Posts tagged ‘marinara sauce’

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

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April 12, 2012 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Classic Lasagna

When I made this lasagna recipe earlier this week, I informed my mother that one can use cottage cheese as a low-fat alternative to ricotta cheese in lasagna.

I then informed my mother that although I like cottage cheese very much, I wouldn’t be using it in the lasagna this time around, as I hadn’t tasted ricotta cheese in over three years.

Three… years.

So I used pure, unadulterated ricotta cheese.

And mozzarella cheese.

And Parmesan cheese.

And in the words of the book of Genesis, it was good.

 

First make a batch of marinara sauce, or you can use your favorite marinara/pizza sauce. In a large bowl, add 3 cups of ricotta cheese (that’s almost all of one 32 oz. container), 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. dried parsley, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, and one egg, and mix everything up.

 

Your cheese filling is now done. 🙂

 

In a large skillet, brown 1 lb. of ground turkey (or beef) or turkey sausage (or Italian sausage if you want to go all out) until browned and crumbly. Drain any fat, and then combine with your marinara sauce.

Meanwhile, boil your lasagna noodles according to the package instructions, drain, and set aside (you don’t want to do this too early before the lasagna assembly or they’ll start sticking together).

 

Spray a large, 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Lay out one layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish.

 

Spread out a layer of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles.

 

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the ricotta mixture.

 

Spread a layer of the marinara meat sauce on top of the cheese (not pictured), and then spread another layer of noodles on top of that. Repeat with the ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, one more layer of noodles, the last of the marinara sauce, and then top everything with some mozzarella cheese.

 

Pop it into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes (or until bubbly and wonderful), and you’re good to go!

 

Yum.

 

Serve with a lovely tossed salad, so you don’t feel too guilty about eating three different types of cheese in one dish.

Lasagna

(serves 6 – 7)

  • One batch marinara sauce or your favorite jar of pasta/pizza sauce
  • 3 c. ricotta cheese (almost all of one, 32 oz., container)
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. ground meat or sausage (turkey or Italian)
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 3 – 4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, nutmeg, and the egg. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground meat until browned and crumbly. Drain off any fat and combine with marinara sauce.
  4. Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  5. Grease a large, 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Lay one layer of lasagna noodles in bottom of dish. Spread half of the ricotta mixture in a layer on top of the noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese on top of that. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce on top of the cheese.
  6. Lay down another layer of noodles, and repeat with the remaining half of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, 1/3 of the meat sauce, another layer of noodles, the last of the meat sauce, and top it all off with the last of the mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

 

 

January 14, 2012 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

Marinara Sauce

If you’re like me, then you probably love Italian food. Namely pasta.

I love pasta; all the different shapes and sizes, all the things you can mix it with, and of course all the sauces.

Sadly, pasta has gotten a rather bad rep, ever since the no/low carb diet craze hit years ago. I believe, however, that like all things, it’s all about balance.

If you eat a pound of pasta all by yourself every day, then you’re probably not doing your body any favors. But if you eat a pound of pretty much anything every day, it’s not going to be very good for you. Balance and variety are so important.

If you have a modest portion of pasta, eat it with a healthy homemade sauce made with whole ingredients, balance it with other foods such as vegetables and protein, and maintain an active lifestyle (i.e. you exercise on a regular basis), then there’s really nothing wrong with pasta at all.

I always strive for balance (in all things, not just food), so as much as I love pasta, I don’t eat it every day. I don’t hesitate to eat it, or feel guilty for eating it though.

One of my favorite go to pasta sauce recipes is a simple marinara sauce. I love tomato sauces with my pasta, and marinara sauce is about as classic as it gets. It’s also very versatile as you can add so many things with it to change it up.

Capers and olives to make it more Puttanesca like.

Chicken, shrimp, tuna; just about any meat or seafood will work.

Just about any vegetables will work with it.

Add a little vodka and a little cream to make a vodka sauce.

The options are endless.

But if you want a simple marinara sauce for your pasta, or you need it for another recipe like pizza, calzones, eggplant parmesan, or lasagna (like I did the other day), then this is a great, speedy sauce for that as well.

First, add a couple lugs of extra virgin olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add one diced onion, and saute until it becomes tender, about 4 – 5 minutes.

 

Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 red chili, diced (or 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes), and 1 tsp. dried basil. Saute for another 1 – 2 minutes.

 

Add 2 (14 oz.) cans of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done! If you want a smoother sauce, you can whiz it in a blender, but it isn’t necessary.

