Posts Tagged ‘italian sausage’

Stuffed Shells

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

This is a great healthy Italian dish. It’s classic stuffed shells, but lightened. The combination of cottage cheese and ricotta cheese makes a rich, cheesy stuffing that melts beautifully. (If you aren’t a fan of cottage cheese, don’t worry–this doesn’t taste a thing like cottage cheese) Though you could serve this meatless, and I’m sure it would be good, I added a spicy chicken Italian sausage, which was delicious.

Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1 pound cooked pasta, jumbo shells, approximately 24 shells
  • 1 pound cooked Italian Sausage (I used Amy’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausages)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375̊°F.

Mix together cheeses, salt, garlic powder, oregano and pepper. Spread a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on bottom of a 9- x 13-inch baking dish.

When cooked shells are cool enough to handle, fill each shell with cheese mixture and place in baking dish. When all shells are in dish, spoon remaining tomato sauce over shells. Cover pan and bake for 20 minutes. Yields about 4 shells per serving.

Note: I’m sure we’ll be trying this one again. It was very tasty, though a little too saucy. Next time, I think I’ll cut back on the sauce a bit. The Italian Sausage I used was precooked, so all I did was slice it and saute it in a skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Spaghetti Sauce

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I’ve been crazy-busy at work lately, traveling at least a couple of days a week. That’s why the blog’s been so quiet–between the actual being on the road part, and the being exhausted when I get home part, there hasn’t been a lot of noteworthy cooking going on. There also hasn’t been a lot of grocery shopping going on. Much of what’s happened lately has been thrown together at the last minute, based on whatever’s in the cabinet.

Which led me to make my own spaghetti sauce. We had tomatoes, tomato paste, shallots, garlic—just no actual spaghetti sauce. I could’ve gone to the store, I guess. But instead, I took the “lazy” way and made the sauce from scratch. It turned out to be quite tasty!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine

Heat the oil and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, red pepper and wine. Simmer 30 minutes or more over very low heat, stirring occasionally. For meat sauce, add one pound of browned ground beef or cooked Italian sausage. Serve over hot spaghetti noodles.

Baked Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Last week, I handed David a cookbook and asked “What should I make for dinner?”

I should not have been surprised when he thumbed to the Pasta chapter for inspiration.

Nor should I have been shocked to hear him suggest variations on the theme of noodles, cheese, and sausage.

I wasn’t surprised. I really wasn’t. I ended up making this Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook.

Side Note: don’t think I’ve talked much about this cookbook before, and I really should. I picked up it up at Costco in a two book set (bundled with the Bon Appetit Cookbook). I like both books. Though they don’t have pictures of every recipe, what it lacks in illustrations it makes up in volume. Each book contains hundreds of recipes. The one we’re talking about today is broken down into sections on Starters, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta & Rice, Chicken/Poultry, Salmon, Shrimp, Meat, Potatoes, Vegetables, Breakfast, Quick Breads, Frozen Desserts, Cookies & Brownies & Pies & Cakes, Custards & Puddings & Fruit Desserts, and Drinks.

Food Network Magazine has divided its recipe sections into weeknight cooking and weekend cooking. I really like that distinction. I love to cook, but there are things that just don’t make sense for a Wednesday night, and I appreciate the ability to flip through recipes knowing that I have the time and energy to prepare any of them. This set from Bon Appetit really makes the same kind of distinction. While I like both books a lot, the Fast Easy Fresh cookbook is really for weeknight cooking. The Bon Appetit Cookbook is more weekend fare. (P.S. Not to oversell it, but for the price of either book, you also get a free subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. Not a bad deal at all, if you’re into that sort of thing. And I am!)

Now, back to David’s pasta.

The Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage is just what the title of the book promises. The recipe came together fast, and uses just enough prepared ingredients (the marinara sauce, sausage) to be simple–without compromising flavor. Freshly grated cheese and fresh herbs bring a brighter, fresher taste to the dish than the pasta we’d normally throw together on a weeknight.

rigatoni

Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. (4 servings)

  • 1 pound box rigatoni noodles
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Saute sausage in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up into crumbles as it cooks. Add garlic, stir 2 minutes. Drain off excess drippings and return to medium-high heat.

3. Stir in marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, and cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to 9×13 inch broilerproof baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top.

4. Place under broiler until cheese melt and begin to brown, watching closely to prevent burning (about 1 1/2 minutes). Sprinkle rigatoni with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Alton Brown’s Homemade Pizza Dough

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
I don’t have very exacting pizza tastes. I like frozen pizza and thick crust pizza and thin crust pizza. I like Pizza Hut and Aurelio’s AND Lou Malnati’s. I like pizza from a box.
David on the other hand, is a bit more picky. Though he also likes Aurelio’s and Lou Malnati’s. He’s not that into my pizza from a box, and he’d rather not eat frozen pizzas. Of course, when he wanted us to make pizza from scratch, he went to Alton Brown’s recipe. I have mixed feelings about this recipe. We’ve struggled with the recipe a little bit–once it was way too sticky, another time, the dough didn’t really rise or stretch. (Could be due to the age of the active yeast we used, though). You also have to prepare the dough way in advance…it needs to rise in the fridge for about a day.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with this pizza dough recipe, but I’m holding out for one that’s a little bit easier to work with.
Alton Brown’s Pizza Pizza Dough
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups bread flour (for bread machines)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Olive oil, for the pizza crust
  • Flour, for dusting the pizza peel

Directions

Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into a standing mixer’s work bowl. Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.

Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the oven floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven. Split the pizza dough into 2 equal parts using a knife or a dough scraper. Flatten into a disk onto the countertop and then fold the dough into a ball.

Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. Cover one ball with a tea towel and rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the steps with the other piece of dough. If not baking the remaining pizza immediately, spray the inside of a ziptop bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 days.

Sprinkle the flour onto the peel and place the dough onto the peel. Using your hands, form a lip around the edges of the pizza. Stretch the dough into a round disc, rotating after each stretch. Toss the dough in the air if you dare. Shake the pizza on the peel to be sure that it will slide onto the pizza stone or tile. (Dress and bake the pizza immediately for a crisp crust or rest the dough for 30 minutes if you want a chewy texture.)

Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Spread the pizza sauce evenly onto the pizza. Sprinkle the herbs onto the pizza and top with the cheese.

Slide the pizza onto the tile and bake for 7 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Rest for 3 minutes before slicing.

Note: As far as toppings go…go nuts. This time, we had some tomato, basil & feta pizza for Leah, while Dave and I stuck with a more traditional tomato sauce-sausage-mozzarella combo. Do what you like. 🙂

We were happy with the pizza stone method described in the recipe, and I do recommennd that you go that route if you’re going to make your own pizzas. Even our inexpensive one has made a vast improvement over pan pizza.

Ravioli Lasagna Fake Out

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I like lasagna. And who doesn’t? What I don’t like about lasagna is all of the work involved. I just don’t have the patience for all the layers, etc., especially after working all day. But rather than relegate the whole lasagna concept to the weekends, when I have the time and energy to bother, I started making this quick lasagna casserole dish. Affectionately, we call this “Fake Lasagna,” and it’s really quite good. All the flavor and none of the fuss!

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Ravioli Lasagna Fake-Out (Fake Lasagna)

  • 16 ounce package of cheese ravioli, frozen. (We use the Kirkland brand from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 regular sized jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef (or 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the frozen ravioli. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the ravioli float to the top. Drain and reserve.

2. In a large skillet, season the ground beef with Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, and garlic. Brown and drain. Return to skillet. Stir in the jar of spaghetti sauce.

3. Spray a 2 or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Add a spoonful of the spaghetti sauce mixture and spread across the bottom of the dish in a thin layer. (This keeps the pasta from sticking to the dish when you scoop it out later).

4. Place a single layer of ravioli on top of the sauce. Cover the ravioli with a ladle of the sauce/meat mixture. Sprinkle with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Begin a new layer of ravioli, top with sauce and cheese. Continue in this way until the casserole dish is full. I usually end up with at least 4 layers, but this will depend on how thick your ravioli are. You should end with a final layer of mozzarella cheese.

5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella cheese. You like cheese, right?

Sun-Dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Here’s another of our favorite risotto recipes. This is the one David always makes when he takes over the dinner preparations. It starts as a basic risotto milanese, with arborio rice, chicken stock, garlic, white wine, and parmesan cheese. We add to this classic flavor combination with Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes, which play nicely against the creamy texture of the risotto and the tang of Parmesan cheese.

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto

  • 3.5 cups Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth (stock is better)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage (or about three links, casings removed)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil/from a jar, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sun-dried tomato oil, from the jar
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil.
  2. Saute Italian sausage with garlic in a medium skillet, until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and put aside, reserving about a teaspoon of the  drippings in the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, add sun-dried tomato oil and arborio rice and cook over medium high heat until grains start to turn translucent and shiny at the edges. You want to make sure that all of the grains of rice get coated, so if there’s not enough fat in the pan, you can always add a teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil. Don’t add too much–coating the rice is good, but extra grease will make the final dish extra greasy.
  4. Begin to add chicken stock mixture, one or two ladles at a time, until the rice will no longer absorb the liquid. Stir often. When it is finished, the rice should have a creamy texture and be tender, with a little bit of bite to it (just slightly al dente).
  5. When rice is finished cooking, remove from heat, and stir in cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and cooked sausage. Serve immediately.

Note: As I’ve said before, we make risotto often around here. Risotto is more about the method than anything else, and once you get that down, you can do just about anything with the flavors and ingredients. You’ve seen Mexican Risotto here, but we also do a similar dish to this one with chicken, a tomato based sausage risotto, cheddar risotto arancini, sausage arancini, etc. Like I said, once you get the method down, you’re really only limited by your imagination.