Posts tagged ‘Italian’

Broccoli and Potato Pesto Fettuccine

When I make pasta for dinner at home, I have a tendency, like many people I think, to make tomato, cream, or tomato-cream pasta sauces. I’m not sure why this is. I guess I just like tomato-based sauces. Marinara sauce, meat sauce, vodka sauce (a tomato-cream sauce), etc. I love cream sauce, but I try not to make them too often, because, well, they’re cream sauces.

I really should experiment with more sauces, and there’s a lot of great non-tomato pasta sauces out there. Pesto, for example, is a classic, non-tomato sauce, and it’s about as easy as it gets. Cook pasta, drain pasta, and pesto, mix, serve. Bam. Even making pasta is really easy. You just throw all the ingredients in a food processor, whiz it up, and you’re done.

I realized recently that I hadn’t made any kind of pasta in pesto sauce in a long time, so when I found a recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks for pasta in pesto sauce with broccoli and potato, I thought I would try it out. Plus potato with pasta sounds interesting, don’t you think? I’ve had pasta with meat sauce and potato before in Japan, but never with pesto.

This is about as easy as it gets. You boil the pasta, broccoli, and potato all together, then drain it and mix it up with the pesto, some chopped fresh basil leaves, and some grated parmesan cheese. Bam. It’s really good too! And the potato goes well with it! This is a great quick dinner. Bam.
How many times do you think I can say that in this post?

I’ll stop now.


Broccoli and Potato Pesto Fettuccine

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 medium potato, peeled
  • 1 head broccoli
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. dried fettuccine
  • 1/3 c. green pesto
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  1. Grate the potato into thin shavings with a vegetable peeler. Peel and slice the large stalk of the broccoli, then cut the large florets into smaller ones.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp. salt. Add the fettuccine and sliced broccoli stalk. 2 minutes before the fettuccine is done cooking, add the potato.
  3. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and return to the pot. Add the pesto, basil leaves, and parmesan. Toss everything well. If sauce too thick, and a little of the cooking water. Serve.

recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle


November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Breakfast Pizza

If you’re like me, then the idea of cold, leftover pizza is a horrifying thing.

But we all know people who’ve done it. Even more terrible, people who ate it, and enjoyed it. *collective gasp*

Do not fear the title of this post, fair readers, as I would never suggest you commit such a vile act against our lovely delicious friend, the pizza, such as eat it when it’s a day old and cold.

Instead, I’m suggesting you make a special pizza, just for breakfast (or brunch, or whenever the heck you want), using common breakfast foods: scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, cheese etc.

Yes, my friends. Enter, The Breakfast Pizza.

I wasn’t a believe either until recently, when I tried this delicious bit of breakfast-y pizza heaven, but oh, it’s good. Like, really good.

The key to breakfast pizza, however, is to have pre-made pizza dough, ready to go. I usually make extra whenever I make a batch of pizza dough, and then freeze the extra in personal pizza size. That way, I can just get out a de-frosted (take it out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge the night before you need it) ball of dough whenever I want a quick pizza, roll it out, throw on some toppings, bake it, and have me some pizza. Good times guys, good times.

For this pizza, I spread a little sun-dried tomato pesto on the dough instead of sauce, but if that’s a bit too much in the morning for you, you can just brush a little olive oil on the dough instead. Do whatever sounds tasty to you.
Also, I used ground turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, mini tomatoes, and spinach as toppings for this pizza, but again, don’t limit yourself to just those. Try additional or different toppings. Crumbled bacon or diced ham would be great too, and even hash browns or sauteed mushrooms would be yummy. Let loose and add whatever floats your boat. That’s the great thing about pizza.

Breakfast Pizza

(makes 1 large pizza)

  • 1/2 batch of pizza dough
  • 3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato pesto (or 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb. ground breakfast turkey sausage
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. mini tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 5 oz. fresh spinach (or a couple large handfuls)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F (220° C). Spray a large pizza pan/stone or baking sheet.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned and crumbly. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add eggs and cook until scrambled. Add tomatoes, season everything with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
  3. Roll out dough to desired size, and place on pan. Spread pesto (or olive oil if using) evenly over dough, leaving 1/2″ – 1″ along the edge.
  4. Spread mozzarella cheese over dough, add the toppings, then sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of everything.
  5. Bake pizza 20 minutes, or until the crust edges are golden brown. Cut into slices and serve immediately.


