Panzanella Salad


I had my first online cooking class experience yesterday. It was a lot of fun. I went through the cooking school named Cozymeal. They have cooking schools throughout North America and, due to the pandemic, the classes have moved online. I have been wanting to try one for awhile.

I choose an Italian cooking class. The chef, Chris, was very informative and taught the group many great techniques as well as the history of the food.  He even had an Italian opera singer Zoom in from his home whereas he sang a wonderful song.

This is the first of the three recipes we cooked. It is very simple and delicious. It comes from Tuscany.


  • 1/2 loaf of Italian crusty bread
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (10-15 leaves) rough chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar


Preheat oven to 425F. Chop slices of bread into large crouton shape. Toss with olive oil (enough to lightly coat). Lay out the croutons on baking sheet in single layer with appropriate spacing between each piece to vent. Place in oven and toast until they appear toasted on all sides (10-15 minutes).

Place tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS red wine vinegar in a bowl, mix and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Once croutons have cooled, mix with marinade.

Other two recipes to follow (Tiramisu and fresh pasta dough with lemon cream sauce.

Buon appetito.

Ricotta and Mozarella Stuffed Shells

For those that know me, they know that ricotta cheese is not my favorite cheese. Cooked this way, mixed with all sorts of goodness, I like it. This recipe is another one of my vegetarian dishes that the kids will eat. The original recipe was found in the 2012 issue of Food and Wine magazine. It has been modified by me.


  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion. thinly sliced
  • 12 oz jumbo shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (homemade recipe below, or used store bought for simplicity)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large, deep skillet, melt the butter and oil. Add onion until lightly browned, 15 minutes. Add water as needed to keep from scorching. Set aside and let cool.

Cook pasta shells to al dente, drain, cool under water, and pat dry.

Fold the ricotta, 1 cup of cheese, parsley, and onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir in eggs.

Mix marinara sauce with cream and pour 1 1/2 cups into a 9X13 baking dish. Stuff each shell and nestle close together in the sauce. Drizzle remaining marinara over and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Marinara Sauce


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves halved
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 / 35oz can of whole peeled Italian tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 fresh basil sprigs


Heat oil in large saucepan, add garlic and saute until golden, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and crush with a spoon. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, and basil. Simmer for 30 minute. Makes approx 3 cups.