Chef Becker’s Pasta Puttanesca

Do you know the legend behind Pasta Puttanesca?

Resident Chef Scott Becker at Binny's Highland Park recently shared the tale where Neapolitan prostitutes needed a sauce they could make in between customers. Using available ingredients; anchovies, garlic, onion & tomatoes, they made a quick & easy sauce for pasta. Chef Becker’s creation includes capers & olives for a satisfying, savory & super flavorful dish!

Simple Ingredients

·      ½ cup Villa Graziella Organic, Extra Virgin Olio Nuovo olive oil, plus extra to flavor

·      1-28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

·      12 oz Kalamata black olives, pitted & halved

·      15 anchovy filets, chopped

·      12 garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced

·      1 ½ cup of capers

·      1 red onion, diced

·      Red pepper chili flakes 

·      Sea salt & cracked pepper

·      Chopped fresh parsley, optional

Easy Directions

1.     In a large pot, over medium heat, lightly sauté onion, garlic & anchovies in olive oil until the garlic & onion begin to brown

2.     Add capers & olives to the pot, cook 2 minutes

3.     Add crushed tomatoes including the juice

4.     Season with black pepper & chili flakes to taste

5.     Reduce heat to low, simmer until sauce thickens & flavors blend, about 1 hour

6.     Cook pasta, (linguine or other long shaped pasta) according directions

7.     Drain pasta & toss with sauce & 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

8.     Adjust seasonings & oil to taste

9.     Garnish with chopped parsley

10.  Serve immediately, enjoy with Villa Graziella Organic Chianti DOCG red wine

Expert tip; Careful how much salt is added to the water as all the ingredients are very salty, as the sauce cooks, the salty flavors will become more concentrated & pronounced. This sauce freezes well, make a large batch & freeze in smaller portions.

Interested in learning more about wine, cooking classes & demonstration?   Visit

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Julia Child Birthday Quiche

Did you know Aug. 15th is Julia Child’s birthday?  Colleagues & fans fondly recall her keen sense of humor, passion for French wine, great food & authentic gusto for life. We’re paying tribute to the author, chef, journalist & television personality with one of her favorite dishes, quiche. Bon anniversaire Julia! 4-5 servings.

Simple Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cups diced spring mushrooms
  • ¼ cup sliced yellow onions
  • ½ glove garlic minced
  • ½ cup cubed pancetta or thick cut prosciutto
  • ¾ cup sharp, cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup milk, (we used nonfat)
  • 1 9-inch prebaked pie crust shell, (we were short on time)
  • Sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Easy Directions:

  1. Prebake pie crust shell according to directions, set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms to pan, cook until moisture is released, approx. 6 minutes.
  4. Add cubed pancetta, minced garlic& onions to pan, sauté until golden do not overcook.
  5. Season with pepper, remove from pan & set aside.
  6. In a mixing bowl, beat cream, milk & eggs, season with pepper & a touch of sea salt.
  7. Sprinkle half the cheese in baked pie crust, distribute mushroom, pancetta & onion mixture evenly over crust.
  8. Add cream, milk & egg mixture over vegetables & pancetta, sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top.
  9. Bake until mixture sets & browns at the edges, approx. 20 minutes. Let quiche cool 10-15 minutes.
  10. Slice, serve & enjoy with Villa Graziella Toscano IGT Rosato rosé wine.

Click here for the inspiration recipe! 

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Chef Becker’s Grilled Asparagus with Blistered Tomatoes

Need an easy side dish for your summer barbeque?  Resident Chef Scott Becker at Binny's Highland Park recently treated us to fresh grilled asparagus & blistered cherry tomatoes.

Healthy & delicious, what could be better?

Simple Ingredients

  • 1-pound fresh green, asparagus
  • ½ cup Villa Graziella Organic, 8-year aged balsamic vinegar di Modena, plus extra to flavor
  • 4 tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olio Nuovo olive oil, plus extra to flavor
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons organic Sugar in The Raw
  • Sea salt & cracked pepper

Easy Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium heat or oven to 400F°
  2. Snap off the fibrous, woody bottom part of each asparagus stalk, it will break off naturally where it is tough
  3. In a small pan over low heat, combine balsamic vinegar & sugar.
  4. Simmer until reduced by a quarter & thick, remove from heat, set aside & allow to thoroughly cool
  5. Place asparagus on a wide cookie sheet, evenly coat with olive oil, pepper & sea salt
  6. Place stalks on grill, turn occasionally, cook until tender, char marks should appear, remove from heat & set aside
  7. In a bowl, toss tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt & pepper
  8. Place tomatoes on a sheet pan, roast for 20 minutes or until the skins start to split, remove from heat & set aside
  9. Drizzle asparagus with balsamic vinegar, garnish with tomatoes & parmesan cheese
  10. Serve immediately & enjoy with Villa Graziella Rosso Toscano IGT red wine



RecipesAmy WrightComment
Walnut Zucchini Bread

What to do with all your garden-fresh zucchini?  Aug. 8th is National Zucchini day! Celebrate with walnut zucchini bread, skip the cinnamon, decrease the sugar & use Villa Graziella Organic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil. A healthy breakfast or delicious on the go snack. Makes two 9 x 5 loaves.

