easy tomato sauce

easytomato
These past few weeks have not felt like summer at all.  I know the rest of the country is going through a heat wave, but here in Northern CA we are having some fall-like weather.  It’s foggy, cool and windy.  When the weather turns cool, I start looking for warm comforting meals.  I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner the other night, as they were huddled under the blanket, (we’re wimps here in Cali) and they both said pasta.  Pasta is our comfort food and we eat a lot of it in the fall and winter.


I decided to check out my friend, Denise’s site for a recipe.  Denise is the one who taught my photography workshop.  Her site is of course, GORGEOUS, and I’m trying hard not to compare my photos to her photo of this dish.  She is of course, a professional, and I must keep that in mind.  She is also an amazing cook, and I can’t wait to try more of her recipes.

This pasta sauce was a hit with the kids, (kid rated 10) and such an easy and simple recipe to make that it’s now going to be bookmarked as a family favorite.  It’s also a two-nighter meal, and what mom doesn’t love that.  I see this recipe being made a lot come fall when were back to crazy schedules (I’m so not ready for summer to end in that sense).  This sauce is also a great make-ahead sauce.  You can make it up one day or on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze it, and then just re-heat it with some fresh pasta.
  
I would recommend using a different type of pasta rather than the one I used.  You will want to use a pasta with some texture or ridges to it.  We used Ziti, and it was a bit glossy so the sauce fell off of it.  

easy tomato sauce:

recipe from Chez us
serves 4-6

printer friendly version

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4oz package (1/ 4 pound) pancetta, cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled 
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into small chunks 
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 28oz can peeled tomatoes, very good quality, do not drain
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red chili (red pepper) flakes, or more or less depending on how spicy you like it – I used 1 teaspoon plus a small pinch
  • kosher salt to taste
  • box of your favorite pasta

First things first, chop up the pancetta, and peel and chop up the vegetables.

  Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.  
Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.   

While the pancetta is cooking, get out your food processor. Throw in the chopped onion, garlic and carrot and mince away.  
Note: If you don’t have a food processor, then you will want to mince the garlic and cut the onion and carrot up into very small pieces.

Once the pancetta is cooked, add the minced carrot, onion and garlic mixture along with 1 teaspoon or more of the red chili flakes.  Cook over low heat, until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  

Add in the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, to break up the tomato pieces.  

Cook over low heat until thick, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add your pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain your pasta and put it back in the pan that you cooked it in.  Add the tomato sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.  

Serve the pasta up in individual bowls and top with some fresh Parmesan cheese.  

How easy was that recipe?
Like I said before, this pasta was a hit with the whole family and was a two-nighter meal.  

It’s definitely a recipe that I will be making come fall because of its ease, simplicity and taste.    We served this up with a side salad and some crunchy garlic bread.

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables
cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables

Welcome to marinmamacooks.com!  I finally have my own domain, yeah!  I’m a real blog now, (just kidding, kind of) but it’s a big step for me and I do feel a bit grown up.  I lost a couple of things in the transition like my pin counters, but these things happen and it’s pretty minor in my opinion.

One of my favorite sources for new recipes are magazines.  I love opening one up and looking at all the gorgeous pictures and tempting recipes.  I use to love reading In Style, Oprah and magazines like that, but now I love to ready cooking magazines (I guess I’m getting older).  I currently have a subscription to bon appetit and Martha Stewart Living.  I’m like a kid in the candy store each time one of them arrives.  There’s just something about getting a magazine in the mail.  Cooking magazines are great because they usually focus on seasonal recipes and ingredients.  I hate when I look at a cookbook and crave a recipe only to find that the ingredients are not in season. 

I saw this recipe in the July issue, and it spoke to me.  It looked so fresh and simple, the perfect summer meal.  The recipe did not call for the miso tofu, I added that in to give it some protein and keep it a vegetarian recipe.  You can make this without the tofu and it tastes wonderful.  The cutting of the vegetables was a bit labor intensive, but that was the only thing that took time.  I’m sure there is an easier way to dice up the veggies, and if you have any, send them my way.  I do sometimes find it a bit therapeutic to cut up a bunch of fresh vegetables, it just depends on my day.  Feel free to use any vegetable in the below recipe. This dish is a great make-ahead meal for those busy summer nights.  
Here are my leftovers the next day at lunch!  Yum!

