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Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage & Summer Veggies

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Ah, it’s almost the end of Summer and I keep thinking, where has it gone? Along with Summer comes lots of fresh veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and yellow squash that I just can’t get enough of!

Colavita

I recently received a lovely care package from my client Colavita, who sent me some delicious pasta, sauces, olive oils and vinegars to sample, which inspired me to make this Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies. 

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

It’s a tasty and healthy twist on traditional Baked Ziti, using Colavita Fusilli pasta with sweet Italian sausage and lots of colorful summer veggies like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic. I sautéed everything in Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil with a splash of Colavita Chardonnay White Balsamic vinegar for some extra sweet and tangy flavor.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

I used their Colavita Tomato Basil sauce mixed in to the pasta and veggies along with fresh oregano and basil. AND it has three (3!!) cheeses: ricotta, parmesan/asiago and mozzarella to make it super creamy and cheesy – all baked into a big pot of bubbly goodness.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Look. At. This. Cheesy Baked Pasta Goodness. YUM.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

It’s the perfect dish for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner – and is great served with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread (dipped in Colavita olive oil and vinegar of course!) Enjoy!

Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage and Summer Veggies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8

This is a tasty and healthy twist on traditional Baked Ziti, using Colavita Rotini pasta with Italian Sausage and lots of colorful summer veggies like zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onions and garlic! It also features Colavita Tomato Basil sauce mixed with three cheeses: ricotta, parmesan/asiago and mozzarella to make it super creamy and cheesy baked into a big pot of bubbly goodness. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner served with a green salad and crusty Italian bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Colavita Fusilli pasta, uncooked
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, ground
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Chardonnay White Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-16 ounce jar Colavita Tomato Basil sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan/Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions (about 9 minutes for al dente), drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook sausage until no longer pink, drain fat and set aside.
  4. Add additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and add squash, zucchini, mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add minced garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute or two. Add the cooked sausage back into the pan.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Parmesan/Asiago cheese and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  6. Meanwhile, add the ricotta cheese to a mixing bowl and stir in beaten egg, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  7. Place the cooked pasta in a large pot and add the sausage-veggie-tomato sauce mixture, stirring well. Fold in the ricotta-egg-herbs mixture until thoroughly combined.
  8. Spoon the pasta mixture into an 8x8 square glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan/Asiago cheese evenly over the top.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browned.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes, serve hot with a green salad and crusty Italian bread.

Notes

You can also substitute Colavita penne, shells, farfalle or ziti for the fusilli pasta.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2016/08/05/cheesy-baked-pasta-w-sausage-summer-veggies/

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Colavita has a great line of Italian gourmet food, olive oils, vinegars, pastas,  condiments and other specialty foods, which makes them one of my favorite brands for quality Italian cooking.

Check out their Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest and Instagram pages for more great recipes and cooking ideas!

Note: I received complimentary products from Colavita but was not compensated for this post. All photos, copy, recipes and opinions are my own. Please do not share, distribute or use any content without my permission.

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Summer in a Bowl: Vodka Cream Sauce Pasta w/ Fresh Basil, Mozzarella & Sundried Tomatoes

Summer Pasta w/ Vodka Sauce, Fresh Basil, Mozzarella & Sundried Tomatoes
Summer Pasta w/ Vodka Sauce, Fresh Basil, Mozzarella & Sundried Tomatoes

There’s a great little place in my neighborhood called Todaro Bros. – a small, locally-owned deli and grocery store that sells fresh and imported Italian food and other gourmet groceries. I usually stop in at least once a week to peruse their cheese department and sample some of their fresh house-made mozzarella, just for kicks (it’s that good!).

Basil-Mozzarella-Pepper
Basil-Mozzarella-Pepper

It’s impossible to walk in there and just buy one thing – I’m like a kid in a candy store! So I found these gorgeous sun-dried tomatoes marinated in herbs and oil and picked up some fresh basil, oregano, chives, tomato sauce, cream and pasta to make a fresh, tasty summer pasta dish. I made it with spaghetti but you could serve this tasty Vodka Sauce with virtually any pasta you wish. It’s tangy, velvety and full of flavor, and the fresh basil gives it a peppery flavor which is rounded out by the creamy fresh mozzarella and sweet sun-dried tomatoes. I also threw in a few pieces of crumbled cooked bacon into the sauce to give it an extra layer of flavor (which is totally optional but also totally worth it!)

Summer Pasta w/ Vodka Sauce, Fresh Basil, Mozzarella & Sundried Tomatoes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small shallot, diced
  • 3-4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
  • 6-8 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 quart tomato sauce (store bought or homemade, pureed smooth)
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • fresh unsalted mozzarella, torn into medium pieces, for garnish
  • fresh basil leaves, whole or torn, for garnish
  • red pepper flakes (optional), for garnish
  • 1 pound package of cooked and drained pasta (spaghetti, linguine or penne)

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions (until al dente) and drain (reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water for later); set aside. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 15 minutes until crispy, drain and crumble.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add garlic and shallots, saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for an additional 5 minutes and turn heat down to medium-low.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce and vodka into the same saucepan and let simmer (approximately 20 minutes) until the sauce thickens and cooks down. Stir in the heavy cream, fresh oregano and chives and let simmer on low for another few minutes until sauce is heated through.
  4. Return the pasta back to the large saucepot and ladle some of the sauce into it, along with a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and toss to coat.
  5. Ladle coated pasta into serving dishes and top with additional vodka sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/06/20/summer-in-a-bowl-vodka-cream-sauce-pasta-w-fresh-basil-mozzarella-sundried-tomatoes/

Summer In A Bowl.
Summer In A Bowl.

Top off the pasta with chunks of fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, coarse Mediterranean sea salt and fresh ground pepper…and you’ve got Summer in a Bowl.

