Simple Pasta Salad

Simple Pasta Salad

Simple Pasta Salad for the Summer

It is the dead of summer where there is no escaping the heat and humidity. Too hot to grill even to grill. No one really wants to turn on the stove especially in the afternoon. I am no exception. Even boiling water feels too much. Making this simple pasta salad is worth turning on the stove for it though. I like to make the pasta salad in the morning while the air conditioning is still running before it switches over to day mode. Making it early allows the flavors to blend together by dinner.

l keep this salad as simple as possible. I use whatever smallish pasta I have in the pantry. In the summertime, I usually have fresh tomatoes and seedless cucumbers on hand. I do not usually have bottled salad dressings outside of real blue cheese dressing. I prefer to make my own such as Buttermilk-Basil and Basic Italian vinaigrette. The flavor is so much better and fresh tasting. Just takes a couple of minutes longer than it does to shake the bottle. It is also good to finely grate fresh parmesan cheese. Worth the extra effort on both counts. Really.

This simple pasta salad is good as a side to grilled meats and seafood as a stand alone meal.

Simple Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz box of small pasta such as elbow
  • 1 seedless cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Basic Italian Vinaigrette

Preparation

  • Boil water of pasta and cook according to directions on the box and drain setting aside.
  • Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions placing in a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle Italian seasoning into the grated parmesan cheese.
  • Mix pasta with vegetables then add cheese and Italian vinaigrette.
  • Chill for at least two hours.
  • Serves a huge crowd and/or many lunches for days to come.
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Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Comfort Food: Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

My neighbors are Italian-Americans from New York City. Those two can cook like nobody’s business. Most Italian-Americans can cook like nobody’s business. Ten pounds may have found its way to my body alone on their homemade desserts and cookies. Not alone from their spaghetti and meatballs.

Bob who’s family is originally from Sicily – and yes I know most Sicilians and Italians will agree that Sicily isn’t really Italy – tells stories of Sunday dinners. Coming back from church, the smells of tomato sauce simmering on the stove came from apartment’s kitchen window. Sunday dinner was tomato sauce with sausages, meatballs, and oxtails simmered all day to perfection.

To me, spaghetti and meatballs are the ultimate comfort food even though I am not Italian-American. I love making it. It is a process of love. Forming the meatballs. Making the sauce. The smell of it all on the stove. The look of it on the plate. Lastly, the taste of complete satisfaction. You will overeat when you make this. And that’s OK.

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipes

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 stems fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 4-6 stems fresh oregano
  • 2-4 stems fresh rosemary
  • 2-4 stems fresh basil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Preparation

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Add ¼ cup olive oil to a 10-inch high sided sauté pan or a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the parsley, oregano, rosemary and basil and cooking until the herbs become crisp.
  • Remove the herbs and discard.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the oil cooking until the onions are transparent.
  • Add diced tomatoes.
  • Season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce reduces and thicken, stirring occasionally.

Italian Meatballs

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

  • Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, garlic powder, basil, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add a little bit of water.
  • Mix until well blended.
  • Form into 1.5 inches in diameter.
  • Set aside and allow them to rest.
  • Heat oil in large pan.
  • Brown meatballs on all sides.
  • Place in tomato sauce allowing them to cook through.

 

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs

Hearty Vegetarian Ragu

Hearty Vegetarian Ragu

Meat won’t be missed with this Hearty Vegetarian Ragu

That’s right. Meat will not be missed with this hearty vegetarian ragu. Brown lentils replace the traditional beef or pork in this Italian mainstay. This is a very rich meal and no one will walk away from the table hungry.

I’m always looking for filling vegetarian pasta recipes to serve my family. Italian food is a favorite cuisine. The richer the sauce the more I like it. We adore Meat Sauce Belgian-Style, but that has ground beef.

Vegetarian Ragu Recipe

vegetarian ragu

Hearty Vegetarian Ragu

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Handful of baby carrots or 1 large carrot, chopped finely
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth with extra
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 box (16 ounces) spaghetti
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preparation

  • Heat 4 cups of water in a sauce pan and the lentils bringing to a broil cooking until lentils are tender about 20 minutes.
  • In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add mushrooms, garlic, carrot, bell pepper and onion. Cook until vegetables are very brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add wine; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, water, lentils, oregano, salt, ground pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Add cooked lentils and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf and stir in basil.
  • Prepare spaghetti while ragu is simmering.
  • Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions.
  • Serve ragu over spaghetti. Garnish with parsley and serve with Parmesan cheese.
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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna

Completely Cheesy Slowcooker Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna

Lactose intolerance folks it maybe advised to look away in regards to this very cheesy spinach lasagna. Unless you wish to torture yourself with a recipe with four different cheeses. It is hard to resist the dairy goodness in this one.

