Streamlined Lasagna

This is the recipe that my mother made when I was growing up. It is not authentic in many ways, but it is delicious comfort food using ingredients that were readily available in a grocery store in the 1970s.

Servings: 6

1 Tbsp oil
½ cup onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, sliced
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
15 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
8 oz lasagne noodles ( 8 slices)
4 oz Swiss cheese, sliced thin
1 ½ cups cottage cheese
parsley, chopped

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion until tender.
  2. Add ground beef, cook until browned.
  3. Mash garlic with salt and add to meat with pepper, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. If making ahead, refrigerate sauce until ready to assemble.
  5. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  6. Cook lasagne noodles until al dente. Drain & cover with cold water.
  7. Spread of sauce in a 9×13 pan. Top with half each of lasagne noodles, Swiss cheese (reserve 1 slice) & cottage cheese.
  8. Repeat, ending with remaining sauce and reserved cheese.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until hot & bubbly.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
  • I prefer “petite diced” tomatoes which are cut into appx ½” pieces. You could also use fresh or frozen tomatoes.
  • You can substitute mozzarella for the Swiss cheese and ricotta for the cottage cheese for a more authentic dish.

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Fettuccine with Peas, Mushrooms & Ham

SOURCE

Servings: 4

5 Tbsp butter
6 green onions
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 ¼ cups whipping cream
4 oz ham, chopped
1 cup Parmesan
1 lb fettuccine, cooked
salt & pepper, to taste
10 oz frozen peas

  1. Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add green onions and saute until soft.
  3. Add mushrooms, increase heat to high and cook until mushrooms are slightly browned.
  4. Add cream and boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in peas and cook until almost tender, about 30 seconds.
  6. Reduce heat to low. Stir in ham, Parmesan and fettuccine. Toss until heated through and sauce clings to pasta.
  7. Salt & pepper to taste.
  • You can substitute other pasta such as tortellini or ravioli for the fettuccine.

Mary’s G-o-o-o-d Stuff

I got this recipe from a recipe exchange that I belonged to in the late 2000s, but unfortunately I did not make a note of who submitted the recipe. If you know where this recipe came from, please let me know.

Servings: 6

2 Tbsp water
1 lb Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can diced tomatoes
4 oz green chile, chopped
2 cups water
8 oz uncooked short pasta (shells, rotini, farfalle, penne, etc.)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup sour cream

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp water in a large skillet or Dutch oven.
  2. Add sausage, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove cover and let water evaporate, browning sausage lightly. Drain off fat.
  3. Add onion & garlic and cook 5 minutes longer.
  4. Add tomatoes, chiles and water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add pasta and spices. Return to a boil, turn heat to low.
  6. Cover and cook until pasta is al dente. Mixture should be loose, but not too soupy.
  7. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.
  • I use bulk Italian sausage. If you use links you will need to remove the casings.
  • I prefer “petite diced” tomatoes which are cut into appx ½” pieces. You could also use fresh or frozen tomatoes.
  • You can substitute 2 – 10 oz cans diced tomatoes with chiles (e.g., Ro-Tel) for the canned tomatoes and the chiles.
  • You can substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream.

White Bean and Kale Soup

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped (1-2 medium carrots)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
5-6 red potatoes, chopped (leave the skins on)
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), or 5 cups fresh cooked beans
One large bunch kale
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage, browned (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Strip kale leaves from stems. Slice stems into ¼” pieces (like celery). Chop leaves coarsely.
  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the celery, carrots, onion and kale stems, and cook, until the onions are softened, about 4-5 minutes or so.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute or so.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and the broth to a boil.
  6. Add the cooked vegetables and the potatoes to the boiling mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  7. Add the beans, kale leaves, (and sausage if desired) and cook, stirring frequently, until completely heated through and the kale is wilted, about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • I left out the cream listed in the original recipe.
  • I used chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth in the original recipe, because that was what I had on hand – if you want it to be vegetarian, go with the vegetable broth.
  • The first time I made this, I added 1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage & left out the potatoes (I didn’t have any). The second time I left out the sausage and I thought it was still excellent, but my husband prefers it with the meat.
  • You can discard the kale stems if you prefer, but with a little extra cooking they taste great & I hate to waste them.
  • You can substitute Swiss chard or spinach for the kale.
  • You can substitute white / great northern beans for the cannellini beans.

Arrabiata Sauce – well, kind of

While we were in Italy, I made this dish at one of the bed & breakfasts we stayed at.  The owner kindly let us cook dinner for ourselves when we got there too late to go out to dinner.

Cooking in a strange kitchen using only what they have in their cabinets and fridge can be challenging. More so when all the labels are in a foreign language. Based on what I found and the memory of an Arrabiata sauce recipe I had read before, I threw this together. It turned out quite tasty, so I wrote it down before I forgot what I put in it. This made one serving.
whole dried peperoncini
1 tsp olive oil (olio di oliva)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (pomodoro), chopped
1/2 anchovy fillet (acciughe), chopped
1 tsp fennel seed (finocchio), crushed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (peperoncini)
1 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrato di pomodoro)
Splash red wine (vino)
1 Tbsp Italian parsley (prezzemolo), chopped
cooked pasta
Parmesan, grated

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add tomatoes, anchovy, fennel seed and red pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft.
  3. Add tomato paste, red wine and parsley.  Cook until slightly thickened.
  4. Pour over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  • Peperoncini were everywhere – fresh bunches in the produce stalls and dried in the grocery stores. I was especially intrigued by the grinders filled with whole dried red peperoncini – similar to a grinder that we use for black pepper.

Dorian’s Marinara Sauce

recipe created by Dorian Lara especially for his Eggplant Parmesan

extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 carrot, diced
1/3 large head garlic, peeled and diced
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 28 can diced tomatoes
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
dried oregano
dried basil
dried thyme
dried marjoram
dried rosemary
black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
10 “twigs” fresh thyme, strip leaves from stems

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in large stock pot.
  2. Add onion and carrot and saute until onion is just barely caramelized.
  3. Reduce heat and add garlic (reserving 2 cloves). Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add all tomato products. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add dried herbs and pepper to taste.
  6. Add fresh basil and thyme leaves (discard the stems).
  7. Simmer for 1-2 hours partially covered. If it looks a little runny, remove lid and cook until thickened.
  8. Before serving, add the two reserved cloves of garlic – just smash and toss them in.
  • Yes, that’s 1/3 of a head of garlic, not 1/3 of a clove.
  • You can use an “Italian seasoning” blend to replace the dried herbs if you prefer.
  • You can make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra.

Dorian’s Eggplant Parmesan

recipe created by Dorian Lara

Dorian brought this yummy dish to one of our potlucks. It is one of the best that I have ever tasted – I think I had 2 servings.

2 large eggplants
lots of salt
flour
3 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 cups dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp dry oregano
1 Tbsp dry thyme
pepper
7 cups Dorian’s Marinara Sauce
mozzarella cheese, sliced
Parmesan, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Slice the eggplant into 1/2″ thick rounds.
  2. Lay them on a cookie sheet (or other flat surface) that already has a layer of salt on the bottom. Cover the top of the slices with more salt. Let sit for 1 hour.
  3. After one hour, thoroughly rinse the eggplant in cool running water and pat dry.
  4. To bread the eggplant, set up a station using three different flat bowls leading up to the cookie sheet.
    • flour
    • eggs beaten with milk
    • breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and pepper (to taste)
  5. Dredge both sides of the eggplant slices in flour. Shake off any excess flour.
  6. Dip in egg mixture.
  7. Press into bread crumb mixture – really pack on the  bread crumbs.
  8. Place breaded slices on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
  9. Pour some of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 dish.
  10. Place half of the breaded, cooked eggplant on the sauce.
  11. Spoon a small amount of sauce over the eggplant.
  12. Place a thin slice of mozzarella over each piece. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
  13. Spoon more sauce on top.
  14. Repeat layers.
  15. Pour any remaining sauce over the top.
  16. Bake, covered, at 350 for 30 minutes.
  17. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.
  • The salt will weep the bitter juices from the eggplant.  Dorian recommends using kosher salt.
  • Dorian designed the marinara recipe for this dish so it should make the proper amount of sauce.

