Tag: Italian

Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna Soup

Third weekend in a row of snow (not nearly as much, but still annoying) and yet another pot of soup.  This time, I tried Bobby Deen’s Lighter ‘Tastes like Lasagna’ Soup.  I am happy to report it really lived up to the name!

I made this soup even lighter by reducing the amount of sausage and adding mushrooms for more bulk.  You still get all the flavor from the sausage, I promise.  And I mixed in both mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, just like lasagna.

Thanks to Tuttorosso for the tomato sauce which they generously provided to me.  You can’t have lasagna without tomato sauce, and it was great to have this can in my pantry.  It gives this soup a rich red color and fresh tomato taste.


Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna Soup

3 links mild Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 t minced garlic
1 (16 oz.) package mushrooms, sliced
4 c. vegetable broth
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 t Italian seasoning
4 whole grain lasagna noodles (such as Ronzoni’s Healthy Harvest), broken into bite sized pieces
1/2 c. reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot on medium heat, begin to brown sausage meat.  As it cooks, add onion and garlic. When meat is almost browned, add mushrooms and saute until tender.

Add broth and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.  Add Italian seasoning.  Add noodle pieces, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cheeses.

-Lightly adapted from Bobby Deen

Pepperoni Minestrone

Big snowstorm = Big pot of soup.

This week, I decided to try Pepperoni Minestrone, loosely based on this recipe from Eating Well.  I normally make vegetarian soups, so this was a nice change of pace.  The (turkey) pepperoni is really just an accent, but it does add flavor.

I thought I didn’t have any pasta left in the house after my Tuna Noodle Casserole, but I had some leftover lasagna noodles from the Crockpot Vegetarian Lasagna project.  I broke them up, and while they weren’t as pretty as elbow pasta, they worked.

Even using low sodium broth, this soup was just a bit salty for my taste.  Of course, I could also blame that on the pepperoni!  But it was still a good bowl of warm soup, and will make lunches for the week.




Pepperoni Minestrone

1 T olive oil
1 c. chopped onion (fresh or frozen)
4 c. low sodium fat free beef broth
1 t thyme
3 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into small pieces
1 (16 oz.) package frozen zucchini
1 (12 oz.) package frozen peas, carrots, and green beans
1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes in juice, tomatoes coarsely chopped
2 oz. diced turkey pepperoni
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion, and saute until tender and lightly brown.  Add broth and thyme and heat until boiling.  Add pasta pieces, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add vegetables, tomatoes with juice, pepperoni, and beans and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan.

Crockpot Vegetarian Lasagna

Making lasagna the traditional way is a very tedious process.  You make your own homemade tomato sauce the first day, then assemble the lasagna the second day.  You can either bake it right away, or freeze it for later.  And it’s amazing, right?

This recipe is for a quick lasagna inspired by Eating Well, where your crockpot does most of the work.  You do sacrifice the pretty presentation of neatly cut squares, but this is still a delicious dish!  And those of you who like a saucy lasanga will really appreciate this version.  There’s a bit of extra liquid, but just serve it with a slotted spoon, and scoop up the extra sauce with a piece of crusty Italian bread.

Tomato season is so short in New England, so this recipe is made possible by some excellent canned tomatoes.  Tuttorosso was kind enough to send me some of their canned tomato products to sample, and they were great as promised.  There’s nothing like a freshly picked tomato in August, but canned tomatoes are the next best thing and available year round.



Here’s the lasagna, ready for serving.  Grab a spoon and dig in!  Garnish it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese of course. 🙂



Crockpot Vegetarian Lasagna

2 c. part skim ricotta
1 egg
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 T minced garlic
10-12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 c. part skim mozzarella, divided

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, egg, Parmesan, mushrooms, and spinach.  In a medium bowl, mix crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and garlic.

Coat inside of crockpot with cooking spray.  Add 1 1/2 c. of the tomato mixture to the bottom of the crockpot.  Break noodles to fit into crockpot, and form a single layer of noodles over the sauce.  Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.  Spread 1 1/2 c. sauce over the ricotta, followed by 3/4 c. mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers, starting with noodles, and then ricotta mixture, sauce, and mozzarella.  Add one more layer of lasagna noodles, followed by all remaining tomato sauce.  Cook on High for 2 hours.

Remove cover, and add remaining mozzarella.  Cover and cook on Low until cheese melts.

-Lightly adapted from Eating Well

Tuttorusso sent me the tomatoes as a gift.  I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions in this post, as always, are mine.

Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

Am I drowning you in soup recipes?  Sorry about that.  But is IS cold here.  And soup generally requires just one big pot which minimizes the dishes.  I’ll try to do something different this weekend.  Maybe I’ll make some bread to go with the soup?!  🙂

Stracciatella is a traditional Italian soup, although it’s not something that my Italian grandmother ever made.  I learned about the soup from this recipe in Eating Well, which inspired me to try my own.  My version includes broth, beans, pasta, and spinach, but traditionally you don’t need to include all of these.  The eggs are whisked in at the end, and create thin, white strands throughout the soup.  It’s very cool to watch!

