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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Bolognese

Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
16 ounces lean ground beef
16 ounces lean ground pork
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Two 26 oz container chopped Italian tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
Fettuccine, cooked

Directions

Sauté the onion, celery and minced garlic in the olive oil and melted butter over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan for 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add the beef and pork and cook an additional 8 – 10 minutes until meat is lightly browned and no pink remains. add the wine and cook until reduced slightly.

Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and red pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer for 60 minutes then add the cream.

Stir to incorporate and heat through an additional 2 minutes. Serve over cooked fettuccine pasta and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

Gluten-free pie crusts and pat-in-the-pan pie crusts all work well with this tart recipe.

8 servings

Ingredients

Crust

Pastry for a single crust, homemade or store-bought

Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-large zucchini, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 a medium fennel bulb, diced
2 scallions, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
8 ounces ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Crust

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Place the pastry in the prepared pan and pat firmly onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Flute the edges for a decorative crust.

Bake the pie shell for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the baked pie shell from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.

Do not turn off the oven.

Filling

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the fennel, scallions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the diced zucchini.

Add the salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for another 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs and cream.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the bottom of the crust and top with the sautéed vegetables. Pour the ricotta mixture over the vegetables.

Place the quiche on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes, or until the center is no longer wobbly and a tester comes out clean.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Makes 12 cabbage rolls.

1 head of cabbage
4 cups cooked rice or 4 cups cauliflower rice (12 oz package frozen and defrosted, works as well)
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon dried garlic
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Montreal spice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Cut the core out of the cabbage head and remove 12 outer leaves.

Parboil the cabbage leaves in salted water for 2-3 minutes or until the leaves are slightly wilted.

Drain the leaves in a colander and them place them on a kitchen towel.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, cauliflower rice, onion and garlic. Add in the seasonings and the eggs and mix together.

Use a paring knife and remove about 2 inches of the large vein on the leaves to make it easier to roll up the leaves.

Take a cabbage leaf and place it with the core side towards you. Place a heaping spoonful of the filling in the center of the cabbage.

Rolling away from you, bring the cabbage over the filling, tuck in the sides and finish the roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

Heat a large, deep skillet and add 3 tablespoons of butter. When the butter has melted, add the cabbage rolls and lightly brown them on all sides.

Pour broth over. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Serve with mashed potatoes of your favorite side dishes.

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Parmigiano Reggiano, Tortellini, Bolognese Sauce and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena are all famous foods of this region. A vast, wealthy region located in northern Italy, Emilia-Romagna is rich in meats and pastas. The craft of curing meat is held in high esteem here — Italy’s best known meat product, Prosciutto di Parma, is created in Emilia, as is the “king of cheeses,” Parmigiano Reggiano.

The richness and complexity of first and second courses served in this region balance each other out, with one being richer and having more complex flavors than the other. Emilia-Romagna meals layer flavors, with pastas that range from tagliatelle (golden egg pasta) to tortelli (stuffed pasta), to tortelloni (larger) and spinach pasta. Antipasto is optional before the first course of a traditional meal and may feature anything from greens with prosciutto and balsamic vinegar or pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar.

Pasta is often the first course, including lasagna and cannelloni. Risotto dishes or soups – such as tomato & cauliflower or fresh spinach are popular. Sauces based on prosciutto,  or fresh mushrooms may dress tagliatelle, however, tomato sauces are the favorite pasta topper in this region. The famous meat sauce typical of the Bologna area, known in Italy as Ragu, is usually referred to as, Bolognese Sauce. On restaurant menus, one can usually  this sauce served over spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.

Seafood, poultry and meats comprise the second course. Chicken is the most popular meat: from pan–crispy chicken with rosemary, to chicken cacciatore over polenta or potatoes and capon at Christmas. Residents throughout the region eat rabbit and serve more pork than beef, such as pork tenderloin with marsala sauce. Along the Adriatic coast, in Romagna, seafood appears frequently in dishes, such as, clams with balsamic vinegar.

