Tag Archives: italian food

Mushroom Pesto with Sausage over Fusilli

This one is a warm and hearty pasta sauce, great for a cold night. It’s also very low fat and full of healthy vegetables. This recipe can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by eliminating the turkey sausage or replacing it with a meat-substitute sausage.


  • 8 oz whole wheat fusilli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 lb of spicy turkey sausage, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 1 cup red onion
  • 1 cup white wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomato


In the work bowl of your food processor, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, basil, olive oil, white wine and a dash of salt. Grind into a thick paste. You may need to work in batches.

In a hot skillet, brown the sausage on all sides. Add the mixture from the food processor and simmer until the sausage is cooked through.

Serve over whole wheat fusilli

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min
Servings : 6


Lamb Ragout with Mushrooms

This was so delicious that my husband insisted that it become a blog post! Please take note: lamb requires a whole lot of salt. Don’t go lightly.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 small sliced carrot
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 4 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 oz rotelle pasta
  • lots of salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • shaved parmesan cheese


Heat your skillet and add the olive oil. Sauteée the onions, garlic and celery with salt until the onions begin to soften. Add the carrot and ground lamb with salt and pepper and begin to brown the meat. Part way through, add the sliced mushrooms. Brown the meat and don’t let it form large clumps. Add the tomato sauce, red wine, rosemary, basil and parsley, and more salt if needed. Cover and keep a low simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta. Garnish with some finely minced fresh parsley and shaved parmesan.

Pasta Ranchera

Pasta Ranchera

Pasta Ranchera

My boyfriend wiped his bowl clean with a tortilla and commented that this was ‘Mexican Fusion’. Laughing, I informed him that it was really just made out of whatever I had lying around the house. Sometimes those become my very best recipes. Lemme tell ya, this turned out so great, I took an after-the-fact photo and I’m posting the recipe even without the other pictures.

So without further ado, here’s how to whip this one up:

Pasta Ranchera

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, sliced and chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb skirt steak, flat meat, carne asada meat or other very thinly sliced steak – don’t buy it chopped up
  • 5-6 mushrooms chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chopped
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 lb pasta of your choice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cotija cheese grated

Heat the olive oil and toss in the chopped garlic. Salt & pepper both sides of the meat and sear it on all sides quickly. Remove from the heat immediately and set aside. Turn heat off. Chop all your veggies and toss them into the skillet (heat off) except for the tomatoes. Slice the meat into long 1″ strips going with the grain. Then slice it against the grain at 1/2″-1″ apart. Put the meat in with the veggies and the Worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer over low heat. Now you can slice your tomatoes.

When meat is almost cooked, add the tomatoes and simmer for another couple minutes. Then add the chili powder, lime juice and cumin. Stir the sour cream into the sauce and simmer for another minute or so.

Scoop over the pasta into bowls and then grate a little cotija cheese over the top. Let set for a minute or two while you finish setting the table so the sauce can thicken. Dig in!

I recommend margaritas to go with it!

Social Bookmarks:

DIY Panini

Waffle IronI love panini sandwiches. The grilled and pressed bread ads so much flavor to whatever you’ve got in the middle. Cooking shows and appliance salesmen would have you think that in order to enjoy panini at home, you need to have a special panini press or a George Foreman Grill.

I just use my waffle iron. Sure, the shape pressed into the bread is a little different (squares rather than parallel lines) but the waffle iron works the same as a panini press. It toasts the bread and ads weight to press the sandwich together, just like a traditional panini press.

Simply build your favorite sandwich and then butter the outside of the bread. Place it in the hot waffle iron for a couple of minutes -the bread should be toasty and the cheese inside a little melty. Viola!

Today, we enjoyed pastrami sandwiches with pepper jack cheese, red leaf lettuce, and stone ground mustard, that I pressed in the waffle iron. They were so delicious, we ate them before I thought to snap a picture. Here are some other places to find panini recipes:

Pasta Salad

Pasta SaladCold pasta salad is one of my favorite summer recipes. It’s great at a BBQ, or you can even make it in advance to take to a camp-out or picnic. Full of fresh vegetables, this is a healthy and light dish that is sure to get plenty of compliments. Every time I cook this, people rave about how they love it. It’s a big favorite!

Pasta salad is a pretty simple recipe to make. However, rather than just writing this like a typical recipe, I’m going to provide plenty of pictures, so you can see how things are supposed to look. (Click on the images for more detailed versions.) Feel free to experiment with the ingredients. It’s far more important to include high quality fresh ingredients than to follow the recipe exactly. So if something is out of season or looks old, substitute it or leave it out.

Diva’s Famous Pasta Salad

Fresh Veggies, Oil, Vinegar, Olives

  • 1 pound dry tri-color fusilli
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil
  • 4 stalks asparagus
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 10 crimini mushroms
  • 1 portabello mushroom
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 sm jar pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup dry salami – chopped up
  • kosher salt
  • pepper grounds

Sautee the VeggiesStep 1: Sautée the Mushrooms & Asparagus

In a large or medium skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. You’ll know it’s hot enough if you add a few drops of water and they sizzle. Add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, sliced crimini mushrooms, the portobello mushroom chopped into 1/2″-1″ squares, and the asparagus chopped up into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Add a little freshly ground pepper and some kosher salt.

Sautee the Mushrooms & AsparagusCover it and sautée over medium heat until the vegetables soften up, but take care not to over-cook the mushrooms. It should look like the photo to the right when it’s done.

Now remove it immediately from the heat. This needs to cool completely so dump everything in a large bowl – the more surface area the better. Nest that bowl into a larger filled with ice and water. Leave it alone and proceed to step 2.

Boil the FusilliStep 2: Boil the Pasta

Get a large stock pot and fill it up about 2/3 the way full of water. Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil.

When the water is boiling rapidly, dump in the pasta. Turn it down to medium-high and stir often. Cook the pasta until it’s al denté, about ten minutes, and then drain.

Chop the OlivesStep 3: Chop the Veggies

While the pasta is boiling, you can begin chopping the rest of the veggies. Chop them into 1/2″ pieces. The cherry tomatoes should be quartered. The olives should be sliced.

Bowl of VeggiesSlice the basil into small strips and chop the parsley finely. Dump it all into a nice big bowl.

Step 4: Put it All Together

Add in the chopped salami, cheese, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, and the cooled vegetable mix. Pour in a cup of extra virgin olive oil and a cup of balsamic vinegar. Now stir it all up.

Step 5: EAT!

This dish is best the next day so you want to let it marinade at least a few hours and wait a day if you can help it. Then serve it cold or at room temperature.

Finished Pasta Salad

Social Bookmarks:

That’s Really Vegetarian Lasagna

Because Cat asked me not to forget vegetarians, here’s what I cook when I really want to impress herbivores. I have a meat variation of this, too, but both get big smiles. The big secret is that I use feta cheese rather than ricotta.

1 onion
olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 portobello mushroom chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
6-8 large crimini mushrooms sliced
6-8 large white mushrooms sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 chopped basil
1 small can tomato paste
1 heirloom tomato chopped up
3 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
4 or 5 small zucchinis (or equiv) –sliced into long 1/8″ ovals (slice round at an angle)
1 lb lasagna noodles – boiled and drained
1 lb fresh spinach
12 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
dash dry oregano

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Toss in the onions and then the garlic and sautée over medium for a couple minutes and then add in mushrooms, oregano, salt & pepper. Sautée over medium until the mushrooms begin to soften –but don’t cook them too much. Stir in basil, heirloom tomato, tomato paste, tomato sauce and red wine. Slowly bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer over med-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a 9×13 baking pan, lay 3 lasagna noodles across the bottom. Scoop on a nice thick layer of suace. Add a layer of spinach leaves & then a layer of lasagna slices. Then sprinkle on a layer of feta. Repeat this until you fill the pan. Cover with a last layer of noodles and then sauce. Then generously pile on the mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle on a little dry oregano.

Bake for 20-30 min or until the cheese is melted and crispy all the way through. Cool just a little bit and dig in!

Social Bookmarks:

My Discovery of Speck

I recently dined at Zuppa, 2007 winner of the San Francisco Boss of the Sauce competition where I was introduced to the best thing since bacon: speck. I was so excited after dinner that I got on the phone and called all my bacon fanatic friends to tell them I’d met bacon’s match.


Also called Speck dell’Alto Adige, it is a delightful thinly sliced Italian meat that has characteristics of both bacon and prosciutto. The wikipedia entry on speck says that this meat has been around since the fourteenth century. It’s both salt-cured and wood smoked and comes from the hind-leg of the pig.

We tried it by itself as an appetizer and for an entrée I had roasted quail wrapped in speck. My toes curled! I’d never even heard of this fabulous treat, but it was definitely love at first bite.

Since then, I’ve been on the look-out for a pound of speck. I hear that they sell it at Lucca. I’ll keep you updated once I get my hands on some. I’ll certainly blog my kitchen experiments with it!

Social Bookmarks: