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Meatless Monday: Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

25 Jul

You know what’s awesome? Using an ingredient you haven’t had the best success with in the past only to discover that you actually love it. For me, this time at least, I am talking about arugula. I’ve tried it in a few different recipes in the past and never really been a fan, but I have to tell you, it really sings in this dish. The peppery bite adds something fantastic against the citrusy hint of lemon and sweet fresh basil. The ingredient list is short, but the end result is incredibly flavorful and fragrant!

Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

1 13.25-ounce box of whole wheat penne
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
5 ounces baby spinach and arugula blend, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh basil, roughly chopped

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, being careful to cook only until al dente.

In a small bowl, mix lemon zest and juice with ricotta and parmesan cheeses. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add greens and basil, cooking until they are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese mixture.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining. Toss pasta into cheese and greens mixture, slowly adding pasta water as needed to form a creamy sauce.

Serves 6.
Modified from Fine Cooking


CEiMB: Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

23 Jun

I really love participating in Craving Ellie in My Belly. Ellie Krieger has some truly delicious recipes, and it’s a great excuse to make a new one every week. Plus, the bloggers that faithfully cooks along each week are just an amazing group of ladies, and I feel so lucky to be part of their club! This week’s host, Margaret of Tea and Scones, not only makes some of the most delectable looking breads and pastries I’ve ever seen, she is so sweet.

And just like Margaret in a game of Words With Friends, this recipe was a winner! I had to make a few changes based on what I could find at the store – like subbing yellow squash for zucchini and leeks with a little fennel seed for a bulb of fennel – but the roasted vegetables came out delicious! Unfortunately my other substitution, using boneless chicken breast with a lemon pepper rub did not turn out as well. The flavor was great, but our chicken got a little overdone. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the bone-in chicken, or maybe I will just cook the chicken separately, either way, I’ll definitely be making these roasted veggies again. Delicious!

Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

6 Roma tomatoes
3 medium yellow squash
2 leeks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend
3 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds. Trim the squash and cut it in half crosswise and then cut each piece in half lengthwise once if the piece is thin and twice if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform. Do the same with the leeks so they are cut twice lengthwise, into thin strips.

Put the vegetables into a large baking pan. Toss them with garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary and fennel.

Rub the lemon pepper seasoning on the chicken breasts then arrange the chicken pieces in the pan with the vegetables. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes more until the chicken is done and the vegetable are tender and beginning to brown.

Serves 3.
From Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” p. 210

Grilled Salmon & Squash with Red Pepper Sauce

20 Jun

This recipe was fast and delicious, but if you want to read more about it, you’ll have to head over to Two Boos Who Eat to see my guest post :) And if you don’t already follow Amanda and Andy’s blog, I highly recommend it!

Meatless Monday: Kale with Cannellini Beans

13 Jun

There are few vegetables I enjoy more than kale. In soups, sauteed, as “chips.” I can’t actually think of a way I’ve had kale that I didn’t like it, and so I am always looking for new ways to try preparing it. When I saw this original recipe, Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans, I was first drawn in to the crispy bacon atop the giant pile of greens and beans. I know this is supposed to be a post about going meatless, but I can’t help but love bacon. The first time I made this dish, I topped it with those crispy little strips of salty meat, and the dish was great. However, I didn’t really feel like the bacon or chicken broth added anything to the dish. The true flavor comes from the balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, and greens. The velvety texture of the beans and kale is perfect on its own, and I actually prefer this recipe as a meatless dish. The vegetable stock adds a much richer flavor, and I didn’t miss the bacon at all. How’s that for a Meatless Monday promo?

Kale with Cannellini Beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound kale greens, roughly chopped
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar in the raw

Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add oil.

Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.
Modified from Weight Watchers.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash Torta

30 May

I originally saw this recipe as a guest post from Cara’s Cravings on Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies, but it was when I saw Danica’s Daily make it that I just knew I would have to try it. I am always more apt to make a recipe when I’ve seen it a couple times in the blogosphere, especially when one of the bloggers who made it happens to be one of my favorite bloggers. (Did I mention that I met Danica last week while she was in town for a conference? You can find a picture of us and my friend Amy of Round is a Shape here.)

It was actually pretty soon after her post, way back in December, that I tried making this dish for the first time. And it was delicious. Seriously yummy. BUT it was a huge mess. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but mine did not set up and was just a bit of a slop. However, since it tasted so good, I decided to try it again. While it might look mostly set in the picture, I can assure you it was not. So for the second time this recipe was tasty but soupy, and for that reason alone, it’s not one I will make again. I just can’t get over the texture or the big mess it makes as it “settles” after removing the springform pan.

But since I seem to be the only one having this problem, I am going to pass it along to you. I made a meatless version, using a combination of mushrooms, zucchini, and seasonings in place of the sausage, and I think that was a fantastic compromise for those who typically love meat. With the right herbs and spices, I didn’t miss the sausage at all. I also thought the spaghetti squash made a great pasta substitute in this dish, and had it not been so labor-intensive for such unreliable results, I would make it again no question.

Spaghetti Squash Torta

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
6 ounces baby spinach
1 large egg
15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
2 cups marinara sauce
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

To roast the squash, preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the squash all over with a sharp knife and place in a baking dish with about 1″ of water. Cook for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then use two forks to remove the stringy flesh.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

In a large skillet coated with 2 teaspoons oil, cook the onions over medium-low heat for about 10 minute, until softened. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, until they release their moisture. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and remaining spices. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat a bit, and cook for another minute, until garlic is fragrant. Finally, add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix together the cooked spaghetti squash, egg, ricotta cheese, half of the Asiago cheese, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

Lightly coat an 8″or 9″ spring-form pan with cooking spray. Place half of the spaghetti squash mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the vegetable mixture and half of the sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the sauce.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until top is browned.

Let stand for 10 minutes, then un-mold and slice.

Makes 6 servings
Modified from Cara’s Cravings, as featured on Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies

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