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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

A basic, simple lasagna satisfies hunger any day of the week but particularly in inclement weather.  It’s very simple if you keep some homemade marinara sauce or bolognese sauce in the freezer.  Then all you  need is a good mixture of cheeses with some herbs bound with and egg or two and some noodles (fresh, dried or no-bake–your choice).  The result is the ultimate comfort meal.  You can add some fresh roasted garlic to a toasted baguette and a salad on the side if you are a big eater.  Any which way, this is a satisfying, economical and pleasing meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I’m just going by my own experience.  (Wink)

This photo shows the richness of the cheeses:lasagna with bologese sauceAnd this shot shows the meaty bolognese sauce:

lasagna with bolognese sauce 2Two sides of the same piece of lasagna.  Sheer happiness.

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A simple yet impressive dinner: Butternut Squash Lasagna with Fresh Mixed Greens from our garden and homegrown roasted beets with a gorgonzola-toasted walnut dressing.

butternut squash lasagna

No need for fireworks.

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As winter gives way, ever so slightly, to spring, it’s time for that seasonal pre-emptive task: cleaning the freezer and refrigerator.  Usually February is the time when I finally get rid of the last remnants of summers frozen goodies before they age too much or suffer freezer burn.

This evening, yearning for an easy and quick dinner, my goal was to use up some of those summer lingerers.  As luck would have it, I found a cup of frozen basil pesto from the last of the summer herb garden.

Dinner came together in a snap after that!  The refrigerator search yielded some leftover grated Parmesan cheese, some toasted walnuts, half a loaf of sourdough bread, and a package of chicken that was ready for cooking.

About 3 minutes of thought evoked a meal that only necessitated a few more simple ingredients!  One simple dinner of very few ingredients and less than hour to prepare is a relaxing and satisfying end to a restful weekend.

After Summer Pesto-Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken over Penne and Fresh Spinach

(Serves approximately 4-6)

A heaping ¼ cup of homemade basil pesto (use store-bought if needed)

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced with a bit of the jar oil.

Olive oil for sautéing

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

3 cups fresh spinach

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb. penne pasta*

Fresh basil for garnish

Toasted chopped walnuts for garnish

Grated or shredded Parmesan for garnish

(Optional side: sliced, toasted sourdough bread served with fresh brushetta)

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta while you are sautéing the chicken.

Heat a 10 or 12-inch skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil.  Sauté the chicken until just cooked through and the pink is gone.  Remove from the heat, strain the chicken and set aside in a bowl.

Add the penne pasta to the boiling water and cook for approximately 9-11 minutes, until pasta is al dente.

Using the skillet, add the basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan.  Heat for 1-2 minutes over low heat and then add the heavy cream.  Increase the heat to medium high, stirring to blend.  When the cream sauce begins to thicken, add the chicken and stir to coat.

The sauce and the pasta should be ready at about the same time.  Drain the pasta.  Turn off the sauce.  Layer the fresh spinach in a bowl.  Top with penne pasta.  Add the sauce with chicken.

Be sure the garnishes are on the table and serve!  A sprinkle of minced fresh basil livens up the dish and makes it even more aromatic!

Enjoy!

*For a gluten-free option, substitute gluten-free pasta for the Penne.  You can use quinoa pasta, brown rice pasta or your preference.

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At the beginning of the New Year, I began culling my old recipes.  One of my goals was to eliminate the useless, outdated ones and update the usable dishes that could be delectable instead of just good.

One of the gems I found was a traditional macaroni and cheese with a Mexican slant with a tomato sauce.  Back when it was popular, this recipe used macaroni, cheddar cheese, green chilis and ground beef.  Not much else except some traditional spices like oregano.

In my upgrade, I followed the basic directions for my old recipe.  However, I substituted Ziti for macaroni, Pecorino for Cheddar and added some fresh ricotta for a creamier texture.  Instead of hamburger, I used a spicy hot Italian sausage.  Therefore, the recipe followed the same path but I did alter ingredients.

The result was quite pleasing.  In fact, it was good enough to serve to company with a side salad, some freshly toasted bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and coarsely crumbled

1/3 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet)

Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup crushed dried oregano

28 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices

1 cup ricotta, fresh is better if you can get it or packaged will do.

½ lb. mozzarella, fresh is better but packaged will work,

cut into small diced cubes

1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino

¼-1/3 cup chopped Italian Parsley

Generous pinch of nutmeg

1 lb. Ziti

Generous sprinkle of Panko Crumbs – about 1 cup or so.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ while you assemble the ingredients.

