Tuscan Sausage Soup

We’re having sort of a rough time of it, food-wise, in our household lately. Both V and I are attempting to diet, and for him, this means eating a lot of protein. (I haven’t really determined yet what it means for me – apparently so far, not much.) We all know I cook a lot of pasta, which has dubious nutritional value…but I also cook a lot of spinach, which has good protein…I’m just starting to run out of ideas because I have a certain comfort zone when it comes to cooking. HELP! This isn’t good!

I found this one on Foodgawker awhile ago and for some reason had never made it, even though it incorporates several of my favorite things. It seemed like a good choice for tonight, and it was – very hearty and very satisfying. I believe V found it to be sufficiently protein-rich.

tuscan sausage soup

don’t mind the weird spinach stem sticking out.

Tuscan Sausage Soup

(adapted from Dainty Chef)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • about 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can cannellini or navy beans
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 lb small pasta such as elbows or shells
  • 3 or 4 oz baby spinach
  • grated Parmesan

Directions

Cut up the Italian sausage into slices about a half-inch thick. Put a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a deep, large pan and add the sausage slices. After letting it brown for a few minutes, add your chopped onion, carrots, and minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, beans, basil, Italian seasoning, and pasta; bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente-ish. Add in the baby spinach and stir around until it wilts. Serve with however much parmesan your little heart desires.

Notes

I love how simple this recipe is, and I love that it’s another one where the pasta cooks in the same pot as everything else so I’m only getting one pan dirty. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna has always intimidated the crap out of me. So many steps! So much patience required! Consequently, for a very long time now I have put off making it, despite having more than one serviceable recipe at my disposal. But tonight I did it. It definitely did not turn out perfectly, but it does taste really good and that’s what counts. I’ve never placed a lot of importance on the appearance/attractiveness of food. What’s the point? I’m eating it, not gazing at it framed in a museum.

Case in point.

Case in point.

Spinach Lasagna

(adapted from Easy Lasagna Recipes, via Pinterest)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (or if you’re feeling really hedonistic, whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach (thawed, obviously)
  • 4 1/2 cups chunky tomato/marinara type of sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Gouda or Swiss cheese (slices may be used – I did)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Spread about 1 cup of the tomato/marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place uncooked lasagna noodles in a row across the pan. Combine ricotta and parmesan together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper as you like, and then spread about 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Top the cheese with the thawed chopped spinach and spread around liberally. Repeat the process until you run out of lasagna noodles. There should be a row of lasagna noodles on top when you run out, but I didn’t manage that for some reason, and in my opinion it’s not that crucial.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. When the time is up, take the pan out and add your grated or sliced Gouda or Swiss. (I cannot STAND Swiss cheese so the Gouda was a no-brainer for me.) Put back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Notes

Lots to say here. The lasagna noodles I had (Market Pantry brand from Target, whoohoo!) were about an inch too long to fit neatly in my pan so I kept having to break them and trying to keep them somewhat uniform. Obnoxious.

More bothersome – I really don’t know why this recipe calls for frozen chopped spinach. Just convenience I guess? Frozen chopped spinach is pretty bland and unappetizing, if you ask me, and I think fresh spinach would have greatly improved this dish, even though it was still very yummy as written.

The choice between Gouda and Swiss is strange to me also; both seem too sharp to really go with the creamy goodness that is ricotta. The Gouda slices on top were okay, but it was kind of an odd combination for me. I’m not sure what I’d substitute. Whatever it would be, I would probably use the grated or shredded varieties instead of slices, just as a reluctant nod to the dish’s final aesthetics…

Anyway, despite its flaws, I really liked this lasagna and I will definitely be making it again, with the aforementioned tweaks. If you try it, let me know how it goes for you!

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

Another sausage and vegetables recipe, this time with potatoes instead of pasta. Not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but I am a big fan of Italian sausage. Usually it’s Klement’s – gotta keep it Sconnie, obviously – but sadly Woodman’s was out of Klement’s so today it’s Hillshire Farm Gourmet. Also very good. Also, as it happens, this is another one-pot meal! Hallelujah praise Jesus.

summer vegetables with sausage and potatoes

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

(adapted from Skinny Taste)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over low heat and add the quartered red potatoes. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper; place a tight-fitting lid over the skillet and cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, do all that laborious veggie-chopping and sausage-chopping.

