Weeknight Bolognese

The Barefoot Contessa is one of my go-to recipe sources when I’m looking for something new to try. Like Fine Cooking, Ina has never failed me. That’s why I  was so very excited to receive five of Ina’s cookbooks for Christmas (I now own her whole collection).

This recipe was from Ina’s newest cookbook, How Easy Is That? This weeknight bolognese was certainly quick and easy, and a nice change from my hubby’s favorite meat sauce. The bolognese sauce was a little sweeter than we’re used to (perhaps because I used shiraz I had on hand, instead of a drier red wine) but still really good.

Weeknight Bolognese

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That? (p. 154)

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 c. dry red wine, divided
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 3/4 lb. dried whole grain pasta, such as small shells

Make the Bolognese Sauce: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add ground sirloin, breaking up with a spoon and cooking until browned. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes – stirring and heating for just a minute. Add 1 c. of the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 Tbs. kosher salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Start the Pasta: At this point,  start boiling water with a bit of kosher salt for pasta. Cook per directions on the box.

Finish the Bolognese: At the same time, add remaining 1/4 c. red wine, nutmeg, and basil to sauce. Stir and continue simmering until pasta is finished, about 10 minutes. (Sauce should thicken slightly).

Drain pasta. Toss pasta, bolognese, and Parmesan together.

Serve hot, with extra Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Nutrition: I eliminated the 1/4 c. heavy cream called for in the recipe (if you want to use it, add it with the nutmeg and basil) and whole grain pasta to make this dish a bit healthier. The above recipe, with 5 servings, was 560 calories per serving.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Bacon, Onions & Peas

Apologies but no story today – I’m in the midst of some traveling (hence why there hasn’t been a post in over a week) and am running about. This gnocchi will most definitely be on my menu when I return – it’s quick yet satisfying. Even the hubby likes it despite not having lots of meat in it. 🙂

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Bacon, Onions & Peas

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 85 (p. 84a)

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. frozen gnocchi
  • 3 oz. thick-cut bacon (about 3 slices), cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. thinly sliced or diced yellow onions (about 1 medium-small onion)
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large (preferably 12-inch) non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Pour off any fat from the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are limp and golden brown, 10 minutes more. Stir in the peas and thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a small bowl.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook, tossing occasionally, until they’re lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the onion mixture, bacon, and Parmigiano, along with enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten and coat the gnocchi, about 4 Tbs. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmigiano.

Tortellini Salad

When I was little, I used to hate cheese. I was the weirdo that took it to the extreme, taking the cheese of pizza. But as I’ve grown, my taste has changed, and I’ve come to really enjoy some cheese. The formerly-dreaded cheese tortellini is one of those foods that I’ve recently taken a liking to.

This tortellini salad has become one of my favorite sides and lunches. With the veggies, it’s a wonderful accompaniment for a summer BBQ. Throw in some grilled chicken and you’ve got a filling pasta salad for lunch.

Enjoy!

Tortellini Salad

Adapted from Good Housekeeping’s Step by Step Cookbook (p. 328)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs. (9-oz each) tortellini
  • ¼ c. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 1 medium yellow pepper cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • Parmesan or asiago cheese

May also add grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula or spinach, or any other veggies of choice.

Prepare tortellini as directed and drain.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper.

Finish the Salad: Add peppers, tomato, and artichokes to tortellini. Toss with dressing. Garnish with grated cheese.

Serve at room-temperature or cold.

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca is a lighter pasta dish that is delicious year round. Lean chicken breasts, salty proscuitto, and fresh sage are sauteed before being added to spaghetti and tossed in a light Marsala wine sauce. Serve with a side salad or some crusty French bread for a satisfying meal.

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca is a lighter pasta dish that is delicious year round. Lean chicken breasts, salty proscuitto, and fresh sage are sauteed before being added to spaghetti and tossed in a light Marsala wine sauce. Serve with a side salad or some crusty French bread for a satisfying meal.

I’m the type of person that can eat pasta all year round. Maybe it’s my Italian roots, but pasta is never off the table as a dinner option. While pasta with meat sauce (my lazy version of bolognese) is the most common pasta I make because it’s super easy and doesn’t require a lot of handson time (essential for weeknight cooking), I do love to experiment with other recipes.

This recipe is a long-time family favorite of ours. It is a bit lighter than the tomato-based sauces I favor, making it perfect for any time of the year. In fact, I make it most frequently during the summer when my garden is producing more sage than I know what to do with. This recipe cooks up fairly quick, is forgiving in the quantities of ingredients used, and is bright with flavor. It also scales really well, when we are entertaining and need to feed a crowd. Besides, a little leftovers never hurt – they never last long in my house.

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca is a lighter pasta dish that is delicious year round. Lean chicken breasts, salty proscuitto, and fresh sage are sauteed before being added to spaghetti and tossed in a light Marsala wine sauce. Serve with a side salad or some crusty French bread for a satisfying meal.

Tip: Preserve Summer Sage

This particular recipe does well with fresh or frozen sage. When my herbs are overflowing in the summer (or maybe you just didn’t finish the package you had bought for another recipe), I trim the plants back and freeze the sage leaves to be used in this recipe and others (i.e. these Blood Orange Sage Vodka Sodas).