Lightly oil a baking dish and bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients) before beginning.  Do all your chopping, dicing, measuring and assembling to allow the process to move smoothly.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and then add about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion and sauté until soft for about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and crumbled sausage.  Saute until the sausage is browned on all sides.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

If there appears to be too much fat in the pan, pour most of it off.  Otherwise, use the fat for flavoring in the recipe.

Add the red wine and boil.  When it’s almost vanished, Add the tomatoes and their juices.  Cook, uncovered, for about 10-12 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly at this point.  Add the oregano and taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

While the sauce cooks and thickens, mix the ricotta with the pecorino or parmesan and the parsley and nutmeg.  Let it sit while you cook the pasta.

Cook the Ziti until it’s just al dente (firm to bite).  Drain the ziti and mix it thoroughly, while still hot, with the ricotta mixture.  Coat the ziti well.  The ricotta mixture should melt like a sauce from the heat of the ziti.  Add the sausage and its sauce and mix thoroughly again.

Next, add the chopped mozzarella and toss together until mixed well.

Last, pour the entire mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle generously with panko bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a fresh green salad and/or a side of vegetables and some hot bread.

Enjoy!

At the beginning of the New Year, I began culling my old recipes.  One of my goals was to eliminate the useless, outdated ones and update the usable dishes that could be delectable instead of just good.

One of the gems I found was a traditional macaroni and cheese with a Mexican slant with a tomato sauce.  Back when it was popular, this recipe used macaroni, cheddar cheese, green chilis and ground beef. Not much else except some traditional spices like oregano.

In my upgrade, I followed the basic directions for my old recipe.  However, I substituted Ziti for macaroni, Pecorino for Cheddar and added some fresh ricotta for a creamier texture.  Instead of hamburger, I used a spicy hot Italian sausage.  Therefore, the recipe followed the same path but I did alter ingredients.

The result was quite pleasing.  In fact, it was good enough to serve to company with a side salad, some freshly toasted bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and coarsely crumbled

1/3 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet)

Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup crushed dried oregano

28 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices

1 cup ricotta, fresh is better if you can get it or packaged will do.

½ lb. mozzarella, fresh is better but packaged will work,

cut into small diced cubes

1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino

¼-1/3 cup chopped Italian Parsley

Generous pinch of nutmeg

1 lb. Ziti

Preheat the oven to 425˚ while you assemble the ingredients.

Lightly oil a baking dish and bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients) before beginning.  Do all your chopping, dicing, measuring and assembling to allow the process to move smoothly.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and then add about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion and sauté until soft for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage.  Saute until the sausage is browned on all sides.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

If there appears to be too much fat in the pan, pour most of it off.  Otherwise, use the fat for flavoring in the recipe.

Add the red wine and boil.  When it’s almost vanished, Add the tomatoes and their juices. Cook, uncovered, for about 10-12 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly at this point.  Add the oregano and taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

While the sauce cooks and thickens, mix the ricotta with the pecorino or parmesan and the parsley and nutmeg.  Let it sit while you cook the pasta.

Cook the Ziti until it’s just al dente (firm to bite).  Drain the ziti and mix it thoroughly, while still hot, with the ricotta mixture.  Coat the ziti well.  The ricotta mixture should melt like a sauce from the heat of the ziti.  Add the sausage and its sauce and mix thoroughly again.

Next, add the chopped mozzarella and toss together until mixed well.

Last, pour the entire mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle generously with panko bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a fresh green salad and/or a side of vegetables and some hot bread.

Enjoy!

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Pasta Timballo is an Italian meal that varies from region to region in the use of ingredients and sauces.  Timballos involve several steps of preparation to achieve a baked “pie” that includes pasta, rice or potatoes as a base, using cheese and/or eggs as a binder to hold it all together.  Often, the timballo is moistened and flavored with a Bolognese sauce or béchamel sauce or in this case both! The Timballo is similar to the bomba or a pasticcio (which is baked in a pastry crust), or even an English casserole (but saying so could start a culinary feud of sorts).  I am not posting the recipe to this one just yet because it is a recipe in progress.

A timbale or timballo can also be wrapped in thinly sliced vegetables like eggplant or zucchini for a presentation that is a bit more formal.

This one, however, is penne pasta in a tomato-wine sauce with poached, shredded chicken.  The tomato chicken sauce coats the first layer of pasta, and then a béchamel sauce including spinach and winter flavoring is added.  One more layer of tomato-chicken sauce goes atop the spinach-béchamel layer and the whole casserole binds together with shredded Provolone, cubed Mozzarella, eggs lightly beaten and a good handful of Parmesan cheese.

To finish the timballo crust, panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning dust the pan and the top of the casserole.

Serve with a light, fruity wine and some bread on the side to max out your carb allotment for the week!  Buon Appetito!

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