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/

Advertisements

World’s Best Lasagne

ImageINGREDIENTS:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Worlds-Best-Lasagna/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

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. 🙂

Vanilla Pear Coffee Cake

ImageIngredients

1/2 cup butter, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3 cups canned pears, drained and chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper {or butter and flour your pan} and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add egg and vanilla. When combined, alternate adding reserved flour mixture and milk to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Remove from mixer.  Gently fold in pears. Pour batter into prepared pan. To make streusel topping, mix cinnamon, salt, brown sugar and flour together; cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork until fine crumbs are formed. Using hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps. Sprinkle topping generously over batter.

Bake for about 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing sides of pan. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Source: http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/vanilla-pear-coffee-cake-ecipe/