Spinach and Sausage Lasagna

This recipe is not your typical lasagna, but it’s a delicious twist on the classic.  Since the whole thing only uses 1/2 lb. of pasta, it’s really easy to make this very healthy by using extra lean sausage and low-fat cheeses

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Garlic Bread

Dressing up a regular loaf of fresh bread makes it that much more irresistible.  I adapted this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and it’s unbelievably tasty and full of vibrant, fresh flavors.  Just don’t make it for a new beau, cause that garlic sure packs a punch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large loaf ciabatta bread
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tbsp pesto (you could also use plain fresh basil, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced.  Add the parsley, oregano, basil and salt and pepper and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped.
  • Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan and add the garlic mixture – saute until the garlic is fragrant – you don’t want to overcook it, you’re just getting rid of the raw garlic flavor.
  • Slice the bread in half horizontally and spread 1 tbsp of butter on each half of bread
  • Spread the garlic mixture evenly on each half of bread (depending on the size of your loaf, you might not need all of the mixture – reserve the extra for another day)
  • Put the halves back together, wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 5 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, open the foil up and open the bread so the inside can get a little toasty – bake for an additional 5 minutes

Pesto Sauce

This sauce is extremely versatile.  You can put it on pasta, pizza, chicken, shrimp… the list goes on!  I use pesto a lot — so, I figured I’d post the recipe I use, which is really simple and quick and easy to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan works, too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
    • Storage: I typically make this in bulk during the summertime and then freeze it in ice cube trays – then I can enjoy fresh pesto sauce anytime

Veal Bolognese

My husband’s favorite Italian dish is, hands down, pasta with a bolognese sauce.  He’s ordered it in every Italian restaurant we’ve ever been to and even has them mentally ranked.  It seemed only natural for me to figure out a way for my bolognese to get to the top of his list.  Mission accomplished.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large onion (or 2 small ones), chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 large celery stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • Olive oil to coat the pan
  • 3 lb. lean ground veal (you could also use ground beef or turkey)
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups good red wine
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (room temp)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup powdered Parmesan or Romano cheese
*This recipe makes enough sauce for 2 lb. of pasta – keep in mind that this sauce freezes really well

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a food processor and process until it forms a course paste
  • Coat the bottom of a large sauce pan with olive oil and then add in the pureed vegetables
  • Season the puree with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until the water has evaporated
  • Add in the ground veal, season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is totally browned, about 15-20 minutes
  • Add in the tomato paste, dried herbs, red pepper flakes and nutmeg and mix well – cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add in the red wine and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add water to the pot until the meat is covered with an inch of water – add in the bay leaves and bundle of thyme and mix well
  • Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering
  • Now, is the painful part – allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for AT LEAST 2 hours, ideally you want the sauce to simmer for 3-4 hours, stir it frequently
  • You want the bolognese to be a very meaty consistency – not really “saucy”
    • If you find that your sauce is getting too thick, add some more water and continue to simmer
  • When you think that your sauce looks ready, add in the cream and blend well
  • Add about half of the sauce to 1 lb. of cooked pasta and toss in at least 1/2 cup powdered Parmesan or Romano cheese – stir well and enjoy!
    • You can freeze the other half of the sauce and defrost it when you’re ready to have it again!

Robust Red Sauce

This red sauce is rich in flavor and has a little bit of a kick.  It goes well with any Italian dish and I use it with a lot more than just spaghetti and meatballs…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 28 oz. can Pastene ‘Kitchen Ready’ tomatoes (if you want a smooth sauce, use 2 cans of this instead of the diced)
  • 1/3 cup red wine (one you would drink)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and then add the garlic – saute until fragrant
  • Add in the cans of tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil and turn the heat up to medium-high, bringing the sauce to a boil
  • Add the red wine  
  • Season the sauce with the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour (or until it begins to thicken), stirring frequently – I usually also break up the large tomato chunks with the back of the spoon

Pesto Sauce

I love to use fresh pesto sauce in pasta dishes, sandwiches and beyond… it freezes well in ice cube trays, so the perfect portion is always ready whenever you need it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan works, too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth