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.

kids’ choice two

Another “kid’s choice for dinner night.” Clare’s pick? Good old spaghetti and meatballs – the healthified version using ground turkey.  Everyone LOVED these meatballs…such amazing flavor.

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti
Adapted from the 2008 HNOJ School Cookbook

2 lb. ground turkey (could use ground beef, if desired)
1 c. fresh white bread crumbs
1/2 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 extra large egg, beaten
vegetable oil
olive oil

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. red wine
1 (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Package  of spaghetti, cooked per package directions. (We use the whole grain wheat pasta.)

Meatballs: place ground meat, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg and 3/4 cup. warm water in a bowl. Combine with a fork. Using your hands, form into 2 inch meatballs (you should have 14-16).

Pour equal amounts of oil into a large 12 inch skillet to 1/4 inch depth. Heat oil. In batches, place meatballs into oil and brown well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully, takes about 10 minutes per batch. Remove meatballs to paper towel covered plate. Discard oil, but don’t clean pan.

Sauce: heat olive oil in the same pan. Add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits until most of the liquid evaporates (about 3 minutes). Stir in tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper. Return meatballs to sauce, cover and simmer on low about 25-30 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Serve over cooked spaghetti.   Top with shredded parmesan.  And, add a side salad and some garlic toast, if desired.

Yay or Nay?
Yay.  For Sure.