Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

September 10, 2010

Okay, so we love pasta at our house. We have them at least once a week, and we wanted to try something different and quick that can go in the regular weekly meal rotation. I was looking for a pasta recipe that did not use any sort of alfred0 or marinara type sauce, and I stumbled upon this one from Giada’s on Food Network, and I was floored at how easy this dish was to put together. It has basically ingredients that we normally have at our pantry and it turned out to be delicious as well. I modified the recipe a bit to make it heartier by adding chopped vegetables and organic sausages. This is now a one-stop dish and it’s fabulous… happy eating!

Inspired by Giada de Laurentiis

2 cups cooked sausages (or, if you prefer, you can skip this and make it into a vegetarian dish or replace with cooked chicken)
2 cups of eggplants (I have also substituted them with other vegetables like green/red peppers, squashes, and anything that would hold up well when sauteed)
12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped them into fine pieces, keep the oil
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of thinly sliced onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
2 tbsp of olive oil


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic in olive oil in a big pan until it becomes soft, then add the onion, followed by the vegetables. When all of the ingredients are tender, about 3-5 minutes, add the sun-dried tomatoes. Turn off the stove.

Transfer the pasta into the big pan, combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the Parmesan.

Yield: 4-5 servings


Turkey Lasagna

January 24, 2010

My husband Red has been taking over the cooking duty at our household for the past couple of months. This is a recipe that we often make at our house, but I just realized, I have never posted. The recipe was inspired by Ina’s famous Turkey Lasagna Recipe, but we have modified it to the ingredients that we have readily available at the house. It’s a no-fail recipe that will be sure to satisfy your diners. Enjoy!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (the next six seasoning will be mixed into the ground turkey)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles (no-boil)
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Mix the following six seasoning listed under ground turkey ingredient into ground turkey.

Add the seasoned ground turkey mixture and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Yield: 8 servings

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arabbiata Sauce

April 28, 2009

With the temperature dropping in the past few days, the mood at our house has gone from “grilling” to “baking”. Since we love pasta, we thought that we should try this new variation of the regular ol’ stuffed shells from Giada DeLaurentiis: it uses ground turkey and artichoke instead of just regular cheese stuffing! And spicy sauce? Yum, I was sold! It sounded like a winner, and it was a winner! We loved the heartiness of the dish, and the artichoke stuffing added a nice combination to it.


  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows

  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups

Help me decide on a cooking class!

April 10, 2009

Red & I are heading to Italy in June, and we’re excited about our 3-weeks trip, touring Rome, Venice, Bologna, Florence, and Milan! One of the activities that we wanted to book prior to getting there is a cooking class in Bologna. We wanted to do all of them, of course, but can not fit all three into our trips! So, tell me, which one would you do from these classes below and why? Thank you!!

Traditional Bolognese Pasta Dishes
We make the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Tortellini in broth

2. Tortelli Bolognese (ricotta, parmesan, garlic and parsley) with tomato or butter and sage sauce

3. Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu’

A Traditional Bolognese Lunch
We prepare the pasta dough, regular and green, make the Bolognese ragu, a good besciamella sauce (bechamel) and compose the lasagna. We will eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Bolognese green lasagne

2. Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu’

3. Cotoletta Bolognese with salad or vegetable side dish

Romagna Style Pasta
We make the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Capelletti Brisighella style (with chicken, veal and pork meats) served in broth

2. Capelleti di magro Marradi style (with several cheeses) served in broth

3. Tortelli Romagna style (with ricotta, parmesan and spinach)

Fresh Pasta Dishes
We prepare the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

We prepare the pasta dough, cut different shapes (tagliolini, strichetti, garganelli, etc) to serve with the following easy and quick sauces that we will prepare (Please choose 3-4)

1. Fava, peas and ricotta salata sauce (spring)

2. Speck and lemon sauce

3. White ragu (no tomato sauce)

4. Fresh Basil Pesto

5. Salmon and cream sauce

6. asparagus from Altedo and speck (spring)