Marinara Sauce

(serves 2 – 3)

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, diced -or- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Add a few Tbsp. of oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, red pepper, and basil, and saute for another 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

January 13, 2012 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Calzones – bread pockets filled with cheesey joy

I love bread. Especially hot fresh bread right out of the oven. There’s something magical about it really.

I also love cheese. Oh, cheese. How wonderful you are in all your many forms! Soft, hard, gooey, creamy, and best of all, melted.

So when you combine fresh hot bread, and gooey delicious cheese to make pizza, my heart starts to flutter.

Ah, pizza! There’s so many variations and possibilities. Thick crust, thin crust, tomato sauce, garlic sauce, white sauce, etc. A well made pizza is truly a joy to behold, and even more of a joy to eat.

It’s not the most portable food though. Oh sure, cold pizza is portable enough, but disgusting as far as I’m concerned.  If it’s not piping hot and gooey, I will be sad.

That’s why I’m so thankful to whoever invented calzone! Portable pizza! It’s brilliant! Right? Right?! Am I the only one excited about this?! It’s like a pizza sandwich people!

Mmmmm, pizza sandwich…

If you like making pizza, but want to try something different, calzones are a nice alternative. Everyone can customize their calzone with whatever fillings they want. You can make them with the sauce in them, or leave the sauce out altogether, and provide several different sauces at the table for dipping (think tomato, garlic butter, pesto, alfredo sauce, etc.).

Calzones are also great for packed lunches. They freeze well, re-heat well, and aren’t messy. When you make them for dinner, simply make a bunch of extras, and then individually wrap and freeze them. You can just pop one out of the freezer the night before you need it, microwave or toast it the next morning, and pop it in your lunchbox. Fast, easy, and homemade, so you aren’t getting a bunch of weird preservatives and artificial stuff like the frozen pizza things in the supermarket. Oh yeah, these taste much better too.

Calzone in a packed lunch!

Unlike normal pizza dough which has to rise for about an hour, this dough only kneads to rest for about five minutes. I don’t know why. I didn’t make this recipe. I’ve had it for a few years now, so I don’t remember where I got it, but trust me, it’s good. Good and fast.

Calzones and a fresh tossed salad for dinner. Man, my own pictures are making me hungry. Blogging when hungry, not a good idea.

Calzones (makes 4 large calzones)

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. flour (approximately)
  • 3 c. marinara sauce (approximately) (you can substitute any sauce you like or leave out the sauce altogether)
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese
  • Fillings – use whatever you like (cooked mushrooms, onions, spinach, green peppers, cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, etc. Go wild. Just make sure that any vegetables that contains a lot of water (like spinach and mushrooms) are cooked before you put them in the calzone. If they aren’t, they’ll release all that water inside of the calzone as it bakes, and you’ll end up with a soggy calzone. Ew).
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter or olive oil (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, oil, salt, and 1 c. flour.
  3. Continue gradually adding flour and mixing until dough is easy to handle.
  4. Pour out dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Cover dough with bowl, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Cut dough into four equally sized pieces. Roll out each piece into a 10″ circle. Place sauce, cheese, and any other fillings on one half of the dough circle (leave a little space at the edge with nothing on it). Fold the side of dough with nothing on it over the side with everything on it and crimp it shut with your fingers or a fork. Place on a parchment paper lined or greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush tops of calzones with melted butter (optional). Return to oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes (total bake time of 25 – 30 minutes), or until golden brown.

September 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Calzones – bread pockets filled with cheesy joy

I love bread. Especially hot fresh bread right out of the oven. There’s something magical about it really.

I also love cheese. Oh, cheese. How wonderful you are in all your many forms! Soft, hard, gooey, creamy, and best of all, melted.

So when you combine fresh hot bread, and gooey delicious cheese to make pizza, my heart starts to flutter.

Ah, pizza! There’s so many variations and possibilities. Thick crust, thin crust, tomato sauce, garlic sauce, white sauce, etc. A well made pizza is truly a joy to behold, and even more of a joy to eat.

It’s not the most portable food though. Oh sure, cold pizza is portable enough, but disgusting as far as I’m concerned.  If it’s not piping hot and gooey, I will be sad.

That’s why I’m so thankful to whoever invented calzone! Portable pizza! It’s brilliant! Right? Right?! Am I the only one excited about this?! It’s like a pizza sandwich people!


Mmmmm, pizza sandwich…

If you like making pizza, but want to try something different, calzones are a nice alternative. Everyone can customize their calzone with whatever fillings they want. You can make them with the sauce in them, or leave the sauce out altogether, and provide several different sauces at the table for dipping (think tomato, garlic butter, pesto, alfredo sauce, etc.).