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables:

recipe adapted from bon appetitmiso tofu recipe from Eating Well
serves 4-6

for the miso tofu: 

  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

for the soba noodles:

  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar – I used brown rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil – make sure you get toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper – sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles (Japanese-style noodles)
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems – these add amazing flavor to the dish, so this is a must
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.  

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture.  Cut the block of tofu into square cubes like the picture below.  I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

cubed tofuCombine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

miso paste with lemon and garlic_Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat. It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
miso roasted tofu
Bake the tofu on the middle rack, turning two or three times during baking, until browned. About 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.
Tip: You can make this tofu up ahead of time, (like the day before) and just re-heat it for a few minutes in a 250-degree oven.
miso roasted tofu
While the miso is baking, wash and slice up the vegetables and set aside.In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sriracha and toasted sesame oil.Throw the matchstick sliced vegetables into a large bowl, top with the dressing and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.  Run noodles under cold water to cool them; drain well and add them to the bowl with the vegetables.  Add in the scallions and toss them with noodles.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve up the noodles into individual bowls and top them with the sesame seeds, cilantro stems and warm tofu.  
Tip:  Store the tofu separate from the noodles, so they don’t get soggy.
cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables
Like I said earlier, you can make this with or without the tofu or even add chicken if you like.  We all loved this dish and will definitely make it again. It was so simple to throw together and gave us great leftovers.  
cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

Serving Size: serves 4-6

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

Ingredients

    miso tofu:
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Soba noodles:
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar - I used brown rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil - make sure you get toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper - sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles (Japanese-style noodles)
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems - these add amazing flavor to the dish, so this is a must.
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture. I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

Combine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat. It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the tofu on the middle rack, turning two or three times during baking, until browned. About 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.

Tip: You can make this tofu up ahead of time, (like the day before) and just re-heat it for a few minutes in a 250-degree oven.

While the miso is baking, wash and slice up the vegetables and set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sriracha and toasted sesame oil.

Throw the matchstick sliced vegetables into a large bowl, top with the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.

Run noodles under cold water to cool them; drain well and add them to the bowl with the vegetables. Add in the scallions and toss them with noodles.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve up the noodles into individual bowls and top them with the sesame seeds, cilantro stems and warm tofu.

Tip: Store the tofu separate from the noodles, so they don't get soggy.

Like I said earlier, you can make this with or without the tofu or even add chicken if you like. John and I loved this dish and will definitely make it again. It was so simple to throw together and gave us great leftovers.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/07/cold-soba-noodles-with-miso-tofu-and-summer-vegetables/

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ok, here is my first attempt at a “homemade” cooking video.  When I say first attempt, I mean first attempt.  Zoe and I pulled this together yesterday afternoon, and there weren’t any re-takes, we shot and edited with what we had.  I’m proud to say that this video was filmed and edited by my 12 year old daughter, Zoe. Yay Zoe!  Zoe is always shooting videos with her friends, and editing up a storm, so I asked her if she might want to earn a few bucks by filming some videos for the blog this summer. I think she did a wonderful job, and all in all, for our first video, I think it turned out pretty good.  Making your first video is like putting together your first blog post or posting your first photograph.  It can be a bit intimidating, but you have to start somewhere, so here you go.  The video has a cute ending, so stick with it.

I hope you enjoyed the video portion of this recipe (geez, I sound like a stewardess on an airline). For those of you that want the classic recipe post, I have added that as well below.

I seriously love Ina Garten, and have quite a few of her recipes on this blog. Her recipes are easy to follow and perfect for the “everyday” cook. This pasta one of my favorite summer pastas, as the ingredients are simple and fresh and the flavors are amazing. This pasta is the perfect make-ahead meal. The tomato marinade take literally 5 minutes to assemble and it can sit out anywhere from 4-10 hours at room temperature. The longer it sits the better. It’s also the perfect meal to serve up at a dinner party, because it’s virtually a one-bowl meal (less dishes to clean up) and so easy to prepare because all you have to do is throw in the capellini right before serving (the capellini only takes 3  minutes to cook). Instead of slaving over the stove, you can spend quality time relaxing with your friends. Now, that sounds great to me!

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-4

Ina’s summer garden pasta:

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Serves 6

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don’t want a bowl full of tomatoes. 
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves) 
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Below are the ingredients that you will need for the tomato marinade.
Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.  Cut the tomatoes in half.  
Slice up the basil into thin strips.
 Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.  
Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.  
Just before you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).  

