Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category


I know I already have a version of turkey meatballs with spinach, but I was looking for something a more savory, so found  a few more recipes, and settled on this one as a base, and then just kept adding onto it.  I know you’re not supposed to mess with a good thing, but dare I say it, but I think I made it even better.




  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, soaked in a splash or two of milk
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Scant handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 lb of chopped pack frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

Add all the ingredients, stir, and then shape into small ice-cream scoop size balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.




When I have meatballs with spaghetti, I am transported to being eight years old watching Lady and the Tramp. The moment when Tramp pushes a meatball with his nose to Lady at the end “Bella Notte” is imprinted in every Disney viewers’ minds, making Italian food – and particularly spaghetti – the emblem of romance, with the last meatball at its heart-stopping core.

I am not entirely sure, however, why meatballs are often associated with the other type of heart-stopping, too: cholesterol heaven. They’re not too bad for you, and this turkey spinach version is particularly heart-healthy. I followed Bon Appetit’s recipe for Turkey spinach meatballs because I loved the idea of getting some of my greens in one meal with my pasta. What I was additionally excited about was the volume: this made almost twice the number of meatballs I usually get from the regular non-spinach variety, so if you’re a glutton like me, this is the way to go.



My husband bowed, “Pleased to meet you, Lasagna.” 

My lasagna replied, “Charred, I’m sure.”

I love a good pun. That one, not so good, but it kept me in good spirits as I served my slightly burnt but otherwise delicious lasagna to Jimmy for dinner.

Lasagna is an easy dish to master, I’ve been told, but for some reason, I have yet to make it perfectly. The first few times was due to a bad recipe. This time the malfunction was entirely my fault: the timer went ding, and I kept watching youtube, thinking, “oh, mozarella tastes better a little crispy anyway.” Other than that, though, a success, so we can just chalk up the burnt cheese to details.

Recipe from here, though I replaced the tomato sauce with pasta sauce with Italian seasoning, added more salt (sprinkle here and there!) and added half a cup of grated parmesan to the spinach ricotta mixture for some je ne sais quoi umami bounce.

eggplant rigatoni

Posted: September 26, 2014 in Italian, pasta, Vegetarian
Tags: , , , ,

Let’s face it: I’ve been lazy. While the cooking continued at a nice, creative pace, the writing stopped, and I ran to eat dinner before I had a chance to snap a photo for the blog (hence this sad excuse for a blog post sans photo). I had to post, though, because I didn’t get this from an online recipe and I was afraid I’d forget the recipe in a month when I wanted the same nutty Italian taste. So here it is. While I don’t have photo to show as proof, take my word for it: it was awesome.

eggplant rigatoni

– 1 large eggplant
– one medium yellow onion
– one red bell pepper
– one 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
-half cup of ricotta cheese
– one cup toasted walnuts
– half box of small pasta shells
-three cloves of garlic

servings: four generous servings, six moderate servings

– Roast the eggplant, onion, and bell pepper in an oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. In the mean time, cook pasta according to package instructions and toast the walnuts.

– When the roasted vegetables are done, toss them in the blender with the walnuts for until pureed smooth.

– In a pan, heat garlic in a bit of oil until lightly yellow, then add the pureed vegetables and can of tomato sauce. Stir until combined, then add the ricotta cheese, and finally the shells.

– Serve hot!

I had olives whole for the first time when I was 20 years old, in a small bistro in Paris, over red wine. Before then, I avoided them: I picked them out of pizza, I pushed them to the other side of the table at dinner, and I passed over them in the grocery aisle. Why would anyone want to try anything that salty? In the darkness of a French bistro, however, as I sipped my glass of Merlot in my black turtleneck, nothing seemed more appropriate than to pop a green olive in my mouth and suck on it like a Ricola. I think I still thought it was gross at the time, but olives seemed to fit my new french persona, so I just swirled the wine around my mouth to mask the saltiness. It worked. Today, there are few foods that make me feel as sexy and sophisticated as olives do.

I’ll admit, though, that I made the following recipe less because I felt like having olives for dinner, but because I wanted to try out my new cast iron skillet. (The skillet passed the test). This recipe, taken of course from Smitten Kitchen, is surprising: something about the grapes not only balances the olives, but also mutes their saltiness that most people hate so much about them. Paired with red wine and risotto, this recipe was worth dressing up in a cute black sweater dress — even if you’re just at home and no one’s coming over for dinner.


  • 3 pounds (1 1/3 kg) chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts), with skin and bones
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (90 grams) seedless grapes
  • 1 cup (130 grams) pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in middle. Pat chicken dry, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil

    in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (use a cast-iron skillet if you’ve got one) over medium- high heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5 minutes per batch. I like to take a lot of care in this step, not moving the chicken until the skin releases itself and has a nice bronze on it.

  2. Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken, grapes, and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with rosemary and see how long it takes guests to offer to slurp the sauce up with a spoon.

In our household, mushrooms and onions come stocked in great quantities. We can’t seem to find anything we wouldn’t want with mushroom. Stir fry? Add mushrooms. Bibimbop? Add mushrooms. Quiche? Mushroom. So on our way back from Indianapolis last night, when we decided to host an impromptu dinner and realized two hours later that we were running late, we had to find a fabulous recipe that could be made in 40 minutes or less. Fabulous? Obviously something mushroom. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, we were able to not only host a vegetarian dinner that tasted as extravagant as beef bourgignon (extravagant mostly because of the french word) but cook it in my Dutch oven, which seems to be my new favorite thing recently.


Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.

Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.

Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.

To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.

I am one of those people who is always “catching a chill.” When I feel the first breeze tickle my neck around October, it fills me with so much ineffable sadness, as I see a whole winter of miserable cold ahead of me. I used to pooh-pooh well-known brands,  and it took me 13 winters in the States (in Vermont and in Michigan no less!) to realize that sometimes, particularly where the cold is concerned, those brands are worth the extra money to stay warmer than the average penguin. I bit the bullet, purchased my first L.L. Bean coat and haven’t turned back to sigh at the receipt since. This past winter, my sister bought the luxurious king-sized down alternative comforter off our wedding registry, and this morning, I could almost hear my left side sing from not being exposed to our chilly apartment. (Landlords have unreasonably set October 31 as the arbitrary date when it makes sense to turn on the heat, I think).  I actually went up to Jimmy, smiling, and said, “I am just so happy. It’s cold out and I woke up warm.” People talk about the metaphorical warmth of a happy home, but at this moment, I’m just as happy to have the physical one, too. Winter is comin’ and I’m ready.


I adapted this recipe and played around with it based off of what was in my kitchen to create my recipe below.

200 grams of linguine, cooked to the package instructions
2 zuchini
1 chopped onion
3 cloves of chopped garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
2 cups baby kale (spinach would probably work, too)
fresh pepper

1. saute the onion and garlic for five minutes. Add the chopped zuchinni and mushrooms and cook covered for five minutes. Add the bouillon cube and stir. Add the kale and stir. Add the mozarella cheese and cover for two minutes to melt it. Stir in the cooked pasta along with the ricotta cheese. Serve with fresh pepper.