round noodle)
  • 6 ounces pecorino cheese, shredded (substitute any Italian grating cheese)
  • Black pepper, freshly ground (substitute red chile flakes)
  • Garnish: chopped flat leaf parsley to taste
  • Optional garnish: toasted bread crumbs (substitute croutons)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats, place the zucchini in a sauce pan over medium heat and sauté for about 2 minutes, until al dente. Turn the heat off and cover the zucchini to keep it warm.

    2. COOK the spaghetti according to package directions; then drain it, holding back a few tablespoonsful of pasta water. Add the pasta and half the pasta water to zucchini pan, and toss together.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and toss with the cheese and pepper to taste (Italians go heavy on the pepper). The heat of the pasta and the pasta water should help melt the cheese into a smooth, creamy sauce. Add more hot pasta water as needed to achieve the consistency you desire. If the water has become tepid, microwave it for 30 seconds.

    4. GARNISH with parsley and serve. It isn’t part of the official recipe, but we like the crunch of toasted bread crumbs or croutons as a garnish.

    ________________

    *Humans can’t live without some sodium. It’s needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers (including the heart muscle and blood vessels), and maintain a proper fluid balance. Here’s more about it from Harvard Medical School.

    †Long, thin spaghetti has different names in different regions of Italy; for example, capellini, fedelini, spaghetti alla chitarra and tonnarelli. In the U.S., you’re most likely to find spaghetti, spaghettini and vermicelli (angel hair, capelli d’angelo, is too thin for this rich sauce). The widths of all of these strands vary, but not in a significant way to impact the recipe.

     
      

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    TOP PICKS OF THE WEEK: Muuna Cottage Cheese, Oui Yogurt & More

    Muuna Strawberry Cottage Cheese
    [1] Muuna’s cottage cheese cups with fruit on the bottom come in 6 fruit flavors (photo courtesy Muuna).

    Oui By Yoplait - Strawberry
    Yoplait’s new French-style yogurt line will have you saying “Oui!” (photo courtesy Oui By Yoplait).

    Reuse-a-Pop

    [3] Reuse-A-Pop is a mess-free opportunity for you to make your favorite flavor push-up ice pops (photo courtesy Russbe).

     

    1. MUUNA COTTAGE CHEESE WITH FRUIT

    We were probably the last person in New York to buy Breakstone Pineapple Cottage Cheese before they discontinued it. It was the Ascension Of Yogurt Era, and grocers eliminated slower-moving SKUs to give the space to the hot ones.

    Now, a new brand called Muuna is offering all the fruited cottage cheese our heart desires (photo #1). The line is lowfat and creamy, with the fruit on the bottom that you mix up, like a carton of sundae-style yogurt.

    It’s also rich in protein: 15g of protein per 5.3-ounce cup.

    The fruit is not the typical preserves at the bottom of of the cup but actual chopped fruit, in your choice of:

  • Blueberry
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  •  
    There are also two plain options: 2% and 4% milkfat.

    The line is all natural, non-GMO, rBST-free and certified kosher by cRc.

    Welcome back, pineapple cottage cheese—and hello to you other flavors. You’re our Top Pick Of The Week.
    ________________

    *See the different types of yogurt.
     
     
    2. OUI BY YOPLAIT YOGURT

    Our co-Top Pick is the new Oui by Yoplait line of yogurt (photo #2). It’s different from every other container of Yoplait you’ve had.

    Eating yogurt from the perky glass jar, you could imagine you’re in France. The jar (repurposeable or recyclable) makes you look cool and in-the-know. And the yogurt does not disappoint.

    The company calls it saveur d’autrefois, the taste of yesteryear.

    Yoplait’s foray into premium, French-style yogurt (also called custard-style and Swiss-style) is on point, hitting the trending consumer checklist for all natural, non-GMO and reduced sugar products. The eight flavors include:

  • Black Cherry
  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Lemon
  • Peach
  • Plain
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  •  
    A final endorsement comes from the secretary of our building, with whom we shared our samples. She is a native of Greece who eats Greek yogurt every day. Her feedback: “Outstanding!”

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OK.
     
     
    3. RUSSBE REUSE-A-POP BAGS

    Russbe creates reusable lunch containers, but that’s not a product we have need for.

    What we do need, and love, are the Reuse-A-Pops bags for creating homemade frozen juice pops, puréed fruit, yogurt, and other frozen pops.

    The push-up bags (photo #3) with zipper seals ensures no messy leaks or spills. Freeze, enjoy, wash, reuse. At $6.99 for 12, you can’t go wrong.

    We just enjoyed our first batch: watermelon (from watermelon juice), cantaloupe (from puréed melon) and yogurt-garlic-dill (who says ice pops have to be sweet?). Yum!

     

    4. DI GIORNO CRISPY PAN PIZZA

    We live in a neighborhood where crisp, thin-crust pizza is what grown-ups eat. When people order from Pizza Hut, it’s for the kids.

    We have a reputation to uphold, and hesitate to be seen carrying a deep-dish pizza into the building, no matter how much we need that specific comfort food.

    But there’s a solution for our cravings: DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza, a frozen pizza from the supermarket in its own pan.

    The one-inch-plus-deep crispy crust pie, with extra cheese and plenty of toppings, comes in four flavors:

  • Pepperoni
  • Four Cheese
  • Supreme
  • Three Meat
  •  
    We like everything on our pie (or as much of it as we can get). We went for the Supreme: pepperoni, sausage, green and red peppers and black olives.

