Cool Down With An Italian Meal

Jacquline McClelland, mother of Brandon McClelland, wipes away tears during an interview in Paris, Texas, on June 5, 2009. McClelland believes that dropping the murder charges against the two men accused of killing her son lets those guilty of the killing go free.
AP Photo/LM Otero
TV chef and cookbook author Nick Stellino embraces his Sicilian roots and cooks a light Italian meal to help cool off the summer heat.

Chef Stellino takes The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring challenge: create a three-course meal for four with just $30.

The Menu:
Salad with Tuna and Cannellini Beans
Summertime Pasta Served with Grilled Vegetables
Baked Ice Cream Pie with Strawberries

Salad with Tuna and Cannellini
Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
1 six-oz. can of water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 15-ounce cans Cannellini (great northern) beans, canned, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 bell peppers, 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 cups Roma (pear) tomatoes, or firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head of iceberg lettuce

Method:

  1. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice together, adding white pepper, salt, and oregano.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the lettuce.
  3. Toss with the dressing, adjust salt and pepper to taste, and chill for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.
  4. Remove from refrigerator and serve the dish chilled rather than ice cold.
  5. 1/2 cup chopped, pitted Greek or Sicilian black olives would be another flavorful addition to this recipe.
  6. Serving suggestion: Serve over a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce.

Summertime Pasta
Serves 4-6

Sauce Ingredients:
One 28-oz. can of Italian-style peeled tomatoes, drained, chopped and juices reserved.
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves chopped finely
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients:
1 lb. pound of Penne Rigate Pasta
6 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese.

Method:

  1. Mix thoroughly all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cover and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain it well.
  4. Pour it into the bowl with the sauce; stir well to coat the pasta, add the Cheese and serve. Can be served at room temperature.

Ingredients for Grilled Vegetables:
One red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
One green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
One yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
Four Portobello mushrooms
Two zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Two squash, sliced lengthwise

Method:

  1. Brush or spray all vegetables, except peppers, with Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil and grill until barely tender. Grill peppers dry, turning until all sides are evenly blistered. Allow peppers to cool, then peel, remove core and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut mushrooms in half and slice all other vegetables into 1/2-thick slices. Combine vegetable in a large bowl. Spray once again with Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil and toss gently.

Baked Ice-Cream Pie with Strawberries or Torta Gelato al Forno
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 (16-ounces) frozen Pound Cake
6 tbsp. of Cassis liqueur (optional)
1 Quart Strawberry or Vanilla ice-cream
1 1/2 cup of fresh quartered strawberries or any berries of your choice
3 eggs white
4 tablespoon of sugar

Method:

  1. Marinate the strawberries for 30 minutes with the Cassis and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  2. At the same time, take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for 1/2 hour.
  3. Strain the strawberries and reserve the marinade.
  4. Eight hours before serving, or preferably the day ahead, pour the softened ice cream in a large bowl and fold in the drained strawberries, if the ice cream is still too hard, let is soften some more until it becomes easier to mix with the strawberries.
  5. Line a loaf pan approximately 9x 5x 3 1/2 or slightly bigger, with plastic wrap, leave about 3 inches overhanging on all sides. Cut the pound cake in half, then in 1/4 inch slices by length. Lay them on a baking sheet or cutting board and brush them with the reserved marinade.
  6. Line the inside of the loaf pan at the bottom and on the sides with the slices of pound cake, pushing down to mold them to the shape of the pan. Do not worry about tears; they can be easily patched by pressing over them with smaller pieces of cake, cut out for this purpose.
  7. Pour the softened ice-cream half way into the pan. Cover with one layer of cake slices.
    Pour the rest of the ice cream up to about 1 inch from the top. Save the left over ice cream (if any) for other uses. Cover the ice cream with one more layer of cake slices.
  8. Fold over the plastic wrap over the cake and place the pan in the freezer, to harden.
    Just before serving Preheat the oven to 450.
  9. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy, 1-2 minutes, with the machine running, slowly add the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites start to turn into the consistency of meringue with stiff peaks and a shiny gloss, 4-5 minutes.
  10. Transfer the meringue into a pastry bag equipped with a star tip.
  11. Take the cake from the freezer. Remove it from mold it onto an oven-roof serving dish, peel off all of the plastic wrap. Pipe the meringue over the entire cake surface. Bake in the oven until the top of the meringue peaks start to brown, about 5-6 minutes.