Monday, June 14, 2010

Amo il cibo Italiano molto!

I took Italian waaaaay back when I was in college for one semester and I don't remember very much. Anyway, if the Italian online translator I found was correct, my title says "I like to eat Italian food very much!" And I do! (And if the translator was incorrect, a thousand apologies!)

My in-laws aren't super keen on eating pasta too often (they are kind of anti-carbs). However, they were out of town for the past three weeks and I went crazy making pasta this and pasta that. Some of the recipes I tried turned out to be a little disappointing (to my surprise). But I did make some fantastic pasta discoveries along the way.

The first is a Cooking Light recipe that is very simple. It uses roasted cherry tomatoes and it is easy, light, and summery. The second is an Everyday Food baked ravioli recipe that is fantastic comfort food. The final recipe is an Everyday Food lasagna recipe that is to die for.

I hope you like them too!

Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti

Makes 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)


4 quarts water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled semisoft goat cheese or crumbled feta cheese


Preheat oven to 450°.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon salt and spaghetti to boiling water; cook 10 minutes or until spaghetti is al dente. Drain spaghetti in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return spaghetti to pan; set aside, and keep warm.

While spaghetti cooks, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper on a jelly-roll pan, tossing well to coat. Bake tomato mixture at 450° for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and lightly charred in places.

Add tomatoes and any tomato juice to spaghetti in Dutch oven. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to jelly-roll pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; carefully pour water mixture and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into spaghetti mixture. Place Dutch oven over medium heat. Add remaining reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until spaghetti mixture is moist, tossing frequently. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information: 328 calories, 10.8 g fat, 11 g protein, 46.6 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fiber, 7 mg cholesterol, 2.7 mg iron, 376 mg sodium, 48 mg calcium.

Source: Cooking Light June 2010 issue

Notes: I used feta to cut down on expense. I also used grape tomatoes since my store didn't have cherry tomatoes. Even with these changes, it was fantastic. 

Baked Ravioli

Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 50 minutes
Serves 4-6

Baking pasta with cheese on top creates a chewy and crispy topping kids will love. You can assemble the dish ahead and refrigerate it, then bake it right before dinner. Try this recipe with 1 pound of spaghetti (cook a few minutes less than the package instructions direct). Don't worry if it seems like there's too much sauce; it will be absorbed as the pasta bakes.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 pounds store-bought ravioli
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.

Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.


Source: Martha Stewart website and Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook

Notes: This is a very freezer friendly dish. Prior to cooking, simply freeze entire casserole in an aluminum or freezer friendly casserole dish and cover with foil. Label and date. When you are ready to eat, defrost casserole in the fridge overnight or put frozen casserole in pre-heated oven and bake covered for 25 minutes, if defrosted (1 hour, if frozen). Remove foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned. Adjust the cooking times accordingly depending on whether you cook it from frozen or defrosted.

Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

Serves 8

Soaking the noodles in hot tap water (while making the sauce) eliminates the need to boil them.


12 dried lasagna noodles (about 10 ounces), uncooked
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes in puree
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 cups shredded shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)


Fill a 9-by-13-inch baking dish two-thirds of the way with hot tap water. Add noodles, and arrange them in alternating directions to prevent sticking. Let soak while preparing sauce.

Make sauce: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their puree, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon; bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. (You should have about 8 cups of sauce.) Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain noodles, transfer to a baking sheet; dry dish with paper towels. Spoon 1 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Fit 4 noodles in dish (crosswise if using short noodles, lengthwise if using long), overlapping slightly. Cover with 2 cups sauce, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with another layer, then top with remaining noodles, 3 cups sauce, and the rest of mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake 1 hour.

Remove foil, and continue baking until bubbly and browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 20 minutes. Cut and serve.

Note: The lasagna can be assembled up to one day in advance. Cover with foil, and refrigerate. You may have to increase initial baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.
Source: Martha Stewart website. I first saw this recipe on the Everyday Food PBS show that airs every Saturday.

Notes: I made this during the day while my son was napping and popped it in the oven about an hour and a half before dinner time. It was the first time I ever made lasagna and it was fantastic. Simple and delicious! Also, I made this before I started taking pictures of the finished products, so I'll have to make this again and take a picture next time!

Also, this is a very freezer friendly dish. Prior to cooking, simply freeze entire lasagna in an aluminum or freezer friendly casserole dish and cover with foil. Label and date. When you are ready to eat, defrost in fridge overnight or put frozen lasagna in pre-heated oven and bake covered for 1 hour, if defrosted (2 hours, covered, if still frozen). Remove foil and bake for an additional 30-60 minutes or until the lasagna is hot and bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned. Adjust the cooking times accordingly depending on whether you cook it from frozen or defrosted.

1 comment:

  1. yum! I love pasta! I don't care what anybody says about it. I will always eat it. That lasagna sounds tasty