7. Porcini mushroom sauce
can also make with chestnut lasagne

8. Pumpkin and luganega sausage sauce (autumn)

Tom Cruise’s Spaghetti Carbonara

March 22, 2009

I used to adore Tom Cruise, until his couch jumping stint on Oprah. Then I thought that he was too creepy for me. So creepy that I refused to watch the MI-3 until it went to DVD. However, I kept on hearing raves on his spaghetti carbonara –so I knew that I just had to try it. Plus, I thought that this was a simple enough recipe that if I ended up liking it, we can make this a staple at our house.

The recipe looked simple enough, we basically had everything it called for, except the thick pancetta, so used thick-sliced bacon, and it was wonderful!! This was the BEST spaghetti carbonara that I have ever had (I have never been to Italy before, so it may change this summer! But for now, this was IT). I was licking the plate like there was no tomorrow. Enjoy!

Adapted from

1/2 inch olive oil (for frying pan)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped onion
8 to 12 thick slices Italian bacon
4 eggs
2 packages spaghetti
2 cups grated parmesan cheese

In a frying pan, combine 1/2 inch of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one chopped onion and the Italian bacon cut into small squares. Let simmer for about a half-hour, being careful not to let the oil get to a boiling point.

In a bowl, beat 4 eggs with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook both packages of spaghetti until al dente, drain and immediately add egg mixture to pasta. The eggs are actually cooked by the pasta. (Make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked before proceeding.) Stir the egg mixture until it is well mixed. Pour in the mixture from the frying pan and stir. Finish with the parmesan cheese and serve!

Yield: generous 6-8 servings

Sausage, Kale, and Cranberry Pasta

February 28, 2009

I first found this recipe from Racheal Ray’s when I was trying to find a use for my leftover kale. I thought the cranberry sauce would add an interesting twist to it but was a tad worried how the would all blend together.

When we finally tried it the other night… wow! Red and I really welcomed the different flavor that this pasta dish brought. The cranberry add a very subtle flavoring in the background while the savory sausages, onion, and cheeses really blended nicely with the rigatoni’s tender texture and kale’s hearty presence. This was definitely a winner and a “must-make-again” category!


  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 pound hot bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound sweet bulk Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine, eyeball it
  • 1 1/4 pounds kale, stems removed and chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, to your taste
  • 3/4 cup Romano cheese, 3 generous handfuls, plus some to pass at the table


Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Add rigatoni and salt and cook to al dente or with a bite to it. Drain and reserve 2 ladles of pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, brown and crumble it, then add garlic and onions and cook until tender 5 to 6 minutes. Add cranberry sauce and wine and stir to combine then reduce a minute. Add kale in bunches and stir to wilt down. Add the reserved pasta water. Season the dish with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Add pasta to the pan with sausage and kale. Top pasta with cheese and toss with kale mixture to combine. Serve immediately with extra cheese for topping.

Pasta with Sausage and Escarole

October 2, 2008

We saw this dish featured on one of the old Martha Stewart magazines that I collected, and thought that we should try it. And it was definitely worth it! It was simple enough to make on a weeknight, but has fancy enough flavors to impress company with.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Yield: 4 servings, prep time: 15 mins, total: 45 mins


1 lb rigatoni or other tubular pasta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (~ 1 tbsp)
1 lb hot Italian sausage, remove from casting and crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large head escarole, cut horizontally into thirds and stemmed
(Spinach can be substituted for this)
Parmesan cheese, for shaving


Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and paste, cook 2-3 minutes less than package instruction. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add sausage , cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Pour in wine; stir to deglaze pan. Add cream, parsley, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer.
Add escarole, cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted 8-10 mins.
Stir pasta into skillet, cook until cream has just started to thicken and pasta is al dante, about 3 minutes. Garnish with cheese, and serve.