This recipe is too good to be true! A perfect combination of healthy ingredients, chicken sweet Italian sausage, fresh spinach, fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, fresh basil and white wheat pasta… these ingredients together with a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar will make you so happy… W A R N I N G : You may crave this after you’ve made it once. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Print the recipe below, minus all the photos… by clicking on the red link…
Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil
1 – 12 oz pkg white wheat pasta (like Barilla)
1 pkg Chicken Sweet Italian Sausage (like Al Fresco), skins removed, cut into small pieces
1 container of FRESH Mozarella, cut into fairly small pieces
1 large container (or 2 small) Grape Tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh Basil (to taste)
⅓ – ½ cup Olive Oil
⅛ – ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
In a large nonstick frying pan add a small amount of olive oil. Cook cut up sausage until browned. Remove from pan and place on a plate that has a few paper towels on it.
Start a large pot of water to boil the pasta, while you’re waiting for it to boil,…
Cut the grape tomatoes in half, set aside.
Wash the basil and chop it up, set aside.
Cut the mozzarella into small bite sized pieces, set aside.
In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar. I never measure, I just eyeball it to see what I will need to coat the pasta well, it’s ok if it’s more on the heavy olive oil side, you’re going to put this salad on top of fresh spinach, so you will need it! Slowly whisk in ⅓ – ½ cup of olive oil. If you whisk it slowly it will emulsify (become one where it won’t separate). Add some pepper. Go ahead and toss in your cut up tomatoes into the olive oil/balsamic mixture so they can be absorbing those wonderful flavors!
Once your pasta has finished cooking to the al dente stage (firm to the bite), drain it well, and place it in the large bowl with the oil/vinegar. I give it a quick stir to coat the pasta well and then I cover the grape tomatoes with the hot pasta and let it sit for a few minutes.
After a few minutes add the fresh mozzarella, the cooked sausage and the fresh basil. Stir to coat.
You can eat it like it is, or wait until it’s chilled. I usually will take it out of the fridge for 5-10 minutes so that the olive oil will have a change to un-congeal… Place several large handfuls of fresh spinach and then a few large scoops of pasta salad… it melds together wonderfully! Enjoy!
F L A S H B A C K
O N E Y E A R A G O… Sonoma Plein Air Event… October 1-6, 2012
T W O Y E A R S A G O… Approaching Mackinac Island, MI – Island Inn Hotel and the East Bluff!
Catch you back here tomorrow!
Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Basil
Ok, I’m going to be a real friend to you right now… I’m going to pass on a recipe that is so good, I’m telling you that your eyes WILL roll into the back of your head when you taste it. You won’t be able to help it. You are going to thank me. Seriously, this recipe is out of this world, and for all the whining that you may do because you have to stir for 20 minutes or so… just know… IT. IS. WORTH. IT! You will be rewarded with the most scrumptious dinner ever. This is nice paired with a simple salad and maybe a baggette. The ONLY thing that I change is that I use about twice as much balsamic vinegar, mine seems to disappear after it’s reduced. And truly try to give it the time to cook until it’s a little thicker. You will not believe how sweet this is, and how much it adds to the dish! I find that when I boil the balsamic viniagrette in the beginning (as the recipe calls for) it seems to almost evaporate, so I cook it closer to the time I serve… OK folks, this recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine (see, it’s not even bad for you), I hope you enjoy as much as we do! Check out the http://www.myrecipes.com website when you get a chance, always great recipes from some of your favorite magazines (Cooking Light, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Food & Wine, Health etc.).
Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cups chopped leek
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced
- Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 4 minutes). Set aside. (Barbara note: this is the step that I do closer to when the risotto is ready to serve).
- Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow serving bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oil.
Mary Alayne Long, Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Cooking Light
Bon Appetit! Catch you back here tomorrow!
WARNING: THIS WILL TURN YOU INTO AN ADDICT. A TOMATO-BASIL-SAUCE-ON-PASTA-WITH-ITALIAN-SAUSAGE-ADDICT. Consider yourself warned.