Giuseppe Trimarchi’s Italian Thanksgiving Stuffing

family recipe from Judy Begley Trimarchi

1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 – 4 oz can mushrooms
1 – 28 oz can whole tomatoes
salt & pepper, to taste
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1-2 cups dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Saute onions in olive oil in frying pan until onions start to lightly brown.
  2. Add ground beef and garlic. Stir until browned.
  3. Take mixture out of pan with slotted spoon and leave oil in pan.
  4. Rinse mushrooms in cold water and drain. Add to pan. Brown them slightly, push them to the side of the pan.
  5. Drain tomatoes and crush against side of bowl with fork.
  6. Add tomatoes to pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the ground beef mixture, salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer on low heat.
  8. In a mixing bowl, combine hard boiled eggs, 1 cup bread crumbs, Parmesan and garlic.
  9. Add crumb mixture to the meat mixture in frying pan and mix well.
  10. If the mixture appears too watery, add more bread crumbs until the mixture seems appropriate for a stuffing. Add more salt and/or pepper, if needed.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Cool mixture slightly before stuffing in turkey.
  13. If baking it separately, put in a large metal or glass baking dish about 1.5″ deep and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Since the meat and eggs are already cooked, the only concern is that it dry out a little and get a little crusty on top.

Judy says, “My husband’s name is Joseph Trimarchi – named after his grandfather, Giuseppe Trimarchi. In each generation, the oldest son of the oldest son names his firstborn boy after his grandfather – and so the generations go back from our son, Anthony Jordan, to my husband Joe, to his dad, Tony, to Guiseppe, to his father, Antonino, and so on – as far back as we can trace.

Guiseppe immigrated from Messina, Sicily in 1924 and eventually opened a deli near the waterfront in downtown Boston. Shipyard workers would come into the deli in the mornings to get fresh bread and cold cuts to take to work for their lunches. Guiseppe started hollowing out loaves of Italian bread and stuffing in the cold cuts to make it easier for the men to eat at the job site. He has been credited with inventing the sub sandwich!

This is his recipe for an Italian turkey stuffing. Double the recipe if you want to both stuff the turkey AND have some left over to bake in a pan. We often bake one recipe’s worth in a pan as a supplement to the traditional stuffing in our turkey. It is really delicious!!”

  • You can substitute canned chopped tomatoes for the whole tomatoes.

Zuppa Toscana

based on Olive Garden’s
adapted from several recipe website posts,
my version has less meat and more veggies than most

pot of Zuppa Toscana
½ pound spicy Italian sausage – crumbled
¼ pound bacon – chopped
4 cups water
2 cans (14 oz) chicken broth
1 large bunch kale
4 large russet potatoes – cut in ½” cubes
2-4 garlic cloves – minced (I usually use 4)
1 medium onion – peeled, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup half & half (I use non-fat)
salt and pepper – to taste (I don’t usually add any – the spicy sausage adds enough)

Directions

  1. In a pot over medium-high heat, brown sausage, breaking into small pieces; drain, set aside.
  2. Brown bacon; drain, set aside.
  3. Strip kale leaves from stems. Slice stems into ¼” pieces (like celery). Chop leaves coarsely.
  4. Add water, broth, kale stems, potatoes, garlic, and onion to pot; simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add sausage and chopped kale leaves; simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add half & half; season with salt and pepper if desired; heat through.
  7.  Sprinkle with bacon.
  • You can discard the kale stems if you prefer, but with a little extra cooking they taste great & I hate to waste them.
  • You can substitute Swiss chard, beet greens or spinach for the kale. Spinach will only need a few minutes cooking.

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