Categories
Main Dish

This Greek pasta dish ‘itsio’ good, you have to try it

Pastitsio
Pastitsio is a pasta dish that incorporates two different kinds of meat in a tomato sauce with warm spices and a delicious bechamel sauce on top.

It’s not often I can stump Joey with a recipe.

He’s the king of the spice cabinet and my go to when I know a recipe needs “something,” but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So when I managed to completely confuse him this week, I was a little proud of myself. Well, I was actually proud of TV chef Ina Garten, but who’s counting?

The dish I put in front of my husband? A delicious, tomato-y pasta. The secret ingredient? Cinnamon.

Now, I know that sounds insane, but trust me when I say it gave this dish a deep, fall-like flavor profile that made it tough not to want seconds, and it is definitely worth a try, although I will warn you this is not a quick recipe. Be ready to have a couple hours to blow on creating this amazing dish.

While this week’s recipe is Garten’s creation, I found it on the blog “Vodka and Biscuits.” You can find the original post at http://www.vodkaandbiscuits.com/2016/10/07/ina-gartens-pastitsio/. I added extra garlic, oregano and thyme and used pork in my version.

Pastitsio
Print

Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a pasta dish that incorporates two different kinds of meat in a tomato sauce with warm spices and a delicious bechamel sauce on top.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Keyword cinnamon, dry red wine, garlic, ground beef, ground pork, oregano, parmesan, thyme, tomatoes, yellow onion

Ingredients

Meat Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound pork
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine I used pinot noir
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper

Bechamel Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk I used skim
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan divided
  • 5.3- ounce container plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 pound tubular pasta I used penne

Instructions

  • In a large pot or deep skillet, cook the onion, ground beef and pork (crumbling the meat as you go) until the meat is cooked through and the onions are soft. Drain any excess fat from the pan.
  • Stir in the wine and saute until it is absorbed into the mixture. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and cayenne and saute another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly and squishing the tomatoes so that they break down into a sauce.
  • After the sauce has been simmering around 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the bechamel, start by melting the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Once it is melted, stir in the flour and cook for about two minutes. Whisk in the milk and continue stirring constantly, raising the heat to bring the mixture to a low simmer (just below boiling).
  • Continue stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Once the cheese melts, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the Greek yogurt.
  • While your bechamel comes together, boil your pasta according to package directions to al dente. After draining, mix it into the tomato sauce.
  • Now it’s time for assembly. In a deep nine-by-13-inch pan, spread the tomato/pasta mixture evenly. Drizzle the bechamel over the top, and then finish off with the rest of the grated parmesan. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the mixture is bubbly.
  • Serve with some crusty bread.

This does take quite awhile to come together, but it makes plenty for a big family meal, and it got rave reviews at our table. It also reheated great for leftovers. 

It may have a few surprising ingredients, but it was still a home run for dinner at our house.

Plus, if you have a spices expert, it might be fun to play your own version of “stump the chump.” Even if they lose, they’ll still win with a great meal.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 9, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Explore new ‘pasta’bilities with avocados

Spinach avocado pasta is a great summer dish with lots of fresh flavors, including some roasted tomatoes on top.

There’s a running joke that the people in my generation, Millennials, are completely obsessed with avocados.

In our house, we fit the stereotype, although we rarely eat them on toast. The truth is, avocados are more popular with our generation, because it was in the late 1990s that trade restrictions started to ease for avocados to be imported into the United States and Canada, and a 2015 Super Bowl ad then made Americans start flocking to get their “avocados from Mexico.” (Did you sing the jingle in your head when you read it?)

According to the Canadian restaurant chain Quesada on its website, 90% of the avocados eaten in the United States come from Mexico, whereas past generations had to settle for the shortened growing season in California.

Basically, we now have access to fresh avocados year-round, and they’re cheaper than before, too, so Millennials just happened to be at the exact right time in American history to enjoy the creamy, green fruits. I decided to use avocados in a little different application this week that is absolutely perfect for summer—as a pasta sauce ingredient.

