Category Archives: Italian

Want me Baby

Butternut Squash Lasagna

butternut_squash_lasagna

I’m not a fan of fall weather, even more so when it comes to the season after fall, but I am a fan of many of the vegetables that pop up during these chilly months.  From the winter squashes, to the greens, to the delicious root vegetables – the fall is well stocked with delicious vegetables. Today’s treat features a number of those goodies, including some of the last of the produce from the Farmer’s Market at my office.  Butternut Squash is a familiar vegetable in our house and it really seems to go with everything.  In this case I added some swiss chard, baby kale, and some mashed pie pumpkin (thought the variety was called baby boy but that just resulted in lots of baby costumes) that was leftover from making the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Want me Baby

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of lasagna noodles (ready to use or pre-cooked)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups favorite alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup mozzarella, divided (shredded or fresh sliced)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a roasting pan and place butternut squash in roasting pan cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes. Flip squash in pan cut side up and use a melon spoon, or fork, to remove flesh to a blender. Add garlic and butter and puree until slightly smooth.
  2. Turn oven down to 350
  3. Line the bottom of a 9x9 pan with a 1/3 cup of the sauce and spread around, to include the sides of the pan. Place the first layer of noodles, trimming as needed to prevent overlap. Spoon 1/3 of the butternut squash and pumpkin purees on the noodle. Then top with a third of the greens, 1/3 cup of ricotta, and 1/3 of the Mozzarella. Spoon 1/3 cup of the sauce on top and spread evenly.
  4. Add the next layer of noodles and repeat the layers, then top with the final layer - ending with noodles. Top with the last of the sauce, then the last of the mozzarella (1/3 cup) and the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, the cheese should be a light golden brown on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling.

Notes

If using cubed butternut squash, reduce roasting time to 15 minutes and flip at halfway point. For a GF variety, use brown rice lasagna noodles!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/11/want-me-baby.html

Lasagna will never be a healthy dinner option, and it’s not always the most budget-friendly option, but it will always be something delicious and hearty and fantastic.  I figured that if I only make it a few times a year it’s not that bad…right???  I’m sending this recipe over to November’s Secret and in Season, which is being hosted by Katie of FeedingBoys and was founded by the awesome Ren.   There are so many delicious fall recipes being linked up over there, I can’t wait to give them a whirl!!!

Steal My Sunshine

Summer Tomato Sauce

summer_tomato_pasta_sauce

Working a Farmer’s Market is fantastic, especially when there are leftover tomatoes at the end of the day!  Second tomatoes aren’t always the easiest to use, but if you are willing to put the work in when it comes time to cutting they are a fantastic (cheaper) option.  It also means getting a variety of types, so I indulged in some research to figure out what I had and what it would work as.  A quick google led me to realize that the Green Zebra would be a fantastic addition for a stew or a quinoa dish – and I was really craving some pasta.  This left me with some Cherokee  purple, yellow pear, and Virginia sweet all of which were perfect for the sauce I was hoping to create.  All I needed was to go to my herb garden and grab a handful of basil, and figure out where the missing vidalia onion was hiding.

Steal My Sunshine

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 lbs fresh tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, diced
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 lb angel hair pasta

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help break the tomatoes down. Add the basil along with the chili flakes and the pinch of salt. Cover and turn heat to low.
  2. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and then add the pasta to the sauce.
  3. Stir the pasta in to the sauce, making sure to fully cover. Allow to simmer for a final 5 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

I used Barilla Plus angel hair but have used their Gluten Free line before with fantastic results - just adjust cooking time since GF takes longer to cook!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/steal-my-sunshine.html

By allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce it was able to suck up every last drop of tomato goodness, and also gave the pasta a fantastic pink shade (this trick also works with gluten free pasta!).  Joe topped his with some cheese while I kept mine on the naked side, though as with any pasta dish there is no right or wrong.  The only important thing is to make sure all the sauce is fully enjoyed otherwise it’s a total sauce foul!

I’m also sending this over to Franglais Kitchen – where this month’s Simple and in Season is being hosted.   Also sending a HUGE thanks to Chocolates and Tomato Farm for growing and harvesting such tasty treats!

From that Ledge

“Sausage” and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shell Stuffing

I’m finally back in the kitchen, and hoping to stay upright and cooking for at least the next week or so…but we shall see how that plan goes!  I’ve been spending some of my down time going thru old cookbooks and recipe notes, keeping track of all the new things I want to try.  That’s one of the best parts of spring, all the new produce showing up at the markets – and being in a new city that also means checking out new to me markets!  The spinach in today’s recipe is one of those finds, as are some carrots that wound up going straight in to my belly via dip instead of soup – but that’s okay!  The spinach turned the stuffing a fantastic spring green color, and it worked perfectly with the Italian sausage and the simple sauce – perfection :-)

