Category Archives: pasta

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage, Peas, and Mushrooms

This is one of my “oldies but goodies” if you’ve been following my blog you most likely have seen this recipe or made this recipe and if you haven’t it’s time to make it.  It is a sauce-less pasta and a perfect week-night staple. One of our very favorite go to dinners.  Very light, very tasty, and very easy to make. There aren’t a lot of ingredients, and it doesn’t take a long time to make. My husband, Joel, hates green things and loves this dish. And he even eats all the peas on his plate, which makes me very happy. A shout out to Giada de Laurentis for the inspiration here.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lb turkey sausages, casings removed (just squeeze all the meat out; I like Italian-style turkey sausage) or chicken sausage works perfectly if I can’t find turkey or chicken sausage I use regular Italian pork sausage — and I like the spicy one but sweet will work just as well

1 box of cremini mushrooms (Baby Bella), approx. 10 oz. (roughly chopped) I actually used 2 small  8 oz. boxes because I had them ( not an exact science)

About 3/4 bag frozen peas (take them out of freezer about an hour before, just slightly thawed is perfect)

1 box Farfalle pasta (bow ties) or any pasta you like , bowties are perfect  (1 lb.)

Salt and pepper, to taste — adjust to your own taste , you can do at the very end but I usually add with mushrooms and then check at end

Freshly grated parmesan, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large, sauté pan, heat up two tablespoons olive oil (medium to high flame). Add the broken up turkey sausage and make sure to break up the large clumps. Cook for about 10 minutes (I like the sausage browned). When finished cooking, remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat a little more olive oil (approx. 2 TBSP). Add the chopped up cremini mushrooms and kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (approx. a little less than a teaspoon of each, depending on your taste. Keep in mind that sausage is naturally salty.) Sauté until all the liquid is gone—about another 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas and cook for a few minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and cook for another few minutes (I turn off the heat at this point and just let the flavors blend.)

In the meantime, cook pasta (according to package) al dente. Drain the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water from pasta (this is the trick with “sauceless pasta”) and add pasta to the pan with all other ingredients. Combine well, adding some of that pasta water at a time; as needed. Drizzle in the 1/2 cup of olive oil, mixing as you go. Taste for salt and pepper. I also add red pepper flakes, but I love spicy.

Serve with freshly grated parm cheese and you’re good to go.

*Serves 4 as a main dish and 8 as a side.

Lasagna Two Ways – Turkey Sausage or Spinach Filling (or Use Both)

photo 2 (15) photo 1 (19) I made this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa many moons ago and it has since been my go-to lasagna ever since.  I love the goat cheese in it and I love the turkey. In the years since, I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe, including substituting spinach for turkey, which makes it a perfectly delightful vegetarian (not vegan) lasagna, and you all know by now that I am always looking for vegetarian ways of doing things for my daughter. I do use frozen spinach and the only thing I will say is that you really, really need to get all the water out of that frozen spinach, so let it drain well and then actually wring it out with your hands–really wring it out till there is no more water, it may take a while to do this and you can actually do all the other steps while you are doing that. Lasagna is always a lot of work, but well worth it. It can be made a few days ahead; I like to cook it almost all the way and then wrap it and leave it in the fridge until I ‘m ready for to eat it. It can also be frozen in portion size pieces which is really the best, and it will stay frozen for a while. I’ve actually frozen it in one season, come back to Colorado the next season and defrosted it and reheated it, and it tasted awesome! So here you go, my go-to lasagna. If you’d like to use both spinach and turkey go right ahead!!! I always say that I have never met a lasagna I didn’t like but this is one you’ll love. The secret ingredient is the goat cheese for sure.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs. sweet (or if available, I do 1/2 sweet and 1/2 spicy) Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing (you can actually buy it this way) if you’d like you can use all pork sausage as well

If you are substituting spinach for turkey you’ll need about 4 boxes of frozen spinach, well-drained (read above) or use both the turkey  and spinach and then about 2 boxes of spinach

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

lasagna noodles (I use pre-cooked noodles…I love them)or use the regular boxed ones whichever you prefer (both are shown on photos) I really am loving those pre cooked ones though

