Archive for the ‘hearty dishes’ Category

Meat Stuffed Shells

This is a delicious recipe taken almost verbatim from Emeril Lagasse. The only changes I’ve made have been to add a little more sauce and cheese and to alter the cooking a bit so that it doesn’t dry out. This recipe freezes very well–just allow extra time for thawing and a little more baking.

  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Baking Time: 25 minutes
  • Servings: 7 (3 shells each)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (18 to 20 shells)
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound ground veal
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Essence (Creole Seasoning)

2 1/2 parts paprika
2 parts salt
2 part garlic powder
1 part black pepper
1 part onion powder
1 part cayenne pepper
1 part dried leaf oregano
1 part dried thyme

Basic Red Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
16 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, broken into pieces, and their juices
16 ounces tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground veal and cook, stirring, until cooked and browned. Add the squeezed spinach and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, Essence, remaining teaspoon of salt, the basil, oregano, and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish.
  5. Pour the Basic Red Sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 15 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 10, until bubbly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Basic Red Sauce

  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and sugar. Stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

Yield: 3 cups

Preparation/Cooking Notes

As with all noodles, allow the shells decent time to cool so that sauce can adhere well.

Serving Notes

Goes well with aa green green vegetable (e.g., green beans). Be sure to include bread (garlic or regular Italian) to sop up the delicious sauce!

Calamari Fra Diavolo

The past few weeks the squid have been thick as fleas at the Nahant wharf. Ben and I have been catching our fill of the tasty  little buggers. With a mild taste and needing minimal cooking time, calamari are ideally suited to sauces. Here’s one I adapted for them from a dish originally designed for shrimp. It also takes advantage of the fresh herbs abundant in the garden this time of year. Serve alone or over pasta or rice.

The quantities are rough and can be scaled to taste.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (this does not include any time needed to dress the squid)
  • Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Servings:  8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 medium (approx 8 inches long) squid heads, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Salt to taste (1 tsp approx)

Directions

  1. In a pot, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Concurrently, in a saute pan, heat the other two tsp.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onions to pot and the sausage to the sautee pan.
  3. Brown the sausage. Then remove it from the heat and place in a colander to drain.
  4. When the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, wine, garlic, and oregano. As you add them, squeeze each tomato in your hand to reduce it to a rough pulp. Also pour in the juice from the tomatoes.
  5. Stir the mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir from time to time, making sure not to burn the sauce.
  6. Add the sausage, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt. Stir and return to simmer for 10 minutes. While it cooks, taste the sauce and adjust the ingredients as necessary.
  7. Add the calamari and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Calamari takes very little time to cook so take care not to overcook it!

Preparation/Cooking Notes

  • Make sure the calamari is well-drained before you add it. If necessary, pat it dry with a paper towel. The sauce will coat it much better than if it is wet.
  • Two teaspoons of red pepper flakes makes for a nicely spicy sauce.  I would not recommend more. For people who prefer less spice, use only 1 teaspoon.

Variations

  • Shrimp can be used in place of or in addition to the calamari.
  • While you can substitute crushed or even ground tomatoes, whole tomatoes give the dish a much more interesting texture.

Pea Soup

pea-soupHere’s a hearty soup that is the ultimate in comfort food–it comforts you as you prepare it. The aroma is very soothing, and it tastes AWESOME!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1.5 hours or more
  • Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz bag dry split green or yellow peas, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced. Cut cloves lengthwise and remove the green shoot (which tends to be too strongly-flavored)
  • 2-3 carrots cut into small rounds or 1 cup mini pre-peeled carrots
  • 2 stalks of fresh celery chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp each parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onions until translucent. (If you choose to include a leak–see Variations–add it to the saute after the onion and before the garlic.) Add the garlic and saute another minute or so. Be very careful not to burn or brown the garlic.
  2. Once the onions/leek/garlic are soft, add the peas.  Add water, enough to completely cover the peas plus an extra inch and a half extra.  Set heat to  medium flame. Add the carrots, celery, and herbs.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for one hour at least, stirring occasionally. The peas will soften as they cook and absorb the water. The soup is ready when the peas have all lost their shape and dissolved into a paste. Until that occurs, keep on cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste. A good starting point is 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4, then stir well and increase incrementally as desired.
  4. Remove soup from heat and let sit for twenty minutes. Serve with good crusty bread,

Cooking Notes

At any point while cooking, if the soup becomes too thick add more water, one cup at a time.

Even after the soup is ready, additional slow cooking will allow flavors to concentrate. Always a plus if you have the time.

Variations

  • If desired, you can substitute lentils for the peas
  • To include meat, add a ham bone (ask the butcher at the store), pork ribs, hot dogs, or sausage.  This gives it a nice hearty flavor. Add the ham bone once the soup begins to boil. Add hot dogs or sausage 1/2 hour in.
  • You can include one small leek. Cut it lengthwise down the middle, separate and leaves and wash well ( leeks tend to have a lot of sand in them). Then chop the leek in 1 inch squares and add to the sauteing onions.

Serving Notes

My mother Giselle often made croutons by frying up small pieces of dry French bread (or any kind of dry bread) in a pan on the stove. Just cut up the dry bread into spoon size pieces and fry until golden and crunchy. Then put a few pieces of the fried bread in each person’s bowl and ladle the soup over it.

The soup will tend to thicken in the refrigerator. When reheating, add a little water as necessary to thin it.