Simple Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil extra for brushing the pan
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature beaten
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini with excess moisture drained (3 medium zucchini -1 1/2 pounds
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (approx. 1 pound)
  • ¾ packed cup light brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 7 oz.  plain whole Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Easy Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F & grease two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with olive oil.
  2. Grate zucchini & drain excess moisture with a clean cloth dish towel. Place zucchini in a large bowl, discard excess moisture.
  3. Add olive oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract & sugar to grated zucchini, mix ingredients.
  4. Add eggs & mix until sugar is dissolved.
  5. In another large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder & lemon zest.
  6. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients & blend until flour is fully incorporated into a thick batter, fold in chopped walnuts, do not overmix.
  7. Scrape batter into the 2 prepared loaf pans, dividing batter evenly.
  8. Bake on middle rack until a tooth pick or knife inserted in the center comes out completely clean, approx. 55 minutes. Checking after 45 minutes & continue to check every 5 minutes until done.
  9. Set loaf pans on a rack, cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around the edges to release & flip loaves.
  10. Slice, serve & enjoy. Zucchini bread will keep for up to 2 days at room temperature wrapped in foil, if it lasts that long!

Helpful Tip: Drain excess moisture out of the grated zucchini for a lighter, less dense version. 

Check out the inspiration recipe!

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Chef Becker’s Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Did you know couscous originated with the Berber tribes in North Africa?

Made from ground durum wheat, it means well-formed or well rolled in the ethnic group’s language. Resident Chef Scott Becker at Binny’s Highland Park demonstration kitchen took us on a fantastic culinary tour creating a Mediterranean couscous with fresh seared halibut. Using our organic, extra virgin olive oil, 8-year aged balsamic vinegar the dish was delicious & light.

Simple Ingredients

  • 4 cups Israeli Couscous cooked
  • 6 tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olio Nuovo olive oil, plus extra to flavor
  • 4 tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic, 8-year aged balsamic vinegar di Modena, plus extra to flavor
  • 1 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup fresh French or Greek Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 green, bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 1 green onion of scallion thinly sliced
  • Sea salt & cracked pepper

Easy Directions

  1. In a large bowl toss together the couscous, cucumber, onion, peppers & tomatoes
  2. Add crumbled Feta cheese & gently mix, set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper
  4. Drizzle oil mixture over couscous salad and lightly toss to coat
  5. Garnish with sliced green onion & serve as a side dish or as an entrée with protein such as seared halibut on top
  6. Serve & enjoy with Villa Graziella Bianco Toscano IGT white wine
  7. Tip: Cover & refrigerate 1-day in advance 

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Did you know? The word “raspberry” originates from the historical French word raspise, “sweet rose-colored wine”.

One of our favorite fruits, raspberries are vitamin C rich & loaded with anti-oxidants. We’re tweaked a recipe from the nibble to celebrate Chocolate Raspberry Cake Day using Villa Graziella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of butter. A moist, delicious dessert enjoy it after dinner, the next day for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  8 Servings

Easy Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup + 3 Tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, plus more for Bundt pan
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated turbinado sugar (Sugar in The Raw)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries washed + extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Simple Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, lightly oil & flour a 12-cup/9-inch Bundt pan set aside
  2. Combine sifted flour, cocoa, sea salt & baking soda in a bowl
  3. In another bowl, beat the olive oil & sugar until smooth
  4. Add the 3 eggs to wet ingredients, mixing after each, stir in the vanilla
  5. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, followed by buttermilk in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed
  6. Pour the batter into the pan
  7. Sprinkle in the raspberries, they will disperse as the cake bakes
  8. Bake 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  9. Allow cake to cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, carefully turn the cake onto a plate
  10. Dust with confectioners' sugar & garnish with raspberries
  11. Serve & enjoy! Can’t finish it all in 1 day? Cover tightly to prevent from drying out

Find the inspiration recipe here!

Kitchen Conversations with Chef Sunita: Part 4

Did you know raw foods can also be sweet? Chef Sunita explains how to make delicious chocolate truffles.

 To learn more about Chef Sunita's culinary programs & wellness events visit

Kitchen Conversations with Chef Sunita: Part 3

Chef Sunita Vira discusses her book-RAW for LIFE - The Modern Guide to Raw, Plant-based, Gluten-free Recipes for Busy Lives. Delicious, Easy & Healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch & dinner! To learn more visit

National Grilling Month: Summertime Grilled Shrimp

Need to fix dinner but don’t want to heat up the kitchen? Look no further! Easy grilled shrimp!

We skipped the butter & used Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon & fresh parsley for these flavorful skewers. Marinate for 30 minutes so the shrimp does not become too soft. Serve with seasonal veggies, orzo & enjoy for lunch the next day in a salad. Serves 2 to 4.

Easy Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh, medium sized, deveined shrimp
  • 1/4 cup Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Add your choice of fresh herbs; basil, marjoram, sage, rosemary, oregano or thyme 

Simple Directions

  1. Soak wooden bamboo skewers in cold water
  2. Peel shrimp & refrigerate
  3. In a large bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, minced garlic, salt & pepper
  4. Add shrimp to the bowl, toss to coat, cover & marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
  5. Preheat grill to 160°F
  6. Thread shrimp onto skewers, piercing once near the tail & once near the head.
  7. Discard remaining marinade
  8. Lightly oil grill grate.
  9. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until opaque
  10. Remove from the grill, let rest for 3 minutes, serve & enjoy!