From grilled asparagus and Parma ham salad to basil and onion mashed potatoes to roasted beets and onions, vegetables play a major role in Emilia-Romagna side dishes. Residents boil, sauté, braise, bake or grill radicchio and other tart greens. They also serve a variety of other vegetables, including sweet fennel, wild mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, chard, sweet squashes, cabbage, eggplant, green beans and asparagus.

Sweet pastas may be a dessert or a side dish. Rich, decadent tortes, almond and apple cream tarts, sweet ravioli with winter fruit and strawberries in red wine, often find their way to the table. More contemporary offerings include semifreddos, with a texture somewhere between soft serve ice cream and frozen mousse and a sorbet made with Muscat wine. Fresh chestnuts also appear in many desserts, especially at Christmastime.

Some differences do exist in the cuisine between Emilia and Romagna. Located between Florence and Venice and south of Milan, Emilia’s cuisine demonstrates more northern Italian influences and capitalizes on the region’s supply of butter, cream and meat that is usually poached or braised. The Romagna area includes the Adriatic coast, part of Ferrara province and rugged mountain ranges. Food preferences follow those found in central Italy, more closely, with olive oil used as a base for many dishes with plenty of herbs and a preference for spit roasting and griddle baking.

First Course

Homemade Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce

10 Servings

Ingredients

Bolognese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3/4 cups tomato paste (about 7 1/2 ounces)
  • Homemade Pappardelle (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for passing

Directions

Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the next 4 ingredients. Sauté until vegetables are soft but not brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Add beef, sausage, pork and pancetta. Increase heat to high. Cook until meat is brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk, wine and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until sauce is thick and juices are reduced, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in very large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to the same pot. Add enough warm Bolognese sauce to coat pasta and 1 cup cheese. Toss over medium heat until heated through, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls, if dry. Adjust seasoning.

Homemade Pappardelle

Makes about 2 1/2 Pounds

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 6 large eggs, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks, divided
  • 6 tablespoons (or more) water, divided

Directions

Make pasta in two batches. Place 2 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Whisk 3 eggs, 3 yolks and 3 tablespoons water in a bowl. With machine running, pour egg mixture through the feed tube. Blend until a sticky dough forms, adding additional water by teaspoonfuls, if dry.

Scrape dough out onto floured work surface. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky, sprinkling lightly with flour, as needed, if sticky, about 8 minutes. Shape into ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 45 minutes. Repeat with remaining flour, salt, eggs, yolks and water.

Divide each dough ball into 4 pieces. Cover dough with plastic wrap.

Set pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece into a 3-inch-wide rectangle. Run through the pasta machine 5 times, dusting lightly with flour, if sticking. Continue to run dough piece through machine, adjusting to the next-narrower setting after every 5 passes, until dough is about 26 inches long. Cut crosswise into 3 equal pieces. Run each piece through the machine, adjusting to the next-narrower setting, until strip is a scant 1/16 inch thick and 14 to 16 inches long. Return machine to the original setting for each piece. Arrange strips in a single layer on sheets of parchment.

Repeat with remaining dough. Let strips stand until slightly dry to touch, 20 to 30 minutes. Fold strips in half so short ends meet, then fold in half again. Cut strips into 2/3-inch-wide pappardelle.

Second Course

Pork Loin with Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
  • Butcher’s twine
  • A medium onion
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • A sprig of fresh marjoram
  • A small bunch of parsley
  • A small bunch of chives
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or unsalted bouillon
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Tie the pork loin with butcher’s twine, so it will keep its shape as it cooks.

Peel the onion and chop it with the rosemary, marjoram, parsley, chives and thyme.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof pot and brown the meat on all sides. Turn the burner off.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the onion mixture, sauté for a minute or two and then let the mixture cool. Distribute it over the pork loin and add the broth..

Place the pork in the oven and roast the meat for an hour, spooning the pan drippings over it occasionally. Remove it to a cutting board and cover with foil.