15 ounces ricotta cheese (skim is fine but don’t use fat-free)

6 ounces creamy goat cheese (crumbled) this is what makes it so unique

1 cup grated parmesan, plus you may need a bit more for sprinkling on top

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 pound shredded mozzarella (However you can get this is fine; fresh is always delicious but the packaged ones aren’t bad for this purpose. I use skim here but never use fat-free cheese please.), but nice touch)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so (don’t burn it.) Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, about 10 minutes or until it is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and if you’d like add some of the fresh basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until sauce thickens. Taste for additional salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, the egg, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside. Now if you were adding the spinach this would be the time, in with the cheeses.

In a nice lasagna baking dish or Pyrex–whatever pan comes closest to 9 x 12. Ladle some of the sauce over bottom of the pan, then add layers of noodles over. With the pre-cooked I usually use 3 or 4 depending on the size of the dish but you do not have to overlap as they cook up nicely. (I never use the other noodles anymore.) Next, layer mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one-third of the sauce. Add more pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan on top. Bake for 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. I usually cook my lasagna covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15. If I am cooking it ahead of time, I only cook for 45 minutes covered and then I will brown it up when I reheat it. Also if you are reheating it, please take it out and let it sit at room temperature before putting it in the oven.

Obviously if you are using the spinach, that will be in your cheese layer, and your sauce will be without turkey. I mean…turkey and spinach would be pretty awesome, as well.

Good Luck! Have fun with this. Everyone loves lasagna.

Saucy Stuffed Shells – Baked and Meatless

Shells 004Shells 007Shells 009This is an oldie but goodie recipe of mine originally posted in 2013.

You must be thinking is she kidding Stuffed Shells? gotta be the most fattening food to eat , and it probably is outside of lasagna, baked ziti and the like.  I just love a baked pasta — nothing like it for good old fashioned comfort food. This recipe is delicious and sometimes you just hafta roll with it. I wanted a crowd pleaser that was vegetarian and something that can easily be made ahead and frozen.  My mind wanders to yummy, gooey food with a lot of cheese . Ah , yes Stuffed Shells.  I wouldn’t cook like this all the time, but once every blue moon no one is getting hurt, right? I served with a salad , no need for bread and butter here. Homemade Maple Syrup Salad Dressing ( see on blog) and it was really pretty awesome. Took a few hours to prepare, mostly because I made my own sauce ( Sunday night sauce) but feel free to use a jar of prepared sauce if you’d like. This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time, and just pop into oven.

Perfect for Christmas and New Years.

Of course if you love it with meat you can make a meat sauce and follow same directions.

Happy Holidays to all — and visit me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 box Jumbo Shells ( you won’t use all but a lot of them break, etc.)

1 lb. Ricotta ( I used Part Skim)

1 lb. Mozzarella Shredded ( I used Part Skim) if you can obtain fresh mozzarella and shred it that would make it even better! whatever works for you

1 cup grated Parmesan ( any kind you like)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*marinara sauce or any red sauce I made my own and use my own recipe. If buying sauce and there are some delicious good sauces out there, you’ll need at least 1 jar and maybe a 1 1/2 jars. I make a big batch of sauce and freeze the remainder. It’s nice to have a little extra sauce in case you need it when you re-heat the stuffed shells.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare Pasta , cook for between 12 and 15 minutes, you’ll want them soft but not undercooked at the center. Drain pasta and cool for easy handling.

Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the Parmesan, parsley and egg in a bowl. Taste for Salt and Pepper.

When shells have cooled down, fill them with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in casserole dish. I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex. Top Shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and grated cheese. Place shells in very hot oven . You can turn on broiler for last few minutes , it should be slightly browned and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Delicious!

Clams and Spaghetti–White Sauce

I made this recipe for the first time back in 2014 and highly recommend it for a quick and delicious meal.IMG_6286IMG_6287 (2)IMG_6283 (2)It is super easy and not intimidating at all. I got the recipe from Jessica’s Seinfeld’s book The Can’t Cookbook even though I know how to cook.  

