Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Kale
4 to 6 servings
16 ounces orecchiette pasta
16 ounces Italian sausage
1 large bunch Tuscan kale, de-stemmed, and leaves chopped
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup salted pasta water
1 lemon, juiced
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Fill a large pot with water and set it over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt) per quart of water.
When the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir it rapidly to separate the pasta, since the orecchiette has a tendency to stick together. Cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
Cut the sausage into small chunks.
Add the sausage into a large skillet coated with olive oil over medium heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sausage is cooked through.
Add the chopped kale, shallot, red pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes until kale is wilted.
Add the cooked orecchiette, 1/2 cup pasta water, and lemon juice to the skillet. Toss to combine and heat until the pasta water thickens to form a light sauce. If the pasta seems dry, add more pasta water. Add Parmesan cheese and serve pasta in shallow bowls.
World Pasta Day was brought into existence as part of the World Pasta Congress on the 25th of October in 1995. Experts from all over the world came together to promote the importance of spreading knowledge of the world’s numerous types of pasta. This organization uses World Pasta Day to promote the eating of pasta, along with its cultural and culinary importance.
Everything from encouraging consumers to try new pastas to providing important health information is part of their mission. Every country is encouraged to celebrate the day in their own way, while sharing the logo of the official organization and participating in the global strategy of World Pasta Day. One of the best ways to celebrate World Pasta Day is by preparing your favorite pasta at home. Here are a few of mine.
3-4 stuffed shells per serving.
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (21-22 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green portion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for salting the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound (2 bunches) fresh spinach or Swiss chard, stems removed
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
2 cups Marinara or Basic Tomato Sauce
Wash the spinach or chard well, drain and spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Cut the leaves into thin strips.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the leek is softened.
Add the greens, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted.
Cover the pan and simmer until the leaves are very tender, about ten minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl to cool to room temperature.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta shells, stir, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Place a colander in the sink and drain the shells. Transfer the shells to a kitchen towels on the counter and set aside to cool.
Mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooled, cooked greens.
Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Evenly spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oiled 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Fill the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and place in a single layer, open side up, in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cover the dish with foil.
Tip: I always spray the side of the foil that will touch the food with cooking spray to keep the food from sticking to the foil during baking.
Bake the shells until the sauce just starts to bubble around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling vigorously and the edges of the pan have started to brown, about 10 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 pound lean Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe
½ cups pasta water
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Wash broccoli rabe in several changes of cold water. Cut off the bottom tips on the stalks and cut each stalk into one inch lengths.
Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until meat is brown.
Boil a large pot of water, add salt and pasta. Add the broccoli rabe during the last two minutes of the pasta cooking time.
Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.
Add the pasta water to the cooked sausage and raise the heat and cook until the sauce is hot.
Drain orecchiette and broccoli rabe and add to the sausage sauce in the skillet.
Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour into a large serving bowl.
Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta
Salt to taste
8 ounces penne or other short pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1 large zucchini, about one pound
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.
Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.
Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.
Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or Ricotta cheese
Heat the oven to 500º F.
Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a rack; set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.
To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the Burrata cheese.
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground turkey, beef or pork
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Two 28-oz containers whole tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 dried lasagna noodles
Two 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Two 15-oz containers ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another minute.
Turn heat to medium-high and add the ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula until the meat shows no sign of pink.
Stir in the Italian seasoning, then add tomatoes and salt.
Reduce heat to medium-low, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Squeeze all remaining moisture from the thawed spinach and place in large bowl.
Add ricotta cheese, eggs and a 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese to the bowl. Stir until combined
Spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Lay a cooked lasagna noodle flat in front of you. Spread a tablespoon of ricotta mixture across the noodle and roll it up.
Place the rolled pasta seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
Spread remaining tomato sauce over roll-ups, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Brindisi, a province in the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy, is dominated by vineyards, artichoke groves and olive trees. The province is also a major sailing port for the southern part of Italy and seafood plays a big role in its cuisine. In dining tn the area’s restaurants, you will notice an abundance of dishes from the sea. Mussels, white fish, prawns and octopus are just some of the items you can expect to find on the menu.
The region is well-known for orecchiette. A type of pasta whose name comes from its shape which resembles that of a small ear and is usually served with a simple (often spicy) red sauce. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and peppery olive oil are easily the most common local ingredients. Fava beans, eggplants and bell peppers all find their way into pastas, gratins and stews. Stuffed aubergines, lamb and pea stew and turnip greens are a few popular dishes.
Great produce markets are plentiful and you will find, daily, fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood just waiting to be cooked. Olives are another essential food in the Brindisi area. You see them everywhere. Running wild along the dry countryside roads, the olive trees grow to massive sizes.
Some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region. Most of the wine is red, full-bodied and pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Producers have focused on making great red wines from local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo and Bombino Nero. The two most popular and widely available wines from the province are Salice Salentino and Primitivo.
Half of Italy’s olive oil is produced in the dry heat of the area. The warm climate and fertile soil make it easy to grow almost anything. It is surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes off the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.
Located in the province is Torre Canne, a famous health spa. Several streams feed into a small lake that, over the ages, has deposited mud that is now used for therapeutic purposes. Its water springs are touted to be good for kidney and liver illnesses While you enjoy the spa treatment, you can stay in a luxury hotel and visit the stunning local beaches.
Brindisi Fish Soup
- 1 1/2 lbs whole fish, large bones removed
- 3/4 lb squid
- 1/2 lb cuttlefish or octopus
- 1/2 lb mussels
- 8 oz clams
- 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- Chili pepper, diced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices rustic bread, stale
- Parsley, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
Thoroughly wash all the fish and seafood. Cut the fish into large pieces and the squid and cuttlefish into small pieces.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and celery in a few tablespoons of oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cuttlefish and squid and, after 10 minutes, the remaining fish and shellfish.
