Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Kudos again go to An Edible Mosaic blog for this delicious and healthy Italian pie. We enjoyed this for dinner; the sauce is easy to make, and everything comes together nicely. I made my nondairy substitutions – I used tofu instead of ricotta cheese, and soy parmesan instead of the real thing. Delicioso! Head over to the blog to check out the beautiful photos taken of this dish, too.

Roasted zucchini spaghetti pie

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

1/4 pound whole grain (or regular) spaghetti noodles

2 cups tofu

2 eggs

1 egg white

1/4 cup soy parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups thick marinara sauce (recipe below)

cooking spray

Thick Marinara sauce: (yields ~ 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small carrot, peeled and shredded

1 15-ounce can diced tomato, with liquid

1 1/2 ounce tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch ground black pepper

9″ pie plate

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat the sliced zucchini with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper; arrange the zucchini inĀ  a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for ~ 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. When it’s done roasting, the zucchini will be golden in spots.

For the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small pot with a lid. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften; add the carrot and garlic, and saute another 5 – 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt, and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings. Simmer with lid on for 20 – 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Cool the pasta to room temperature, then add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons soy parmesan, and pinch of pepper; stir to combine.

To the tofu, mix in 1 egg, 1 egg white, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the pie pan with cooking spray; spread the pasta on the bottom of the pie plate, then spread 1/2 of the tofu mixture on top of the pasta. Arrange the zucchini on top of the tofu, then spread the rest of the tofu mixture on top of the zucchini. Spread the marinara sauce on top of the tofu. Bake the pie for 20 – 30 minutes, until it’s set. Sprinkle the remaining soy parmesan on top and allow to cool slightly before cutting.


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Inspired by Lidia Bastianich, I tweaked this pesto with a little less oil, and of course, soy parmesan to replace the real thing. It was a real pleaser.

Pasta with basil pistachio pesto (the original makes twice the amount you would need for a pound of pasta. Mine is cut in half from the original)

1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves

1/2 cup toasted unsalted pistachios

4 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

1/4 cup soy parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a food processor, add basil, parsley, pistachios, garlic, and salt. Turn on processor and add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Process to make a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Add spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Scrape the pesto into a large skillet over low heat and add 1 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and transfer to the skillet. Toss to coat the pasta with the pesto. Off heat, toss with the soy parmesan. Makes 6 servings.

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I made this in the summer, but I really missed having a pasta meal with red gravy. This was easily adaptable to use nondairy cheeses. It was great.

Baked parmesan spaghetti (from How Sweet It Is) with my own nondairy adaptations

3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 pound ground turkey breast

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

10 – 12 basil leaves, chopped

2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce

1 cup shredded soy mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes instead of 10, as it will be going into the oven. Drain.

Heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and saute until soft, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Season ground turkey with rest of salt and pepper and add to skillet. Break apart with a wooden spoon and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of pasta sauce and half of the chopped fresh basil. Mix to combine. Spray a casserole dish, add half of the spaghetti mixture to the dish, then top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce, rest of basil, and half of each cheese. Add the remaining spaghetti and top with the rest of the sauce and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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Colorful, delicious, fresh, fresh, fresh. Adapted by me to non-dairy. (I also left out the broccoli, which I forgot to buy!)

Pasta primavera (from Saveur)


1 medium zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick pieces

1 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick pieces

1 1/2 cups fresh shelled green peas

8 spear asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into thirds

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 button mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered

1/4 cup pine nuts

4 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

1 pound spaghetti

1 cup soy cream

1/4 cup grated soy parmesan

1/4 cup vegetable stock

4 tablespoons margarine, softened

12 – 14 leaves, basil, shredded

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute zucchini and squash until just beginning to brown, 2 – 3 minutes. Add peas, one-third of the garlic, and salt to taste, saute for 1 minute, then transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms until golden brown, 2 – 3 minutes. Add pine nuts and saute until golden, 1 – 2 minutes. Add half the garlic and salt to taste, saute for 30 seconds, then transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, saute asparagus until lightly browned, about 1 minute, then transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, tomatoes, remaining garlic, and salt to taste to the skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until tomatoes break apart and release their juice, 3 – 4 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until just cooked through, 10 – 12 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the soy cream in a large skillet over medium-high heat until slightly thickened, 5 – 6 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and salt to taste. Drain pasta, add to skillet with cream, and cook, stirring often, until pasta absorbs sauce, 2 – 3 minutes.

Divide pasta among 4 plates. Dividing quantities equally, top paste with zucchini mixture, mushroom mixture, tomato sauce, and asparagus, in that order. Garnish with basil. Makes 4 servings.

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Just a brilliant idea, putting together risotto and chicken marsala. Two of my favorite dishes in one scrumptious meal.

Chicken marsala risotto (with nondairy and other modifications by me)

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock

1 3/4 cup marsala wine

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 shallots, finely diced

2 tablespoons margarine

2 large chicken breasts, cut in chunks

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan

olive oil

freshly ground black pepper, salt, thyme

In a large saute pan, melt margarine and about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add shallots and cook until slightly translucent. Add in garlic and sliced mushrooms. Cook until shallots are cooked through, mushrooms are tender, and most of the liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 minutes. Add your rice and stir around, coating it with any oil or liquid in the pan. Let it toast until the edges of the grains have turned translucent, a few minutes. Add 1 cup of marsala, stirring frequently until absorbed. When it looks like most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir until it has all been absorbed.