To freeze, place sage – cleaned with stems removed – in a single layer on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 24-48 hours. Transfer to an airtight freezer bag and store in the freezer until further use.

To use, remove sage from freezer. Chop when still frozen. Use in recipe as directed (still frozen or defrosted are both fine.)

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Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca is a lighter pasta dish that is delicious year round. Lean chicken breasts, salty proscuitto, and fresh sage are sauteed before being added to spaghetti and tossed in a light Marsala wine sauce. Serve with a side salad or some crusty French bread for a satisfying meal.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 583 kcal
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. white cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb. chicken cutlets cut into chunks (or, pounded thinly and then sliced)
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. proscuitto, small dice
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh or frozen sage
  • 1 16-oz. box spaghetti
  • 1/2 c. dry Marsala wine
  • 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Mix cornmeal, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Seal and shake to mix thoroughly. Add chicken and shake again, ensuring that all pieces are coated.
  2. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, prosciutto, and sage. Saute.
  3. Meanwhile, start boiling a pot of water for the spaghetti, and cook according to package. If finished before the chicken, toss with a little bit of extra olive oil and keep warm.

  4. When chicken is browned and cooked, add Marsala wine, chicken broth, and butter. Cook for 10 minutes, reducing slightly.

  5. Toss chicken and sauce with spaghetti.
  6. Serve hot sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, with a side of French Bread and Sage Butter (recipe below).

Recipe Notes

  • Nutrition calculated using 1 1/2 lb. chicken breast.
  • Feel free to adjust quantities of chicken, sage, and prosciutto to taste. I like more sage and prosciutto than the original recipe calls for, but tend to use whatever is in a package.

This recipe was adapted from Veal Scaloppini Saltimbocca in Bon Appetit, Sept 2002.

Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca by Books n Cooks - Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca is a lighter pasta dish that is delicious year round. Lean chicken breasts, salty pancetta, and fresh sage are sauteed before being added to spaghetti and tossed in a light Marsala wine sauce.

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Chicken or Veal Scaloppini Saltimbocca

Bon Appetit Sept 2002

Ingredients:

§ 6 oz. spaghetti

§ 2 Tbs. olive oil

§ ½ c. white cornmeal

§ 1 Tbs. herbes de Provence*

§ ½ tsp. salt

§ ¼ tsp. pepper

§ 4 3-oz chicken or veal cutlets, pounded thin (or thinly sliced and then cut into chunks)

§ ½ c. thinly chopped prosciutto

§ 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage

§ 1/2 c. dry Marsala (Florio brand recommended)

§ 1/2 c. low-salt chicken broth

§ ¼ c. butter

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain & toss with oil. Keep warm.

Mix cornmeal, herbes de Provence, salt & pepper in a bag. Coat chicken/veal with cornmeal mixture.

Heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chicken/veal, prosciutto, and sage. Sauté.

Add marsala wine, chicken broth and butter. Reduce.

Serve over spaghetti.


* A combination of herbs typically including basil, fennel, lavender, marjoram or mint, rosemary, savory, sage, and thyme. Variations may include additional herbs (such as bay leaf, peppercorns, orange peel, and tarragon). These are all herbs grown in the Provence region of France and the herb mixture is used to flavor fish, meats, olives, potatoes, stews, soups, and sauces.

Ingredient Substitutions: For 2 tbsp herbs de Provence substitute the following mixture:

§ 4 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram

§ 1 1/2 tsp summer savory

§ 1/4 tsp dried rosemary and mint

§ 1/8 tsp fennel seeds

§ Pinch each of dried sage an lavender flowers

Artichoke Parmesan Pesto

Here’s a quick appetizer you can have on hand for unexpected guests. I have frozen this both when directed as well as the completely finished pesto (with the Parmesan), and it is good both ways. I serve this in a bowl, and let everyone help themselves, but you can also pre-spread the pesto onto toast or bread.

I’m hoping for leftovers, as I’d love to try this mixed in pasta with a little olive oil and red pepper flakes, or stuffed in a chicken breast. If you beat me to it, be sure to let me know how you liked it!

Artichoke Parmesan Pesto

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients (Before Freezing):

  • 1-8 oz. pack of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1 c. fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c. chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

More Ingredients (After Freezing):

  • 2/3 grated Parmesan
  • bread or cracker of your choice…. for grilling, toasting, or serving plain

Pre-Freezer Directions:

In a food processor, chop the artichokes, parsley, walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, scraping the sides as necessary. With the food processor in, add the olive oil.

If freezing, transfer to an airtight container (or pre-portion into an ice cube tray and wrap tightly with plastic wrap). Freeze for up to 1 month.

Post-Freezer Directions:

Thaw pesto.

Mix in Parmesan cheese (2 tsp. per ice cube if you’re freezing it that way).

Serve as part of a platter of dips, breads, and crackers (including homemade pita toasts), and allowed everyone to help themselves. If you prefer, toast some bread, spread the pesto, and serve.

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