Stir the cream and the vinegar into the roasting pan drippings and reduce the sauce briefly. Slice the meat, putting the slices on a warmed serving platter.

Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve.

Spinach Parmigiano

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed thoroughly, water still clinging to the leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions

Melt the butter in a deep 14-inch sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the spinach by the handful to the hot pan and cook until it is wilted and there is no liquid left in the pan, about 5 minutes, stirring often. It may seem like all the spinach won’t fit at first, but as it wilts, it will shrink to fit.

Season the spinach with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook 15 more minutes, stirring once in a while. Add the Parmigiano and stir until it is melted through. Cook 5 minutes more and serve hot.

Dessert

Chocolate Almond Torte

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. butter
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 lb dark chocolate
  • 3 ½ oz. almonds, skinned and toasted
  • 3 tablespoons espresso coffee powder
  • 1/2 cup dark rum

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 2-inch springform pan with cooking spray, dust with cocoa, tapping out the excess and fit a sheet of parchment paper in the base of the pan. Butter the paper. Set the pan aside.

Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a double boiler pan.

Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until creamy.

Finely chop the toasted almonds and add them to the egg mixture; add the coffee, rum, melted butter and chocolate. Mix well.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center is slightly damp.

Remove the pan from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Carefully run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan and release the spring. Remove the pan sides.

Place the cake on a serving dish. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small sieve and dust the top of the cake.

Cut into thin wedges to serve.


I remember very well my grandmother and my mother standing at their kitchen tables, first forming the pasta dough on a board with their hands and then rolling the dough with a long broom handle.
At the time, I thought this was too much work for pasta. After I was married, mixers and processors and pasta machines became very popular, so I was then willing to try my hand at this age-old tradition.

With modern equipment, making homemade noodles is not difficult and I have shortened the process as much as I can without losing taste or quality. Certainly this is not something you would do everyday, but it is fun to make your own pasta once in a while.

When you want something special for dinner, homemade lasagna is a really good choice and making your own lasagna noodles will take it a step further.

Lasagna made with homemade whole wheat spinach noodles tastes so much better than using the dried variety. Whole Wheat pasta made from scratch tastes entirely different from anything you can buy.

If you normally do not like store-bought whole wheat pasta, this recipe may change your mind. Homemade lasagna noodles do not need to be boiled before assembling the lasagna, thus another step is eliminated.

Homemade Spinach Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles

Makes 16 lasagna noodles

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup King Arthur semolina flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour
  • flour for board and rolling

Directions:

Place spinach, eggs, olive oil and salt in processor bowl. Cover and blend until pureed.

Add flours to spinach mixture and process until smooth and the dough forms a ball.

Place on a floured board, cover and let rest 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, divide into 4 even pieces.

Set aside and cover 3 pieces while you work with the 4th. piece

Lightly dredge the working space and dough with whole wheat flour.

Flatten the dough with your hand so it will  feed through the smooth thinning rollers.

Roll the piece of dough through the largest setting on your machine.

Remove the dough, fold in thirds, so it is as wide as the machine roller.

Repeat the roll.

Cut the sheet in half.

Dial the machine down to the next smallest setting and roll each pasta strip through.

Continue to dial to the next setting.

Cut each strip in half again. Roll each strip making sure to dust with flour if the strips become sticky.

Dial to the 2nd to the last smallest setting and roll each strip.  You should have four strips each about 12-13 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Do not use the last setting because it will make the noodles too thin for lasagna.

Lay out three kitchen towels and sprinkle them with semolina flour.

Arrange the rolled out pasta strips on the towels and dust each with semolina flour.

Repeat the entire process with the other three pieces of  dough. You will have 16 strips.

If you are not ready to make the lasagna or you want to make the noodles the day before, you can place them in a container between sheets of waxed paper dusted with semolina flour, 2 noodle strips per layer, and refrigerate the container until you are ready to assemble the dish.

When it comes time to make the lasagna, you will place 4 pasta strips in a 13×9 inch baking dish and add  three more layers of 4 noodles in between layers of sauce and cheese.