August 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Pizza

I’m writing this post from my new desk at my mom’s office, where I’m helping out for the next few weeks.

It’s interesting to be working again. I haven’t worked full time in quite awhile now. I’m finding it difficult to fit in my workouts, cooking, and of course, blogging!
I got up  at 6:30 am yesterday morning, and did my workout before work, and today I got up at the same time and went to swim laps. 6:30 am wasn’t too bad for lap swimming really, as Hisa and I usually get up at 7 am, so it wasn’t that much of a difference. The main difference was I had to swim faster than usual, and I had to keep checking to clock to make sure we left in time, so I would have plenty of time to get ready when we got home.

Anyway, enough talk!
On to the pizza!

This is a great vegetarian pizza that’s a nice change from your regular tomato sauce pizza. Instead of tomato sauce, I used pesto as the base sauce on the pizza crust. Then I spread the shredded cheese over that, and roasted zucchini, onion, and green bell pepper on top.

You can make your own pesto in a food processor (which I really want to do, but have yet to try!), or just use the stuff in a jar like you buy in the grocery store.
You can also make the crust ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, and then stick it in the fridge 24 hours before you’ll need it. Pizza crust is pretty forgiving stuff. And tasty too. 🙂

I used a pizza stone to bake this. If you use a pizza stone (and I highly recommend you do, but it isn’t necessary), stick it in your pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes before you bake your pizza. This will get the stone really hot, bake your pizza fast, and make your pizza crust wonderful! Basically, the hot stone mimics the hot bricks that bake the pizza in a brick pizza oven.
You don’t have to use a pizza stone for this. If you don’t have one, you can bake your pizza on a regular baking sheet. Pizza stones aren’t expensive though, so I recommend trying one out. 🙂

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Pizza

(makes 2 round pizzas or 1 large rectangle pizza)

For the crust:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. corn meal
  • 2 1/2 – 3 c. bread flour

For the pizza toppings:

  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you like on your pizza)
  • 1 green zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F (200° C).
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Let sit for 10 min.
  3. Add salt and oil, then stir in corn meal and 2 c. bread flour.
  4. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place dough into a well oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until double in size.
  6. Place sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper, in a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven.
  7. Punch down dough, roll out dough into 2 round crusts or 1 large crust. Place in an oiled baking sheet and let rise 10 – 20 minutes.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 425° F (220° C). If using pizza stone, place dry stone in oven to heat up for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove pizza stone from oven. Carefully place rolled out pizza dough on stone. Spread pesto on pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese on top of that, and then place the roasted vegetables on top of that.
  10. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until pizza crust is golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven, cut into slices with a pizza cutter, and serve immediately.



April 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Pasta With Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta

I can’t believe it’s already April! Easter has come and gone, and summer will be here before we know it. It’s crazy!

I love the warm weather though. It gives me so much more energy and brightens my mood. Everything has turned green, flowers are blooming everywhere; Ah, I love spring!

Except for the tornados…I could do without those. And allergies. Not a fan of those either.

Spring makes me want to grill things, and have lots of picnics and garden parties! Actually, I’ve never had a garden party…or a tea party. I’m not that cool. They’re kind of the same though I think, except you don’t have to have tea at a garden party. I’m not a big tea drinker, so I would want to have a garden party instead of a tea party I think…
Maybe I should do that. Even if it’s only for just my parents, Hisa, and me. Having a garden party sounds fun. I must think on this…

As some of you know, I’ve taken up cheese making recently. I’ve only made two cheeses so far, but I’m working my way up to hard cheeses (I just need to build that dang cheese press!).

For my first cheese, I wanted to make something simple, so I decided to go with ricotta cheese. Obviously I needed to cook something requiring the use of ricotta cheese, so I decided to try out a recipe from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks, Jamie’s Dinners. It’s a simple pasta dish with tomato sauce, but it also has baked ricotta cheese added to it for a nice twist. Really any pasta will work with this, but I used rigatoni since it has large holes to hold the chunky bits of cheese and sauce. And because I just like rigatoni. And jumbo pasta shells. I dunno why. Large pasta and chunky sauces make me happy. That’s how I roll.

Like I said, this is a simple pasta to make. Buying jars of marinara sauce is a real waste of money in my opinion, because it really is so easy and cheap to make your own. This sauce consists of a little olive oil, diced onion, minced garlic, a couple cans of whole or crushed tomatoes, a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. A little dried or fresh basil too if you want. Easy.