Loveliness.
Loveliness.
Basil
Basil
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh.
Fresh.
Yum.
Yum.

YUM.

—–

Other Vodka Pasta Recipes you may enjoy:

Emeril’s Pasta with Vodka and Sausage

Pioneer Woman’s Pasta alla Vodka

Rachel Ray’s You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta

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Throwdown! A Quest for the Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs

Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs. Such an unassuming yet classic Italian dish. And who doesn’t love it? Everyone seems to have their own recipe – not only for the sauce, but for the type of pasta they prefer and of course the meatball is the key ingredient that makes or breaks the dish – at least in my opinion. I was never too fussy about sauce in the past, but as I’ve grown in my culinary tastes and techniques (and the influence of my Italian boyfriend), I’ve come to like a simple tomato sauce made with nothing but tomato and basil and garlic and a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. As far as pasta goes, I’m pretty open minded, but when it comes to meatballs – it either needs to be classic spaghetti or a rotini pasta, something with an edge or ridges that hold the sauce.

Now here comes the tricky part: the perfect meatball. I have had some of the most delicious meatballs in my life and some that more resembled old sponges than the delightfully bouncy and rich texture I think a humble meatball deserves. Not to mention the flavor – a bland meatball is about as pleasing as a piece of cardboard. It’s all about the ingredients that go inside that make it or break it.

So the other night I decided to go on a quest for the perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe and after carefully researching my options, dug up a recipe by Bobby Flay, another by Molly Wizenberg, and another from my Williams and Sonoma cookbook “Comfort Food” (which I am cooking my way through this Winter so expect quite a few comforting recipes on my blog in the next few months!)

recipe throwdown

I analyzed each recipe with a fine tooth comb; and they were all similar but different enough to be unique and have a flavor of their own. Two used pork and veal and beef for the meatballs, one used just ground beef and pork. One called for a cup of finely ground Parmesan cheese, two fresh grated cheese. Molly cooked her meatballs in the sauce, Bobby fried his in a pan and then finished cooking them in the sauce, and Williams-Sonoma baked their meatballs in the oven first and finished them in the sauce. The sauces were varyingly different versions of a Marinara, one used red wine and a bay leaf, one used only tomatoes, butter, onions and salt and the other used a small cubano chile for some extra kick.

ingredients

After comparing all my options, I created my own version (based on what I thought would work for me in terms of flavor and what I had on hand!) I have posted links to the original recipes at the end of my post if you’d like to check them out for yourself, but mine takes the ingredients from three brilliant chefs/authors/culinary legends and makes the perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe. Mission complete!

San Marzano Tomato and Basil Marinara Sauce

1 large can Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp crushed garlic (or 2 cloves, minced)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp. Kosher or Sea salt
¼ tsp. Fresh ground pepper

Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
½ c. panko breadcrumbs
¼ c. milk
½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tbsp)
¼ c. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ tsp. garlic and parsley salt
½ tsp. Kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

16 oz. San Marzano Tomato and Basil Marinara Sauce

1 lb. pasta (of your choice)

MEATBALLS

sauteed garlic

Measure 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté minced garlic in a pan for about 1 minute until soft and lightly golden (not to high of a heat or the garlic will burn). Remove from the heat and let the garlic cool.

panko breadcrumbs

In the meantime, mix the breadcrumbs with the milk and let stand 10 minutes until moistened.

Parmesan, Parsley and Garlic

Chop fresh parsley, measure garlic and parmesan cheese.

Egg, Parsley, Cheese

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, garlic and parsley, cheese, salt and pepper until combined.

Meat Mixture and Breadcrumbs

Add the beef and pork to the egg mixture and gently mix until ingredients are combined, slowly mix in the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture using a claw-like gesture with your hands. Do not overmix. Chill in the refrigerator for up to an hour (at least 15-20 minutes).

Meatball prep

After the meat mixture has chilled, roll the meatballs into golfball size balls (should make about 20 meatballs) and arrange on a pan.

Sauteed Meatballs

Heat ½ c. olive oil in a large metal pan over high heat and add the meatballs, frying until golden brown, turning to cook all sides evenly. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

meatballs simmering in sauce

Add the meatballs (and any scraped up browned bits from the meatball pan) to the Dutch oven into the tomato sauce (recipe follows) and cover. Simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.

SAUCE

Garlic

To make the tomato and basil marinara sauce, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté garlic over very low heat in a medium sauce pan until slightly golden.

Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes

Pour the Tuttorosso Tomato and Basil Crushed tomatoes into the sauce pan, adding tomato paste and dry ingredients (garlic, salt and pepper, oregano, basil) and top off sauce with another tablespoon of olive oil. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes (don’t overstir).

San Marzano Tomato and Basil sauce

When the sauce is done simmering, add to the Dutch oven, mixing with the additional sauce and meatballs and let simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes. While the sauce and meatballs are simmering, cook your pasta in salted boiling water (and a dash of olive oil) until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs

Drain pasta and serve in serving bowls, topped with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with additional grated parmesan cheese and minced parsley if desired and serve with a bold red wine and some crusty garlic bread (recipe below).

Now THIS, indeed, is the most perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs I’ve ever had – Mangia!

Serves 4-6.

GARLIC BREAD

Garlic Bread

Cut up some Italian bread and add butter and a sprinkle of some garlic and parsley salt. Bake in the oven on 350-400 until toasty and golden brown. Crunchy, garlicky – so good!

ORIGINAL RECIPES

Bobby Flay’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (source: Bobby Flay’s Throwdown cookbook)

Molly Wizenberg’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (source: Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2010)

Williams-Sonoma Spaghetti and Meatballs (source: Comfort Food: Warm and Homey, Rich and Hearty cookbook)

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