Smokin’ Scovilles Turkey Chili

73317This is an absolutely delicious chili recipe that I found on the internet some years back and continue to make because, man, it’s great.  It uses ground turkey, which makes it lower in fat and less greasy than beef-based chili. But what really makes this chili special is its complex taste: a combination of traditional Mexican spices combine with sweetness (from cocoa and worcestershire sauce), smoke (from smoked chipotle peppers), and tanginess (from beer)  to create a truly interesting mix of flavors . It  also has (for most folks) just the right amount of heat: a discernable bite, like a good chili should, but not so much that it overwhelms or detracts from the rich flavors.

The recipe below is close to the original that I found on the internet, with only a few changes (such as the substitution of smoked chipotle peppers for smoke sauce). If you want to read the original recipe, it’s here.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Baking Time: 60 minutes
  • Servings: Makes 1 gallon of chili, or about 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 small green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 (1 ounce) envelopes instant hot chocolate mix
  • 4 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 8 oz can smoked chipotle peppers
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained
  • 2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 8 oz  beer
  • 1 cup canned whole kernel corn (I prefer white corn)

Directions

  1. Dice the green peppers and onions. Mince the garlic and habanero.
  2. Measure out all of the dry spices and herbs (chili powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, oregano, pepper, hot cocoa mix and seasoned salt) into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, green peppers and habanero pepper; cook and stir until the onion is transparent. Push these to one side of the pot, and crumble in the ground turkey. Cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the meat is no longer pink. Stir everything together so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the spice/herb mix. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Dice the chipotle peppers and add them along with the sauce from the can. Crack open a beer, and pour in about 2/3. Drink or discard the rest. Partially cover the pan, and simmer over medium heat for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Mix in the corn, and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Preparation/Cooking Notes

  • Like any chili, you can continue to cook this over low heat for a much longer time if you prefer.
  • You can substitute regular salt for the seasoned salt and probably won’t notice the difference.

Recipe Variations

The first time you make it, I recommend sticking to the recipe to experience that result. After that you can try varying it, including turning the heat up or down to your taste. Try more or different types of beans.

 Serving Notes

A great dish almost anytime, by itself or served with nachos, over rice, or with French bread.  If it’s a little too hot, try topping with grated cheese or sour cream (also note that the heat tends to recede after the first day.) Makes great tacos and burritos. Freezes and keeps very well.

Richard’s Casserole

This simple, hearty dish was a favorite of my father’s to prepare. It easy and fast to make, feeds a family, and may be even tastier as a leftover. I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it. The original recipe includes meat, but you can make a vegetarian version that remains filling and flavorful enough to satisfy any meat-lover.

  •  Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Baking Time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz boxes of elbow macaroni
  • 2 lbs hamburger
  • 1 lb sliced American cheese
  • 2-4  medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Other Necessaries

  • Casserole dish approx 10″ x 16″ x 3″
  • Cover for dish or aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Boil the noodles, following directions for al dente. When done, place in colander and spray with cool water to halt cooking. Allow to drain and cool.
  2. Crumble the hamburger into a heated sauté pan. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until light brown, taking care not to overcook. When done, place cooked meat in a colander to drain off grease.
  3. Clean any grease out of the sauté pan and add and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and then a little later the garlic. Sautee until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the hamburger to the onion/garlic mix and cook for an another minute or two, tossing and mixing the ingredients to distribute the flavors. Do not over cook. Remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Preheat oven the 350 degrees.
  6. In a large stock pot or mixing bowl, add the cooked noodles and the onion/garlic/hamburger mix. Add the salt and pepper.
  7. Use a knife or your hands cut or tear the whole tomatoes into dice-sized (or slightly larger) chunks and add to the mix. Or you can just squeeze them in your fists after adding them to the bowl.) Also pour in the juice from the cans. Toss all ingredients with a spoon, mixing well.
  8. Butter the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. Add half of the mixture to the dish. Use a spatula or spoon to spread it evenly over the bottom and compress it lightly.
  9. Cover the entire surface of the casserole with slices of cheese. Then pour in and distribute the rest of the mix, and cover it with cheese as well.
  10. Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the over. Create a little space between the foil and the casserole so that the cheese doesn’t stick to it when it melts.
  11. After 20 minutes, remove the cover, reduce hear to 325, and cook an additional 5 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

Preparation/Cooking Notes

  • For best consistency, when boiling the noodles, boil one minute less than the noodles’ al dente instructions call for (the subsequent baking will make up for this). Over-boiling will result in a mushy casserole.
  • For best results, allow the noodles to dry completely before mixing with the other ingredients.  You can even cook them a day ahead of time. Doing this will allow the other ingredients to bind with the noodles.
  • The casserole can be prepared ahead of time and kept in fridge for baking  later. You may need to extend the oven time a bit in this event.

Recipe Variations

  • According to your tastes, you can substitute other ingredients for the hamburger (ground turkey, for example) . For a vegetarian version, diced portabella mushroom works quite well.
  • You can try different cheeses, although the mildness of American cheese works quite well here. To add a little tanginess, add a few slices of Swiss or cheddar  while still using a “base” of American cheese.
  • Do NOT substitute spaghetti sauce for the whole tomatoes–doing so overwhelms the delicate mix of flavors in the dish.

 Serving Notes

A green salad and a red wine make a great accompaniment to this dish.