Add the chili pepper, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle a handful of parsley and finely chopped garlic onto each serving.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced, plus extra leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 small eggplant
- 3/4 cup burrata cheese, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl, combine the oil, basil, shallots and vinegar.
In another small bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the basil mixture. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Trim the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place them on a tray or a plate. Brush both sides of the eggplants with the remaining basil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat. Place the eggplant on the grill. Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn.
Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the eggplant to warmed plates. Divide the cheese among the eggplant halves and spoon the tomato mixture over each. Garnish with extra basil leaves
Cardoons are members of the thistle family, as are artichokes, and bear a strikingly similar taste to them. Cardoons are quite fibrous and the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped off. Once they have been cut, they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in water with added lemon juice.
- 2 pounds cardoons
- 1/2 cup pitted and chopped oil cured black olives
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons capers in salt, well rinsed
- 3 anchovies packed in oil, minced
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
Wash and peel the outer layer of the cardoons, then cut them into 5 inch lengths. Cook them in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the olives, parsley, capers and anchovies.
Place the cardoons in an oiled casserole baking dish and top with the olive and parsley mixture. Sprinkle enough grated cheese and bread crumbs over the top to cover.
Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
- 12 oz (350 gr) orecchiette pasta
- 1 lb (500 gr) plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 hot chili peppers, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sauté the garlic and chili peppers for one minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan with two tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until a sauce consistency is reached.
Add the chopped oregano with salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for a few minutes more.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.
I belong to a community group that meets once a month. We have a potluck dinner prior to each meeting and everyone brings a “covered” dish. Until I discovered the Reynolds Pan Carriers, I struggled with how to transport my dish to the meeting. The Reynolds’ pans make the whole process so much easier. You can reheat the food in the aluminum pan, cover it, place in the carrier and then into the car. So much easier to carry it into the meeting also because the pan has handles.
Carriers are available in Lasagna and 13 x 9 inch Cake Pan sizes. These carriers are made with the same sturdy paper board used to carry 6-packs of beverages. Plus, the colorful design on the disposable carrier makes it attractive to place on the table.
Below is a video from the Reynolds Company on how these disposable pans and carriers work. A bonus recipe is included.
Below are some of the recipes that I have made for the potluck dinners and I have been asked to make again and again. Hope you like them.
Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
- One bunch broccoli rabe, washed and trimmed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, cut into one inch slices
- 1 lb orecchiette pasta
Cut the broccoli rabe into one inch pieces and place in a large Dutch oven. Fill the pot with cold water and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook the broccoli rabe for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove the broccoli rabe with a slotted spoon or spider to a bowl. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the garlic and olive oil in a large deep skillet Add the sausage and cook until completely brown. Add the cooked broccoli rabe and red pepper. Heat thoroughly. Add the pasta cooking water and the cooked pasta. Stir and heat for a few minutes before serving.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
- 15 mini fresh mozzarella balls
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 egg
- ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
- ½ onion minced
- Small garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1/3 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
- Marinara Sauce
Place cheese balls in a plastic freezer container in a single layer and freeze at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Line 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.
In large bowl, mix bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons of pasta sauce. Stir in beef, onion, salt, oregano and egg. Shape mixture into 15 (2-inch) balls.
Press 1 cheese cube into the center of each ball, sealing it inside. Gently place on the prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
Place browned meatballs in an ovenproof casserole dish with a cover and pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs. Place the covered dish in the oven and heat the meatballs in the sauce, about 20 minutes.
Oven Baked Italian Chicken Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- One 3 lb chicken, cut into 10 pieces
- 1 pound package Italian pork or chicken sausage each link diagonally cut into fourths
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice from 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 medium baking potatoes, cut in fourths
- 2 green and 2 red bell peppers, cut into one inch strips
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with the olive oil. Place chicken in the pan, skin side down. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces and scatter the sausage pieces around the chicken.
Bake 15 minutes; turn chicken pieces over and bake 15 minutes.
Squeeze lemon over the chicken, place the lemon skins in the roasting dish with the chicken and sprinkle the chicken with the minced garlic and oregano.
Add the sliced potatoes, onions and peppers to the pan and sprinkle with salt.
Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
Cover the pan with foil and bake 1 hour, turning the ingredients after 30 minutes.
Italian Pot Roast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 lb chuck roast
- All-purpose flour
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 container crushed tomatoes (26-28 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
Trim most of the fat from the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Season the roast generously with the salt and pepper and lightly rub with all-purpose flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the roast and brown on all sides, 10-12 minutes.
Transfer the meat to a platter.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir about 1 minute.
Add the wine and stir to incorporate the vegetables. Add the beef stock, the tomatoes, half the parsley, the sage, the bay leaf and the roast with any juices accumulated on the plate. Bring to a boil.
Cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer on very low, turning and basting the meat every half hour or so, until the meat is very tender, about 4 hours.
(You can also put the pot into a 300°F oven and turn the roast every hour.)
Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board, covered loosely with aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the sauce for seasoning, remove the bay leaf and stir in the remaining chopped parsley.
Cut the meat into thick slices and place in a deep serving dish. Spoon the hot sauce over the meat to serve.
- 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- 4 cups spaghetti sauce
- 16 lasagna noodles, parboiled
For the filling:
Mix all the filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Completing the Lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.
Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of parboiled noodles on top.
Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce.
Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.