Parmesan Salsa – A Great Topping For Pasta, Pizza and More!

parmesan salsa

Today’s recipe, Parmesan Salsa (Salsi di Parmigiano in Italian), is a great recipe to learn not only because it is so delicious (it is!!) but because it is so versatile.  As an appetizer, it’s wonderful spread on a piece of toasted baguette.  Or it’s perfect as a topping for almost any vegetable.  It’s also an incredibly easy pasta sauce that will impress any pasta lover.

The recipe, from Food Network’s Michael Chiarello, takes only minutes to make and you can easily cut the recipe in half.  Although it calls for using 1/2 each of Parmesan and Asiago cheese, I have made it several times with just Parmesan.



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Easy Hollandaise Sauce Recipe – Soooo good!

This easy Hollandaise Sauce recipe seems to good to be true – but it really is easy and *fabulous*.  I made it last night to serve with roasted asparagus (drizzle olive oil over asparagus, roast in a 425 F. for 10 minutes) and it took me less than 5 minutes to make it.  The result? A rich, luscious sauce that was every bit as good as any Hollandaise sauce that I’ve had in a restaurant (and better than many).
The secret to the wonderful recipe?  It’s a blender Hollandaise Sauce.  Which means the strength of the blender does a beautiful job of emulsifying the sauce.  In seconds.  Oh…and did I mention this recipe is easy:)

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Chipotle BBQ Sauce with Caramelized Onions

Diva Entertains Chipotle Chicken

It’s been a few years since I’ve made my own barbecue sauce.  However, when I came across a recipe for caramelized chipotle chicken it sounded so good that I had to try it.   Of course, being me, I tinkered with the recipe somewhat and was really pleased with results.  Whether you use it to coat chicken or pork chops as a entree or grill shrimp basted with it as an appetizer, I bet you’ll make it over and over again.

The keys to success with the recipe are: 1) Watch your garlic carefully as you saute it.  It quickly goes from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds.  And you do not want to use burnt garlic in this or any dish – it will ruin the flavor.  Better to start over.  First time cooking garlic this way and nervous?  Don’t worry if you remove it from the pan when it’s not as golden as it should be (see below) –

Diva Entertains Golden Garlic

it will still contribute great flavor to the sauce.  2) The caramelized onions also provide terrific flavor.  Same advice as with the garlic – don’t let it burn.  However, onions aren’t at all fussy like garlic is.  You’ll have plenty of opportunity to remove it from the pan before it burns.

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce with Caramelized Onions (adapted from Caramelized Chipotle Chicken, Gourmet Magazine, September 2009)

Makes enough sauce for 8 pieces of chicken.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned chipotle chilies in adobo (from a 7 oz. can)*
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

  1. Heat oil in a 12″ heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Cook garlic, stirring constantly, until golden and then remove immediately with a slotted spoon to a plate.  Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 15 minutes.  Let cool about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, set up your blender or food processor and add the ketchup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, chiptotle chilies in adobo, Worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar.  Add the garlic and onions (once the latter has cooled 10 minutes).  With top on blend until relatively smooth but with some texture.  Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

Here’s the Gourmet magazine instructions for using this on chicken in your oven – its fabulous!:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F with rack in middle.
  2. Coat chicken with half of sauce, then roast, skin side up, in a 17×11 inch heavy 4-sided sheet pan 25 minutes.  remove from oven and brush with remaining sauce, then continue roasting until chicken is cooked through and well-browned in some spots, 20 to 25 minutes more.

*If you’ve never used chipotle chilies in adoba before you are in for a wonderful surprise.   The product can be found in the International aisle of your grocery store in the Mexican section.  I’ve shown an example of the product below:

Diva Entertains Chipotles

Garlic Cream – Absolutely Divine!

Diva Entertains Garlic Cream
It may not look like much.  But don’t be fooled.  Not even for a second.  Because one taste of this rich, decadent sauce will have you coming back for more.  And its versatile!  Serve it as a simple but heavenly side of pasta with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Or have it be the basis of a delicious entree like the garlic cream pasta below that features hot Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes over spinach linguine. You can even make it ahead and freeze until you are ready to serve it.

Diva Entertains Pasta with Garlic Cream
The ingredients are few.  Garlic Cloves. Chardonnay.  Chicken Stock.  Heavy Cream. But what a combination!

Garlic Cream (my apologies – I don’t know where I first came upon this recipe)

  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled*
  • 1 bottle Chardonnay
  • 1 quart chicken broth or stock
  • 6 cups heavy cream (don’t faint.  This makes a lot and can be frozen**)

Put cloves and wine in a heavy, medium sized sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer until you have about 2 T. of wine left***.  Add the chicken stock and once again bring to a boil and then simmer and reduce until you are left with about 1/4 cup of the reduced liquid.  Remove from heat.

Add the garlic cloves, remainig stock/wine reduction and heavy cream to a blender and puree until smooth.  The sauce will be somewhat thick.  However, once returned to the sauce pan to reheat for use it will quickly deflate.  No worries – it doesn’t change the taste!

*Let’s tackle the garlic cloves issue.  Although I prefer the smash and peel technique when working with a limited amount cloves.  But for a dish like this I bring in the little rubber garlic peel tool:

Diva Entertains Garlic

I’m pretty sure that there are many versions of these on the market, however I think the most well-known is the Zak Designs E-Z-Rol Garlic Peeler.  Simply put the cloves inside (break them up first and put a few in at a time) the rubber tool, rub back and forth on the counter, and then tip the cloves out.  The peels should slide right off.

**I’m partial to freezing left-over sauces and soups in plastic ice cube trays.  Once frozen I put in freezer bags until needed.  Makes it very easy to take out small or large serving sizes as needed.

***The original recipe called for completely reducing all the liquids before pureeing with the heavy cream.  But in my humble opinion that’s crazy!  You want to save a little of the incredibly flavorful reduced liquid to puree with the cream to add depth to the sauce.

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Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (embarrassingly easy to make)

When I ran across this recipe it was the Milanese Style Cutlets that the sauce was an accompaniment to that caught my eye.  And the cutlets were indeed good.  But the Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce was amazing. AMAZING! And I immediately knew it was going to be a staple around our house.

Diva Entertains Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sauce

I have since served this over fettuccini with spicy hot Italian sausage, over ravioli and topped with slices of fresh mozzarella and then baked in the oven, even over an omelet!  And of course just over a side of pasta…repeatedly.

If you think I was, perhaps, exaggerating how easy it is to make…here’s the proof:

Diva Entertains Humble Ingredients

Aside from some olive oil and seasonings – that’s it!

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (adapted from CuisneatHome, Oct. 2009)

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ to 1 cup roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Saute onion in 1 T. oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour can of tomatoes (including juice) into a blender.  Add the red pepper.  When the onion is done, add the onion.  And the tablespoon of vinegar.  Puree for about 5 seconds (less time if you want a chunky sauce, more time if you want a smoother sauce).

Pour mixture into saucepan and salt and pepper to taste.  Keep sauce warm until ready to serve and add the basil right before serving. (I forgot to add the basil in the picture above and it was still outstanding!)

Cheats way (which is still darn good!):  Buy cans of tomato that already include onions. Or garlic and basil.  Or whatever looks good on the shelf.

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