We have been getting THE BEST tomatoes this year. I was inspired to create something new, not the typical spaghetti sauce I usually make, but something fresh and delicious where the tomatoes were the star and I think I did it…
There is no real recipe, use whatever quantities you like. The first time I made this (photo above) I used six large tomatoes. The last time I made it, I made enough to freeze, I used at least 11 tomatoes, big juicy fresh tomatoes from Boone Hall Farms, located in Mount Pleasant, SC. Also, the first time I made it I used penne pasta, which was a good fit, because this is NOT a thick sauce, so the tomato, garlic and onion juices got all wrapped up in the penne quite nicely. The last time I made this I used white whole wheat pasta which has more fiber, and tastes just like white (Barilla is the brand I used)… this sauce is so good we both think we can use it on whole wheat pasta with no problem. So, being the adult that I am, I bought some whole wheat pasta, so next time, we will give it a whirl…
A special THANK YOU to MOLLY WEAVER for the BEST. BASIL. EVER. She grows the sweetest basil I’ve ever tasted and she’s been incredibly generous to share it with me!
TOMATO BASIL SAUCE with GRILLED ITALIAN SAUSAGE
Fresh tomatoes, at least 6-8 large tomatoes, or as many as you like!
Garlic, chopped (or I use a microplane, it’s much faster!)
Fresh Basil, chopped
Pasta of your choice (my favorite so far was the Barilla white wheat mini penne)
Italian Sausage (I use Al Fresco, Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, no nitrates!)
Wash, core and chop the tomatoes. Put in a big bowl so they’re ready to go…
Chop the onion (as small or large as you like), grate or mince the garlic (the smaller it is the healthier it is for you).
In a large stainless pan (I use a heavy pan, less likely for the garlic and onion to burn), drizzle some olive oil. Enough to keep onions and garlic from sticking to pan.
Once oil is warm, toss in the onion, once they begin to get translucent, make a little well in the center and toss in the garlic (make sure you still have olive oil, if not add some), cook for ONE MINUTE or until fragrant (on medium heat).
Now toss in the tomatoes… and stir it all around, get the onions and garlic mixed in with those tomatoes and wait until you start to see some bubbling. Then you can turn the flame down to low/med low and put a lid on the pan. (I do not leave the kitchen during this step in case they start to boil over). Let them cook for about 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and it will look like you have tomato soup! Take a handheld potato masher and slowly and carefully mash the tomatoes into the juice (you can omit this step if you prefer). Now let it cook with the lid off until it reduces at least an inch… right when it’s about there add the fresh basil, salt and pepper.
Cook your pasta according to package directions… about the same time, throw your Italian Sausage on the grill (I use chicken Italian sausage, oh is it ever delicious!) until done. Then slice thinly. (Note: if you don’t want to mess with the grill you could use scissors and cut the pasta and saute it, but I think the grill adds a nice crispiness to it that goes so nicely with this sauce.)
Scoop out some pasta, add some sauce, top with the Italian sausage and some parmesan cheese.
YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE IT. TRUST ME.
Catch you back here tomorrow!
UPDATE: I’ve made this again since I wrote the original post. I used Barilla Whole Grain pasta (51% wheat), and it was delicious! Thought I bought whole wheat because it was so dark, but noticed when I got home it was whole grain… NEXT time will try whole wheat!
Also… since tomato season is winding down, I’ve been making this and freezing it in batches. I don’t have a lot of freezer space, so this is how I do it.
Chill the sauce in the refrigerator. Then scoop enough (for the two of us I use 3-4 ladles) for one dinner into a labeled quart freezer bag. Put the bags on a cookie sheet and make sure they’re nice and flat. Once frozen, remove cookie sheet. You can store them standing up (like a file) or store flat. When it comes time to defrost, I just set out on the counter OR run under cold water for a few minutes. Because it’s not thick it defrosts quickly. Snip off one of the bottom ends of the ziplock and squeeze contents into a pan to heat. Toss the bag. Easy, right?
I am about to make you a very happy camper… I’m going to share with you a recipe that is OUT OF THIS WORLD DIVINE! This salad is refreshing on a hot summer day (hot is an understatement, I do believe the tires on my car are melting as I type this)… You can throw this together in the morning and have it for lunch or dinner… it’s a great light dinner. You know what Dr. Oz says… Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Meaning to eat your biggest meal first and lighten up from there. I know. I don’t like to eat breakfast either… but… Dr. Oz said so…! We try to do that when we can, it’s not always possible, but once in a while we get it right…
Ok, onto the reason I’m going to make you so happy… I’m going to share a recipe with you that I have made so many times… I have it perfected… It’s a combination of a few different recipes with my own twists added in… so here goes.