For the baked ricotta part, simply bake a 1 pound piece of ricotta (I bet you never saw that coming, right?). I made my own ricotta, so it was nice and firm, but if you’re using store bought ricotta that comes in those plastic tubs, you might pour it in a colander lined with cheese cloth, and drain off some of the liquid (i.e. whey) so it’s more firm before you bake it. If you can, try to find a wrapped piece of ricotta cheese rather than the tubs. It’ll be firmer and, thus, better for this recipe.
Either way, pre-heat your oven to 400° F (200° C). Place your ricotta in a baking dish, rub it all over with olive oil, some salt and pepper, a teaspoon of dried oregano, and a little dried red chili flakes. Bake it for 20 – 30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown on top and firm.

Boil your pasta according to the package instructions, drain it, toss it with the tomato sauce, and crumble the baked ricotta over it and mix it all up. You can tear up some fresh basil leaves and throw those in as well if you want.

I had no fresh basil leaves, so I just sprinkled a little dried basil on top. Voilà! (I like saying that…or I guess I should say typing that…….I’m so easily amused.)


Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta

(serves 4)

  • 1 lb. piece ricotta cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans of whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. rigatoni, pappardelle (a wide-ribbon pasta), or whatever pasta you want
  • 1 tsp. dried basil or a handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to  400° F (200° C). Rub ricotta all over with olive oil and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with oregano, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Set aside.
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes until tender. Add tomatoes, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Break up tomatoes with spoon (if you used whole tomatoes).
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the sauce. Toss well. Crumble the baked ricotta cheese into the pot with the pasta. Add the dried or fresh basil if desired. Serve.

recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver

April 12, 2012 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

My brother sent me a link to this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza, suggesting I try it out, a couple of weeks ago. I’d never heard of such a thing, but I was intrigued. Cauliflower as a substitute for bread. Who’d ever heard of such a thing? Would it hold together? Would it taste weird? I decided I should try it out.

I didn’t tell my family what was in it, and instead, made them guess. My dad and my husband could never guess what it was. They both thought it must have corn meal and/or potatoes in it. My mom was the only one who guessed correctly, as, she told me later, she’d made a mashed potato substitute with cauliflower before, and therefore recognized the texture.

This crust was delicious.
It held together wonderfully (although it’s something that’s easier to eat with a fork and knife rather than your hands), and tasted nothing like cauliflower. It reminded me of a crust made out of polenta with possibly some potato or flour added to it. It was really good!

If you’re gluten intolerant, trying to cut back on carbs, or just want to try something different a little bit healthier than regular pizza, you should really try this out! I was pleasantly surprised!

First, wash off a head of cauliflower and take off the leaves. Chop it up, and pulse it in your food processor in batches until it turns all crumbly. You should end up with about 6 cups of riced cauliflower (if it’s a large head. If your supermarket only has small heads, you might buy two).

This is the texture you want. Don’t pulse it too much or it’ll get watery. Dump it all in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave it, uncovered, for 8 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 2 tsp. dried oregano, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Mix everything well, and then adjust the seasoning to taste.

Add three eggs, and mix everything up well.

Pour out onto a sprayed baking sheet. Spread the cauliflower mixture around evenly so it fills up almost the entire pan. Bake in a 450° F oven for 15 minutes.

It’ll get slightly browned on top and around the edges, and it’ll smell fantastic!

Add pizza sauce (I just use my homemade marinara sauce), shredded cheese, and the cooked toppings of your choice. I used onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, and cooked turkey sausage. I also sprinkled on a little extra cheese on top after taking this picture. Because you can never really have too much cheese.
Pop it back in the oven for about 5 minutes (until the cheese melts), cut it into slices, and serve!


Cauliflower Crust Pizza

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 6 – 7 c. riced cauliflower (one large head)
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • pizza sauce
  • shredded cheese
  • cooked pizza toppings of your choice
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450° F.
  2. Wash cauliflower head, remove leaves and stem, and chop up. Add to food processor and pulse until it ressembles coarse crumbs (don’t over pulse so that it becomes watery).
  3. Add riced cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, for 8 minutes.
  4. Add cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and salt. Mix well. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Add eggs, and mix well.
  6. Pour out onto a greased baking sheet. Spread out evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven. Add pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings.
  8. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
  9. Remove from oven, cut into slices, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Eat. Drink. Smile.

