Mushroom Pesto Steak with Hot Pepper Potatoes

A mushroom pesto sauce goes perfectly with a pan-roasted steak, and the meal won’t break your calorie bank.

Pesto sauce made with fresh basil, parsley, olive oil and Parmesan cheese originated in Genoa, Italy. Adding mushrooms to prepared pesto gives it an earthy flavor.

The Hot Pepper Potatoes are microwaved and then browned in the same skillet used to cook the steak. Microwaving the potatoes saves time and there’s no pot to wash.

Open a bag of washed, ready-to-eat lettuce and pull out a bottle of reduced-calorie vinaigrette to complete this meal.
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The Biggest Loser Nutritionist’s Latest Book

This is the 11th season of The Biggest Loser and Cheryl Forberg is the official nutritionist for the show.  She helps plan their diets.  On my WLRN National Public Radio show Food News and Views she gives us tips on how we can lose weight, keep it off and still enjoy delicious, mouth-watering food. You can hear a podcast of the show right here at  Click the on air tab for a link to the podcast.

A Taste of Italy

Think of Italy and Italian cuisine and my mouth starts to water.  What I love most is the fresh food, simply cooked and packed with flavor. Lars Leicht followed his Italian mother’s roots and became an expert in Italian food and wine.  He spends much of his time in Italy and traveling the United States giving cooking lessons.  His in depth interview on my WLRN NPR Food News and Views program is podcast here.  Click the on air tab for a link to it.

Here is recipe for 2 Roman dishes:

Abbacchio in Umido – Roman Summertime Lamb Stew

Romans love lamb, any time of the year.  This preparation helps avoid roasting or baking which would heat up the house too much, but provides a hearty, flavorful a zesty stew that satisfies the soul without weighing down the body.  Romans also love wine, and lamb loves Sangiovese – the earthy flavors of BelnerO lend depth to this dish and continue to elevate its flavors when a glass of the same wine is enjoyed with it.


3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ ounces slab bacon, chopped

Flour for dredging

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into bite size chunks

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped carrot

½  cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley

¼ teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano leaves

12 ounces coarsely chopped plum tomatoes

Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika

One Glass (4 oz.) BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese

½ cup vegetable broth


In a large, flameproof casserole or 5-quart Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the bacon over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to render its fat.  Raise heat to medium-high, lightly flour the pieces of lamb, and brown them a few at a time, removing them to a plate as they are done.  Add more oil if needed.

When all the lamb is browned, return the flame to medium heat, add the vegetables and herbs to the pan, and sauté 5 minutes, or until the carrot and celery are soft, stirring occasionally; add the  tomatoes and let them cook down for a few minutes more.  Return the lamb to the pan, mix it with the vegetables, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.  Raise the flame to high, add the wine, and continue stirring until the wine is evaporated.

Add the broth and stir everything together.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 45 to 50 minutes, or until the lamb is perfectly tender.

Zanobia – Pan Roasted Garden Vegetables

The average Italian kitchen garden provides a variety of vegetables, none of which are grown in abundance and few of which provide one-time quantities to create a dish of their own.  So a taste of this and a taste of that, reflecting what is ripe in the garden at that  given moment, come together in a summer symphony of perfection.  Stove top cooking makes for fast work of this mélange, called Zanobia by my grandmother and the people of her town just south of Rome, but also called Giambotta in a similar execution from Naples and further south.  Serve tossed with rice or pasta, or on its own as the ideal side dish to Abbacchio in Umido (Roman Summertime Lamb Stew).


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium-sized sweet onions, sliced

2 to 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1 small peperoncino, optional

3 or 4 small golden or red potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 sweet red or yellow peppers, plus one green frying pepper,

2 baby eggplant, unpeeled, cut in ¾ inch cubes

3 medium-sized zucchini, cut into ¾ inch half-rounds

Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika

3 ounces Le Rime Pinot Grigio

10 ounces plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

seeded, halved, and cut into ½ inch wide strips


In a large sauce pan or nonreactive casserole, heat the olive oil and add the onions, celery, basil and peperoncino.  Saute 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, then stir in the potatoes and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more; add the peppers and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more; add the eggplant and zucchini, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and paprika.  Raise the flame to high, add the wine, and allow to reduce, stirring regularly, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Stir in the tomatoes, cover the pot and allow it to cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are tender.

Lars Leicht

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