Hearty Rainbow Veggie Salad and Beyond

veggie salad

It’s January, the holidays are over and if you’re like me there’s a need for a little detoxing, more veggies, less sugar. Although I enjoyed every carb ladened dish I had I’m now craving veggies and greens.

Chopping and prepping hearty vegetables in season is the perfect and ready to go stash for creating heathy meals that you can use in salads, soups and frittatas  during the week.

rainbow colored vegetables

Grab any of your favorite veggies, I used some I recently bought and some that needed to be revived in my fridge, you’d be surprised the amount you get when you slice a single pepper or a small head of broccoli.

roasted squash

I also roasted a butternut and acorn squash, two things I buy often during the fall and winter.

winter salad ingredients

This is definitely a substantial meal in itself with the addition of the roasted squash and some avocado resting on a bed of kale.

hearty winter salad

What kind of dressing would you use? I chose a hearty tahini dressing which really stood up to all the vegetables, bright lemon, garlic and creamy tahini, a recipe I slightly adapted from the What’s Gaby Cooking website.

tahini

Make sure to make enough it’s pretty amazing!

minestrone

You can always make a big pot of minestrone loaded with sautéed vegetables, simmered with broth, water and some spices. I like to add some beans and always a parmigiano cheese rind, it’s healthy, warms you up and it just screams detox!

veggie frittata

And finally you can never go wrong with a frittata. So many ways you can use up those veggies and it’s such a delicious and satisfying meal, here’s some ideas. 

 

Lighten up this January by adding more colorful veggies to your meals.

Hearty Rainbow Veggie Salad and Beyond
 
This Tahini recipe is adapted from What's Gaby Cooking
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of organic tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon, olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 or more tablespoons, fresh lemon juice
  • enough water to make a creamy consistency
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a bowl whisk everything together, tasting for enough lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Slowly add some water little by little to reach a nice creamy consistency.
  3. Place into a jar and keep refrigerated.
  4. If it thickens up add a tiny bit more water to loosen it.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Signature

Party Size Lasagna

full pan lasagna

Lasagna is the perfect party dish when serving a crowd, almost everyone loves it and the best part is you can assemble it the day before so all the dirty work is done and you can enjoy your guests the day of the party.

There’s nothing like the comforting smell of lasagna cooking in the oven. Who can resist layers of a rich meat sauce, creamy ricotta, melted cheese and pasta sheets that meld together and become one.

cooked lasagna

This is an Italian-American version of lasagna, sometimes known as Christmas lasagna in many households. An authentic Italian recipe is made with a Bolognese sauce and bechamel, both versions are delicious in their own special ways.

There’s also hundreds of variations using fresh pasta sheets, dry pasta, no boil and boil pasta. I’m using dry pasta that I pre-boiled just until it starts to get limp. I never got into the no-boil trend, although I’ve tried several times I always go back to my “old school ” ways.

lasagna pan

Since this recipe is all about feeding a large party size crowd I recommend using a large roasting pan, about the size 15 x 11 x 4 inches deep or close to those dimensions, I’ve seen 16 x 12 inch roasting/baking pans on Amazon, even the blue speckled kind that I have.

One of the benefits of using this type of pan is that the filling is contained so well with no drip overs or spillage, plus you can make it several layers deep and it’s easy to cut.

lasagna ingredients

I would advise making your meat sauce one or two days ahead of assembly day so it’s done and you’re ready to go!

pasta layer

Make sure the pasta completely covers the whole bottom of the pan.

pasta layers

Spread your meat sauce and ricotta, you don’t need to completely cover each layer, with six layers deep it all gets covered in the end.

cheese layer

Mozzarella and pecorino cheese a must.

party size lasagna

Almost to the top!

prepped lasagna

Six layers deep all prepped for the next day.

deep layered lasagna

At this point just top it with foil and stick it into the fridge.

cooked lasagna

Baked to perfection the next day.

lasagna layers

A real crowd pleaser! Serve it as a main with a big green salad on the side along with some crusty bread.

sliced lasagna

The secret ingredient is love ❤️

Party Size Lasagna
 
There's nothing like a big lasagna to get the party going!
Author:
Ingredients
  • MEAT SAUCE
  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 4 - 28 oz. cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • fresh basil
  • 3- 1 lb. boxes of curly edge long lasagna noodles
  • RICOTTA FILLING
  • 3 lbs. good ricotta from an Italian deli which should be drained overnight so liquid is released
  • I heaping cup of grated Pecorino, plus extra for each layer
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped basil,
  • or ½ cup chopped frozen spinach that has been squeezed of all liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • heaping ½ cup of shredded mozzarella, (dry, not fresh) plus an additional pound or so for the layers.( depending how cheesy you want it, I tend to go lighter).
  • olive oil
  • NOTE; YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SO EXACT, THIS IS JUST AN APPROXIMATE AMOUNT.
Instructions
  1. Make your meat sauce ahead of time 2 or 3 days before assembling the lasagna.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pan, brown your two meats together, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon.
  3. When meat is brown, remove onto a paper towel to soak up any grease and wipe out any excess grease from pan.
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan along with the chopped garlic, when golden add in all your tomatoes with a teaspoon of salt per can, use an immersion blender to make it smooth or squish them down.
  5. Add the meat back in along with some fresh basil and let it simmer for an hour or so.
  6. ********
  7. The day of assembly add your drained ricotta into a large bowl along with the grated Pecorino, ½ cup of shredded mozzarella, parsley, basil or chopped spinach. (at this point taste it for seasoning
  8. before you add the raw eggs, maybe you like more salt and pepper or more grated cheese, do it to your liking). Mix the. eggs and everything together well.
  9. Prep the noodles 1 lb. at a time, unless you have a huge pan, cooking them in salted water and a short drizzle of olive oil in the pot to prevent sticking, boil until the noodles are limp then pull them out one by one with tongs and place onto an oiled rimmed baking sheet to cool down.
  10. Repeat. Add more water to the pot if need be and get it to boil again before adding more pasta.
  11. *****For Assembly***
  12. Have your noodles, meat sauce, ricotta mixture, shredded mozzarella and additional Pecorino assembled in front of your roasting pan.
  13. Oil the pan on sides and bottom.
  14. Add sauce enough to cover the bottom of the whole pan.
  15. Add pasta noodles.
  16. Top with sauce then ricotta mixture, sporadically placed.
  17. Spread the shredded mozzarella and pecorino all over on top.
  18. Repeat up to six layers.
  19. Top layer will be sauce and pecorino.
  20. At this point, cover with foil and refrigerate.
  21. *****
  22. When ready to bake remove from fridge an hour before to take the chill out.
  23. Loosen the foil and place in a pre-heated oven at 375F.
  24. After 30 minutes remove the foil and top it with shredded mozzarella, as much to your liking and bake in for another 20- 30 minutes, then check it.
  25. The middle needs to be hot so check with a thermometer, temp should be at least 165 internal in the center and all around,
  26. Cook more if needed.
  27. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes or so, you want. nice cuts.
  28. Garnish with basil and more pecorino.
  29. Serve with extra warmed sauce on the side.
  30. Servings depend on how big you cut them, 15ish or so.
  31. You might have extra pasta sheets left over but you definitely need more than 2 boxes.
  32. NOTE: You can also make this with a marinara sauce as well and eliminate the meat. (I have a recipe on my website.)

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Signature

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

pasta with clams

Linguine and clams or as Italians call it, Pasta Alle Vongole is the kind of dish that can make a midweek meal feel special as well as a date night dinner or a fabulous dinner for entertaining and the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, Christmas is a couple of weeks away and The Feast Of The Seven Fishes will be celebrated on Christmas Eve, and this is the perfect dish to feature as one.

ingredients for vongole and pasta

My white sauce version consists of good olive oil, lots of garlic, white wine and fresh clams. It’s so easy to make, very affordable and down right delicious!

In my version I like to use a mix of Little Neck clams in the shell and some raw chopped sea clams that I discovered over at Whole Foods from my fish monger. They’re freshly shucked and then frozen.schucked clams

If you can get your hands on these frozen chopped clams I highly recommend, very tender and delicious clam meat that tastes really fresh.

If you can’t find them you can replace it with 2 jars of shelled baby clams, drained of the liquid, I like going heavy on the clams, the more the merrier!

little neck clams

Although it’s not mandatory to add clams in the shell to this dish, I personally love the presentation and the mix of them both together.

opened clams

This dish comes together in less than 30 minutes, just get the water going for the pasta and start to make the sauce.

The longest part in making this dish may be the cleaning of the whole clams, I think I do a little over kill of that because one time, very long ago I left sand inside and ruined the whole meal, so I tend to rinse and rinse and rinse, so you’ll want to do that ahead of time.

Linguine and clams

It’s all so worth it in the end when you have this sweet and meaty clam and pasta dish filled with wine and garlicky goodness sitting in front of you!

Linguine With White Clam Sauce
 
A special weeknight, date night, entertaining and holiday dish, linguine and white clam sauce will never disappoint.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 lb. fresh shucked clams, previously frozen which I buy at Whole Foods, or ask your fish monger if they carry them, defrosted in fridge
  • (NOTE:) You can replace the frozen shucked clams with 2 7 oz. bottles of whole shelled. baby clams, drained of liquid
  • 1 dozen whole fresh clams in the shell like Little necks or steamers. ( I always get a few more in case some don't open.)
  • 1 bottle of clam juice
  • 6 garlic cloves chopped
  • ⅓ to ½ cup of dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonay or Savignon Blanc
  • ¼ cup and more of olive oil
  • chili flakes enough to your liking
  • a big punch of fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a squeeze of lemon, not too much, just a little
Instructions
  1. You can store your fresh clams in a bowl with ice cubes on top a day ahead, do not submeergee in water.
  2. When ready to use the clams, scrub them first on the shell then place them into a bowl with cold water and a small handful of cornmeal, the cornmeal is said to draw out the sand, so I always do it. Let it sit for 10 minutes and scoop them out and discard the sandy water.
  3. Do the rinsing several times until you don't see any sand at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. In a big pot start your water boiling for the pasta, don't forget to add a nice handful of salt to the water.
  5. In a deep large skillet add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, saute til lightly golden.
  6. Add the Little neck clams and the wine and let it reduce a little.
  7. Pour in ¾ of the bottled clam juice, (depending on juicy you want it you can decide to toss in the rest) the fresh shucked and defrosted clams or the 2 drained jars of clams plus a squeeze of lemon, put a lid on top and cook and steam til the whole clams open up and everything melds together, it doesn’t take very long.
  8. Discard any unopened clam shells or broken shells as well.
  9. Cook your pasta til al dente and toss into the clam sauce mix.
  10. Add the parsley, maybe more red pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil all over.
  11. Enjoy!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Signature