Category Archives: Italian

Jamie Oliver’s Bolognese Sauce

As I said in my last post, I am trying out one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, Jamie Oliver’s Revolution. In the front of the book it asks readers to learn at least one recipe from each of the chapters and then teach two or more others that recipe. So this is the recipe I am sharing and teaching others from the pasta chapter.

2 slices of bacon
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
olive oil
2 heaped teaspoons of dried oregano
1 lb of ground beef or pork (or a mixture of the two)
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
small bunch of fresh basil

Finely slice the bacon, peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

Place a Dutch oven on medium to high heat. Add 2 lugs of olive oil, bacon and oregano and cook and stir until the bacon is lightly golden. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly colored.

Stir in the ground meat and the canned tomatoes. Fill one empty can with water and add to the pan.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pick the basil leaves and place in the fridge for later. Finely chop the basil stalks and stir into the pan. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on for about 45 minutes stirring every now and again.

Remove from the heat. Tear and stir in basil leaves.

Did I change anything? I left out all of the herbs and just bought Italian-style diced tomatoes.

What did the family think? This has a lot more ingredients in it than the typical pasta sauce we eat, so I knew it would not go over well as just pasta sauce so I used it in a lasagna.

Where did this recipe come from? Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, p. 165

photo from Angela Hartwig

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Filed under Italian, Pork

Tuscan Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

This could have easily come from a restaurant. It was so good and so different than the pasta dishes I usually make. Everyone loved it and we even had enough left over for the boys to take it in their lunch boxes to school too.

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli (or whatever kind you like)
1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce (I found some by Classico)
2 tablespoons white wine
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, throughly drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan.

Stir in tomatoes and basil and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

What did the family think? Thumbs up from everyone!

Where did this recipe come from? My Recipes

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make, Vegetarian

Lasagna Rolls

What makes this dish so special? Instead of using ricotta cheese, it uses goat cheese and cream cheese. Yum!

8 whole Lasagna Noodles
¼ cups Shallots, Finely Diced
2 whole Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced
3/4 pounds Italian Sausage
5 ounces, weight Frozen Spinach, Thawed And Excess Water Squeezed Out
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
¼ teaspoons Dried Chili Flakes
¼ cups Goat Cheese
¼ cups Cream Cheese
3 cups Marinara Sauce
1-½ cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook lasagna sheets until they are cooked enough that you can roll them, but not cooked all the way.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat a dash of olive oil and sauté shallots until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the sausage to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces. Once the meat is no longer pink, add the spinach, thyme and chili flakes. Season with kosher salt. Remove pan from the heat and add goat cheese and cream cheese. Stir to combine.

Spread about one cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a lasagna dish. Set aside.

Spoon/spread about 3-4 tablespoons of the spinach-sausage mixture across each lasagna sheet. Carefully roll up each sheet and place the rolls, seam side down inside the baking dish. Cover the tops of each roll with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Did I change anything? The recipe above reflects the changes I will make the next time. There was WAY too much spinach in the original recipe. I like spinach, but that was a lot of spinach. I also increased the amount of Italian sausage.

What did the family think? Everyone loved it even with all of that spinach.

Where did this recipe come from? Tasty Kitchen

photo from Tasty Kitchen

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Tomato and Italian Sausage Risotto

I am SO glad this made enough for lunch leftovers today. It’s a cloudy, chilly fall day today and a little risotto will make the perfect lunch.

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).

Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Did I change anything? I added a little Italian seasoning, but I think next time I will just buy the Italian-style diced tomatoes instead. I also didn’t use as much spinach because I didn’t buy enough.

What did the family think? Hubby and I really liked it. The kids were not impressed with the tomatoes or the spinach. They avoided them, but did manage to eat their dinner with minimal complaints. (These are the same kids who happily ate their spinach salad that was sitting right next to their risotto.)

Where did this recipe come from? Martha Stewart

photo from Martha Stewart

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Chicken Florentine Bowtie Pasta

It’s a good thing that this dish went over pretty well last night because it made a lot of pasta and we will be having it for dinner again tonight.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Cups Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 pound bowtie pasta or other small noodle
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.

Place oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Stir in spinach leaves, cook, stirring until wilted about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, and pepper, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add cooking cream, stirring to combine.

Add pasta to chicken mixture stirring to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with cheese.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is melted.

What did the family think? The only person who freaked out a little about the spinach was our youngest which is so funny because sitting on his plate, right next to the pasta, was a salad which he happily ate that had spinach in it. He also, of course, was not pleased that there was chicken in it. There was enough cheesy pasta to make up for all of the other offensive ingredients though, so he was fine.

