pesto and rotini

An amazing, simple, healthy dish. Use store-bought pesto, or make your own (like I did.) Serve with a sautéed chicken breast, a veggie and a nice glass of white wine.

3-4 cups of packed, fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (I toasted mine in a saute pan over low heat, just enough to warm them and see a hint of golden)
1-2 garlic cloves (to your liking)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Blend/puree all ingredients in a food processor until the pesto is blended and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Serve with cooked whole wheat rotini pasta.

Prepare whole wheat rotini per package directions. Toss pasta with pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese and whole pine nuts (if desired.)

rigatoni with spicy sausage, arugula and tomato

This one’s a keeper.  Mmm.  Served it to a group of friends for a weekend dinner, pre- Superbowl and pre- Valentine’s Day.  Friends+pasta, salad, bread and dessert+red wine = a great time.  We even discovered that a couple of our friends may be distant relatives…and a search for Icelandic ancestors may be in their future.  🙂

Love the addition of arugula and fresh herbs in this dish.   And, freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add crushed red pepper to your preferred level of spice.

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce, Arugula, and Parmesan
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield: Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
16 ounces rigatoni
2 cups (packed) fresh arugula, stemmed
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add sausage; cook until browned, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Drain drippings from pot. Add wine, diced tomatoes with juice, and crushed tomatoes; increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Stir pasta, arugula, basil, and oregano into tomato sauce. Simmer until arugula wilts, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

>kincaid’s cajun chicken fettuccine

>My good friend Jill made this for Jeff and I long ago, B.K. (before kids), and now it’s a favorite.

This dish has a lot of heat, so be sure to serve with crusty bread, a salad and a tall glass of ice water. You can adjust the spice to your liking as well. Enjoy!

Kincaid’s Cajun Chicken Fettuccine

24 oz. fettuccine noodles (approximately 1 and 1/2 pkgs.)
12 oz. chicken tenderloin, cut into one-inch cubes (we tend to double this)
3 1/3 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 tbs. unsalted butter
4 t. chicken seasoning (see below)
24 oz. Cajun sauce (see below)

Chicken seasoning:
1/4 c. kosher salt
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 t. dried basil
3 t. black pepper
1 1/2 tbs. garlic powder
3 t. ground cumin

Cajun sauce:
8 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 lb. onion, diced
1 1/2 t. minced garlic

1/2 t. dried basil
1 tbs. dried thyme
1 1/2 t. white pepper
2 t. cayenne pepper

2 tbs. Tabasco
5 c. tomato sauce
1 1/2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 1/2 c. chicken stock

1 1/2 tbs. sugar
1 c. green onions, thinly sliced

To prepare sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add dry seasonings and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add stock, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and tomato sauce, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add green onions and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes.

To prepare meal: Cook fettuccine. Rub chicken with seasoning mix. Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until just done. Add sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Drain fettuccine noodles and add to sauce/chicken mixture. Toss until mixed well. Place on plates and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

>penne with parmesan cream and prosciutto

>Borrowed from one of my favorite recipe sites – Served this a few times for our family and once for a dinner party. My husband prefers white sauce over red, so he really likes this recipe. It’s definitely rich and full of flavor, so I would recommend serving as a side dish and adding a meat and vegetable to round out the meal.

Penne with Parmesan Cream and Prosciutto
Gourmet | December 2006
photo courtesy of

Yield: Makes 6 (main course) or 8 (side dish) servings

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 ounces)
1 pound penne
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Bring cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon salt just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, until al dente, then drain in a colander. Return pasta to pot, then stir in parmesan cream and prosciutto, tossing to coat. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart shallow flameproof gratin or baking dish (about 11 by 8 by 2 inches; not glass) and bake 15 minutes.

Stir pasta well to coat evenly with sauce, then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.

Turn on broiler and broil pasta 4 to 5 inches from heat until top is lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

>quick sausage and mushroom lasagna

>Bon Appetit comes through again…Made this for a dinner party of 8 adults. Excellent and easy to make! Serve with a full-bodied glass of red, a salad and warm crusty bread.

Quick Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna
Bon Appétit | November 2008

photo courtesy of

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 8-ounce packages sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning blend
1 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 cup dry red wine
4 2/3 cups marinara sauce (from two 26-ounce jars)
1 9-ounce package no-cook, flat lasagna noodles (not the ripply edge noodles)
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 8-ounce bags Italian blend grated cheese (4 cups)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and seasoning blend; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add sausage and sautéuntil brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid evaporates, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Spread 2/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Place noodles (about 4) over sauce, forming 1 layer (noodles may overlap slightly). Spread 1 cup sauce over noodles. Top with 1/3 of ricotta, then 1 cup grated cheese. Spoon 1/3 of sausage mixture over. Repeat 2 more times with noodles, sauce, ricotta, grated cheese, and sausage mixture. Cover with 4 more noodles. Spoon remaining 1 cup sauce over; sprinkle remaining 1 cup grated cheese over. Cover with foil, tenting in center to prevent cheese from touching foil. Bake lasagna 45 minutes; remove foil. Bake until bubbling at edges and cheese is browned, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes.