Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta

The recipe yields enough sauce and meat for 2 pounds of pasta. Serve this meal, as the Italians do, with a green salad.

Penne with Ricotta Cheese
1 lb whole grain penne pasta
1 lb Italian pork sausage, hot or sweet, cut into links
1 cup ricotta cheese, warmed in the microwave
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Soft and Tender Meatballs
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/2 cup milk
1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
3 (26-28-ounce) containers Italian crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the meatballs:
Combine the crushed saltines and milk in mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Mash with a fork until a smooth paste forms. Add the meat, Parmesan, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the saltine mixture and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Use a muffin/ice scoop to form 12 meatballs. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

For the sauce:
Combine oil and garlic in a large Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until the garlic is soft about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion softens about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully place the meatballs into the sauce. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and place the Dutch Oven in the preheated oven.

Place one tablespoon olive oil il a separate baking pan and place the sausage links in the pan, turning to coat the sausages in oil. Place in the oven with the sauce. Bake until the sausages are brown, turning them over halfway through the baking time about 45 minutes. Add the sausages to the meatball/sauce mixture. Continue to bake the sauce for 15 minutes more.

For the pasta
Remove the Dutch Oven from the oven and place it on the stove, covered, while you cook the pasta. When the pasta is cooked al dente, return it to the pasta pan and add 2 cups of the tomato sauce, stir gently and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir again. Place the pasta in a pasta serving bowl. Drop tablespoons of warm ricotta cheese on top. Place some of the meatballs and sausage around the pasta and serve.


When broccoli rabe shows up in my supermarket, I know spring is not far behind in my area.

Sausage, Mozzarella, and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Half of a large sweet onion, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 container (26-28 ounces) chopped Italian tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
8 ounces short pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into two-inch lengths
8 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


In a large skillet or saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden brown, 15 minutes (reduce heat if browning too quickly).
Add garlic and sausage. Cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook sauce until slightly thickened, 10 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 4 minutes less than package instructions and add the broccoli rabe to the pot with the pasta. Cook for the remaining time. Drain pasta and broccoli rabe and return to the pot. Stir in tomato sausage sauce.

Transfer to an oiled 3-quart baking dish Top with diced mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbling about 15 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.


4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
12 ounces skinless sole or flounder fillets
4 ¼ inch slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in half
4 oz fettuccine or wide needles, cooked

Directions
Coarsely grind fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, place in a resealable freezer bag. Crush with a rolling pin or large skillet. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, cook stirring often, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer and cook uncovered to meld flavors, about 5 minutes.

Season fish with salt and pepper and gently place fillets in the sauce. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook 4 minutes. Turn fish over with a wide spatula and evenly top with mozzarella slices. Cover the pan again cook for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Place the cooked noodles on a serving dish. Place the fish and sauce on top of the noodles and serve.

Italian Style Fried Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 head of fresh cauliflower washed and cut into large florets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg
2/3 cup cold seltzer or ice water
Vegetable oil for frying
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Whisk all dry ingredients together, set aside. Beat in another bowl the egg and seltzer or ice water. Stir into the dry ingredients, stirring until a smooth mixture forms.
Heat the oil, about 1-inch deep, in a deep skillet (chicken fryer) on low to medium heat.


Add the cauliflower to the batter, using thongs or a slotted spoon, letting the excess drop back into the bowl.
Add the cauliflower to the preheated oil. Do not crowd them or touch them together.
Fry each floret until golden brown on each side around 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter. Keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan while still hot and serve.


 

The Tri-Tip goes by so many (often incorrect) names — California cut, Newport steak, sirloin tip, sirloin butt, culotte, bottom sirloin, top sirloin and more — that it’s sometimes confusing.
The term tri-tip is correct and descriptive because the steak is triangular and is the tip of the sirloin.
Serve this main dish with a salad or sauteed greens.