Pick up Clams at your local fish store and just follow instructions for cleaning.

http://www.doitdelicious.com this is Jessica Seinfeld’s site or you can just buy the book “The Can’t Cookbook”.

Ingredients:

2 dozen littleneck clams

3 cloves garlic

app. 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc. I actually used what I had open which was a Pinot Grigio

1 box spaghetti, you can use any kind of spaghetti you like. I actually had bucatini style in the house so that’s what I used

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

*if you’d like a little heat and you should know your audience because mine didn’t so I put on table for those who wanted to add heat. If you are adding add app. 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Kosher Salt , to taste. I have to say I added almost no extra salt at all.

You’ll need a large deep pot to cook clams in. I used my Le Creuset Pot.

Directions:

I placed my clams in a colander and I put the colander in a larger bowl in the sink and I filled the bowl with cold water. I let the clams soak for a few minutes, then rubbed with my fingers to dislodge any dirt; then drained the clams. Throw away any clams that remain open or were smashed. ( my clams were pretty clean) I purchased them clean from Whole Foods. Any Fish Store will clean them for you, but always run them through this process to remove any residual sand, etc.

Smash the garlic and chop it . Chop the Parsley. Measure the Wine. Place all your ingredients near to the stove.

Cook Pasta according to directions on box.

Place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil until it heats up and shimmers ( a few minutes) Add chopped garlic to the pot, and cook , stirring , for at least a minute, until you can actually smell the garlic breaking down. Don’t Burn!!!! Now add the wine and the clams and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and you’ll want a fairly high flame, probably medium-high . Cook clams until they open, I probably cooked for about 10 – 12 minutes. Looked so beautiful! Add the parsley and the red pepper now if you’re using. Throw away any unopened clams, they are no good.

Once pasta is al dente and drained I transferred to a large serving bowl and added 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil to pasta, top with clams. Sprinkle if you’d like a tiny bit of coarse salt now if you feel it needs it. I did not need to add any additional salt or pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Amazing!!!! and did I mention Super Easy!!!!!

Italian Wedding Soup made with Chicken Meatballs

It is most definitely soup season again. the chill in the air makes it the most perfect time of year to start making soup for dinner again. even if you live in a warmer climate this is a most wonderful meal. Paired with a salad and some crusty bread you have a very heartwarming meal.

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes. It is a soup , which is also a full meal. It is hearty and pretty healthy.  It is one of my staples from September through April. It freezes well and you can just take it out of the freezer the night before, and you’ll have a wonderful meal the next evening. When you defrost it you will probably want to add broth/water to it. add a little at a time till you get the consisitency you like. Enjoy:)

Ingredients: chicken meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb chicken sausage, casings removed

3 slices whole wheat bread for bread crumbs ( I put into food proccesor with steel blade for crumbs) I remove crusts it should be app. 1 cup of bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 – 3 cloves)

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano ( fresh is best) but whatever you have will do

1/4 cup grated Parmesan ( again nothing beats fresh) but whatever you have will do here as well

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup Ingredients:

 

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small -medium yellow onion minced

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 )

1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine( use whatever you have open)

1 cup small pasta tubetini, ditalini, stars, etc.

5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

*fresh dill ( I love the flavor) add at your own discretion about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill.

Directions:

preheat the oven to 350 degrees  put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage,bread crumbs, garlic, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt and pepper  all in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  I use a teaspoon, and make 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. you should have about 30 to 40 small balls. bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. set them aside. (I made about 30 balls, they were a little larger this time out)

For the Soup:

 heat the olive oil over medium – low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot ( Le Creuset type pot) Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes, don’t brown. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, at this point I let soup cook a while to soften the vegetables, app. 1 hour. ( a low simmer) if you’re in a hurry you can probably do the whole soup in 1/2 hour , veggies will be soft enough to eat. if some of the liquid evaporates you can always add a little more broth.

chicken balls out of the ovenItalian Wedding Soup cooking

 Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Sometimes I just cook the pasta up in a separate little pot and pour the soup over the pasta when I plate it up, this helps with the freezing just the soup and meatballs and the pasta stays al dente. Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or so, the spinach will just wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Aunt Pammy’s Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