Pans Prepared with Tomatoes and Shrimp to put in oven to roast… (BEFORE pic), I love before and afters, don’t you?
Tada! What the tomatoes and shrimp look like after roasting. Note: I cut the tomatoes in half (as shown in foreground), be careful, contents are hot and they spit, BIG TIME! I also cut the shrimp in half, you do what you like…
After you whisk together the lemon juice (FRESH lemon please! Red wine vinegar (or whatever you’ve got), salt, pepper and dill. Fresh if you’ve got it, dried if you don’t. Mix it up then slowly drizzle in the olive oil this will make it emulsify (it helps make it cohesive, keeps the oil and vinegar from separating). Pour it onto the orzo and stir to coat.
Add the tomatoes to the orzo mixture. Make sure you add all that wonderful sweet juice as well! It only makes it better!
Then toss in those wonderful roasted shrimp. By now you’ve got to be going crazy to taste the final product, eh? Hee. This isn’t the clearest shot, but it’s COOL, look how I’ve captured the shrimp literally jumping into that bowl… a true action shot!
Next… add the cheese, also, not pictured are the olives and cucumbers… I usually throw a splash or two of olive juice as well, but that’s a secret so keep it to yourself, ok? Also, the cucumber I usually add right before serving. I love cucumbers, but they can get weird, which rubs off on everything else, you don’t want weird orzo shrimp tomato feta salad do you? Then trust me on this… add it before serving…
Now with all my bossy comments about what to do just know, you can do what you like, add however much of an ingredient you like. Sometimes I don’t have cucumber, so I don’t add it (*GASP*), this time I had a leftover banana pepper, so I used it and it was AWESOME! Hey, if you make this, let me know. It will most certainly become a staple, especially during the hot summer months!
ROASTED SHRIMP AND TOMATO ORZO WITH FETA
1 cup orzo
3/4-1 lb. shrimp
4 green onions, chopping, including green
Big handful of pitted Kalamata olives
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and dried
1/2-1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded (or an English cucumber with skin)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh or dried dill
1/3 cup olive oil
Catch you back here tomorrow!
Ahhh, another cold salad that is to-die-for-good and is perfect for this oh-so-hot-weather we’re all having! (What’s with me and all the hyphens I wonder?) This is something you can whip up in the morning and have in the fridge for dinner later in the day. You can customize it to what you’ve got or what sounds good to you. Same with the quantities. Since there are just two of us I only used a half of a box of pasta, but if you have a gaggle at home for dinner, then by all means, double the recipe, no worries!
This is what I had in my pasta salad, remember, there are no rules! I only used a little red onion because I didn’t want it to be too strong. I happened to have 3/4 of a banana pepper left and let me tell you it was tasty in this pasta salad!
This is what I had in the dressing… I’ve also made it with just olive oil, and with olive oil/balsamic vinegar… I have to say I like today’s recipe the best!
This is what the tomatoes should like like when you’re done roasting. Just until one starts to burst or get wrinkly. At this point they’ve achieved the sweetness that you oh so desire (trust me, you do!).
MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD
Pasta of your choice, I used the mini bow tie pasta. I used 1/2 box. If you use a full box, double the recipe for the olive oil/balsamic vinegar/dijon mustard.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
S & P (kosher and fresh ground)
Vegetables to add to salad – anything goes! Whatever quantity you like.
I used 3/4 of a banana pepper and about 1/4 cup (or less) minced red onion, OH! and the container of grape tomatoes from the Farmers Market!
Feta cheese 2-4 oz.
Basil (fresh), washed, chopped, I used a few sprigs (maybe 15 leaves).
Thyme (fresh), washed, stripped from stalk – I only used a little about a teaspoon.
Olives! (Forgot those in the photos) – I used Kalamata, the big dark black olives, you can use a teaspoon or two of juice as well.
Preheat oven to 400 F
Boil water for the pasta. While the water is boiling wash and dry the grape tomatoes. (Yep, dry em… wash them well, then gently place on a clean towel, roll them around and they will be dry!)
