Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Rigatoni with Summer Squash, Sausage, and Goat Cheese.

Ok, this post will be short and sweet. If you want to hear me babble on about summer squash, go to my summer squash gratin recipe. This is a very simple pasta dish that not only comes together quickly, it is great on a hot summer day since it doesn’t require a long simmering sauce. OK, so here is what you will need.


1 pound of rigatoni pasta

olive oil

1 pound of Italian sausage (I used hot but I think next time I’ll do a 50/50 mix of sweet and hot)

1/3 cup of chopped shallots

2 cups of chopped yellow summer squash

3 ounces of Chèvre goat cheese

2 tablespoons of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Fresh cracked black pepper

Grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup of reserved pasta water


Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, sauté the Italian sausage in olive oil removing the casing and breaking up into small pieces. When cooked remove and set aside. Remove the leftover oil from the pan but leave all the browned goodness behind. Add more oil and sauté the yellow squash and the shallots until soft but still a bit crisp. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain reserving a 1/4 cup of pasta water. Toss all the other ingredients back into the hot pan except for the Parmesan Reggiano and mix well. Serve topped with the Parmesan cheese and garnish with additional parsley.


Tuscan Style Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup (Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly)

Originally when I picked up a $1.30 bag of dried cannellini beans a vegetarian dish was the furthest thing from my mind. I had visions of half the bag becoming  Creole white beans and rice simmered with a ham hock, andouille sausage, and ham. The other half would become a Tuscan style bean soup with Italian sausage and chicken broth. I ran the recipes by my wife and she promptly advised me that since starting this site we have been eating a lot more meat than usual. I thought OK, no big deal, I’ll make a vegetarian version of both. I haven’t figured out the Creole beans and rice yet but what follows was an impromptu meeting of myself, a bag of dried beans, and a vegetable drawer.

Cooks Notes: There are several options (in my opinion) of using beans in this dish. I used a pressure cooker which I love. If you don’t have one you need to buy one. Don’t be afraid, the new ones are fool-proof and not dangerous like some of the older models. These beans were done in 16 minutes in the pressure cooker. If I had made them on the stove top they would have taken an hour or more not counting the soup simmer time. Canned beans are always an option to make life a bit easier. I however threw this dish together and have not tried it with canned beans. I’m sure it will be great but now you have my disclaimer. Also for the budget minded people I used 65 cents worth of beans in this dish and it probably makes around 6 to 8 servings. Dried beans are inexpensive! 


8 ounces of dried cannellini beans soaked overnight  (or 2 15oz cans rinsed and drained)

2 onions one diced one cut in half

4 cloves of garlic 2 diced or pressed and 2 peeled and left whole

3 large celery stalks 2 diced and 1 quartered

2 carrots diced

1/4 cup of fresh fennel bulb (white part only)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1/2 wife said a bit too spicy! I liked it.)

1 quart dark vegetable broth (6 cups if using canned beans)

1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes drained (I like Dei Fratteli)

3 large handfuls of kale about 4 to 5 cups chopped

6 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped

Beans pressure cooker: Place soaked beans, the halved onion, 2 whole garlic cloves, and the quartered celery stalk into the pressure cooker. Cook  following the directions that came with your model. Mine said 3 1/2 cups water. Cook under high pressure until done 12 to 16 minutes. Remove vegetables and discard. Set beans and cooking liquid aside.

Beans slow simmer method:  Place soaked beans in a dutch oven and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add the above listed vegetables and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs or until soft adding water if necessary. Remove vegetables and discard. Set aside the beans and their cooking water.

Canned beans: Drain, rinse, and set aside along with the 2 extra cups of vegetable broth.

Directions for putting it all together: Place 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot. Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel bulb for about 5 minutes or until partially soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add drained tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Simmer for about 5 more minutes to thicken the tomato liquid. Add the beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chopped kale, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsley and simmer 10 more minutes or until the kale is soft. Add the basil and stir. Serve and enjoy.

Milanese Vegetarian Casserole with Polenta

This dish is what I would call hearty vegetarian. Not low-fat vegetarian due to the cheese but delicious none the less. This dish is a prime example of how flavorful and exciting vegetarian cooking can be. I promise you, you will not miss the meat in this one. This recipe originated from New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. If you continue to follow my blog you will start to see certain patterns. One of these patterns will be the influence of Moosewood restaurants cookbooks on my vegetarian cooking. Even if you choose to change their recipes to your liking, you wont be able to argue with their flavor combinations. These are by far some of the most talented vegetarian chef’s in the world. As a matter of fact, they were vegetarian before being vegetarian was cool. Their restaurant goes back to the sixties when the food pyramid was meat, meat, meat, and more meat. They also were nominated one of the top thirteen most influential restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit magazine. Ok, so lets get started.

Cooks Note : This recipe may seem like a lot of work but it actually comes together very easy. Don’t be intimidated by making your own polenta. It’s not only easy, it’s a great way to use up that old yellow cornmeal in the back of your cupboard. Make this on a day off when you have more time and dazzle your family. I found the original recipe was too much polenta and cheese. The following directions have been modified a bit from the original recipe.

Ingredients for the polenta

2 cups of yellow cornmeal

6 cups of water

1/4 cup of butter chunked

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese


Bring water to a boil, slowly add cornmeal stirring constantly. Add butter, salt and pepper and continue to stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir constantly for fifteen minutes or so. Stir in cheese. Spread out in a well buttered baking dish and place in a cool area or refrigerator.

Ingredients for the Milanese

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 garlic cloves minced or pressed

4 cups of diced onions

2 carrots peeled and diced

3 stalks celery peeled and diced

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil or 3 TBSP dried

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

black pepper to taste

3 cups cubed eggplant (peeled only if skin is bitter)

1 green pepper chopped

1 zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups)

1  15oz can drained petite diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions for Milanese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions until translucent. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add carrots, celery, herbs and the spices and cook for about five minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for another 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and zucchini and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well to coat. Continue cooking for a few more minutes. Turn off flame and stir in cheese. Top mixture evenly with polenta mixture (to your liking, you probably wont use it all). Top with mozzarella. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the cheese is browned. Let rest for 15 minutes or so before serving.     


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