Once the 25 minutes is up, remove the potatoes to a plate and set aside. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until slightly browned; add peppers, onions, and zucchini and cook until softened. Put the potatoes back in and mix it all well. Add more seasoning if you’d like; cover the skillet and cook for 5 more minutes before serving.

Notes

You don’t have to use red potatoes, if you have regular ones on-hand. Nor do you have to use each entire bell pepper; it is a LOT of veggies once all is said and done. But that’s what makes it healthy! Enjoy!

What we like to call “Shrimpittu”

This is the only recipe, so far, that I can really claim as my own. It’s nothing wild – it’s basically a stir fry. But I think the story goes that the first time I was making it, I was actually trying to replicate one of V’s mom’s recipes, and was utterly failing at it…so we called what I ended up with “shrimpittu” because the name of the recipe I was attempting ended in “-ittu” in Kannada.

So this dish holds a bit of a special place in my heart, as one of my first accidental successes in the kitchen. It’s very tweak-able and amenable to changes to suit your tastes. But this is how I do it…

shrimpittu

Shrimpittu

(adapted from yours truly – serves 2-3 people)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound frozen shrimp, tail-off and deveined (the quantity depends on your feelings about shrimp more than anything else)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2/3 cup carrots, diced
  • a shake of dried basil
  • a shake of turmeric powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat couscous

Directions

First you need to thaw out the shrimp; what I generally do is put them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, which usually breaks up the ice and helps thaw them pretty quickly.

Chop up all your vegetables and put them into a skillet with a bit of olive oil, on medium-low heat. Let them cook for a few minutes until soft. As you’re waiting, boil a pot of water on another burner (adding salt and, if you like, 1 tbsp of butter) and pour in 2/3 cup whole wheat couscous once it reaches the boil. Remove the pot from heat, put the lid on, and wait 5 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork.

Back in your skillet, now you can add the shrimp. Stir it together well with all the veggies and cook until the shrimp are heated through. Add the spices and salt/pepper. Put approximately 1 cup of the couscous on a plate and pour shrimp/veggie mixture on top of it.

Notes

Like I said, I’m a little sentimental about this dish. I also like to fool myself into thinking that couscous is a way healthier alternative to pasta, which may be somewhat true only in my case because I like whole-wheat couscous but cannot stand whole-wheat pasta. So there you have it. Yay carbs!

There are plenty of other spices you could add here (maybe cilantro or oregano) and certainly other veggies (zucchini or spinach). Happy experimenting!

One-Pot Pasta with Sausage & Vegetables

I do not like to do the dishes. V and I are supposed to take turns, and we usually do, but sometimes I feel the need to bribe him to take my turn. It’s just the most boring chore! All this to say, that the recipe we have here today is a glorious one-pot dish, which I find rather hard to come by. And there’s so much goodness in here!

i found my camera! no more sh*tty iPhone pics!

i found my camera! no more sh*tty iPhone pics!

Pasta with Sausage & Vegetables

(adapted from The Galley Gourmet)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I love Klement’s)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 8 oz penne pasta (or other small shape)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add in the sausage pieces and cook until no longer pink inside. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate.

Put your chopped onion, bell pepper strips, diced carrots and spinach into the skillet with the remaining fat from the sausage; cook for 5-7 minutes or until spinach wilts and other veggies are soft. Add the pasta and cook for about 3 minutes until slightly toasted. Now add the garlic cloves and the liquids: white wine, heavy cream, and broth. Put the sausage back in the skillet as well and bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until pasta is al dente.

Remove the skillet from heat and add Parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Notes

Isn’t it crazy awesome that you don’t have to have another pot on the stove to cook the pasta!?!? As someone who cooks with pasta like…practically daily…this was so delightful for me. I used elbows, but you could use penne or rotini or medium-sized shells or just about anything.

The original recipe uses broccoli, and no carrots or spinach – this was just a case of using what I had around instead of making a special trip to the store just for broccoli. And I actually think it’s better this way. I also adjusted the proportion of wine to heavy cream, since I have had some less-than-tasty experiences with white cooking wine in the past. A half cup is really all that’s needed and the cream balances it out nicely.

Give this one a try and let me know how you like it!