     

    DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza

    [3] Pan pizza in four flavors stays in the freezer. Twelve minutes in the oven delivers steaming, aromatic comfort food (photo courtesy DiGiorno).

     
    In just 12 minutes we pulled the pie—a crunchy outside and a soft inside— fragrant and bubbling from the oven.

    Now, we just have to clear out the freezer to make room for more DiGiorno boxes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Zucchini Pan Pizza

    Zucchini White Pizza
    [1] We can almost guarantee you’ll want to make this pizza over and over again (photo courtesy The Baker Chick)..

    Zucchini On Vine

    [2] Zucchini on the vine. Zucchini is very easy to grow, with a large yield (photo courtesy Burpee).

     

    We buy zucchini year-round. It’s one of our favorite diet foods, easy to steam, turn into “pasta” noodles, slice into salads, and make into microwave zucchini parmesan (just top slices with sauce and cheese).

    What we like even more is summer zucchini, which we can often find for half the price of the winter offerings.

    For a party or a family dinner—or to whip up quickly when friends drop by for a beer or glass of wine—try this cheesy zucchini pizza from The Baker Chick, one of our favorite food bloggers. Sign up for her emails at TheBakerChick.com. It’s well worth getting her recipe emails every week or two.

    Shredded zucchini and mozzarella are spread on pizza crust over a ricotta/garlic mixture. (We also made a version with red sauce and kalamata olives—equally delish.)

    The zucchini dries out a bit first, but it totally crisps up with the bubbly cheese.

    “This is really simple but just so good,” says Audra, The Baker Chick. “I didn’t quite realize how much I would love this.”

    You will, too! Audra made this as a pan (square or rectangle) pizza, but you can use whatever pan you have.

    We added a different garnishes on different slices of the pizza. We loved them all!

    We added the garnishes both after the pizza came out of the oven, and during the last 5 minutes of baking, with a slight preference for the latter (except for the fresh basil, which shows best then added out of the oven).

    Bonus Tip: You can mix the ingredients the day before. Then, it takes just five minutes to roll the dough, sprinkle them on top and pop into the oven. In 15 minutes, it’s ready.

    RECIPE: EASY ZUCCHINI WHITE PIZZA

    Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • Flour for rolling
  • Optional garnishes: fresh basil or chives, halved cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, oregano, raw zucchini julienne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Drizzle a quarter sheet pan with olive oil, using a paper towel, basting brush or your fingers to make sure the entire surface is coated. Set aside. (You can also use a pizza stone.)

    2. GRATE the zucchini and squeeze out all the water, either by pressing in a fine mesh strainer or with a paper towel.

    3. MIX the zucchini with the mozzarella, adding salt and pepper to taste. In another bowl…

    4. COMBINE the ricotta and garlic. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

    5. ROLL out the dough on a floured surface and stretch into the pan. Spread the ricotta mixture over the dough, and top with the zucchini/mozzarella mixture.

    6. REDUCE the oven temperature to 450°F and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beer Crust Pizza

    Beer Crust Pizza

    Greek Salad Pizza

    You can make the pizza in any shape you like. [1] Oblong, flatbread-style from King Arthur Flour. [2] A traditional round pizza with Greek salad toppings, from Cooking Classy.

     

    Make Dad a pizza with beer or hard cider. It’s subtle flavor, and a fun idea.

    The type and quality of beer you use is very important. Mass-market beers will not give you the results that a good craft beer or imported German beer provide.

    Bonus: You can use leftover, flat beer.

    If you like a light crust, use an unfiltered wheat beer. The bottle contains yeast particles, which add to the rise and provide a yeasty taste to the crust. Before adding the bear, swirl the bottle to release the yeast from the bottom.

    Pilsners, IPAs and other hoppy beers can make the crust bitter. Porter and stout give a stronger flavor.

    Thanks to King Arthur Flour for the recipe.

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 18 to 48 minutes, depending on the rise.

    RECIPE: BEER CRUST PIZZA

    Ingredients For 2 Pizza Crusts

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups semolina (substitute unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor* or 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups room-temperature beer
  •  
    Plus Toppings As Desired

  • Sauce
  • Mozzarella and other cheeses
  • Meats, vegetables, herbs
  •  
    ________________

    *King Arthur Flour’s Pizza Dough Flavor is a blend of cheese powder, garlic and natural flavors. You can blend your own to taste. Use approximately 1-1/3 teaspoons per cup of flour, in any pizza crust recipe.

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX and knead together all of the dough ingredients until you’ve made a smooth, soft dough. You can use your hands, a mixer or a bread machine. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 30 minutes, or for up to 2 hours.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the pizza stone on the lower rack. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 10″ to 12″ round.

    3. PLACE the rounds on parchment paper, if you’re using a pizza stone. Otherwise, place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. For a thin to medium crust, bake the pizzas immediately. For thicker crust, let them rise 30 to 60 minutes.

    4. TRANSFER the pizzas, parchment and all, to the baking stone; or place the pans in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, top as desired, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the bottom crust is crisp and the cheese is bubbly, browned and ready to eat

    TIPS

    To end up with mozzarella that’s gently melted (not browned and hardened):

  • Add the meat or vegetables after 5 minutes of baking time.
  • Add half the cheese after 15 minutes baking time (i.e., 10 minutes after the meat and veggies).
  • Bake for 3 minutes, add the remainder of the cheese, then bake for an additional 2 minutes, until the second addition of cheese is barely melted.
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF BEER
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER

     
      

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