 

Fully Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

This recipe belongs to my sister, Pamela. She is a great cook, and this is her signature Thanksgiving Dish. We count on it every year as her contribution.  I highly suggest it if you like spicy because it is! It definitely packs some heat, be careful when you buy the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce , just make sure they don’t say Hot or you might be blowing the roof off of your Thanksgiving Dinner! Be prepared for a lot of flavor !  If your family likes spicy this is an awesome recipe, and you all know how much I like spicy by now.  This is certainly a new take on Sweet Potatoes because they aren’t sweet.  I also make a Sweet Potato dish with Marshmallows (* see recipe) and the two are always on my table, one sweet and one spicy.  Thanks Aunt Pammy.

Ingredients:

5 lbs.Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Kosher Salt –about 1/4 cup give or take a little . You’ll have to taste, start with less and add more as needed

Heavy Cream ( about 1 1/2 quarts)

Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce (canned) *look in Mexican Food Aisle in most supermarkets

Directions:

Slice Potatoes thinly and add salt. Place in baking dish you are going to use and cover with kosher salt, start with 1/4 cup and go to the 1/2 cup. Use your clean hands and toss together.

Puree Chipotles in small food processor .* you can keep pureed chipotles in fridge for up to 2 months. So you can do this step ahead.

Put approximately 1 – 2 tsp. of chipotle pepper puree in heavy cream and mix together

Pour Cream Mixture over Potatoes in an ovenproof baking dish ( earthenware is nice for this)

Place in 375 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven.

Potatoes should be somewhat set and browned on top when ready.

Enjoy! and Happy Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Penne Bake

IMG_9874IMG_9875I love pumpkin as you all well know by now.  It’s a very seasonal ingredient and seems to be only available in the can during the Holiday Season. Sometimes I’ll buy a few extra cans to have for the winter because after Thanksgiving and Christmas it becomes hard to find.

I like to have a pasta dish every year at my Thanksgiving dinner and it’s a good one for all the vegetarians out there.  This year I am making this delicious baked pumpkin penne. I am going to make it on the Monday before Thanksgiving and freeze it without putting the mozzarella cheese on top.  I will take it out of freezer Wednesday night and Thursday will  put cheese on top and bake till bubbly , you’ll want to make certain that it is completely defrosted and room temperature before putting it in the oven.  I will keep aluminum foil on it to re-heat and take off foil for last 20 minutes or so till it gets slightly brown.   It should start bubbling and to check for readiness put a fork right in the middle . If it needs more time and is getting too browned put foil back on and continue heating it up. You will cook it at 350 degrees as directions state.

One of the best things about baked pasta dishes is that they freeze so well. Making them some of the easiest dishes to prepare ahead. This whole thing including chopping up sage took maybe 1/2 hour to prep. My kind of dish!

As a side dish it should serve about 10-12 .

Ingredients:

1 box (1 lb.) penne pasta, cooked and drained well– cavatappi or rigatoni will work fine too.

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling

3 – 4  cups shredded mozzarella, divided , I used about 3 cups in pasta and another 1 cup on top. ( 2 packages 8 oz. shredded cheese) you’ll have a little left over

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cooked penne, pumpkin,  2  cup- 3 cups mozzarella, heavy cream, sage, salt and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste for salt.

Transfer mixture to a greased or well sprayed 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Since I was freezing I pulled it out after 20 minutes, cooled it down and wrapped it tightly and put in freezer.

Easy Skillet Lasagna

This was truly one of the most epic meals! The whole meal in under an hour.  While I love a real lasagna I didn’t want to put the whole thing together and deal with it. Once you have the ingredients the prep time is minimal and you aren’t using store bought sauce.  You will be making the sauce and it will all cook together in the pan .  This can be done a few different ways and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and spices to your own liking. All I can say is Wow!  Delicious! Perfect Sunday night dinner and I am planning on making this tonight again.   All in one pot is truly a great way to cook, no fuss, no muss and no having to deal with cooking lasagna noodles!!!!!! Yeah!

