Spinach Bacon Ravioli

Spinach Bacon Ravioli

Simple Savory Spinach Bacon Ravioli

Quick and simple doesn’t necessarily mean calling for pizza delivery (though sometimes that is a nice treat). You can make a quick delicious meal that is good on the wallet and the waistline. Spinach Bacon Ravioli is one of those meals that can be made in a jiffy but tastes luxurious.

Spinach Bacon Ravioli is a 15-minute meal. Well, 30-minute if you count stopping at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. Ok, I’m pretty quick in the grocery store so it may take you a little longer. The ingredient list is short: ravioli, bacon, whole garlic, spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. That’s it.

On The Go

I usually have bacon and ravioli in the freezer. Garlic and lemons are in the fridge. So spinach is what I’m stopping for in the grocery store if I haven’t thought ahead. That said I tried to stock my veggie bin with veg we like, and spinach is one of them. With my schedule going in different directions, I am trying to meal plan more and do a week’s shopping in one go. Am I successful? Not really, but I keep trying. For me, the key is to have essential ingredients that I can create different meals on the fly, depending on what I feel like or the time I have. And time is something I have a limited supply of these days.

Let’s get back to the dish. Super simple. With seven ingredients – five if you exclude the salt and pepper – you can make a fancy restaurant meal at home. I use refrigerated cheese ravioli, but frozen works just as well. Don’t limit yourself to cheese ravioli; get creative. When I’m preparing the bacon, instead of wiping out the pan to cook the garlic and spinach, I use the bacon fat. Why get rid of that super flavor? You can swap out the bacon fat for olive oil, but I say use the fat. Just gives everything a wonderful rich flavor. And it isn’t like there is an inch of fat in the pan, more like a coating. Just enjoy it. (Don’t do it with every meal, every day, OK?)

Looking for more pasta dishes? Visit the pasta section.

 

Spinach Bacon Ravioli

Ingredients

  • 1 package ravioli
  • 6-8 slices bacon
  • 2 gloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 10 oz container baby spinach torn
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation

  • Boil then cook ravioli to package directions.
  • While water is setting to boil, cut bacon into sections using a kitchen scissors then cook in pre-heated pan over medium-high heat.
  • When bacon is almost crispy, add sliced garlic cooking until brown.
  • Add spinach, salt, and pepper stirring until spinach is wilted.
  • Add in lemon juice stirring.
  • Drain ravioli arranging on plate topping with spinach bacon mixture.
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Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi

Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi

Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi with Kale

 

Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi is one of the only recipe where I can get my guys to eat kale without faces of pure disgust. The menfolk in my house are not fond of kale or any other bitter greens regardless of how it is prepared. You can simmer those greens with pork, butter, and salt for years and it still isn’t tasty enough. So this is a challenge since dark leafy greens are good for you.

While I like all sorts of greens, be it not often prepared in a healthy manner outside of spinach, I want to get more greens in my family’s diet outside of salads. In the summer, salads are wonderful, but in the winter something warm and hearty is needed.

 

Fits the Bill

 

This is where Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi fits the bill. It is a one-pot meal with simple ingredients. Outside of kale and maybe gnocchi – and I’ll come to that in a minute – are pantry items. All it is veg broth, minced garlic, milk, butter, white beans, and chunk Parmesan cheese. My pantry has an array of canned white beans such as Northern White, Cannellini, and butter beans. Use whatever you have in your cabinets. The final texture may change, but do what works best for you. Shock your pantry with bottled minced garlic and veg broth. I always have “real” butter on hand to cook and bake with in my kitchen. Don’t skimp on the Parmesan cheese. Buy a chunk and grate it yourself. One it is cheaper and two it is real cheese.

You can buy various types of gnocchi today. I admit there are three packages of potato gnocchi in my cabinets along with penne pasta. I decided last winter I was going to make homemade gnocchi. As I continue to evaluate my relationship with processed foods, I look to make  my food from wholesome ingredients. I have to say that homemade gnocchi is amazing compared to the store-made. Just a level of fresh and taste. While it is simple, there is a process in making them well. If you want to make homemade gnocchi then go here.

This a family favorite even with the kale in it, but when kale isn’t available then I use spinach. It is a quick vegetarian meal for a busy weekday night.

 

homemade gnocchi

 

Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • - 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • - 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • - 2 cups veggie broth
  • - 1 cup milk
  • - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • - Salt and pepper, to taste
  • - 16 ounces gnocchi
  • - 3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • - 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained
  • - ? cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Preparation

  • - Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
  • - Add garlic; stir constantly for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • - Add broth, milk, butter and a few dashes of salt and pepper.
  • - Add gnocchi; stir to combine.
  • - Cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes until gnocchi is soft and cooked through.
  • - Stir in kale, beans and Parmesan cheese.
  • - Cook until kale is just wilted.
  • - Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
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Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Nothing Beats Homemade Gnocchi

 

Being Irish with the DNA test to show I have no southern European genes, pasta came out of a box and the sauce from a jar growing up. Fresh pasta was unknown. In the late 70s and early 80s, my mom learned how to make tomato sauce and meatballs from our Italian-American neighbors who wanted to share their love of food with us. That was the beginning of the love of Italian food.

Fast forward 30 or so years, I got the nerve to make pasta. I have been making my own sauces for years so it shouldn’t be too much of a leap for me to make my own pasta. Gnocchi is a versatile pasta working with many different sauces and soups. It is a potato dumpling.

 

The Gnocchi Process

 

Gnocchi is easy to make if you follow the recipe. There is a process to this humble food. Make it a family affair getting kids in involved in making their dinner.

Here is the low down on making them:

  • The potatoes are key. Boil them with their skins on until fork tender about 20 minutes. This helps the potato not to absorb access water. Remember dry potatoes are good and water potatoes are bad. Over-boiling the potatoes causes them to become mushy.
  • Invest in a potato ricer. I wish I did. I mashed my potatoes and they weren’t fine enough leaving the gnocchi lumpy.
  • When you go knead the dough, be careful not to over-knead. Also be careful at this point of adding flour. By adding too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.

Maybe I will attempt to make another type of pasta.

 

Gnocchi Making in Photos

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

homemade Gnocchi

 

Homemade Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • - 2 1/2 lbs. of potato, approx. 4 lg. potatoes
  • - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup or more for working dough
  • - 1/2 tsp. salt
  • - 1 egg

Preparation

  • - Boil potatoes with their skins on a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Don't over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
  • - Drain the potatoes well allowing them to cool in a colander.
  • - Peel the potatoes removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
  • - Using a potato ricer, rice the peeled potatoes.
  • - Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour.
  • - Sprinkle with salt.
  • - Make a well using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
  • - Add the egg into the center of the well the beat the egg with a fork.
  • - Incorporate ingredients using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
  • - Begin to form the dough using your.
  • - Knead the dough by pulling together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
  • - Shape the dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
  • - Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
  • - Roll into ropes by gently pushing with fingers spread.
  • - Cut dough ropes using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife into 1-inch pieces then cut ends at an angle.
  • - Ridges or indents using a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb.
  • - Cook the gnocchi until they float to the top in a pot of boiling water for about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes.
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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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