Toss the grape tomatoes into a bowl with about a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Using your hands stir them around so that they’re all coated with the olive oil. Now using your olive oil hand, grease the cookie sheet (I use one with a lip so that they don’t go rolling off into your oven!), if you need a wee bit more olive oil go ahead and get some, but you only want to LIGHTLY oil the cookie sheet, otherwise you will have stinky deep fried smelling tomatoes and who wants that?
Once tomatoes are coated slide them onto the cookie sheet.
By now your pasta water should be boiling, toss in the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain in a colander once pasta is cooked.
Check your tomatoes, you just want them to start to get crinkly. It’s not horrible if they totally fall apart, but then you’ll have little tomato pieces instead of more sturdy pieces. Roasting the tomato gives it sweetness you cannot begin to fathom. Seriously! When they’re done, cut them in half. You don’t have to but sometimes they can be kind of big in a salad.
Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk and then pour over cooked pasta that you have placed in a large bowl. Stir it until pasta is coated well.
Now for the fun part… I added banana pepper and red onion. Add what you like, as much or as little as you like! Add it to the pasta, stir it in.
Add 2-4 oz. of feta and mix it in. Remember you can always add it on top, so don’t add too much. Been there. Done that.
Add fresh chopped (or in my case snipped with scissors) basil and thyme (again, stripped from the stalk).
Chill (but go ahead and try some now… try to leave some for everyone else. It’s that good, yep! – Yield approximately 4 servings.
Catch you back here tomorrow!
Aren’t these just the sweetest baby yellow squash, pattypan squash and zucchini that you’ve ever seen? Here is a quick and easy meal to prepare that will make you want it again and again and again… you don’t have to use baby zucchini/squash, you can use regular. However, if you can find the baby, it’s a treat, we got this at the Farmer’s Market (Charleston, SC)…
This time I decided to try Trader Joe’s Spinach and Chive Linguini… it was tasty! I didn’t have any strong flavors in this pasta, so the chives and spinach flavor were a nice touch… You can use whatever kind of pasta you like… often times I cook whatever kind strikes me, cappelini (Angel Hair), Linguini, Spinach pasta of any type, whatever sounds good to you!
Cut up the zucchini and onion… if you have anything else to add, go ahead, it only gets better… red pepper, mushrooms, tomato. Sauté in olive oil (or canola oil) on medium high heat until zucchini starts to brown and onions are translucent… Cook your pasta, drain, and add to the pan with the veggies… stir around, dish up and sprinkle with copious amount of parmesan (ok, so my ‘copious’ and your ‘copious’ may differ, I get my parmesan cheese “habit” from my mom…) and TADA… dinner is ready in no time and it is KILLER! Fresh and tasty…
Here’s the “recipe” which as mentioned above can be changed however you like! All measurements are approximate, you can’t mess this up… well… for the most part!
QUICK SUMMER PASTA – Serves 2
1 medium zucchini (or an equal amount of baby squash)
1 small yellow squash, pattypan squash, etc.
pasta of your liking
In a large pan, boil water for the pasta. Depending upon the cooking time for the pasta, start the veggies… give them about 10 minutes.
Cut up the squash. I don’t peel (especially baby squash) but if its tough (or not organic) then go ahead a peel it, it has good vitamins in the skin, so I try to eat it… dice the onion.
In a nonstick frying pan add 1 Tablespoon (roughly, if it needs more, add it) of Olive Oil… (If using a regular pan you’ll need more oil)
Once the oil is hot, toss in the chopped squash and onion. Don’t stir around too much, if you can let it sit for a bit before stirring it will brown nicely. Don’t let it brown too much… just some crispy edges are nice…
Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander. When the veggies are done you can turn the heat to very low and add as much pasta as you think you’ll need (it’s hard to judge when cooking pasta, but when you put it in the pan you can tell if you have way too much pasta for the amount of veggies). Stir it around to coat the noodles (add a splash of olive oil if necessary if it appears to be dry). Dish up the pasta and sprinkle with S&P and parmesan… and ENJOY!
Variations: sometimes I cut up fresh tomato and add it after it’s on my plate… also wedges of avocado are so nice… sometimes I will dice up some banana pepper and add that with the zucchini and sauté it… it adds a nice flavor!
Catch you back here tomorrow!