It’s also very delicious, and the kind of soup that makes the perfect meal on a cold day.  I wasn’t sure how this would hold up as leftovers, but it reheated beautifully.  The second bowl was a little thicker because the pasta soaked up some of the broth, but it tasted just as good.  Now I’ll go work on some bread.



Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

6 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1 (14 oz.) can small red beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. pasta stars, or other small pasta
8 oz. frozen leaf spinach
4 eggs, beaten
Black Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan

In a large pot, heat broth, water, beans, pasta, and spinach until boiling.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and pour in eggs very slowly, whisking them into the hot soup.  Season with black pepper, and serve garnished with Parmesan.

-Adapted from Eating Well

Spinach, Tomatoes, and Stars

I featured plenty of sweet treats on the blog last week, so I thought we’d start off the new week with a simple, healthy recipe.  A dish with a lot of vegetables, but still warm and comforting.  Sometimes you just need a BIG pot of soup.

I was initially inspired by this Spinach, Tomato, and Orzo soup recipe.  But when I was strolling down the pasta aisle looking for orzo, I spotted these adorable little stars.  They aren’t whole grain, but I couldn’t resist.  I do think they make the soup a little more fun!

The soup is very thick, more like a stew, but the consistency makes it quite filling.  You can easily add another few cups of water or broth to thin it out if you like.  I added Parmesan cheese, and then swirled it in the soup with a spoon until it melted.  It was exactly the kind of recipe I needed, and I will be digging into this pot all week long.



Spinach, Tomato, and Stars

1 T olive oil
1 t minced garlic
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes with basil
1 (16 oz.) package frozen spinach
4 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1 c. stelline, or other small pasta

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute.  Add onions, and saute for 10-15 minutes, until soft and lightly brown.  Add tomatoes, spinach, broth, and water, and bring to a boil.  Add pasta, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until tender.

Linguine with Green Beans

I’ve had so many food adventures in the last few days, and spent very little time in my kitchen.  I had a lovely visit with a friend from college who had a list of great restaurants in the area, many of them new to me.  We had a delicious dinner at My Thai Vegan Cafe, and a fantastic brunch at Sofra in Cambridge.  (Their shakshuka was so much better and more authentic than my version.) I don’t really do restaurant reviews on the blog, but it’s safe to say that I will be visiting both places again soon.  We also enjoyed dessert in the form of an espresso cannoli from Mike’s and my very own Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.  It was such a treat to enjoy good food and good conversation with the whole family, and experience some new places in my backyard.

But suddenly it was Sunday afternoon, and I was alone again, facing a busy week ahead.  I decided to make a pasta dish inspired by Giada’s Whole Wheat Linguine with Green Beans, Ricotta, and Lemon.  Frozen green beans were the best option this time of year, although I do think this recipe would be infinitely better with fresh spring green beans.  I really liked the creaminess of the ricotta cheese, the scent of the garlic, and the slight tang of the lemon juice.  The dish doesn’t have any powerful flavors, but it’s a simple, comforting bowl of pasta.  I am not sure yet how it will hold up when reheated, but I will surely find out this week.



Linguine with Green Beans

6 oz. whole wheat linguine
1 c. part skim ricotta cheese
1 T olive oil
2 t minced garlic
1 (16 oz.) package frozen green beans
2 T lemon juice
Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (basil, oregano, garlic, and thyme)

Cook linguine according to directions.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 c. of pasta water.  Toss pasta with ricotta cheese.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes until just starting to brown.  Add green beans, and saute for 5-8 minutes.  Add 1 c. of reserved pasta water, and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Add pasta/ricotta mixture, and stir to coat.  Add more pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

Add lemon juice and several dashes of Pasta Sprinkle, or Italian seasoning.  Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Pumpkin Alfredo

My cooking club theme this month was pumpkin, and I decided to “warm up” for the event with this Pumpkin Alfredo recipe, inspired by Jamie from Live (and Eat) Abundantly.  Not only does this recipe use pumpkin in the sauce, but the base of the dish uses spaghetti squash for noodles.  If that’s not your thing, you can either replace the squash with pasta, or do a mixture of the two like Jamie did.

While I really liked the concept of this recipe, I think the sauce needed something.  I used plenty of salt and pepper, and it still came up a little short.  I think it could use a bit more cheese, and perhaps a freshly chopped herb, like sage.  Jamie mentioned that she used hot sauce, but I am not a big fan of the stuff.  That’s OK, there’s still lots of time left in pumpkin season to experiment with this one, and I look forward to trying again.



