Beef Ragú with Herbed Ricotta

This dish was inspired by one of my favorite foodie Instagram-ers and made for the perfect rainy Sunday supper tonight! It takes only minutes to prep, leaving your slow cooker to do all the work. Serve the hearty and flavorful ragú over your favorite pasta with a dollop of herbed ricotta and you’ll wow everyone at your dinner table any night of the week. Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Feeds 4 – 6

  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • cooking spray
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1, 28 oz can chopped tomatoes ( I use fire roasted tomatoes)
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz chopped carrots (approx. 3 large carrots)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 – 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 lb of favorite pasta (I use fusilli or pappardelle)IMG_7367

Directions:

  1. Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Rinse and pat dry flank steak. Cut into large chunks with a sharp knife.IMG_7366
  3. Place steak in the bottom of the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour in the stock. Add garlic, carrots and spices including bay leaves and thyme.IMG_7368
  5. Top with chopped tomatoes and cook on high for 6 hours.
  6. While meat cooks, combine the ricotta, parmesan and parsley in a small bowl and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.
  7. Remove meat from slow cooker using tongs and shred.
  8. Add honey to the sauce and using an immersion blender, gently purée. Take care, as slow cooker is shallow and sauce will be hot!
  9. Return shredded meat to the sauce and set slow cooker to the lowest setting.
  10. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare pasta of choice according to package directions.
  11. Serve sauce over pasta with a dollop of herbed ricotta and garnish with additional parmesan.IMG_7410

*Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Bucatini Carbonara with Peas

I love to eat but truth be told, I love to feed people just as much! Tonight we hosted my neighbor and her three small kids for supper. Her husband has been away all week traveling for business and I figured she could use a night “out”! I made two pasta dishes; one for the kids and one for the adults and poured her a much needed glass of wine! My older kids helped entertain her younger ones and when it was all said and done, everyone was “fat and happy” as I like to say!  Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show that hosting and sharing a meal with people doesn’t have to be super fancy or stress you out, especially if it’s rather spontaneous!  Make it simple, keep it low key, set a few extra seats at the table and dig in!  It’s truly the thought that counts!! 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 oz bucatini (I use Barilla)
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus additional as garnish
  • salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta and peas. In a skillet, start browning the pancetta over medium heat.  As it cooks down and the fat renders, add the diced onion and continue to cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the skillet.  Once pancetta is nearly cooked and the onion is soft and starting to caramelize, add the garlic and the frozen peas.  Continue to cook another 2 – 3 minutes allowing peas to defrost and warm. Remove from the heat and set entire pan aside.
  3. Once the water boils, cook and drain the bucatini, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and add the egg yolks, tossing to cook the egg and coat the pasta. Stir in the pancetta and peas mixture.  If dry, add small amounts of pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Add the grated parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste).
  4. Serve immediately, garnish with additional parmesan and red pepper flake if desired.

Suggestions:

This dish could be made with any of your favorite pastas or pasta substitutes like zoodles or spaghetti squash “noodles”!

*Adapted from Sun Basket, Bucatini and Pancetta Carbonara

 

Gnocchi Primavera

With a nod to Spring, (which really needs to show up already!) this delicious dish combines the earthy flavors of asparagus and sun dried tomatoes with savory pancetta.  Oh and don’t forget the gnocchi (arguably, my favorite pasta); all tossed in a parmesan cracked peppercorn cream sauce… C’mon, Spring… you got this!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups light cream, room temp
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • dash red pepper flake
  • 2 oz sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped, blanched*
  • 1 lb potato gnocchi, cooked*
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

*See Comments

Directions:

  1. In a large, low profile dutch oven or any enamel coated cast iron pan, sauté the pancetta in the olive oil over medium heat until crispy and the fat renders.  Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the butter to the pan and as it melts, add the flour.  Use a whisk to incorporate the two ingredients until you have a paste.  Reduce heat so it doesn’t burn.
  3. Slowly add the cream and continue to whisk, combining the ingredients.  Increase the heat to medium and whisk often until it’s at a low simmer.
  4. Add the seasonings including the salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flake.  Stir.
  5. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and allow sauce to cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.
  6. Add the pancetta, blanched asparagus and the cooked gnocchi.  Stir, remove from heat.
  7. Sprinkle with additional parmesan and broil 3-5 minutes until slightly browned and bubbly.
  8. Serve immediately with crusty garlic bread and a green salad!

Comments:

You need to plan ahead when preparing this dish! My directions primarily cover the making of the sauce. You’ll have to simultaneously boil water and cook your gnocchi as well as blanch your asparagus. Cook gnocchi according to package directions (they typically only take 2-3 minutes). To blanch the asparagus, add the chopped pieces to salted, boiling water and let cook for 3 minutes. Remove, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Lobster Sous Vide over Linguine with Tarragon Cream

I saw this recipe in a video a while back and I promised myself I’d give it a try… and then Sunday rolled around, a day when I usually have the time to try something new and voila! Lobster Sous Vide!?!  Make this dish ASAP, seriously, you’ll thank me!