An amazingly simple vegetarian slow cooker meal for anytime of year. It is really a dump and go… OK not exactly dump, but layer and go recipe. If you are the industrious type then you can make your own tomato sauce; however, sauce out of the jar is OK. I use Rao’s. It is the really big jar since there is nothing worst with lasagna is to have dry lasagna. And of course uncooked noodles. Not that you will have that issue with it being in the slow cooker for 4-8 hours. I am a cheese addict so the more cheese the better and the cheese in this recipe is very generous.

While meat lasagna tends to be heavy, this spinach lasagna is very light. If you wanted more veggies, then I would saute them first to soften then add to the cheese mixture. Veggie lasagna coming out of the slow cooker does sound rather nice.

Just a reminder, this will feed a crowd. It is a lot of food. Either throw a party adding a salad and bread or expect to enjoy this everyday for lunch for two weeks. Not that that is a bad thing mind you.

Looking for more slow cooker meals? I have a whole section on that.

Slowcooker Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients

 

Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

 

  • 4-6 cups tomato sauce
  • 12 to 15 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 32-ounces container light ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5-ounces container fresh baby spinach
  • 3 cups low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Preparation

 

 

  • Spray the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, feta cheese, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, oregano, parsley and eggs; mix until thoroughly combined then add the spinach making sure it is mixed well.
  • Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of the pot.
  • Arrange a layer of the noodles over the sauce.
  • Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta.
  • Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan cheese over the ricotta mixture.
  • Top with a cup of tomato sauce.
  • Repeat these layers until all the ingredients have been used up .
  • Top the lasagna with a layer of lasagna noodles covered with tomato sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Turn off the crock pot and let stand 30-45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

 

Meat Sauce Belgian-Style

Meat Sauce Belgian-Style

A Bit of University with Meat Sauce Belgian-Style

Having lived with Europeans when I was at university then living in Belgium, meat sauce over spaghetti was a staple meal. It feeds a crowd and cheap. All good things when you are a student.

One of my favorite cookbook is Ruth van Waerebeek’s “Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.” It is true. Everyone does eat well in Belgium. This cookbook is filled with amazing recipes that will bring your taste buds alive and satisfy your soul. Worth having in your cookbook collection.

Back to the meat sauce. This is a clean out your veggie bin recipe. Most veg will work. I usually make this with mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. Thyme is an addition to the recipe which I love. Most tomato sauces just have basil and oregano. While I do not drink wine, I do cook with it and buy drinkable wine. Best to cook this recipe the night before or in the morning giving the flavors time to blend.

 Meat Sauce Belgian-Style

Ingredients

 

  • 3tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz package white mushroom, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced or couple of handfuls of baby carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon thyme
  • 1 heaping teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1lb thin spaghetti
  • Tabasco sauce(optional)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese or Swiss cheese

Preparation

 

  • Heat olive oil in deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add half the garlic and all the ground beef. Continue cooking over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to stir and break up the meat with, until meat is no longer pink.
  • Stir in sugar, oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Add tomatoes and juices, red wine, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.
  • Add remaining garlic.

 

 

Clear Your Sinuses Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili

Clear Your Sinuses Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili

Clear Your Sinuses Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili

Have a cold? Clogged up schnoz? Well this spicy sausage cannellini bean chili will make your nose run. And you will gladly catch it. This chili is a friend and family favorite and depending on who eating, I can adjust the spice levels as not to cause red faces and gasping after the first spoonful. The recipe I’m sharing here is the moderate for us. We like things on the spicy-side in this household so be aware.

This recipe is super quick, easy, and tastes so good. It is a perfect pantry meal. I always stock my pantry with onions, various types of canned tomatoes, and beans. All I usually have to pick up is the sausage. I like the sausage without the castings. Just dump and brown and don’t have to worry about removing the castings. As for the canned tomatoes, stewed tomatoes are good; however, regular diced tomatoes will work well. The recipe is a 30-minute meal making it the perfect cooler weather meal for weekdays and weekends. It feeds a crowd and is super for potlucks. You can add sour cream or cheddar cheese as toppings serving with corn bread or tortilla chips. The soup always tastes better the next day.

What is your favorite chili recipe? 

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Recipe

Ingredients

 

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Ingredients

 

  • 1 large or two small/medium onions diced
  • 1 14oz. package hot Italian sausage
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups water

Preparation

 

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Browning Sausage and Onion

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Browning the Onion and Sausage

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Ingrediant Dump

Spicy Sausage Cannellini Bean Chili Adding Beans

 

  • Combine diced onion and turkey sausage in a Dutch oven, and cook over medium-high heat until browned, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the spices and remaining ingredients then bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat simmering for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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