I found this recipe on the blog “Healthy Fitness Meals.” You can find the original post at https://healthyfitnessmeals.com/spinach-and-avocado-pasta-recipe/. I changed up some ingredients, added others, and chose to saute the tomatoes instead of incorporating them raw, like the original author did.

Print

Spinach Avocado Pasta

Spinach avocado pasta is a great summer dish with lots of fresh flavors, including some roasted tomatoes on top.
Course Main Course
Keyword avocado, spaghetti, spinach, tomatoes, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved, if large
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta according to the package directions, and reserve about 1/4-cup of the pasta water before draining it.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley and oregano and stir to coat the tomatoes with oil. Saute the tomatoes, stirring regularly, until they start to burst or give up their juices, then remove them from the heat.
  • Meanwhile, add the avocado, spinach, garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, adding some of the pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and to your preferred consistency. Taste it and add more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Stir the pasta and sauce together until it is well coated, and then serve, topping each scoop with some of the cherry tomatoes, along with the juices from the pan.

I have to admit, eating avocados, whose taste I generally associate with flavors like cumin and red pepper, along with Italian spices was a bit weird, but I really liked it.

It was fresh and light and perfect for a summer meal. If you did want to make it heavier, serving this with some grilled chicken would be fantastic, too.

And even if it was a little cliché for a 30-something to make an avocado dish, I’ll be easily ignoring any snickering. Those earlier generations just didn’t know what they were missing.

This piece first appeared in print on June 24, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Ciao’ down on Tuscan sausage pasta

Tuscan sausage pasta only uses two pots and is a quick, 30-minute dinner with lots of delicious Italian flavors.

Is it just me, or has it been particularly difficult to decide what to make for dinner lately?

OK, so I know it’s definitely not just me—it’s Joey, too. If you’re not having this same “let’s stare at each other until one of us breaks and makes a decision” moment every evening, I envy you. Honestly, a few days ago, I just ate a bowl of cereal like I was still in college. Joey judged me pretty hard, but he stopped when I pointed out that he didn’t have any idea of what we should eat, either.

After a few days of this same routine, I decided that I was going to find something new online, make an executive decision, and we were going to have at least one pre-planned meal, and let me tell you, the recipe I tried was not only super delicious, but it was quick and used a minimum of dishes to accomplish, too.

The recipe I found was on the blog “Salt & Lavender.” You can find the original at https://www.saltandlavender.com/tuscan-sausage-pasta/. I increased the garlic in my version.

Print

Tuscan Sausage Pasta

Tuscan sausage pasta only uses two pots and is a quick, 30-minute dinner with lots of delicious Italian flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword 30-minute meal, basil, cream sauce, garlic, pasta, sausage, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta of your choice
  • 10-11 ounces hot or mild Italian sausage
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes drained
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • about 1 teaspoon fresh basil minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, if the sausage is in casings, remove them and then cook the sausage over medium heat in a large skillet until the sausage is cooked through. (Crumble it as you cook it.)
  • When the sausage is nearly cooked through, remove it from the pan and drain off all but about 1/2 tablespoon of grease.
  • Add the garlic, broth, mustard, flour and lemon juice and stir, scraping the bottom of the skillet as you do so to loosen any cooked-on spots. After about one minute, add the sun-dried tomatoes and heavy cream, and cook for two more minutes, stirring regularly. Add the sausage back to the pan (careful to avoid adding grease back in with it), and stir regularly, letting the sauce thicken.
  • When the sauce has thickened to your liking, add in the spinach, basil and salt and pepper and stir until it wilts slightly. Add in the pasta and stir to coat. Top with parmesan, and serve.

I used spicy sausage, and it was really, really good. I also think you could get away with just using milk in the sauce, although it may not want to thicken as nicely.

Joey was pleasantly surprised by both how delicious this was and that we avoided the normal “What do you want for dinner?” conversation that evening.

Unfortunately, my plan completely backfired, as he announced after the first bite that I should be in charge of always deciding what we’re eating every night, since I’m apparently really good at it.

I told him he shouldn’t push his luck. After all, I doubt he’ll be as keen on the idea when he sees the family-sized box of raisin bran I have in the pantry.

