Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

ImageImportant: This is my dream of a baked pasta dish — not too heavy, not to rich or gooey, tons of crunchy edges. As you might see in the photos above, it’s on the firm side. If you’d like a baked pasta with more sauce, which I expect most of you will, you’ll want to use 1 1/2 times the bechamel and cheese below.

Broccoli rabe (also called raab or rapini) is a leafy green vegetable with buds that somewhat resemble broccoli. It’s slightly bitter and holds up well to cooking. If you can’t find it, regular broccoli or broccolini will work here as well; they will only need 3 and 2 minutes respectively of boiling time with the pasta to keep it semi-crisp. If you’d like to make this without meat, the sausage can definitely be omitted. You could add some lightly sauteed chunky brown mushrooms for extra bulk, as well.

The pasta shape I used here is called toscani and it’s from the brand Seggiano. I have found it at Whole Foods and, if you’re in the East Village, Commodities Natural Market on 1st Ave. (plus I’m sure other stores). When I can’t get, it I use Barilla’s similar campanelle or seriously any chunky pasta you like to bake with.

Pasta and assembly
1 pound chunky pasta of your choice (I love bell shapes; see above for details)
1 bundle broccoli rabe (see above for options), stems and leaves cut into 1-inch segments
1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy pork or chicken), casings removed
2/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
6 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Bechamel
2 cups milk, full fat is ideal
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Few gratings fresh nutmeg

Cook the pasta and rabe: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe. It will seem like too much for the water, but with a stir or two, the rabe should wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Drain the broccoli rabe and pasta together and place in a large bowl.

Cook your sausage: Meanwhile, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide saucepan (you will use this for the bechamel in a few minutes; you could also use your pasta pot, once it is drained) over medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Remove with slotted spoon or spatula, leaving any fat behind. Eyeball the drippings (pork sausage will leave some; chicken usually does not) — use one tablespoon less butter next if it looks like there’s a tablespoon there. Any less, don’t worry about adjusting the butter.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Make the bechamel: Melt your butter in same saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add your flour and stir it into the butter until smooth. Cook the mixture together for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour in a small drizzle of your milk, whisking constantly into the butter-flour mixture until smooth. Continue to drizzle a very small amount at a time, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added a little over half of your milk, you’ll find that you have more of a thick sauce or batter, and you can start adding the milk in larger splashes, being sure to keep mixing. Once all of the milk is added, add the salt, garlic, nutmeg, and few grinds of black pepper, and bring the mixture to a lower simmer and cook it, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Assemble and bake: Add the sausage and bechamel to the bowl with the pasta and broccoli rabe. Stir in mozzarella and half of grated parmesan or pecorino until combined. Pour into a lasagna pan, deep 9×13-inch baking dish* or 3-quart casserole dish and coat with remaining parmesan or pecorino. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the edges and craggy points are nicely bronzed.

Eat warm. Reheat as needed.

 Source: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/09/baked-pasta-with-broccoli-rabe-and-sausage/

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Kentucky Fried Chicken Cole Slaw

ImageIngredients

8 cups finely diced cabbage
1/4 cup diced carrots
3 tablespoons onions, minced

Dressing
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Whisk together the dressing and set aside.  Finely chop the cabbage, carrots and onion and mix together in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and combine.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Source: http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/super-bowl-recipes-kentucky-fried-chicken-cole-slaw/

Dijon Potato Salad with Green Onions

ImageIngredients

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes {I used red and Yukon}
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Boil potatoes in water until cooked, but slightly firm.  Let potatoes cool down a bit and then slice the larger ones in half.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper and whisk together.  Add green onions, potatoes and toss.

Source: http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/dijon-potato-salad-with-green-onions-recipe/

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

ImageIngredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside. In a separate bowl cream together the butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar until nice and fluffy {about 1 minute}.  Add the dry to the wet and mix well.  Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.

Use a 2 tbsp cookie scoop and drop dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

Source: http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/recipe-zucchini-chocolate-chip-cookies/

The Verdict: I made these and they don’t come out looking as nice as the picture.  They tend to spread quite a bit while baking and I found that doing them in 1 tablespoon scoop size rather than 2 tablespoons as specified works better.  They have a good flavour and you can’t really taste the zucchini. I think they’re ok and I would make them again but only if I had a glut of zucchini and needed to get rid of it. They come out of the oven extremely soft, so if you are looking for a crunchier cookie then definitely bake them for longer. They’re also really sweet and could stand to have the sugar amount reduced.

Zucchini Slice

Ingredients
3 cups zucchini, grated
1 medium onion, diced
3 rashers of bacon or ham, diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
Wash the zucchinis and slice the ends off.
Grate the zucchini with the skin on.
Mix grated zucchini and other ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
Pour mixture into a deep loaf dish.
Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a knife comes out close to clean and top is golden brown.

Source: My aunt. 🙂

Zucchini Bread

zucchinibreadIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour an two 8 x 4 inch pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Note: I made this in a Pyrex/glass loaf dish and it took 75 minutes to cook properly.

Adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-zucchini-bread/

Creamy Shrimp & Mushroom Pasta

  • Image4-8 oz fettuccine or linguine
  • 10 tbsp butter, divided (I know, but I’ve tried it with less and it’s just not the same)
  • 8 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (you can use dried herbs if that’s all you have)
  • 2/3 cup boiling water (from your noodle pot)
  • 1 lb cooked shrimp (feel free to buy frozen-gasp!)
  1. Boil and salt a large pot of water and cook your pasta.  I usually only use about half of an 8 oz box, preferring fewer noodles.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, cook your shrimp if necessary and reserve.  If your shrimp are pre-cooked and frozen, quickly thaw them under running water.
  3. In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat and saute mushrooms until soft and brown.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Reserve cooked mushrooms and melt remaining butter in the skillet.  Add minced garlic, cream cheese, and herbs.  At this point, I generally feel like something has gone terribly wrong.  The cream cheese doesn’t really melt and starts to look almost curdled, don’t worry about it!  It will all smooth out and be wonderful when we add the water. I promise.
  5. Simmer cream cheese mixture until well blended. Get a scoop of boiling pasta water from your noodle pot and mix it in, stirring quickly to smooth out the sauce.
  6. Keep sauce hot and add shrimp and mushrooms, mix well and simmer (stirring often) until everything is hot and thickened, about 10 minutes-you wont ruin this sauce by accidentally boiling it so don’t worry.
  7. Toss sauce with cooked noodles and serve.

Source: http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/10/fast-food-creamy-shrimp-and-mushroom-pasta/