Baked Penne with Tomato Mozzarella & Sausage

My sister, Tomi turned me on to this yummy goodness from chef, Erica De Mane, who specializes in southern Italian cooking. Serve with a simple salad.

Baked Penne with Tomato, Mozzarella & Sausage

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb. sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from its casing and crumbled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 35-oz. can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (from about 6 large sprigs)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated mild pecorino cheese
  • Pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lb. dried penne (or ziti if you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut in small cubes

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • In a large skillet or stock pot, heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage and sauté until the sausage starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. If the sausage gives off a lot of fat, pour off most of it, but leave a little to add flavor to the sauce. Add the red wine and let it boil until it’s almost gone. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices and cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Add the marjoram or oregano and taste for seasoning.
  • In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, about half of the grated pecorino, the nutmeg, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, cook the ziti until al dente (7-8 minutes max). Drain well and toss it with the ricotta mixture until well coated. Add the sausage and sauce and mix again. Add the mozzarella and toss gently. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining pecorino on top. Bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve right away.
  • Nutritional Info (based on four servings)
  • Calories (kcal) : 1070
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 390
  • Fat (g): 44
  • Saturated Fat (g): 20
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 114
  • Carbohydrates (g): 113
  • Fiber (g): 8
  • Protein (g): 54

Pesto Chicken Lasagna with Zoodles

1Pesto Chicken Lasagna with Zoodles

Ingredients

2  5-6 oz. tubs of Fresh Pesto (refrigerator section of most markets)
3 oz. Alfredo sauce
1 lb. mozzarella cheese grated
1 roasted chicken (skin removed and shredded)
2 large zucchinis (sliced thin with a mandolin)
1 large carton of Ricotta cheese
1 carton of baby Portobello mushrooms
1 tsp dry thyme (rounded)
3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
3 T butter
Ground pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese (grated)
Pine nuts or slivered almonds

Instructions

1. Slice the zucchini with a mandolin and lightly salt the “zoodles”.  This will draw some of the moisture out of them and prevent the dish from getting soupy after cooking.

2. Shred or cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside.
3. Sauté mushrooms in butter just until they start to shrink. Set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
5. Layer ingredients in an 11X17 baking dish. Start with thin layer of pesto then zoodles.

Example:

pesto,
noodles,
ricotta (1/8 – 1/4 inch thick),
bite size chicken pieces,
mushrooms,
drizzle with pesto mixed with Alfredo),
mozzarella.

IMG_8840IMG_8842

6. Repeat layering again depending on how thick the baking pan is.
7. Make the last layer on top the pesto sauce with grated Parmesan cheese and then sprinkle with either pine nuts or slivered almonds.

IMG_8845
8. Cook in 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

IMG_8853Yummy yummy and healthy too!

Modified from the no boil pasta noodle version given to me by my good friend, Holly Garcia 10/12/05

Favorite Salsa Verde Chicken

This 30-Minute One-Pan Salsa Verde Chicken is perfect for a busy weeknight.  It’s healthy, tasty, and super easy.

This Salsa Verde Chicken needs only a few basic ingredients and a casserole dish.

I always keep a jar of my favorite salsa verde from Sprouts in my pantry.  Trader Joe’s has a yummy version too, but I prefer the Sprouts version as it has a little more kick (from Jalapenos).

You can use either bone-in chicken thighs (my favorite) or boneless skinless chicken thighs works too.

Perfect over rice, tortillas, or chips.

<

PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 20-30 minutes
TOTAL TIME 30-40 minutes
Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs.  chicken thighs (bone in or skinless & boneless)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin’
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 jar (16oz) salsa verde
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Wash and chop the garlic, onion and red pepper.
  3. Wash and towel dry the chicken and then season with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Lightly brush the top of each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic. Set aside.
  4. Pour the jar of salsa verde in a casserole dish.
  5. Place the chicken pieces in the casserole dish next and add the onion and peppers to the dish and position around the chicken pieces.
  6. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Do not overcook.
  7. Serve over rice (or with tortillas) and garnish with cilantro and lime.

Vince’s Tuscan Chicken

2Vince’s Tuscan Chicken

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
5-6 small chicken breasts or chicken thighs (boneless)
3-5 shallots, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 T. oregano
1 tsp salt and
½ tsp pepper
½ cup vermouth
olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Brown chicken in olive oil for 15-20 minutes on medium heat (1/2 hour if frozen).
Remove from oil and set aside.
2. Add chopped shallots to the frying pan and cook until tender (3-5 minutes).
3. Add chopped tomatoes, oregano, vermouth and salt and pepper.

IMG_8892
4.  Replace chicken in mixture and cook for about 20 minutes more or until chicken done (no longer pink inside).
5.  Serve over bed of white rice, brown rice or fettuccine.

PSST!  Even though my recipe calls for boneless chicken, you can easily make it with the bone in version.  You just need to adjust the cooking time a little longer.  You want to test to make sure the juices run clear and that the meat is no longer pink.

IMG_8898

Skinny Lasagna

DFTSI - Skinny Lasagna_9601

Thin sliced zucchini instead of lasagna noodles turns this into a delicious yet hearty low carb meal.  You won’t even miss the pasta!

Skinny Lasagna

Cook Time: under 60 minutes        /            Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 24 oz jar tomato basil pasta sauce ( I like Bertolli)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (plus a few leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 5 shakes of italien  herbs (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 large or two medium zucchini (sliced 1/8″ thick using a mandolin)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1-2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Continue reading

Homemade Yogurt Sauce / Tzatziki

Homemade Tzatziki
Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions: 

Wash produce (lemon and cucumber)

Grate the cucumber and squeeze out as much liquid as you can and set aside. This prevents your yogurt sauce from being to runny and watered down)

Cut 1/2 lemon into quarters

In a medium bowl, combine the drained cucumber, yogurt and the juice of 2 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavors to mix.

Try it with Moroccan Lamb Meatballs, Curry Spiced Chicken Thighs, or Ras El Hanout Chicken Breasts below.

autumn gingerbread cakeletsCurry-Spiced ChickenChicken and tabouleh

St Patrick’s Day Faux-Tatoes

St. Patrick’s Day Faux-Tatoes

Go green on St. Patrick’s Day with a creative and healthy twist on the classic irish-inspired recipe.

The secret ingredient is green cauliflower! It’s actually a hybrid version of broccoli and cauliflower and is sometimes referred to a broccoflower. It’s flavor is sweet, mild and nutty.

Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables. It is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich, and provides your body with vitamin C, Vitamin K, beta-carotene while also boosting healthy digestion and detoxification. Try it on March 17th and you will make it again and again! 
Faux-Tatoes 
Serves 4


Ingredients

1 medium head cauliflower (try it green or traditional white, about 1 ½ pounds)
½ cup butter or ghee
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch thyme, dried
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Break up the cauliflower stems and stalk and place in a steamer basket or a small amount of water in a saucepan. Steam it until tender (approx. 10-15 minutes). Drain.
  • In a food processor or blender, blend the cauliflower, butter, garlic, thyme, sea salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Plate your dish immediately or transfer to a small casserole dish for family style eating.

Enjoy!