I used spicy sausage, and it was really, really good. I also think you could get away with just using milk in the sauce, although it may not want to thicken as nicely.

Joey was pleasantly surprised by both how delicious this was and that we avoided the normal “What do you want for dinner?” conversation that evening.

Unfortunately, my plan completely backfired, as he announced after the first bite that I should be in charge of always deciding what we’re eating every night, since I’m apparently really good at it.

I told him he shouldn’t push his luck. After all, I doubt he’ll be as keen on the idea when he sees the family-sized box of raisin bran I have in the pantry.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 27, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Salad Side Dish

Making a cold version of tacos isn’t mission im’pasta’ble

Taco pasta salad has lots of taco flavors—from fresh spinach and tomatoes to cheese and salsa—while being versatile enough to be served cold, warm or hot.

I was unloading some groceries a few evenings ago, and Joey came to inspect what I was pulling out of the bags.

Noting that there was a salsa I don’t normally buy, a container of tomatoes and a box of pasta, he immediately asked what new recipe I was trying for dinner.

After being the guinea pig for this column for eight years, he knows an experiment when he sees one.

“It’s a pasta salad,” I told him.

His eyebrows raised. The word “salad” generally comes with things he hates—mostly raw onions and mayonnaise.

“No. This is a taco pasta salad,” I quickly amended.

His eyebrows did not go down. He was not convinced, but he said he’d trust me on this one and waited, eying me suspiciously from the dining room, while I put together my new concoction.

I found this idea when I was looking for a good summer dinner dish, and this recipe is actually a combination of two others, one from Beth Pierce over at “Small Town Woman” and another from Rebekah Garcia at “Amanda’s Cookin’.” And then I added in my own ideas to make one, delicious pasta salad. You can find the two inspiration recipes at https://www.smalltownwoman.com/easy-taco-pasta-salad/ and https://amandascookin.com/taco-pasta-salad/.

Print

Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad has lots of taco flavors—from fresh spinach and tomatoes to cheese and salsa—while being versatile enough to be served cold, warm or hot.
Course Main Course, Salad
Keyword cheese, ground beef, pasta, salsa, summer, tacos, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces rotini pasta or another small pasta, like macaroni
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 15 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves cut into ribbons
  • 10-14 ounces mild guacamole salsa or your favorite kind

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain it, rinse it, and set it aside.
  • In a saute pan, cook the ground beef over medium heat until it is cooked through, breaking it apart as you go. Thoroughly drain all the grease from the pan.
  • Add the halved tomatoes to the hamburger, stirring regularly, until they begin to release their juices slightly—about three to five minutes—and stir in the taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Once the seasonings are well combined with the meat and tomatoes, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool a bit as you prepare your other ingredients.
  • In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta, beef mixture, cheese cubes, beans and spinach, along with about 10 ounces of salsa. Stir until the salsa coats everything well, and give it a taste. If it seems too dry or needs more flavor, add more salsa until you get your desired consistency and flavor.
  • Serve immediately at room temperature, serve cold out of the fridge, or heat the mixture in the microwave to serve warm.

On our initial eating of this, we had it at about room temperature—basically the temperature it was when I finally finished mixing it all together.

For leftovers, I ate it cold and loved it. Joey warmed his up and also thought it was pretty good. It would also be delicious to serve it with some avocado cubed up in it, but I think that might be best for serving it cold or room temperature rather than heating it up.

I don’t think I totally sold Joey on the notion of taco pasta salad, but I’m going to vouch for it being pretty darn good. It had some great taco flavor but was also a cool, summer dish, which was really nice for a hot day.

I also thought this would be a nice one to use for a barbecue or picnic, since it doesn’t matter too much if the dish stays cold or gets warm.

I probably should be a little insulted that Joey doesn’t fully trust me after all of these years, but after some of my recipe fails throughout our relationship, I can’t say that I blame him. I think I’d be inspecting any grocery bags coming into the house, too.

This piece first appeared in print on June 25, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Beef up your dinner menu with casserole

Hamburger casserole dresses up tomato soup into a hearty, Italian-inspired dish.