Ingredients: Feeds 4-6 people

  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 springs each; tarragon, thyme, parsley (plus additional parley as garnish)
  • 4 lobster tails (6-8 oz each)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups light cream
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 lb linguine
  • grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Place the lobster tails in a one gallon freezer bag.  Add the melted butter, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and herbs.
  2. Place bag in a water bath at 140 degrees.  Seal the bag holding the lobster as it is submerged, forcing the air out.  Use a small, heavy lid to keep the bag containing the lobster submerged.  Cook for 60 minutes.
  3. Remove lobster from the bag, save the sauce.  Remove the meat from the tails, chop and set aside.  Save the shells!
  4. Sauté the shells in the olive oil with garlic and red pepper flake for 2 minutes.  Add the white wine and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Remove the shells and discard.
  5. Add light cream, vegetable stock, and sauce from the freezer bag and bring to a low boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Remove stems from herbs and then add the chopped lobster and stir until combined.
  6. Serve in a large bowl, garnish with grated Parmesan and parsley.

Comments: 

I used defrosted Caribbean Spiny Lobster tails that I got from my local fish market.  I think you could sub almost any shellfish or mollusk (like shrimp or scallops) but you will need to adjust the cook time; both shrimp and scallops should be opaque in color when cooked through.

*Adapted from Tasty

 

 

Easy Meat and Mushroom Bolognese

This is a hearty sauce you can serve over just about any pasta (I prefer something with nooks and crannies), but what really makes it easy is how effortless it is to make.  It takes 15 minutes to prep and about an hour in total to cook, yet your “guests” will think it simmered all afternoon like Grandma’s Sunday gravy!

Ingredients:  Easily feeds 4-6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, rinsed (chopped if desired)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground meatloaf mix (pork/veal/beef)
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 32 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I use Lidia’s)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb cooked pasta

Directions:

  1. In a large dutch oven heat oil over medium heat and add onions and mushrooms.  Sauté until soft and onions begin to caramelize.  Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally taking care not to let garlic burn.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, brown the meat.  Season with kosher salt and pepper while cooking.
  3. Using a slotted spoon to drain the fat, transfer browned meat to the dutch oven with the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Mix to combine.
  4. Pour jar of sauce over the mixture.  Add the oregano and red pepper flake.  Stir and allow sauce to come to a gentle boil.
  5. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook an additional 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the parmesan cheese and light cream to the sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Drain 1 lb of cooked pasta and place in a large serving or family style pasta bowl.  Top with enough sauce to toss and coat the pasta.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan and red pepper flake if desired.  Serve extra sauce on the side.

Comments:

Of course, leaving out the mushrooms is completely acceptable if mushrooms aren’t your thing!  But if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t pass on them because they add texture and flavor and really take this sauce to the next level!  Go for it!!

Gnocchi Verde

I developed this recipe by combining one of my favorite Italian foods with one of my favorite Italian flavors; gnocchi and fontina cheese!  The sauce gets its vibrant green color from a generous portion of spinach and parsley; the fontina and smoked paprika elevate its earthiness making it both creamy and rich with flavor.  This is a beautiful and scrumptious dish that is sure to “wow” everyone you make it for!

Ingredients: Feeds 6-8 people

  • 4 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz Fontina cheese, cubed or shredded
  • 2 lbs potato gnocchi

Directions:

  1. In a food processor combine the spinach, parsley and 1/2 cup of milk, process until well mixed.
  2. Bring a large pot of water and 1 tsp of salt to a boil over high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in another large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour.  Whisk to combine, cook until golden.
  4. Slowly add the remaining milk to the pot. Add the spices including the garlic and onion powder, paprika, 1tsp of salt and the pepper, continuing to whisk until incorporated.
  5. Add the fontina cheese to the pot and stir until it is melted and incorporated.
  6. Add the spinach mixture to the cheese sauce and stir until green color is consistent throughout.  Reduce heat, stir frequently.
  7. Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook according to package directions.
  8. Remove gnocchi from water with a slotted spoon and add to green sauce.  Gently fold gnocchi into the sauce to cover, serve immediately.

Suggestions:

  • The rue created in steps 3 and 4 could serve as the base for any cheese sauce.  Sub cheddar for fontina and you have the makings of a traditional macaroni and cheese sauce, for example.
  • You could transfer the gnocchi in sauce to a casserole dish, sprinkle with additional fontina/mozzarella/parmesan and then broil for a few minutes as well!

*Sauce recipe adapted from Tasty