Tag Archives: Italian

Lasagna Express

Lasagna Express

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Lasagna Express
We have been running pretty hard lately with travel and events. Sunday we returned from a long weekend trip and were thrown into the work week unrested and unprepared. It was a perfect occasion for some food Rx. Jill loves pasta and lasagna in particular. I had the ingredients but didn’t have the time so I opted for a “lasagna express”. What is great about this recipe is that it’s really good but without the typical fuss of a normal lasagna where you cook and layer everything and then bake it off. The presentation of a typical lasagna is superior but if the meal is intended for consumption only, this is the way to go.

You can adjust this to your liking by using as many noodles as you like, cheeses to your preference and meat and sauces to suit your palate.

Ingredients:
1 lb organic ground beef
1 Jar of Pasta Sauce
1 16oz of Tomato Sauce
1 cup of Chicken Bone Broth
1 cup of Red wine 1 8oz tomato paste
1/2 finely diced white onion
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 package of lasagna noodles
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 tbs of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs of kosher salt
2 tsp of black pepper
1 pinch of oregano
1/4 cup of olive oil

Directions:
1. In a medium heated pan add the olive oil and diced onion and cook until soft and translucent.
2. Add a splash of bone broth and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the ground beef and cook until browned.
4. Add the sauces, paste, wine, and broth until you have a fairly wet sauce.
5. Snap the lasagna noodles and add them directly to the sauce and stir constantly. Make sure your sauce isn’t too thick and that the noodles aren’t sticking to the bottom. Stir for about 10 minutes until the noodles are softened.
6. Stir in 3/4 of the parmesan cheese into the sauce. Add dollops of the ricotta cheese and then top with mozzarella and the remaining parmesan cheese.
7. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned. Let it rest for 10 minutes to avoid scalding your mouth.

Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti
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The request for a pasta dish came in from my better half. Somewhere along the way we started adding a little goat cheese to our spaghetti sauce to give it a little tang. We have a friend that describes the taste of goat cheese as “wet fur”. If you share a disdain for goat cheese you can omit it. I guess we like the taste of wet fur… who knew?

So instead of spaghetti I settled on a baked ziti. What’s cool is I found this penne pasta that was gluten free. It held together nicely and frankly I couldn’t tell the difference. In fact, Jill claimed that it was the best baked ziti dishes that she has ever eaten and when I told her it was GF she was shocked. I think what really made this dish shine was the combination of the goat cheese in the sauce and then the blistered smoked mozzarella (Trader Joes) on the top.

The ground turkey really crumbles well so it blends into the sauce perfectly. One cheat I often do when in a rush is to use jarred sauce and then add to it. I used Rao’s for this one and added some garlic slices, parm, goat cheese, tomato paste, red wine and some basil.

Ingredients:
1 package of ground turkey (you could sub beef, pork, chicken, sausage)
1 package of Penne pasta (I used gluten free)
1 jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce
4 cloves of sliced garlic
1 shallot diced
2-3 tbs of tomato paste
1/4 cup of goat cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Fresh smoked mozzarella (sliced or pinched on top)
1/2 cup of red wine
Basil (fresh or dried) (optional)

Directions:
Prep: Get a boiling pot of water for your pasta, dice your garlic and shallot and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. While you wait on your water to boil take a large pot and add your ground turkey. Oil if you need it. I always use medium heat. Once your meat is browned I added the shallot and sweated it out for 3-4 minutes. I then added the garlic slices (you can mince if you prefer) and let them soften for about 1 minute.

2. Now add wine, sauce, basil and tomato paste and bring it to a simmer. Depending upon your pasta and boiling water you can let this simmer until the pasta is done. Drain and strain and set aside. IMG_0873

3. Turn the heat off and add the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined. If it’s too thick you can add a little water (pasta water if you saved any). Now add the cooked pasta and stir well until everything is well coated.