A quotation I saw online, attributed to Rob Fee, is one of the best explanations of the conversation Joey and I have every day: “Relationships are just two people constantly asking each other where they want to go eat, until one of them dies.”

In our case, it’s not really asking where we want to go eat so much as what we want to make to eat.

Both of us like cooking, so it’s rarely a battle to see who is going to be tasked with dinner preparations, but we tend to fall into ruts. For me, my common fallback is just to make tacos.

I nearly succumbed to my same rut again this week, but while my hamburger was defrosting, I stumbled across another, just as easy, recipe, and I decided to give it a try.

This comes from the blog “Baking with Mom.” The original recipe only calls for four main ingredients: hamburger, tomato soup, pasta and cheese, but as you can see, I added quite a few more flavors to my version. You can find the original post at https://bakingwithmom.com/hamburger-casserole/.

Print

Hamburger Casserole

Hamburger casserole dresses up tomato soup to make a hearty dinner.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword casserole, kid-friendly, pasta, tomato

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces small pasta I used macaroni
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground hamburger or turkey
  • 2, 10.75- ounce cans tomato soup
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese I used a combination of monterrey jack and mild cheddar

Instructions

  • Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish by spraying it with non-stick spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Brown the hamburger and onion in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • While the hamburger is browning, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  • Once the hamburger is cooked through and the onions are soft, drain as much grease from the pan as you can and then add the garlic. Saute for a couple minutes until the garlic starts to brown slightly, and add in the tomato soup, spices, and fill one of the soup cans halfway with water and add that into the pan as well. Stir to combine.
  • Let the mixture cook for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Dump the cooked noodles into the prepared baking dish and top with the hamburger mixture. Just spread the hamburger mixture over the top of the noodles; there’s no need to mix it together.
  • Top the casserole with cheese and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes. Then turn the broiler on high to brown the cheese just a bit—probably about two minutes, but keep an eye on it.
  • Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes and then serve.

This was really simple to put together and was yummy, too. Plus, I managed to put away quite a bit of leftovers in the fridge.

If I’m being honest, I doubt neither Joey nor I will ever get sick of tacos, but it was a nice change of pace to try a new casserole, and with such simple ingredients, it was easy for me to make on the fly, which I appreciated.

Now, with plenty of leftover casserole in the fridge, tonight’s dinner should be easy to figure out. Unless, of course, one of us starts craving Mexican food instead.

This piece first appeared in print on March 12, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Your spaghetti may be the ‘bella’ the ball

Mushroom and garlic spaghetti is not too tough to make but looks nice on the plate and tastes even better.

I recently unpacked a few boxes of books that were stored away and uncovered some cookbooks I hadn’t looked through in awhile. 

They’re now all neatly in a row on my new bookshelf, so I suspect they will be getting some use in the coming weeks and months, but as I looked at each one before finding it a good spot on the shelf, I was reminded of how my mom taught me to choose whether or not I should purchase a cookbook.

The problem with cookbooks—and online recipes, for that matter—is that it’s impossible not to be pulled in by the cover image. It always looks delicious, and it always looks like something I would love to eat.

Instead of looking at the photos, though, Mom always says to open the cookbook to somewhere in the middle and look at the recipe on that page. If the steps require a bunch of specialty cookware or the ingredients list is super exotic, put the cookbook back on the shelf—you’ll never use it.

Despite that directive, I will often bookmark online recipes that look expensive or complicated as long as I think I can do enough substituting to make it happen. That was the case with this week’s recipe.

The recipe I tried came from the online magazine “Kitchn.” You can find it at https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-mushroom-and-garlic-spaghetti-dinner-243627. I added extra garlic and decided to introduce spinach into it. I also simplified the ingredients a bit. The original calls for cremini mushrooms, which tend to be more expensive, and I used parmesan instead of Pecorino Romano cheese, since that’s what was easily available in my local grocery store.

