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

Roasted Vegetable and Orzo Salad

Orzo Salad with Roasted VegtablesOrzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables

 

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • 32 oz. Chicken Broth
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Finishing touches:
  • 4 green onions, minced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. combine the chopped eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

While vegetables are cooking, bring salted chicken broth to a boil in a medium pot . Add orzo and  cook for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

IMG_2521

For the dressing, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate.

Just before serving, add the green onions, pine nuts, feta, and basil. Can be served at room temperature or refrigerated.

Enjoy!

Note: I adapted this delicious side dish recipe from Ina Garten.  I originally found it in my now dog-eared Barefoot Contessa Parties! recipe book.  I love almost every recipe in this publication.  Thank you Ina!

Psst! You can boil the orzo in water instead of chicken broth if you want to go vegetarian.

Pasta Americana a la Tomi

Pasta Americana

My sister Tomi is a great cook and has the gift of hospitality. One Christmas she and her family were visiting us from the east coast and we decided to throw a cocktail party to introduce them to several of our neighbors and friends. At about 8pm the cocktail party turned into a dinner party and we looked at each other saying “What can we make for a party of 12?” Tomi quickly offered to whip up a hearty pasta dish sure to satisfy the hungry bunch. Sure enough, the super easy and delicious pasta was a hit.

I now make it for Sunday night dinner and always think of my sister when I make it. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! The recipe below is modified for 6-8 people.

Ingredients Continue reading

Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever

mac n cheese

My daughter says, “There is nothing like coming home to Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese on a chilly day.  Comfort food like this warms up the soul as well as the belly.   I like to add a little variety by using different cheeses.  We used french gruyere this time.  Enjoy!

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

½ cup butter (divided)
4 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
1 ½ cups of your favorite hard cheese, sharp cheddar, gruyere, etc (shredded or cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ tsp. prepared mustard
1 T. onion (chopped)
8 saltine crackers, crushed (optional)
2 cups elbow macaroni (cooked and drained)

Directions Continue reading

Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles

I just recently discovered the spiralizer – a fabulous kitchen gadget allowing you to turn traditional pasta meals into healthy low carb ones using vegetables instead of noodles.  Here is my latest family favorite.

SKINNY SHRIMP SCAMPI

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable stock
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 pounds (4-5 medium-sized) zucchini, spiralized
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in  lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/2 of chicken stock; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer; stir in zucchini noodles until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add remaining vegetable broth if it seems to dry.

Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and parsley, if desired.

Stir-Fried Thai Noodles

Pad Thai,  is a savory, saucy, stir-fried noodle dish that I adore. Though the dish itself is said to have originated in China, it spread throughout Thailand in the 1930s and 1940s as street food. Using local ingredients and produce, Thai cooks transformed the dish’s flavor profile into what we recognize today. With peanuts, lime juice, ginger, chile sauce and coconut milk, this simple stir-fry has an array of harmonious flavors.  I stumbled upon this yummy vegan dish by Blue Apron chefs. It’s easy to make, and a quick and delicious meal perfect for any season.

Ingredients

Stir-Fried Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Gai Lan & Snow Peas ingredients
  • 8 Ounces Rice Noodles
  • 2 Scallions
  • ½ Bunch Gai Lan
  • 1 Lime
  • ¼ Pound Snow Peas
  • 2 Teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • 1 1-Inch Piece Ginger
  • Cup Peanut Butter
  • ¼ Cup Peanuts
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk Powder

Instructions

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Trim off and discard the snow pea stems; pull off and discard the tough string that runs the length of each pod. Halve the snow peas on an angle. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Trim off and discard the ends of the gai lan stems. Quarter the lime. Peel and mince the ginger. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk powder and ¼ cup of water.

 

Cook the aromatics:

In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium-high until hot. Add the white bottoms of the scallions and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.

Add the vegetables:

Add the snow peas and gai lan to the pan of aromatics. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the gai lan has wilted. Turn off the heat.

Cook the noodles:

While the vegetables cook, add the noodles to the pot of boiling water. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

Make the peanut sauce:

While the noodles cook, in a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, sweet soy sauce and as much of the Sriracha as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Whisk in ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finish & plate your dish:

Add the peanut sauce and coconut milk powder mixture to the pan of vegetables; stir until thoroughly combined. Add the cooked noodles and the juice of all 4 lime wedges. Cook on medium-high, stirring to coat the noodles, 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the finished noodles and vegetables between 2 dishes. Garnish with the peanuts and green tops of the scallions. Enjoy!

NOTE:

Coconut milk powder is an ingredient in most Southeast Asian cooking and is not the liquid inside a coconut. Coconut milk is classified as thick, thin, or coconut cream.  Canned coconut milk separates naturally and the top layer is the coconut cream.  This top layer is dehydrated to make coconut milk powder.  In a pinch, you could use canned coconut milk to replace the coconut milk power and the 1/4 cup water that the recipe calls for.

 

 

Mom’s Mac ‘N Cheese

Comfort food for the soul

Comfort food for the soul

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

½ cup butter (divided)
4 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese (shredded or cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ tsp. prepared mustard
1 T. onion (chopped)
8 saltine crackers (crushed)
2 cups elbow macaroni (cooked and drained)

Directions Continue reading