4. Pour this into a baking dish and top with the smoked mozzarella. On your lowest oven rack or at least in the middle put your dish into the oven but crank it on broil. When cheese is blistered remove and serve.
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce
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I wasn’t sure what to call this dish but when I spotted the Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini I knew Jill would love it A creamy Parmesan sauce was a perfect complement. Adding the chicken made it a more substantial mean but certainly not necessary. Also when I make a creamy sauce for my pasta I love adding peas because they add a pop of sweetness and freshness.

Given I used packaged tortellini this is one of those restaurant quality meals that you can whip up in a flash. I used two chicken breasts but looking back I would just go with one because we couldn’t eat it all. For the sauce, I will try to remember how much I used of each ingredient but the more important thing for you to do is consider your tastes. Do you like a lot or light amounts of sauces? Do you like it thick or more loose. More cheesy or even use another cheese like Gruyere, swiss, maybe even blue cheese. hmmmm?

Ingredients for 2:
1 Package of Trader Joe’s Pesto Tortellini
1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of butter
1 cup of milk or cream
Parmesan Cheese
Peas
Chicken breast

Directions:
1. Let’s make some chicken. Season both sides with Kosher salt and Pepper. Put a little bit of oil in a medium heated cast iron skillet and cook it until done and make sure you get some nice browning. Remove your chicken and set it aside. IMG_0703

2. Turn the heat down medium low and splash in a little chicken stock or water (pasta water if you decided to cook your tortellini first, to deglaze the pan. Now add your butter and flour to get a rue going. Given the chicken bits are in your rue it will look darker but stir until you get a nice paste. Slowly pour in the milk stirring continuously. I let it thicken up a little bit and then added about a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Again once you get your rue, you can make more or less sauce by adding only the milk/cream amount you like. If it gets too thick, add some stock, pasta water or even milk. Add your peas and your cut chicken breasts. Stir
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3. Cook your Tortellini until al dente. I chose to pour my sauce mixture over the top versus incorporating them into the sauce with everything else. The reason is that I have had some ravioli or tortellini bust open on me during the stir. I just stirred it while in my bowl.
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Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
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Tonight was pasta night and I was thinking stuffed shells. It eats like a less cheesy and rich lasagna. You can control your cheese, meat, spinach ratio. I have made this several times and don’t really have a recipe for it but rather make it up each time.

Italian sausage is good but sometimes a little over powering. I found a lighter version that was lighter on fat and spice. I wanted to bump up the spinach ratio while lowering the cheese mixture. Jill was held up at work so I had to cook it a little longer than I wanted. I used my biggest cast iron skillet to accommodate all the shells but by doing so I left some shells exposed. Just be careful because you will harden up the exposed noodle part. I like the chew it gives them but you may not.

Really delicious meal that lets the pasta, Italian sausage and spinach shine through with the sauce nicely tying it all together.

Ingredients
3/4 package of Jumbo pasta shells
1 package (1 lbs) of light Italian Sausage (casing removed)
1 jar of Tomato Sauce
Parsley
1 bag of spinach
4 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh cut basil
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella cheese
1 container of Ricotta
1 small onion

Directions:
1. Boil your pasta in salted water according to the directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cool water so you can handle them as you stuff them.

2. Make your stuffing. Brown your pork sausage and remove the rendered fat. Add your onion, spinach and two cloves of minced garlic. The spinach has a lot of water so when everything is soft and wilted, remove as much of it as you can. Pour into a bowl and let it cool. IMG_0028

3. When the meat spinach mixture is warm add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and your ricotta cheese. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly. You shouldn’t need extra salt with the sausage and parm but taste it to make certain.

4. I used the same cast iron skillet after I removed the meat mixture. I added a jar of marinara sauce. To that sauce I added 2 cloves of minced garlic and tomato paste and crushed red peppers. Brought it to a simmer and then added my basil. I turned it to low while I stuffed my shells.

5. Stuff your shells and put them into the sauce face up. I liked to add a some mozzarella or parm on the top and finish them in an oven around 375 degrees until the cheese melts. Like I mentioned above mine when a little longer because Jill was running late. IMG_0025IMG_0026
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6. Serve in a bowl with some sauce added.
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