Print

Mushroom and Garlic Spaghetti

Mushroom and garlic spaghetti is not too tough to make but looks nice on the plate and tastes even better.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword garlic, mushrooms, pasta, spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms sliced (I used baby bellas, but use what’s available)
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves loosely packed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. When it is done, drain it but reserve about 3/4 cup of the cooking water for later.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper. Saute, stirring regularly, for about five minutes until the mushrooms are browned to your liking.
  • Add the remaining butter, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute one more minute.
  • Add the pasta, cooking water, spinach and parmesan to the skillet and stir for about two minutes or until the cheese is melted and coats the pasta.
  • Serve immediately with more cheese on top.

You wouldn’t have to add the red pepper flakes if you’re not a fan of spice, but it was pretty mild overall, so don’t let them make you nervous.

We had some leftovers, too, and this reheated pretty well, although it was much better straight out of the pan.

And with using some less luxury ingredients, I was able to make this for dinner very economically. I’m sure a professional would tell me I lost out on some high-quality mushrooms and flavorful cheese, but we still had a great supper, and I’ll leave those ingredients to the pros when I’m ordering off a menu.

As it stands, it turns out my mom was right yet again. But, of course, that’s certainly no surprise to me.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 10, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

It’ll be tough to ‘leaf’ leftovers of basil sausage soup

Italian basil sausage soup has deep tomato and spice flavors and freezes easily for quick leftovers.

I recently came across a photo of an adorable indoor herb garden and immediately became interested in having one myself.

I’m not much of a gardener, and I’m enough of a nerd that I love research, so I have spent more time than I’d like to admit over the past few weeks looking at which herbs are easiest to grow indoors and what kind of skill each one requires to keep alive.

Then I went shopping for the ingredients for this week’s recipe, and all my planning to really map out my herb choices went out the window when I realized that it was going to cost me an arm and a leg to purchase the two cups of fresh basil the recipe required.

I noticed, though, that my produce department had fresh basil plants for a much more economical price than the small packages of leaves in the refrigerator case, and I caved.

So now I have a basil plant, which graciously delivered lots of fragrant leaves on its first night at my house. I hope I can keep the poor thing alive.

This recipe comes from the website “The Slow Roasted Italian.” You can find the original post at https://www.theslowroasteditalian.com/2013/09/30-Minute-Hearty-Italian-Basil-Sausage-Soup-Recipe.html. I changed up the spices a bit in my version and simplified the directions some.

Print

Italian Basil Sausage Soup

Italian basil sausage soup has deep tomato and spice flavors and freezes easily for quick leftovers.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, pasta, sausage, soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 15- ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • 14.5- ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 8- ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6- ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound small pasta I used macaroni
  • 2 cups fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  • In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, carrots and celery. Stir regularly, breaking up the sausage as you go (You can also use rope sausage. Just remove the casing and slice it into half-inch rounds before adding it to the pot.)
  • Once the sausage is cooked through, add the chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and spices.
  • Stir to combine and bring the mixture up to a boil.
  • Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes (or until the pasta is done to your liking), stirring regularly to keep the soup from sticking to the bottom.
  • Reduce heat and serve once the mixture is no longer boiling.

I have been in search of some good soups to toss in the freezer for the plethora of nights when Joey and I either need to have a quick dinner or pack something to eat at the office for a late night of work. This recipe definitely fits the bill, and it’s filling several containers in my freezer at the moment.

I poured a little water on my basil plant this morning, where it sits in front of my kitchen window. If all goes well, it will eventually be replanted into an adorable pot, along with some other choice herbs.

If not, I might just stick to dried basil from here on out.

You’d think that having a 10-year-old schnauzer and a one-year-old beta fish would make me feel confident that I can keep something alive, but to be fair, I did a lot of research before adding both of them to our family, too.

Wish me—and my new plant—luck. We’ll both need it.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 5, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Salad Side Dish

Make garlic pasta salad to be the ‘roast’ of the town

Roasted garlic pasta salad has some amazing flavors that meld into the perfect summer side dish.

A few weekends ago, Joey and his best friend decided to fire up our smoker in the backyard and fill it with everything from several racks of ribs to a pork loin.

They tended the fire all day, hanging out in the garage with a set of washer boards to get out of the sun.

Parts of the house still smell a little smoky, and I can definitely tell which clothes I had up to dry while the smoking was going on when I pull them out of the dresser in the morning, but it was very much worth it.