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes.  Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.  
Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Another thing I love about this pasta is that you can usually get two nights out of it (at least in my family).  Serve this up with some crispy garlic bread and you have the perfect simple summer meal.  

 I chose not to speak in the video because honestly, I’m not ready to do that yet.  Every time I hear myself on video I cringe.  I say the words “you know” and “like” too much, so I have to work up the confidence to do a talking cooking video! 

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 6

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don't want a bowl full of tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves)
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Instructions

Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.

Cut the tomatoes in half.

Slice up the basil into thin strips.

Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.

Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.

Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/07/inas-summer-garden-pasta-with-video-tutorial/

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4Here’s another easy-peasy one-bowl pasta dish that is kid and hubby approved! Who doesn’t like that? This was showcased on Oprah’s site as a super foods meal. I think it was showcased as a super foods meal due to the walnut pesto and broccolini. I don’t think the sausage was contributing factor to that title, but that’s ok, because the sausage was the contributing factor to my kids rating this dish a 10. Hey, you have to throw something kid friendly in a dish that has walnuts in it, at least in my house. This pasta is similar to my broccolini, sausage and orecchiette pasta, but a bit different with the walnut pesto serving as the base sauce. I loved the addition of the walnut pesto and the toasted chopped walnuts. The pesto clings to the pasta and the chopped walnuts add a healthy & nutty crunch to the dish!

The walnut pesto can be made ahead of time. I made mine earlier in the day so when it was time to cook up dinner, I had one step completed. I also made another batch to store in the freezer for another last minute dinner idea. This pesto freezes well because there is no added cheese. You really don’t miss the cheese in this pesto either. To freeze the pesto, just brush small glass container with some olive oil, pour the pesto in, seal it up and throw it in your freezer.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-2

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage and broccolini:

Recipe adapted from Oprah
serves 4 to 6

for the pasta:

  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)

for the walnut pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

DSC_0022Let’s first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me.  Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You’re going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter.  You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto.  Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

DSC_0003Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

DSC_0008Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don’t have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

DSC_0698Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

DSC_0029Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccolini  together.

DSC_0032Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

DSC_0043Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

Ingredients

    for the pasta:
  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)
  • for the walnut pesto:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Let's first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You're going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter. You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto. Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don't have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time! How efficient! Drain both the pasta and broccolini together.

Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/pasta-with-walnut-pesto-sausage-and-broccolini/

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauceWant an easy-peasy weeknight meal your whole family will enjoy?  I bet you’re saying yes, yes, yes!  Well, read on, because my whole family loves this pasta and I love it because it’s tasty of course, but so quick (under 45 minutes) and easy to make. This is definitely a family and kid friendly meal.  It’s cheesy, hence the title, cheesy baked tortellini. This pasta is rated a 10+ in my house and has quickly become a family favorite.

Life is getting busy around our house, and during this busy time I have to prepare my weekly dinner menu in advance. Zoe now has lacrosse, dance and cotillion 4 nights during the week so goodbye (for now) to sit-down family dinners, and hello make ahead and easy meals.

On Sundays, I put together a list of potential weeknight dinners and I also try to cook a two-nighter meal as well.  When life is busy, I don’t want to compromise on eating nutritionally, nor do I want us eating takeout every night. I want to offer my kids their veggies and a fairly balanced and nutritious meal.  To accomplish this, I try and find recipes that I can either make ahead, that will provide dinner for 2 nights or ones that can be put together in a flash.  This tortellini pasta matches all three of that criteria. You can throw it together in less than 45 minutes. You can also make it earlier in the day, cover it with foil, refrigerate it and then re-heat later that evening.  Oh yeah!!!  I’ll be honest with you all and let you know that we end up using a jared sauce the majority of the time.  I don’t always make the homemade marinara sauce, and that’s ok!  My favorite jarred sauce to use for this pasta is Rao’s homemade Marinara.

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce:

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or homemade – I made a homemade version from Giada the day before- recipe to follow below.  I have also made this recipe a number of times with different store bought sauces and my basic tomato sauce.
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cheese tortellini
  • shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella cheese, - The recipe called for 2 ounces, but really, who measures out their cheese?  Just top your dish with the amount of cheese you want.  
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese - I also did not measure this.  I just topped each casserole with some parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the tortellini.  Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.Below is what mascarpone cheese looks like.  It resembles a soft cream cheese.In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme.Stir all the ingredients together. Its best to mix everything with a spatula because you’re going to have to press the mascarpone cheese against the sides of the bowl to get it to soften up. Once you mix all the ingredients together, it goes from this beautiful red color above, to this not so pleasant orange color.  I’m not even going to go there and tell you what it reminds me of.Cook the tortellini until just tender or al dente, about 2 minutes.  I used frozen tortellini and the 2 minute cooking time was perfect.  Drain.  Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.

Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish or dishes.  Not a great photo, but you get the step involved.
  Top with the grated parmesan cheese and smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish or dishes with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses melt on top, about 10 minutes longer.
Note: The cheese will be melted, but will be white in color.  If you want your cheese to be browned and crispy like these photos, then turn on your broiler and place the pasta under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese browns up.
cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce
 That is it folks!  How easy was that dish to prepare?
I paired this up with a salad for John and I, and some broccoli for the kids.
This dish was a two-night meal for my kids and I (not the hungry hubby).  I just covered their leftovers in their gratin dishes, and re-heated them in the oven the next day.
I’m actually re-heating up their leftovers as I write this post.
Here they are eating their leftovers!  Happy as clams!
If you want to make your own marinara sauce then you can follow along with me below!
This sauce is great because it can be made day ahead of time, and it’s fairly easy to whip up.  The only thing that really takes time is chopping up all the veggies.  This is a wonderful marina sauce that you can use as a base for just about any Italian meal.

Basic Marinara Sauce:

Makes about 2 quarts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped – I used yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
Prep your ingredients.  Chop up your onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.  This sauce freezes very well so I saved 2 cups for the above recipe, and froze the remaining amount for a later date.
The sauce may be stored frozen for up to 3 months.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, use your favorite store bought brand.  I’ve done that on many occasions and the tortellini tastes just as amazing.

lentil “meatballs” with lemon pesto

lentils

Here is another wonderful “mommy” meal that I made this past week. It’s also a great “meatless Monday” meal.  I saw this recipe a few weeks back on Sprouted Kitchen and I have been dying to make it for some time.  I loved my chickpeas burgers so much that I wanted to try another meatless dish that is usually made with meat.  When you hear the word meatball you think of meat, right?  Well, these are lentil meatballs so there is no meat in them.  Maybe lentil balls would be a more fitting name for these.  It just sounds weird, so I think I will keep the name meatballs.

I loved these lentil meatballs and I wasn’t even missing the meat. They were flavorful and dense like meatballs and they really satisfied my craving for a meatless meatball.  Combine them with the lemon pesto and you have yourself a wonderful & healthy vegetarian lunch or dinner.  I promise you, you will not miss the meatballs here.

This dish was not to popular with my kids, but I wasn’t expecting it to be either.  I was really just creating this recipe for myself.  My kids liked the pesto, but did not care to much for the meatballs.  I ate the meatballs and fed them some quinoa pasta with the pesto sauce.  I believe in cooking one meal for the family so I accomplished my goal here.    

lentil “meatballs”:

Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
makes about 13 medium sized meatballs
printer friendly recipe

  • 2 cups cooked black lentils – 1 cup dry lentils equals 2 cup cooked 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup freslhy grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed – I used my coffee grinder here
  • 2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Heafty pinch of dried or fresh thyme – I used fresh thyme here
  • 1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably) – I used whole wheat panko breadcrumbs from Ians
Here are the ingredients you will need to make the meatballs.
You will need 1 cup of dry lentils to equal 2 cooked cups of lentils here.
Once you measure out your lentils give them a rinse.
Cook up your lentils according the directions on the package.  When your lentils are finished cooking, drain them and set them aside to cool a bit.

Once your lentils have cooled down for a bit, measure out 2 cups and put them in a food processor.Pulverize the lentils into mush and then put them in a large mixing bowl.  Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well.Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.While the lentil mix is resting, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and proceed to make up your lemon pesto (see recipe below).