Where did this recipe come from? Picky Palate

Photo from Cooking with Karyn

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Filed under Chicken, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This makes a lot of pasta. The family really liked this and I probably should have just baked it all at once so they could have had seconds, but instead I divided it into two casserole dishes. I baked one and froze the other for later.

6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Preheat oven to 400.

Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Did I change anything? I boiled and shredded the chicken instead of cooking it the way the recipe states. I used 1% milk instead of whole and used cooking spray instead of butter on the casserole dishes.

What did the family think? Honestly, this was not my favorite dish, but everyone else LOVED it and there wasn’t enough for everyone to have seconds.

Where did this recipe come from? Martha Stewart

photo from Martha Stewart

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Filed under Chicken, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Lasagna Flatbread

These were so fun…it’s like lasagna and pizza all rolled into one.

15 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella, divided
3 oz parmesan cheese
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 egg
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 (26oz) jar marinara sauce
6 flatbreads

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, parmesan, Italian seasoning and egg. Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook sausage or hamburger until it is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Stir in marinara sauce (use as more or less depending on how saucy you want this). Set aside.

Assemble the flatbreads. Spread 1/6 of the cheese mixture on top of flatbread. Top with 1/6 of meat sauce and sprinkle with 1/6 of remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat for remaining flatbreads.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted on top.

Did I change anything? For the flatbreads, I used naan since the only flatbread I could find at our store was really, really flat.

What did the family think? It was a hit!

Where did this recipe come from? Plain Chicken

Photo from Plain Chicken

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Super Easy to Make

Crock Pot Ravioli Lasagna

So now that this thing called “school” has invaded our lives, our Tuesdays and Thursdays are a nightmare. School, violin, soccer…we don’t get home until almost 8:00pm. This recipe was a lifesaver yesterday and everyone liked it so much they had seconds.

1 pound ground beef, turkey or chicken (browned and drained)
1 (28-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
25-30 frozen cheese or meat ravioli
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
2 tablespoons warm water

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. After browning the meat in a skillet, drain well and add the pasta sauce (save the jar!) to the meat in your saute pan. Stir to combine.

Scoop a large spoonful of meat sauce and spread into the bottom of an empty slow cooker. Add a layer of frozen ravioli. Then add another layer of meat sauce. Continue layering until you run out of ravioli and sauce. Sprinkle cheese evenly all over the top.

Put 2 tablespoons of water into the empty pasta sauce jar, and shake. Pour this water over the top of your “lasagna.”

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for about 4. Your lasagna is done when the ravioli is tender and the filling is heated through.

Did I change anything? I didn’t, but I think the next time I make it I am going to use Italian sausage instead of ground turkey.

What did the family think? Everyone had seconds! What’s not to like about ravioli lasagna? 🙂

Where did this recipe come from? Crockpot365

photo from


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make

Italian Sausage and Spinach Stromboli

We are back from vacation, the kids are back in school and I am back in the kitchen. The boys love pizza and really anything that involves pizza/pasta sauce, so I knew this would be a hit. I just wish I would have made more…everyone wanted seconds.

1 pound pizza dough, homemade or store bought
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Divide dough into 4 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, stretch out each piece, first to a 3-by-4 inch oval, then to a 6-by-8-inch oval (let dough rest briefly if too elastic to work with).

In a large skillet cook Italian sausage until done. Add spinach leaves and cook until just wilted.

Dividing evenly, scatter sausage/spinach mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Dividing evenly, top with mozzarella and 1/4 cup marinara.

Starting at the shorter end, roll up each stromboli, and place, seam side down, on baking sheet. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut two slits in the top of each. Brush with oil. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve stromboli with 1/2 cup marinara for dipping.

Did I change anything? The original recipe called for salami and broccoli. I’m not sure I want broccoli in my stromboli. I wish I would have added some roasted red peppers to it. Since this is like a rolled up pizza basically, you can add just about anything to it that you’d normally have on your pizza.

What did the family think? Everyone loved it and wanted seconds, but there were no seconds. Note to self: make twice as much next time.

Where did this recipe come from? I got the idea for this recipe from Martha Stewart.

photo from Martha Stewart

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

The boys have been asking me to make this for a while, so last night was the night. They lapped it up and asked for more…I love dinners like that. Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the frig and then pop it in the oven when you are ready to bake it.


1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed completely & squeezed dry
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
15 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (1 jar + a little more)
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.

Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9×13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.

Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. (Or you can use a spoon. Spoon it in with the spoon part of the spoon and stuff it in there with the handle…very messy…but it worked.) Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra.

Cover the pasta with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Romano/Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately.

Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

What did the family think? Yum, yum and more yum.

Where did this recipe come from? Recipe Girl

photo from Recipe Girl

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Make Ahead of Time, Not so Easy, Vegetarian