Ingredients

Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce

One 28-ounce can whole cherry tomatoes (Cento brand)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 anchovies packed in olive oil
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Steak

1 tablespoon olive oil
One 24 oz trip-tip steak
1 medium onion, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine (such as Chianti, Montepulciano)
8-10 oz spaghetti
Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine all the ingredients for the marinara sauce together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Season the roast lightly with salt and pepper. Put the roast fat-side down in the pot. Cook until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes, then carefully turn the roast to brown on the other side, an additional 3 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate.

 

Add the onions and stir periodically until they soften and start to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sauce ingredients and wine. Add the meat with all its juices back to the pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover, transfer the pot to the oven and cook until the meat is very tender about 2 hours. Place the meat on a cutting board and slice into thin slices.

Cook the pasta to the al dente stage. Drain and stir into the sauce in the Dutch Oven. Pour the pasta onto a platter and place the sliced steak on top. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.


Leftover roasted cauliflower may also be used, as I did, using the leftover roasted cauliflower from my Fall Recipes post.

Ingredients

12 oz short pasta (penne)
Topping
1/2 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cauliflower
1 (1 1/2-pound) head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

For the topping:

Combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring until the mixture is well toasted and golden-brown; remove from the heat and reserve.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium baking dish, combine the cauliflower, oil, and salt. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the cauliflower is tender and browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the shallots, melted butter, garlic, cream, tomatoes, and red pepper. Place the dish bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside while the pasta cooks.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan. Turn the heat to very low and add the cauliflower sauce. Heat for a minute or two and pour into a pasta serving bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs topping over the top of the pasta and serve.

 


I used pappardelle pasta for this recipe because I wanted a lighter dish. Pappardelle noodles are very wide but lighter than lasagna. If you want a lower carb dish, I would recommend a low carb pasta I found made by Al Dente. It is a delicious egg/semolina pasta, that tastes like pasta but has half the carbs of regular pappardelle pasta. I like to serve a mixed green salad with Italian dressing with the casserole.

Ingredients

1 lb Pappardelle pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound Italian pork sausage
3-14 to 15 oz cans diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
One 6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper

Ricotta Filling
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well and set aside
32 oz container ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley or ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions.

Cut the sausage into ¼ inch slices.

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Add sausage; cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, one tomato paste can of water, and the dried seasoning. Cook and stir for one minute. Add tomatoes salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Cook pasta two minutes less than the package directions. Drain.

Arrange a double layer of pappardelle (about a third of the pasta) in a 3-quart casserole dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Cover the pasta with 1/3 of the sauce and add half of the ricotta cheese. Spread the cheese to cover the layer underneath. Repeat the process for a second layer. Spread the remaining pasta for a third layer and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.

Spray a sheet of foil with olive oil cooking spray. Place the coated side down on the baking dish. Bake at 375*F for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.


Skillet Chicken Parm

Ingredients

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz total)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour
¾ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
1 large egg
Olive oil
Warm Marinara sauce, recipe below
6 ounces fresh Italian Fontina cheese, sliced thin

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
26-28 oz container Italian chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Prepare the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare the chicken
Cut off any fat remaining on the chicken. Place a breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness. Repeat with the second breast. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spread out the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates. Beat the egg in a wide shallow bowl until thoroughly blended. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat lightly and tap off excess flour. Dip in the beaten egg, hold them over the bowl, letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Transfer the chicken, one piece at a time to the plate of breadcrumbs, turn it to coat with breadcrumbs, patting gently and making sure that each breast is well coated with breadcrumbs. If you have time refrigerate the breaded chicken for several hours.

Heat a layer of olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a corner of one of the coated breasts gives off a sizzle when dipped in the oil. Add the chicken pieces without touching each other. Fry, turning once, until golden on both sides and cooked through about 6 minutes. Top each chicken breast with several spoonfuls of marinara sauce. Place the sliced cheese over the sauce to cover the chicken completely. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook a minute or two until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Butter, Black Pepper, and Pecorino Romano Cheese

Ingredients

8 oz fettuccine pasta
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
` tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
4 tablespoons butter

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and return the pot to the stove. Melt the butter in the pot and add the black pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and slowly swirl in the pecorino cheese. Mix well and serve with the chicken parm and a green salad.



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