As they wound down their cooking and we prepared to feast for dinner, I decided to whip up a side dish to complement smoked meats and found a delicious one that was even better the next day out of the fridge.

The recipe I made comes from the blog “Budget Bytes.” You can find the post at https://www.budgetbytes.com/roasted-garlic-pasta-salad/. I didn’t feel the need to add anything to this recipe other than suggesting getting a large head of garlic.

Print

Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad

Roasted garlic pasta salad has some amazing flavors that meld into the perfect summer side dish.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Keyword garlic, parmesan, pasta, ricotta, spinach, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound small pasta I used tri-color spirals
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Chop the top half inch off the head of garlic and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle the top with olive oil and cover the bowl. Microwave on high, one minute at a time, until the garlic cloves are soft (poke them with a fork to save burning yourself).
  • Remove the garlic from the microwave and set aside to cool.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, but save 1/2 cup of the cooking water and put the pasta back into the pot with the burner now off.
  • While cooking the pasta, squeeze the garlic cloves, and they’ll pop easily out of the skin. Mince the garlic and place it into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the ricotta, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup pasta water to the mixing bowl and stir until smooth.
  • In the warm pot you cooked the pasta in, add the spinach, ricotta sauce and cherry tomato halves to the pasta and stir so that everything is coated well and the spinach starts to wilt.
  • Add the parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper if needed.
  • You can serve this warm or cold.

This was a great pairing with the guys’ smoked smorgasbord, and I liked that it was a salad that didn’t use eggs or mayonnaise, so it would be perfect to take to an outdoor party where you may not have refrigeration readily available.

When I make this again, I’ll roast two heads of garlic instead of just one to really amp up the flavor, but it had all the stuff I really like—cheese, garlic, fresh veggies and pasta.

And I was thankful for the guys taking their Saturday to prepare lots of food to fill the refrigerator for awhile. Barbecue leftovers are some of the best kind.

This piece first appeared in print on June 14, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Vegetarian soup will give you inner ‘peas’

A pastor friend of mine noted on social media the other day that 2018 is a weird year, with Lent beginning on Valentine’s Day and Easter falling on April Fool’s Day. He was excited at the sermon possibilities that may come from it.

I started thinking about folks who will avoid taking their dates out for expensive steak or lobster dinners on Feb. 14.

If that happens to be you, or you’re looking for a good, filling meatless meal for Lent, you like to get some vegetables in your diet, or you just really like good soup, do I have a deal for you.

I was very curious about this week’s recipe when I first spotted it on Pinterest, because it features chickpeas, which I’ve only ever eaten when made into hummus.

This recipe comes from the blog “Feel Good Foodie.” You can find it at http://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/vegetarian-chickpea-pasta-soup/. I added a lot of spices and increased the amounts of some ingredients in my version.

Print

Vegetarian chickpea pasta soup

Vegetarian chickpea pasta soup is a hearty soup despite being a meatless option.
Course Main Course
Keyword chickpeas, pasta, soup, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion diced (I used a yellow onion)
  • 3-4 large carrots diced
  • 4-5 stalks celery diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 15 ounces chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces small pasta I used macaroni
  • grated parmesan and dried parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, carrots and celery until they’re soft (about five to 10 minutes). Add in the garlic and sauté until it’s aromatic and just beginning to brown.
  • Add the spices and vegetable broth, and stir to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas and pasta and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pasta reaches your desired level of doneness. (If you need to add any liquid, pour in some hot water.)
  • Remove from heat and serve with parmesan and dried parsley sprinkled on top of each bowl.

We enjoyed this soup a lot, and between the chickpeas and pasta, it fills you up nicely. It also has a lot of great flavors going on.

If you’re wondering, the chickpeas had the same basic texture as beans, so if you like beans, you’ll probably like this, too. And if you’re really not sure about them, throw in a can of great northern beans instead.

And if you want to make a good, vegetarian dinner for Valentine’s Day this year, I give this one my stamp of approval. Pair it with some crusty bread and a great chocolate dessert, and you’ll sweep your sweetie right off his or her feet.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 1, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.