After 20 minutes or so, check the lentil mix by rolling a round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well.  If it seems pretty wet and it’s falling apart, stir in another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs until the ball stays together.
My mix was perfect the way it was.  I think using the Panko breadcrumbs made a difference as they are hearty breadcrumbs.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into “meatballs sized” balls and line them up on a baking sheet.
Note: they don’t need lots of space between them as they won’t spread. If you want them to be crusty, then brush the meatballs with olive oil.  I wanted them to be brown and crusty so I brushed the entire meatball with olive oil. Here is a photo of the meatballs after they have been brushed in olive oil.  See how nice and shiny they are!
Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Make sure you turn the meatballs halfway through the baking time.  Remove and cool slightly.
These lentil meatballs are wonderful on their own with the below lemon pesto or you can pair them up with your favorite pasta, like quinoa to make a healthy and vegeterian spaghetti and meatballs.
 I served these up the next day for lunch on some leftover quinoa spaghetti.

lemon pesto sauce:

Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
printer friendly recipe
Note: Lentil meatballs can be a bit on the dryer side so you will want to moisten them up with this pesto. 
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  •  2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 tablespoons water to thin sauce
Prep all of your ingredients.  Wash and dry your basil leaves, zest and juice your lemon, peel your garlic, measure out your pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
Put the garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth.
 Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
 Add 2 tablespoons of water to thin as desired. I used 2 tablespoons, as I like my pesto be a bit thinner.  This is optional of course. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.
Note:  Sometimes my pesto comes out green as shown in the picture above, and sometimes it comes out a bit more yellow-green.  It really depends on how big the meyer lemons are.  Don’t fret on the color, as it tastes amazing no matter what the color is.  If you feel you want more green, then just add some more basil to taste and then process again.
My favorite way to enjoy these is topped with lots of the pesto and thrown on some quinoa spaghetti.
Have you ever tried a meatless meatball?
If so, did you like it

Got leftover spaghetti? Check this out…

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This post is quick and there are no fancy or staged photographs, but I just had to post it as my friends are always asking what I do with all the leftovers I have.  Well, here is one great idea that I just felt compelled to share with you all NOW!  
 
I had tons of leftover spaghetti & meatballs sitting in my fridge that I was planning on pawning it off on the kids for lunch today.  I was just going to heat it up in the microwave or the via the stovetop, BORING!   I then saw this post on Yummy Mummy this morning and got inspired.  This is such a quick and fun way to serve up boring leftovers.
 
Here are the easy-peasey steps below!
 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  
Take your leftover spaghetti and put it into a ramekin of choice.  Zoe chose the larger and Eli chose the smaller one.  Top each with some mozzarella cheese.  
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or so.  
You end up with pasta resembling this below.  
The spaghetti gets all crispy on top and the mozzarella cheese melts into the pasta.
YUM!
The verdict?  
My kids loved the spaghetti this way and were begging me to make it again tomorrow.  
SUCCESS in the Grandy house!  
Gotta love that!
Happy weekend everyone!

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Fennel and broccolini

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Fennel and broccolini

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Fennel and broccoliniSo I must admit, we are a pasta loving family.  Pasta is a wonderful base because you add so much to it.  It’s almost like a blank canvas.  Throw in some veggies, a little meat and a yummy sauce and you have the perfect one-bowl meal.

Since we eat a lot of pasta, I have been looking for some alternative and healthier versions rather than the typical white pasta.  We eat quinoa spaghetti quite often and the kids like it especially if it’s topped with pesto or my bolognaise sauce.  I have always wanted to try whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta but was worried how the kids would react.  I aim to make one meal (no short order cook here) for dinner and I want us all to enjoy it so I have to always think about what the kids will really eat.  Luckily my kids are not super picky eaters. They eat a variety of foods because we serve them a variety.  You have to set an example as a parent and if you’re not eating veggies or trying new things then your kids will not do it.  


I found this recipe at Cooks Illustrated and was excited to try it as it incorporated 2 things that I have never used before, whole-wheat pasta and fennel.  I have eaten fennel before, but have never cooked with it.  
We have a veggie every day so I wanted to add some blanched broccolini to our pasta.  You don’t have to add broccolini to this dish, but it really is the perfect vegetable to serve with this type of pasta and makes it a one-bowl meal, and who doesn’t love that.  

This pasta is a wonderful combination of flavors.  The sausage adds a certain spiciness (not to spicy though) to the dish and the pine nuts add a nice crunch and buttery flavor. The whole-wheat pasta has a great nutty and salty flavor and it’s chewy, but in a good way.  It doesn’t taste grainy at all.  I have had this for leftovers the past week and it gets even better with age as all the flavors have a chance to mesh together. 
This is a photo of the leftovers that I had for lunch.

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Fennel and broccolini:

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4-6
printer friendly version

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, mince and pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 8-12 ounces sweet italian sausage, removed from casing -  I actually just buy up a 12oz package of my favorite sausage links. 
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored, and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped – I always toast these up ahead of time.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (see note below)
  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti – Cooks Illustrated recommended Bionaturae Organic 100 percent whole-wheat spaghetti because of it’s nutty flavor and chewy texture.  We really loved this pasta.
  • 1 to 2 bunches of broccolini
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese to top your pasta
 
It always makes cooking easier when you get all of your ingredients out and prepared ahead of time. You will need to have everything prepped for this pasta as things move fast.  
Slice up your fennel (see how-to instructions below), toast and coarsely chop your pine-nuts, (I do this earlier in the day or even the day before) juice your lemon, mince your garlic, remove the sausages from their casings (I usually do this the day before or earlier in the day) and rinse up your broccolini.  
Note: Wash and dry your basil but do not chop it yet.  Chop the basil at the last possible moment to prevent it from discoloring.
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water (you want it to taste like salt water) to a boil for the pasta and the broccolini.
Wash up your fennel, cut a little slice off of the bottom of the bulb and then cut off the fronds right next to the bulb.  If the bulb has some dark marks on it then take a vegetable peeler and peel off those marks.
Cut your fennel bulb in half.
 Cut out the inner core.
Lie the fennel bulb down on its flat side and just slice the fennel crossways.  
Don’t know how to toast pine nuts?  To toast them, just put some raw pine nuts in a dry skillet and swirl them around in the pan (over medium heat) for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color.  
 Remove them from the pan and set aside.  Coarsely chop them when they have cooled a bit. 
Combine oil, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1/2-teaspoon salt in a small bowl: set aside.
Once the water has come to a rapid boil, throw in your broccolini and cook until just tender, 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your broccolini.

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable.  There is only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.Transfer broccolini to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon or mesh one like I have.  Drain and dry the broccolini; set aside.  Bring the water back to a rapid boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve 3/4-cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

Heat sausage in a 12-inch skillet or large skillet of your choice over medium-high heat; cook stirring to break up sausage into 1/2-inch pieces, until browned and crisp, 5-7 minutes.   Cooks Illustrated recommended a non-stick skillet.  I used my cast iron skillet which is virtually non-stick and I have also used a regular skillet before and it worked great.
Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to towel-lined plate, leaving rendered fat in the skillet.
Return skillet to medium-high heat; add fennel and 1/4-teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until fennel is tender, about 5 minutes.Push fennel to sides of skillet so you have a 3-inch clearing in the middle of the pan.
 Add the oil-garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir to combine garlic mixture with fennel and cook for 1 minute longer.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in sausage, pine nuts, basil and lemon juice.
Add in the broccolini.
Add the fennel sausage mixture and the reserved cooking water to pasta, toss to coat.
Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and top with some fresh pecorino romano cheese.  The pecorino cheese was recommend over parmesan as it adds a bit of a salty tang to the pasta. It really is the perfect compliment.
 I am hooked on this combination and look forward to trying other sauces with whole-wheat spaghetti or other whole-wheat pastas.
BTW, you probably want to know the kids rating on this dish right?  Zoe rated it a 9 and Eli rated it a 10.  John and I rated it a 10 plus.
Have you ever tried whole-wheat pasta?  If so, what was your take on it?

orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe

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DSC_0003-3First off, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to those of you that are viewing my blog and making some of my recipes.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when a close friend, stranger or mom at school comes up to me and tells me that they are making one of the recipes from my blog that night. I love hearing their comments on how much their family enjoyed the recipe or how easy it was to make.  

The biggest request I keep getting from people is to keep posting more yummy & easy weeknight dinners.  Dinner is the one meal that people struggle with. I get it, we’re all busy running around all day and to have that nagging “what to make for dinner” question hanging over our heads is not fun!  

Well, I’ve got you covered for dinner tonight. I have whipped up an easy, family approved one-bowl pasta dish.  This pasta is one of those pantry pastas that I cook quite often because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand expect for the fresh broccoli rabe. 

Below are the 6 ingredients you will need in addition to some fresh olive oil.

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orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe:

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 to 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems trimmed – You can also use baby broccoli or broccolini 
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 italian sausage links, casings removed or 3/4 pound of ground sausage – I used classic italian style sausages
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes – I used a bit more than a pinch of red pepper and it was spicy in a good way, but not too spicy for the kids
  • freshly shedded Parmesan cheese

Let’s prep the ingredients.  Wash and trim up the broccoli rabe, remove the sausage from it’s casings and mince up your garlic cloves.  