From that Ledge

Serves: Serves 5-7

Ingredients

  • 1 box of jumbo shells
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 tofurkey sausages (Italian style) - sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups spinach, well rinsed and dried
  • 1 spring fresh thyme
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cup of your favorite red sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Cook the jumbo shells per box instructions - rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onion, garlic, and tofurkey sausage until brown. Place in blender along with the ricotta cheese, spinach, and herbs and puree well.
  3. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with 1/4 cup of your red sauce.
  4. Use a teaspoon to gently stuff the shells and place them in a single layer in the baking dish, placing them as close together as possible to prevent them from tipping over. Cover with the remaining sauce, and top with the shredded cheese
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese has slightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving - Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/05/from-that-ledge.html

Normally I try to take a picture of the finished dish, but in this case the finished dish doesn’t look different from any other picture of stuffed shells.    The stuffing would also work great inside of ravioli, or as part of a vegetable lasagna!  This is a dish all about the filling, which is why I focused on that for my picture.  I’m also sending this over to /52weeksofcooking for their soy challenge, and this will probably be the last soy dish on here for a bit since we are still on a low soy diet.  However there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat!

Home is Wherever

Cabbage & Polenta

Cabbage and Polenta

Kitchen is set up, unpacked, and finally usable – and with that the first recipe from our new place in Baltimore!  While it took a fair bit of time to get to this point, it feels like things are finally get back on track with new routines and ways to do things.   With that I have been cooking in our new place but I’ve been relying on old favorites, things that I could easily put together while also working on the million other projects going on.   This recipe falls in to the category of old favorite, as I grew up eating it, but it took a bit of time to figure out how to make this vegetarian.  Cabbage and polenta was a family tradition, we knew that if my Grandma was visiting we would have this filling dish at least once.  I attempted to make it a few months ago ala veggie but the resulting taste just wasn’t the one I remembered.  I debated using a meat substitute but in the end I decided to stick with the vegetables and adjust the seasonings.

Home is Wherever

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups baby bella mushroom, quartered
  • 3 carrots, cut into thin round slices
  • 1 head green cabbage ( around 1 1/2 lbs), chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large and deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes, allowing to garlic to turn golden. Add the dried spiced, then stir well and cook for a minute before adding the mushrooms.
  2. Cook for 7-10 minutes, mushrooms should be soft and onion golden, before adding the carrots and cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the spices from burning.
  3. Add the cabbage along with the stewed tomatoes, bay leaf, and 1 cup of the vegetable stock. Bring to a quick boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding more stock as needed. Remove lid, stir, and take a quick taste to see if seasonings need adjusted, adding salt & pepper as needed.
  4. Serve hot over the baked polenta.

Notes

Thick egg noodles can also be used in place of the polenta

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2013/11/home-is-wherever.html

Growing up my Grandma would have made the polenta on the stove top, but I went for baked polenta in order to save time and energy.  I also added 1/2 tbsp of dried oregano to the recipe to give an extra kick – which worked perfectly!

You and Your

Vodka Sauce

Vodka Pasta

I would say that my garden has gone in to overdrive but that’s not entirely accurate.  While last year I was able to harvest a number of peppers and eggplants this has been the summer of tomatoes – producing in such insane numbers that I have started going to friend’s houses with at least a bag of red goodies to share.  I’m not sure why the other vegetables aren’t producing, but the tomatoes are doing their best to make up for them!  Last Friday I was stuck with a huge bowl of gorgeous Black Pearls, which are between a grape and a plum tomato size wise, and wanted to do something that would be quick and easy – and not heat up the kitchen too horribly.  After digging around in the pantries I decided to recreate one of my favorite sauces figuring that would take care of most of the tomatoes along with some of the fresh herbs I had picked that morning.  I don’t remember the first time I had vodka sauce but there has always been something about this smooth yet acidic sauce that makes me feel all warm inside – a big bowl of comfort if you will.  With all of the events of the past month this was exactly the type of dish I was craving, so I set to work researching vodka sauces to get an idea of the basic ingredients as well as how I could change it up to make the sauce my own.  I knew I wanted it on the spicy side, and that I wanted to avoid the cream that many recipes included (see I can listen to the doctor!), but other then that I just kept adding spices (and booze!) until it tasted just right.

Vodka Sauce

Serves: Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 lbs tomato, 3 lbs peeled & 1 lb unpeeled (the meatier the better!)
  • 1 shot vodka (I used smirnoff)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt (coconut or cow - soy tends to give a bad aftertaste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 7-10minutes, garlic should be slightly golden. Add the tomatoes, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes to help break down the tomatoes.
  2. Turn heat to low and add the vodka along with the spices, then recover and cook for 10-15 minutes before stirring in the yogurt. Allow to cook for a final minutes, using an immersion blender if the sauce is too chunky.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve with your favorite cooked pasta! Top with fresh basil, fresh grated cheese, fresh capers, or some more tomatoes!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2013/07/you_and_you.html

While I used skin on and skin off tomatoes to add texture, this recipe would also work well with just skin off tomatoes or canned tomatoes if recreating outside of tomato season.    I’m also sending this recipe over to /52weeksofcooking for their tomato week, though I am a day late.  Hoping that this bowl of comfort will also help to get me back on track as I have sooooo many delicious recipes to share!

Note: in order to keep this recipe gluten-free make sure to use a pure-potato, corn, or grape vodka such as the ones on this list.