Calzones are also great for packed lunches. They freeze well, re-heat well, and aren’t messy. When you make them for dinner, simply make a bunch of extras, and then individually wrap and freeze them. You can just pop one out of the freezer the night before you need it, microwave or toast it the next morning, and pop it in your lunchbox. Fast, easy, and homemade, so you aren’t getting a bunch of weird preservatives and artificial stuff like the frozen pizza things in the supermarket. Oh yeah, these taste much better too.


Calzone in a packed lunch!

Unlike normal pizza dough which has to rise for about an hour, this dough only kneads to rest for about five minutes. I don’t know why. I didn’t make this recipe. I’ve had it for a few years now, so I don’t remember where I got it, but trust me, it’s good. Good and fast.


Calzones and a fresh tossed salad for dinner. Man, my own pictures are making me hungry. Blogging when hungry, not a good idea.

Calzones (makes 4 large calzones)

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. flour (approximately)
  • 3 c. marinara sauce (approximately) (you can substitute any sauce you like or leave out the sauce altogether)
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese
  • Fillings – use whatever you like (cooked mushrooms, onions, spinach, green peppers, cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, etc. Go wild. Just make sure that any vegetables that contains a lot of water (like spinach and mushrooms) are cooked before you put them in the calzone. If they aren’t, they’ll release all that water inside of the calzone as it bakes, and you’ll end up with a soggy calzone. Ew).
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter or olive oil (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, oil, salt, and 1 c. flour.
  3. Continue gradually adding flour and mixing until dough is easy to handle.
  4. Pour out dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Cover dough with bowl, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Cut dough into four equally sized pieces. Roll out each piece into a 10″ circle. Place sauce, cheese, and any other fillings on one half of the dough circle (leave a little space at the edge with nothing on it). Fold the side of dough with nothing on it over the side with everything on it and crimp it shut with your fingers or a fork. Place on a parchment paper lined or greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush tops of calzones with melted butter (optional). Return to oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes (total bake time of 25 – 30 minutes), or until golden brown.

September 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

When I was a kid, I loathed eggplant.

The only think I hated more than eggplant, was the combination of eggplant and green peppers. My mom had this eggplant casserole dish that she made every so often that contained both, and I always hated it when she made it. I would always try to pick out just the meat and cheese, and when my mom finally made me eat the vegetables, I would hold my nose and eat them as fast as possible before taking a huge drink of water.

Yeah… sorry about that Mom.

Now, I love eggplant, especially with green peppers! I would probably love my mom’s eggplant casserole if I had it now. Life’s funny like that…

One eggplant dish I really like is baked eggplant parmesan. It’s eggplant parmesan, but it’s baked instead of fried, then it’s layered with pasta sauce and cheese, and baked again.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I got this recipe, so I don’t know who to give credit to. Sorry!

I forgot to take pictures of all the step for this, so there’s just pictures of the main steps.

First things first, make your pasta sauce! I usually make marinara sauce for this, but I decided to make meat sauce this time around.

In one bowl, beat some eggs together. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, grated parmesan, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Dip your eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture, and place them on a greased baking sheet or baking paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven for 20 minutes. Then turn over the eggplant slices and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a deep baking dish, layer a little bit of sauce, half the eggplant slices, shredded cheese, and grated parmesan. Repeat with sauce, the last of the eggplant slices, shredded cheese, parmesan cheese, and top of with the last of the sauce and cheese. I had leftover bread crumb mixture, so I put that on top and then added some cheese during the last 10 minutes of baking.

Bake in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool five minutes and serve.

Warm eggplant and cheesy goodness.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan (serves 4 – 5)

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 3/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • dash of salt & pepper
  • 2 large eggplants (or about 6 Japanese eggplants), sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 6 c. marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 c. grated parmesan
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Brush 2 baking sheets with oil (or line with parchment paper) and set aside.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, mix eggs and 2 Tbsp. cold water. In a seperate bowl, combine bread crumbs, grated parmesan, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture, coating well, and place on baking sheets.
  4. Bake eggplant slices until golden brown, about 20 minutes, then flip the slices over and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and raise oven heat to 400 degrees F (200 C)
  5. Spread 2 c. of marinara sauce in a 9 x 13 in. baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant slices in dish. Cover with 2 c. of sauce, then 1/2 c. of mozzarella, then 1/3 c. parmesan. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan.
  6. Baking about 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Let stand five minutes before serving.

May 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm 5 comments


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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