Pumpkin Alfredo

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
3 T olive oil
2 T flour
2 t minced garlic
1 1/2 c. milk, or non-dairy milk substitute
1 c. pureed pumpkin
1 t mustard
Salt & Pepper
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Cut spaghetti squash in half.  Place face down on a baking sheet, and roast at 350F for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh pierces easily with a fork.  Allow squash to cool so that it is easier to handle.  With a fork, remove the “strands” from the skin, and place in a large bowl.  Mix in spinach, and set bowl aside.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat olive oil.  Add flour and stir constantly for 5-8 minutes.  Be careful not to let the flour burn.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Slowly whisk in milk, pumpkin, and mustard.  Continue to cook and allow mixture to thicken.  Add cheese and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper.  Taste and correct as needed.  Add squash/spinach mixture and stir to incorporate.  (If you have a large squash, you may end up reserving some of the squash/spinach mixture for a later use.)  Serve garnished with additional Parmesan cheese.

-Adapted from Live (and Eat) Abundantly

Spaghetti Squash ‘Pizza’

After the success of my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, I picked up another squash at the market.  But this time, I wanted to try to use it as a base for pizza.  There are a lot of low carb pizza recipes which use spaghetti squash, but they often contain over a cup of cheese in the crust alone.  I wasn’t looking for a low carb option and I prefer to save the cheese for the top of my pizza, so I used a combination of cornmeal, egg, and cheese.

Of course, this is different than a wheat based crust (hence the quotation marks), but the texture was actually very good.  Spaghetti squash tends to release a lot of water, but after the initial bake the crust was firm and even got crunchy at the edges.  Although I love a saucy pizza, I was careful not to add too much tomato sauce here because I wasn’t sure how much the crust could really hold.  I was pleasantly surprised that the sauce didn’t overwhelm the crust at all.

The taste was fairly plain, so next time I would add garlic powder and maybe Italian seasoning to the crust.  And of course, I might add some more exciting ingredients to the top of the pizza.  This is a very delicious way to pack your pizza with vegetables!  The picture below isn’t that pretty, so I think I need to make another pizza soon so I can update the post.



Spaghetti Squash ‘Pizza’

4 c. cooked spaghetti squash strands (average yield from 1 small squash)
2/3 c. cornmeal
1 c. mozzarella cheese, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine squash, cornmeal, 1/3 c. mozzarella cheese, and eggs.  Mix well.  Spread onto a greased cookie sheet, and press mixture towards edges until crust is about 1/2″ thick.   Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven.  Spread tomato sauce on cooked crust, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 10-12 minutes more, until cheese is melted.


Spaghetti Squash ‘Lasagna’

Spaghetti squash is so much fun, I really should cook it more often.  I picked one up from the produce market the other day, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it.  So I searched the archives of my own blog.  (Pathetic, I know, but I forget which recipes I’ve made!) I found this Spaghetti Squash Bake from 2009, and decided it could use a few updates.  There may not be any pasta in this lasagna, but there’s still a fantastic tomato sauce and 3 types of cheese.  I happened to have a container of Crockpot Tomato Sauce in my freezer, but you can use whatever sauce you like.

The only way to make this recipe manageable from a time perspective is to cook the squash the day before.  Slice it open, clean out the seeds, pop it in the oven, and pick up a good book or watch some TV.  Let it cool while you chat on the phone.  Then scoop out the flesh into a container and put it in the refrigerator.  On your way home the following night, you’ll be so excited that the hard part of dinner is done!

I really liked the updates I made to this recipe, but it was still somewhat watery.  That’s not a big problem, but you may want to serve this with a slotted spoon.  While this isn’t a traditional lasagna, it’s still a great dish packed with flavor.



Spaghetti Squash ‘Lasagna’

1 large spaghetti squash
1 1/2 c. fat free ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 c. reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce, divided

Cut open spaghetti squash.  Clean out seeds and pulp.  Place facedown on a baking sheet and cook at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until softened.  Allow to cool.  Scoop out the flesh with a fork and set aside. (This can be done the day before.)

In a small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

Place 2 c. of spaghetti squash strands in a 9″ square dish coated with cooking spray.  Spread half of ricotta mixture on squash, followed by 1/2 c. tomato sauce, and 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese.  Place another 2 c. of squash on top, and repeat layers.  For the top layer, place any remaining squash in casserole dish and top with 1/2 c. sauce, 1/4 c. mozzarella, and 1/4 c. Parmesan.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.


Carmela’s Ravioli

My Mom had a special request for her birthday last week: Butternut Squash Ravioli.  You know what I really wanted to do was take out the flour, egg, and a rolling pin and make them from scratch.  In fact, I think that would have been a really fun family project.  (Can you hear my family groaning??)  For so many reasons, that just wasn’t realistic this year.  So we went with the second best option, ravioli made by Carmela’s Pasta Shop.

Those of you in the central CT area may be familiar with this store – they have a fantastic selection of fresh pastas and other Italian foods.  We chose two different type of ravioli: Butternut Squash, and Sausage and Spinach.  We served the Butternut Squash ravioli with a simple butter, sage, and cheese sauce, garnished with fresh parsley.  We served the Sausage and Spinach ravioli with a more traditional tomato sauce.

Both types of ravioli were excellent – it was difficult to choose a favorite, but my nod is to the Butterut Squash ravioli for being slightly more unique.  My Mom was very pleased with our ravioli dinner, and I highly recommend you take a trip to Carmela’s if you live in the area!