This can easily be made with ricotta cheese and spinach or any veggies you like. I would even try it with cut up eggplant!

*You’ll need a large oven proof skillet with lid

*perfect for freezing leftovers

Ingredients:

1 to 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil–I used 1 1/2 you can start with 1 and add more to onions if you need it

1/2 lb. ground beef ( I used 80/20)

3 Italian sausage links, casings removed ( I used Hot Italian Sausage) use what you like , you can use turkey or chicken sausage as well

1 onion, diced

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 8oz.can tomato sauce

*Italian seasonings , if you have Italian seasonings in a jar that’s great if not use a little dried oregano and dried basil. Italian Seasonings is available in the spice department of all food stores.

*1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

App. 1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt and more to taste

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

app. 10 lasagna noodles, broken into 1/4’s, if it breaks up differently don’t worry it’s a very loose recipe! 8 ounces Farfalle Pasta also works if you don’t feel like using the lasagna noodles. Un-cooked Noodles!!!!!

8 oz. mozzarella balls ( fresh) I used the small ones this time. Use whatever cheese you like but these worked out beautifully.  You can always use shredded mozzarella, or just cut a large ball of mozzarella into small pieces ( as much or as little as you’d like) if using shredded mozzarella, you’ll need about 1 cup

2 cups water

Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

*you can also use 1 cup Ricotta Cheese for a very cheesy version, I would use this if I was making it with spinach and going veggie.

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook till translucent, add garlic towards the end of onion process. Add ground beef to the onions, stirring occasionally till browned. I removed with slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. I then cooked up the sausage making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooked.  I then removed sausage to bowl with meat , onions, and garlic and drained all excess fat from pan.

Pre-heat the oven to Broil.

Return meat to pan, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spices, add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt to taste, if you need more add it. Add in the meat mixture and stir, bring to a simmer and add in broken lasagna pieces and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13- 15 minutes for al dente. I stirred it gently a few times just to make certain that the noodles cooked through and didn’t stick together.

Remove from the heat . I placed my Mozzarella on top and placed in oven under broiler for about 5 mins. Check on it because you don’t want it to blacken. All ovens are different, in mine it needed about 6 minutes to just start browning without burning, but you don’t want to burn this up so set timer and keep an eye on it!

Remove from the oven and let it sit out for a few minutes. Plate it up and let everyone add their own parmesan cheese! Enjoy! you will.

IMG_1101

Plated up and ready to eat

IMG_1097

Finished Product

IMG_1096

adding mozzarella before placing under broiler

IMG_1093

placing un-cooked noodles into sauce

This would serve 4. It’s tough to double because you would need a super large pan.

This makes for an amazing leftover!

Bucatini al’Amatriciana

Amatrice is a small town in Italy outside of Rome and this dish is named for it. This dish is intended to be made with guanciale , which is a pig jowl and it tastes like a porkier version of bacon or pancetta. I use pancetta, which now comes pre-diced in packages making for a very easy time. I also keep packages of the diced pancetta in my freezer, they defrost very quickly which makes them a perfect dinner ingredient.  I also use bucatini pasta which is thick and ropey with a hole like a straw. I wouldn’t wear white while eating this it’s a messy one. Super easy and delicious. I made it tonite with my marinated flank steak. I also used 2 containers of grape tomatoes, but you can easily substitute with 1 large  can of San Marzano tomatoes ( crushed )The cherry/grape tomatoes give it a lighter sauce, and I prefer it especially in the summer months.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 oz. diced pancetta ( or 1/4 lb. glacial)

1/2 yellow onion chopped finely

2 garlic cloves , minced

2 containers of tomatoes halved ( I used grape tomatoes , I love them ) or 1 large can crushed tomatoes 28 oz. size

*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( we like spicy) use your own discretion , can always add at the table

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, or any kind of Parmesan Cheese

1 lb. bucatini ( you can obviously use 1/2 pound and save any leftover sauce to freeze for another time) any thick spaghetti will do but I love this one in this recipe. Perciatelli is another good choice. Of course feel free to sub any pasta .