Putting the Lasagna Together

Ingredients:

Filling:

Mix together all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to make the lasagna.

  • 3 cups skim milk ricotta
  • ½ lb mozzarella cheese chopped or shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten or ½ cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil spray.
Spread 1 cup Bolognese sauce over bottom of prepared dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles in dish. Arrange 1/3 of the cheese filling on top.  Spoon 1 cup Bolognese sauce over cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times. Top with 4 lasagna noodles. Spread 1 to 1 1/2 cups sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cover lasagna with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until noodles are tender and top is golden, about 15 -20 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Lasagna Ready To Be Baked.

If you would like to make whole wheat lasagna noodles without spinach, here is a recipe you can use:

Homemade Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur semolina flour
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Follow the directions above for making spinach whole wheat lasagna noodles.

       ” The shapes pasta takes are numbered in the hundreds, and the sauces that can

              be devised for them are beyond numbering, but the principles that bring pasta

  and sauce together in satisfying style are few and simple.”

      Marcella Hazan

Pasta comes in many shapes and lengths and there are hundreds of combinations of pastas and sauces. These pairings may seem random, but to Italians, there’s a surprisingly logical process that goes into choosing the perfect pasta shape for a given sauce.

You would not want to pair a chunky sauce with thin noodles because the sauce will separate from the noodles and wind up in the bottom of the bowl. Meat sauces or other chunky sauces are best with larger hollow tubes such as rigatoni and penne, or in the cupped shape of conchiglie (shells). Spaghettini, thin spaghetti, is usually the best vehicle for an olive oil based seafood sauce. Many tomato sauces work better with thicker, hollow strands known as bucatini or perciatelli.  Fusilli is excellent with a dense, creamy sauce, that clings to all its twists and curls.
Here is a link to a chart that gives you a picture of the various pasta shapes and the sauces that go well with them:. http://www.chow.com/assets/2009/03/pasta_chart.pdf

Did you know there is a reason why you might use ruffle-edged lasagna noodles instead of flat-edged? In the book, The Geometry of Pasta, is the explanation that lasagne ricci, the ruffled noodles, may allow lighter sauces to penetrate the dish better. It is also more decorative, which may be why it is a staple of the Christmas table in Sicily. http://www.geometryofpasta.co.uk/index.php

Here are some well-matched pasta and sauce recipes for you to try.

eggplant2bbolognese-close

Eggplant Bolognese

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • Kosher salt, divided
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin or ground turkey, (leave out for a vegetarian meal)
  • 8 cups chopped eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) container Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 10 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Directions

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and beef; cook 10 minutes or until the beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef.

Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding kosher salt to the cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with the eggplant sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.

fettuccine asparagus

Creamy Fettuccine With Asparagus

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons shredded cheese, such as Italian Fontina
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted walnuts

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine and cook for 6 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the asparagus, and cook 4 to 6 minutes more, or until the fettuccine is al dente and asparagus crisp-tender. Scoop out 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and asparagus and return to the cooking pot; cover to keep warm.

Combine milk and flour, whisking until smooth.  Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat oil and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the cream cheese and Fontina until smooth and blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss, adding pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

angelhair

Angel Hair Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Optional: add 1 lb. shelled and deveined shrimp to the skillet when adding the tomatoes

Ingredients

 

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pints fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • 5-6 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • 16 oz. package angel hair pasta
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
Directions
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and pepper flakes to the skillet.
Add the cherry tomatoes and basil. (Add shrimp, if using.)  Simmer for five minutes. Season with salt.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce.
Garnish with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
lasagna

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna

Ingredients      

  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon water or red wine
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (or large Portabellas, chopped)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
  • 1 recipe homemade marinara sauce, see post for recipe: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles and lay out on clean kitchen towels.

In a large bowl stir together ricotta cheese, egg, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper; set aside.

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, add 1 tablespoon water (or wine) and sauté mushrooms and onion over medium heat 5–6 minutes, or until onion is tender.

