Sausage Ricotta Meatball Bake

 

Serves 4 to 6

 

Ingredients:

For the Sausage Ricotta Meatballs

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground black pepper ‘

1-pound ground Italian pork sausage

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

For the Basil Pomodoro Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated  

 

Directions:

To prepare the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400° F. Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until finely ground. Place breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, fennel, oregano and pepper and stir to combine.

Add the sausage meat and gently stir again. Form meat into roughly 2-inch meatballs and place in a 10” cast iron skillet.

Bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Let skillet cool for about 5 minutes and leave oven on.

For the sauce, return the skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook just until garlic is fragrant and nutty but not browning, about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet and stir. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the meatballs back to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce. Top the meatballs with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and place the preheated oven. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes.

 

Cook’s Notes:

Short Cuts

For a quick and easy way to make this dish, use frozen meatballs of your choice and cook according to the package directions. Set aside.

Add one  28-ounce jar of prepared  marinara or spaghetti sauce to a 10″ cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Reduce heat to medium low and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the meatballs to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce. Top the meatballs with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and place in a 400 F preheated oven. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes.

 

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Caramelized Lemongrass Pork with Vermicelli Noodles

   

Lemongrass is a bright aromatic herb with a subtle citrus flavor native to India and tropical Asia. Here it, was used in a Thai-Vietnamese inspired dish to marinate pork giving it a lemony zingy taste. The stir fried pork was then served with a light salad of rice vermicelli (extra thin noodles), cucumber and carrot with mint and cilantro.

 

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 stalk lemongrass

1 shallot

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup (50 ml) fish sauce

2 – 3 teaspoons soy sauce  

2 tablespoons  brown sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

12 ounces (360 grams) pork tenderloin or Two 4 oz Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin Chop, thinly sliced

8 ounces (240 grams) rice vermicelli noodles

Salt, to taste

6 cups (1L)  water

1/2  English cucumber

1 small bunch of mint

1 small bunch of cilantro

2 carrots

 

 

Directions:

To  Make Marinade

Rinse all fresh produce. Trim and discard lemongrass root and outer layer. Thinly slice stalk. Peel shallot and mince. Mince garlic. In a large resealable plastic bag (or a bowl), combine lemongrass, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  If using a pork tenderloin, remove from the packaging and  rinse pork  with water and pat dry with paper towel. Cut crosswise into  1/2 inch (0.5cm) slices. Add pork to marinade in bag and shake to coat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or overnight in fridge.  

 

To Cook the  Vermicelli

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium pot (or kettle) over high heat. Place vermicelli in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Soak until tender, about 6 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds. Set aside in a large bowl.  

 

Preparing  the Vegetables

Cut cucumber lengthwise into 1/2 inch ( 0.5cm ) slices, then juilienne each slice. Peel the carrots and cut lengthwise into  1/2 inch ( 0.5cm ) slices, then juilienne  Pick mint leaves discarding stems. Pick cilantro leaves discarding stems.  

 

To Cook the Pork

Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade, allowing excess to drip off and reserving marinade. When oil is shimmering, add pork, season lightly with salt, and cook until browned on bottom, 1 minute. Flip, season with salt, and add marinade to pan. Cook until pork is cooked through, 1 minute more.  

 

Season Vermicelli

Add cucumbers and shredded carrots to vermicelli in bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt.  

 

To Plate the Dish

Divide vermicelli and vegetables evenly between 2 bowls. Top with pork, spooning over sauce from pan. Garnish with mint and cilantro. Enjoy!  

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Shiitake Mushroom and Pesto Linguine with Spinach

I love mushrooms so much, that this recipe uses two kinds in this dish: your workaday standard creminis and somewhat-exotic shiitakes. These umami vessels are joined by healthy spinach, savory sun-dried tomatoes, and herbaceous, flavor-eous pesto. It’s all twirled together with pasta that makes for an easy-peasy, maximum flavor meal just when you need it.

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. Cremini Mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 1 Shallot, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 4 oz. Baby Spinach
  • 5 oz. Linguine
  • 1 oz. Julienned Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Basil Pesto (See Cook’s Notes. Recipe Follows Below.)
  • 1 small plum or Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz. Shredded Asiago Cheese
  • Salt  and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Bring 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Set aside.

While pasta cooks, brown mushrooms. Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cremini mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms to the hot pan. Stir occasionally until well-browned, 4-5 minutes.

Add shallot to pan. Stir occasionally until tender, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach reserved pasta cooking water, sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of salt salt, and ¼ teaspoons black pepper. Cook until spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes.

Add the pasta and pesto to pan and stir to combine.

To serve, add the finished pasta to a large bowl, garnishing with Asiago and sliced tomatoes.

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Pesto is a mouthful of bright brightness. You can buy it in a jar , found in  the refrigerator section of your grocery story, but there is nothing better than making it yourself. Fresh basil can be found in abundance at farmers’ markets in the summer. Just clean, take the stems off and throw the leaves in a food processor with nuts and garlic. Dribble in the oil and you’ve got a versatile sauce for pasta, chicken or fish.

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced.
  2. With the machine running slowly dribble in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

 

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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