Directions:

In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly. I like my pancetta crispy, but just get it golden brown, about 5 – 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove pancetta into a separate bowl. Add onions to olive oil till translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes , I do this off the heat. I then add all the tomatoes, some kosher salt ( to taste) and some black pepper and add back in the pancetta. I also add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the tomatoes till they start to break down and form a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes , up to an hour for perfect sauce.

Cook Pasta according to package directions, tender but still firm to the bite. Before draining pasta take out about 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl, I add a little of the pasta water and then I add the sauce. Toss gently and serve. I served with Parmesan Cheese .

Bolognese Sauce — Turkey or Beef

I must say Pasta is probably my most favorite food to eat. Bolognese sauce is one of my most favorites and this is my easy version.  There are different variations of this recipe that I use. One is with beef and pork sausage, another is dark meat turkey with turkey or chicken sausage. I do use dark meat turkey because I think it is much more flavorful, it is ideal but if you really don’t want to use the dark meat use 1/2 white and 1/2 dark or all white meat it’s up to you . The only negative to this sauce is that it really needs 3- 4 hours for the sauce to cook down and if you want to shorten the simmer use crushed tomatoes and probably 2 hours would be fine. The longer the sauce cooks the more flavorful it will be.  This sauce would probably serve 4 nicely with 1 lb. of pasta. You can easily double it and freeze the leftover sauce. So nice to have it in the freezer and just have to make the pasta and you have a wonderful homemade meal. I have now started serving the sauce over shredded zucchini as well.  It is so delicious and you may feel a little bit better eating it over zucchini or spaghetti squash than noodles.  Pasta or Vegetable it’s pretty awesome. Look on my blog for Zucchini  Bolognese.  And  it  freezes  beautifully.

Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus more if necessary

1- 1 1/2 lbs. Italian style Turkey or Chicken Sausage, removed from casings. You can also mix in hot or sweet Italian pork sausage if you don’t mind using the pork. I think the pork has the best flavor — just saying

1 1/2 pounds ground Turkey ( I used dark meat ) or 1 lb. ground beef — I don’t love to cook with the lean version because it’s very dry so if using any ground meat use 85/15 at least.

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and finely diced ( app. 2 cups)

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice or you can used diced tomatoes which break down much quicker but you’ll definitely be adding liquid to that. Just keep an eye on it. If you’re in a real hurry and don’t have time for a 4 hour simmer use 2 cans of crushed tomatoes.

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 box. Rigatoni ( or any other macaroni you like ) or spaghetti or if you like use *shredded zucchini or *spaghetti squash

Grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

Directions:

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy pan over medium high heat. ( I use my Le Creuset ) Add the sausage meat and break it up as it cooks, turning now and then, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside, add the ground turkey to the pan along with a good pinch of salt and a few fresh grind of pepper. Cook the meat stirring here and there, for 10 minutes as well, till meat is nicely browned. I remove and put in bowl with the sausage which was set aside. Add another 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook until onion breaks down and gets soft, another good 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice along with 1/2 cup of water. ( You may need more water as you go) Add the sausage and ground turkey, stir the sauce well. Bring the sauce to a boil, season to taste with salt and pepper and turn the heat to low. Cover almost completely with a lid (allowing a little steam to escape) and gently simmer for 4 hours. You may want to add splashes of water if sauce is drying out. After 2 hours I added the 1/3 cup of Tomato Paste, and replace lid and continue simmering for 2 more hours. I added water as it cooked, you’ll have to judge for yourself how much water you add. I added 1/4 cup at a time. The longer this sauce cooks for the better it is.  You will have to continually stir and check for water which I do at least once an hour if not more often. Also a splash of red wine works well here too if you have an open bottle of a medium dry red wine — chianti or malbec or pinot — you know what I mean.

When the sauce is ready for serving, bring a large pot of water and prepare pasta according to package directions. You may want to reserve a little pasta water if you still need to thin it out.

serve with sauce over the rigatoni ( or any pasta you like) with a nice grating of Parmesan.

Yum!

*so many stores now sell zucchini already shredded and it’s dry and ready to go.