 Stir in spinach and set aside.

Coat an 11″ x 7″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer 3 noodles, half of the cheese mixture, half of the spinach mixture and 1/3 of pasta sauce. Repeat layers.

Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining pasta sauce.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and bake for 5 minutes more, or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 8 servings.

tuna

Italian Style Pasta with Tuna

 Ingredients                         

  • 4 oz. whole-wheat spiral pasta
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup seeded and diced fresh plum tomatoes
  • 12 sun-dried tomato-halves, packed in oil, drained and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of dried red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz.) rinsed and drained cannellini beans, or cooked dried beans, see post
  • https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/23/how-to-use-beans-in-italian-cooking/
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tuna, well-drained
  • 1 tablespoon small capers, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside. Mix the sun-dried tomatoes and plum tomatoes with the onion mixture. Add oregano and pepper flakes to taste.

Add beans, tuna and capers to the skillet and cook, breaking up tuna, until the mixture is completely heated through. Mix in the tomatoes and the onion/garlic mixture.

Cook, stirring often, until completely heated through. Add cooked pasta and heat through, tossing to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with parsley.

Makes 6 servings.   


Basil Pesto Sauce

basil

The warm months are approaching for many readers and where I live, it is warm now. The warm weather will allow me to plant basil, which is a staple of the Italian cuisine. Basil is very easy to grow in plant pots on your patio.  I usually buy 6 plants and divide them between two pots. These two pots give me plenty of basil to use in flavoring sauces or making pesto. Basil pesto is a favorite in my house and when the children and grandchildren visit, it is one of the requests  for dinner.  Not only is Pesto excellent for dressing pasta, a tablespoon or two is wonderful as a topping for grilled fish or chicken or roasted asparagus.

Many Pesto recipes call for Pignoli or pine nuts, but they can be expensive and difficult to find.  Walnuts or almonds are a fine substitute.  Also, you will find recipes that add the grated cheese during the processing of the sauce, but I like to add the cheese when I mix the sauce with the pasta.  Additionally, this sauce is easy to double and freeze half for another meal.  Pesto frozen without the cheese tastes much better.

The sauce is not cooked and only requires the use of a processor or blender. You can make it ahead and keep it covered on your counter until dinner time.  The sauce may also be covered and kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

To make the sauce, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of basil leaves packed tightly in a measuring cup
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of very good extra virgin olive oil

Place the garlic, nuts, salt and pepper in the processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil leaves and with the processor running, add the olive oil slowly.  Process until the mixture becomes a paste. Pour the sauce into your pasta serving bowl and set aside.

Cook 1 lb. pasta, such as linguine or angel hair and, just before you drain the pasta, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. Add the drained pasta to the serving bowl with the pesto, mix slightly and then add the pasta water and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  All you need to round out this meal is a fresh tomato salad.

bolognese

Bolognese Sauce

When you are in the mood for a meat sauce, Bolognese, is the way to go. It is a creamy, flavorful sauce and very representative of Italian cuisine.  This recipe has been in my family for many years and it is one of the first sauces I made for my husband after we were married.  It is still one of his favorites.

This is where you can make a healthy choice and choose ground turkey breast (preferably turkey raised without antibiotics) over beef. This sauce is delicious over short thick pasta, such as Rigatoni.

To make this sauce:

In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 1 diced carrot, 1 diced celery stalk and 1 small minced garlic clove.

Cook the vegetables for a few minutes until softened.  Don’t let the vegetables brown.  

Add 1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey breast and cook until the meat is no longer pink.  

Add 1 cup red wine and let the sauce cook for a few minutes.

Add the following ingredients to the pot:

  • 1-28 oz. container Pomi chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Bring the sauce to just the boiling point, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 2 hours.  Just before you are ready to serve add 1/2 cup fat free half and half or whole milk. Heat until warmed.

One point to remember about dressing pasta with sauce is “just a little”.  Italians don’t like their pasta swimming in sauce. You can always add more. 



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