March 15, 2012 at 9:36 am 11 comments

Balsamic Chicken

Did everyone have a good Valentine’s Day?

Hisa and I had a good time. We went to an art museum, went to see Hugo (really good movie by the way), and then had dinner at a nice restaurant, where I ODed on really good cheesecake with raspberry sauce and a chocolate cookie crust. *sigh* It was worth it though I tell you. It was that good.

Unfortunately, the next day both Hisa and my dad were sick. They claim they over did it showing the ladies a good time on Valentine’s Day (initiate eye rolling). Whatever the reason, they’ve both been out of action the past couple of days.

I’ve been fine (knock on wood), although I was a bit disgruntled this morning, as I got up early and went to the pool to swim laps, only to discover it was closed. There’s nothing sadder than waking up at the crack of dawn for nothing. I did get to see a beautiful sunrise, however, so I suppose it wasn’t a total waste. At least that’s what I keep trying to tell myself… I don’t know if I believe myself or not though…

This is a fairly easy recipe that makes a great main dish for an Italian food themed dinner. All the work is done by the balsamic vinegar marinade. You just throw the chicken, vinegar, garlic, and sage in a bowl in the morning, cover it, let it marinade all day, cook it, and you’re done. It goes great with pasta and tossed salad, or any Italian dish really. The balsamic vinegar gives it amazing flavor. If you’re like me and love balsamic vinegar, you’ll love this dish.

Balsamic Chicken

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried sage
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Add the chicken, vinegar, garlic, and sage in a large bowl and mix until chicken is well coated. Cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from bowl, reserving marinade, and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and saute until browned on one side. Flip and continue sautéing until browned on remaining side.
  4. Pour marinade into skillet with chicken and bring to a simmer. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and continue simmering for 30 minutes, turning chicken pieces occasionally.
  5. Remove chicken to serving bowl and serve.

recipe adapted from Whats4Eats.

February 17, 2012 at 9:24 am 2 comments

Rigatoni with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Have you ever had rigatoni pasta?

It’s like penne, but larger, and the ends are cut straight rather than at an angle like penne. Because the whole inside is larger, more chunky sauces can get inside the pasta, which is always a good thing. Good and delicious.

I love trying different pasta shapes. Now that I’m back in the U.S. this is much easier to do. I don’t know why, but if you get pasta in an Italian restaurant (or any restaurant) in Japan, 99% of the time it’s spaghetti. It doesn’t matter what kind of sauce it is, it’s almost always going to be spaghetti. I got so tired of spaghetti in Japan, so I’m having a great time now fixing different types of pasta.

Did you know there are over 500 different types of pasta in the world today? That boggles my mind. But in a good way. I dream of trying them all… Much like I dream of trying every type of cheese in the cheese section at Whole Foods. Mmmm, cheese… That’s my new year’s resolution for this year. That and to exercise a whole lot in order to burn off the calories from all the cheese I plan on eating.

While I don’t know all the 500 different types of pasta out there, I found a site, here,  that introduces quite a few, and describes what kinds of sauces they go well with.

I tried another Jamie Oliver recipe last night. This one is adapted from a recipe in his cookbook Jamie’s Dinners.

It’s a nice, chunky vegetable sauce with tomatoes, eggplant, onion, and garlic in it. You mix in fresh basil leaves and chunks of fresh mozzarella right at the end, so when you serve it, the basil has gone all fragrant and the mozzarella is just turning into melted, stringy delight. All in all, it’s a nice, hearty vegetable pasta dish, with some lovely cheesy goodness as well.

Rigatoni with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 lb. dried rigatoni pasta
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans of tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves shredded, stalks diced
  • 4 Tbsp. cream
  • 7 oz. fresh mozzarella
  1. Heat 4 – 5 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add cubed eggplant and stir to coat eggplant in oil evenly. Cook eggplant for 8 – 10 minutes.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook for 4 – 5 minutes more.
  3. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and diced basil stalks. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving a little of the water (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup).
  5. Season pasta sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and add cream.
  6. Add pasta and reserved water to sauce. Add torn up pieces of mozzarella cheese and shredded basil leaves. Mix everything until pasta is well coated and mozzarella has started to melt. Serve immediately.

January 26, 2012 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

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About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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