1/2 cup by 1/2 cup, start adding the stock to the pan, stirring frequently. About halfway through your stock, take your chicken, which should be in chunks, grind some pepper onto it and sprinkle some kosher salt and thyme. Heat up a pan to medium-high heat on another burner with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Toss in your chicken, browning the outsides. Lower heat and add 1/4 cup marsala wine in the pan for flavor. Cook fully, and cover to keep warm.

When you have approximately 1 cup of stock left, taste your risotto. Season with salt and pepper as needed. At this time, add in the reserved 1/2 cup of marsala and stir in.

When marsala has been absorbed, taste again for seasoning and texture. Add last cup of stock in 1/4 cup increments to achieve the texture you would like. When the last of your stock is almost fully absorbed, toss in chicken, and stir, making sure the chicken is hot.

When the last of the liquid has fully absorbed and chicken is hot, take off burner and stir in cheese. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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Beautiful and delicious. From Mary Ann Esposito, with my nondairy adaptations.

Cauliflower frittata

1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets

4 large eggs

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan

1/4 cup diced dried tomatoes

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat 1/8 cup olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove the onions and cauliflower to a dish, and set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and parsley together. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower mixture and blend well.

Set the skillet over medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the frittata mixture, distributing the cauliflower evenly in the pan. Cook until the frittata holds together when the skillet is shaken.

Place a large dish over the top of the skillet and invert the frittata onto the dish. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, slip the frittata back into the pan, and cook until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn the frittata out onto a serving plate, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Serves 6.

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With the cold weather settling in, I need something VERY warm when I get home from work. That’s when I go into soup mode. Here is a quick and easy and flavorful soup to make. I really love ditalini pasta, and it works perfectly in this soup.

Spinach and eggdrop pasta soup (from Food&Wine, with my nondairy adaptation)

1/2 pound ditalini or other small pasta

2 quarts chicken stock

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

5 ounces baby spinach

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer with the garlic; simmer for 3 minutes. Add the pasta and spinach and cook over moderate heat until the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the eggs, breaking them into long strands. Gently simmer the soup until the eggs are just firm, about 1 minute. Stir in the 1/2 cup of soy cheese. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Makes 10 servings.

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This is stick-to-your-ribs-and-keep-you-warm soup, perfect for today’s temperature – we did not get above the 20s. It’s going to be a long winter – better make some more of this comforting Italian soup standard.

Ribolitta (Italian for “reboiled”)(from Williams-Sonoma)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried white beans, preferably
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 lb. savoy cabbage or 1/3 lb. each kale, Swiss
    chard and savoy cabbage, tough stems
    removed and leaves coarsely chopped or
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 slices coarse country bread

To make the beans, rinse them, drain, and place in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, boil for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and return to the saucepan with fresh water to cover by about 2″. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour. Add the salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Set the beans aside in their liquid.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, the cooked white beans and their liquid, thyme, salt and pepper, and enough water just to cover the vegetables. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the heat, let cool. (You can cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or for up to 3 days).

Remove the soup from the refrigerator. Layer 2 or 3 bread slices in the bottom of a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Ladle in enough soup just to cover. Repeat the layers until all the bread and soup are in the pan, ending with the soup. Slowly bring the soup to a boil over low heat, stirring often to make sure that the bottom doesn’t scorch and to break up the bread, 20 – 30 minutes. It should eventually dissolve and absorb the liquids completely, forming a very thick soup.

Scoop into bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Best. Ziti. Ever.

Baked ziti (from Williams-Sonoma, with my nondairy adaptations)

4 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed

1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 28-ounce can crushed plum tomatoes with juices

8 ounces ziti, cooled until al dente

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup rinsed chopped kalamata olives

2 cups shredded soy mozzarella cheese

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan

Position rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

In a 10″ nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Discard all the 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Set the pan over medium heat and warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 – 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Add the wine; increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the sausage, pasta, basil, olives, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and the tomato sauce to the bowl with the eggplant and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 9 x 13″ baking pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the soy parmesan. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the pan and broil at 500 degrees F fr 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

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Sheesh, talk about delish. This Williams-Sonoma pasta dish was out of this world. 5-star stamp of approval from the family, too.

Penne with butternut squash, sage, and bresaola (non-dairy adaptations by me)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

5 shallots, minced

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice

pinch of ground allspice

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3/4 cup chicken broth

splash of balsamic vinegar

1 pound penne

8 fresh sage leaves, cut into narrow strips

1/4 pound thinly sliced bresaola, cut into narrow strips

1/2 – 1 cup grated soy parmesan

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 3 – 4 minutes. Add the squash and allspice and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash is fork tender, about 8 minutes. (do not stir the squash while cooking or it will break down into a puree. You want to keep the pieces whole). Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 – 12 minutes.

Drain the pasta well and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Pour on the squash mixture. Add the sage, bresaola, and a drizzle of olive oil and toss gently. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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