Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

For the Butternut Parmesan Sauce:
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Lasagna:
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, heated and squeezed well
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
salt and fresh pepper
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim shredded Italian Blend Cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Remove squash with a slotted spoon, reserve about 1 cup of the water and set aside, then blend until smooth with an immersion blender, adding 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid to thin out.

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, add the oil, sauté the shallots and garlic over medium-low heat until soft and golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash, season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little more of the reserved water to thin out to your liking. Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Ladle about 1/2 cup butternut sauce sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle about 1 cup of sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp Italian cheese blend. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts and everything is hot and bubbly. Top with parsley and serve. Makes 9 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little extra sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

(I put the butternut squash sauce inside the lasagna and then put a simple tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish and then over the rolls).

From skinnytaste.com


Baked Spinach Risotto

2 ½ T extra virgin olive oil
2 c chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ¼ c Arborio rice
1 ½ c dry white wine
4 ½ c vegetable stock
1 bag (10oz) spinach, rinsed, heavy stems removed, chopped
1 c grated parmesan
1 t salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 in baking dish with ½ T of the oil.

Heat the remaining oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 6-8 minutes. Stir in the spinach, ½ c of cheese, salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Duck Ragu with Papparadelle

2 duck breasts
2 T cinnamon
extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
4 slices of bacon (preferably duck bacon)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 medium carrots
5 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
3 14-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1/4 c plus 2 T tomato paste
1 pound papparadelle
1/2 c parmesan

Marinate the duck with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon. Let it sit for 30 min. Smoke duck. If you can’t smoke it, roast it for 2 hours on 350, flipping the meat every 30 minutes. Drain the fat and discard.

While the duck is roasting, heat 2 T olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to crisp. Add the onion, carrots, garlic. Turn the heat down to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes and their juice and put 1/2 c water into one can, swish it around to get all the tomatoe stuck to the sides of the can, pour into the next can, and repeat with the third. Add the tomato water to the Dutch oven along with the wine, a good grind of pepper and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down very low and let simmer for 1 hour and 15 min.

After the duck has cooled, remove and discard the skin and shred the meat. Fold the duck meat into the ragu along with the tomato paste and cook on very low heat, uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 4, adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from drying out (continue to season with salt and pepper as you splash).

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Divide the pasta among bowls and spoon a generous amount of duck ragu over the pasta. Top with parmesan cheese.

(adapted from My Father’s Daughter)

Greek Tortellini Pasta

1 package of cheese tortellini
1 can of artichoke hearts (drained, quartered)
1 container of pitted Kalmata olives
1 T of capers
3 garlic cloves, minced
handful of parmesan cheese
3 T pesto (homemade or store-bought)
olive oil

Cook the tortellini per the directions on the package.

Sautee the minced garlic cloves in olive oil. Add the capers, artichokes, and olives. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Add pesto and continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Add the tortellini. Stir to coat.

Serve warm with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Spicy Italian Sausage and Tomato Lasagna

12 dried lasagna noodles (about 10 ounces), uncooked
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes in puree
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 cups shredded shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Fill a 9-by-13-inch baking dish two-thirds of the way with hot tap water. Add noodles, and arrange them in alternating directions to prevent sticking. Let soak while preparing sauce.

Make sauce: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their puree, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon (or use emulsion blender); bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. (You should have about 8 cups of sauce.) Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain noodles, transfer to a baking sheet; dry dish with paper towels. Spoon 1 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Fit 4 noodles in dish (crosswise if using short noodles, lengthwise if using long), overlapping slightly. Cover with 2 cups sauce, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with another layer, then top with remaining noodles, 3 cups sauce, and the rest of mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake 1 hour.

Remove foil, and continue baking until bubbly and browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 20 minutes. Cut and serve.

Another Week Night Pasta

1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c pitted olives
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
handful of basil leaves, chopped
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 box penne pasta

Sautee yellow onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add in olives and continue to simmer for another 3 minutes. Add in tomatoes (with juice) and basil and simmer for another 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on the box. When al dente, drain and combine with sauce. Top with paremesan cheese.

Summer Pasta

2 slices of bacon
1/2 c olive oil
2 T minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
½ t crushed red pepper flakes
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1 c Kalmata olives
1 pound dried rotini pasta
1 ½ c parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


Cook the bacon and olive oil in a skillet on high heat; add the garlic after 2 minutes, stir.

Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the olives, stir.  Cover the skillet and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stirring regularly.

Bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package.

Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet.  Stirring to combine the sauce and the pasta.  Mix in parmesan cheese and remove bacon slices before serving. Sprinkle more parmesan on each individual plate.

Basic Lasagna

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
¼ c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
½ c chopped fresh basil leaves
½ lb lasagna noodles
15 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 c grated parmesan cheese, plus ¼ c for sprinkling
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the ground beef and cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 T of parsley, the basil, 1 ½ t salt, and ½ t pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15-20 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, goat cheese, 1 c of parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 T of parsley, ½ t salt, and ¼ t pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 x 12x 2 inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and on third the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ c of parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Family Style)

Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

1 (2-pound) butternut, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb penne pasta
1 c. goat cheese, crumbled
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. finely grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425.

Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss on sheet to coat. Bake for to 20 to 25 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Turn squash pieces over and scatter onions around squash and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Boil pasta per package directions. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce.  Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle parmesan and serve.

Lemon Spaghetti

¼ lb (3/4 box) spaghetti
coarse salt
1 lemon
1 ½ c. finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
½ t. black pepper
1 ½ T olive oil
3-5 T of pasta water, to thin
handful of basil leaves

Boil the spaghetti in salted boiling water according to package directions.

Grate the zest from the lemon into a large mixing bowl.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl.   Add the 1 ½ c. parmesan, pepper and salt and mix in the olive oil to form a wet paste.

When the spaghetti is cooked, add 2 or 3 T of the cooking water to the lemon and cheese mixture.  Add the spaghetti to the bowl and toss thoroughly, adding another tablespoon or 2 of pasta water if necessary so that the sauce coats each strange.  Tear the basil leaves and add.

Serve each portion with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and extra parmesan.

(courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow, My Father’s Daughter)