DSC_0009Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli rabe during the last minute of cooking time.  I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccoli rabe together.

DSC_0016Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and then add the sausage.  DSC_0001-2Cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned and juices form.

DSC_0006-2Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

DSC_0008-2Add the drained pasta and broccoli rabe to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat with the juices. 

DSC_0034Serve up the pasta into individual bowls.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  Top each bowl with a nice heaping of fresh Parmesan and some fresh ground pepper for the adults! 

My kids and hubby loved this dish. They all rated it a 10!  I hope that your family enjoys this easy weeknight pantry pasta!

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioliI saw this recipe in the November issue of Whole Living Magazine and I knew I had to make it.  I mean I was literally salivating over this recipe and 5 others.  These recipes were shown as Thanksgiving side dishes for vegans and vegetarians.  I thought to myself as I was staring longingly at the photos, when did I start getting excited over vegetable dishes?  Who is this girl?  I use to get excited over a juicy burger, fries or any sort of sweet, (well, I still get excited over sweets) but vegetables?  This is all recent and very strange for me.  I’m honestly considering becoming a vegetarian.  I would prefer a beautiful homemade (not those frozen things) veggie burger to a beef or turkey burger any day. I’m more excited to eat the veggies that I am going to prepare for Thanksgiving than the actual turkey.  My taste buds are definitely changing, maybe its California and that fact that the produce here is so unbelievably fresh and delicious.One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s another easy pantry pasta.  All I had to purchase was the green beans, as I had some shallots, almonds and ravioli at home and I grabbed a fresh lemon from our lemon tree.  I’m finding that if you keep a well stocked pantry, all you need to do is run out for the fresh vegetables. Onions, shallots, nuts, squashes and pastas keep for some time, so stock your pantry with them and you will always have them on hand when your inspired to create a yummy last minute recipe. If green beans aren’t in season, no worries, you can substitute broccoli rabe instead.DSC_0018Eli and Zoe rated this dish a 10+++.  John and I literally devoured it, so it ranked high with us as well. This is definitely a recipe that is going to be made again and again in our house. Moms, this is an easy throw together pasta for those busy weeknights.green bean and shallot ravioli

 green bean and shallot ravioli:

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren’t in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe/baby broccoli
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it’s just $2.99 a bag, what a steal!
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted – I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.
toasting almondsNext wash up and trim those green beans. Aren’t they just beautiful?  They’re so vibrant and green.  I tell you, mother nature makes the most beautiful food.Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you’re basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect!   If you’re using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.  

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable.  There is only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans.Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.  

  Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit. Turn off the heat, take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.  Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  

green bean and shallot ravioliThis is a wonderful one-bowl meal your whole family will enjoy! 

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Rating: 51

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren't in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe.
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it's just $2.99 a bag.
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted - I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.

Next wash up and trim those green beans.

Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you're basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect! If you're using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable. There's only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.

Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans. Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.

Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit.

Turn off the heat,take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.

Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan. Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/green-bean-and-shallot-ravioli/

Penne a la Vodka

penne a la vodka
penne a la vodka

OK, we turned back the clocks yesterday and we had our first California rain on Saturday.  In my book that means it’s officially fall and time to start breaking out our favorite comfort foods. Here’s a pasta staple at our house, Penne a la Vodka!  This dish is a classic in my book and it’s SO delicious. The best part about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand to make it, which makes it an easy dinner fill in.  Make sure you serve this up with some warm crusty bread to soak up all that yummy sauce.  This pasta tastes even better the next day as the penne soaks up all the sauce overnight.  

Penne a la Vodka:

serves 4-6
recipe from from Rachel Ray

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

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 Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. 

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Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot’s sweetness.

DSC_0012-2Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

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Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer.  Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced.  Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away.  So please make sure you reduce it by half.  

TIP:  To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

DSC_0029-2Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.  Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

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While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it).  Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.  

 After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream. 

DSC_0041-2Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.  It’s not the prettiest looking sauce, but it tastes great!

DSC_0044-2-2

Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. 

DSC_0049-2Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.  Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy! 

DSC_0060-2-2I hope this pasta becomes a staple in your house!

Penne a la Vodka

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Penne a la Vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat.

Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot's sweetness.

Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer. Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced. Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away. So please make sure you reduce it by half.

TIP: To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.

Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.

After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream.

Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.

Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.

Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy!

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/penne-a-la-vodka/