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Sausage & Tortellini Soup

14 Jul

This dish is a total home run. Adapted from a Kitchn recipe, it takes about 30 minutes to cook, holds really well over a few days and is devoured by everyone who’s eaten it. I make mine with mild Italian sausage to keep it edible for the foodNURDling but it would be tasty with a spicy sausage, too! Another bonus: it freezes well so you can toss some in the freezer for another meal down the road.*

Serves 2-3 with leftovers.


Splash of canola oil
3-4 hot or mild Italian sausages
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2c dry red wine or chicken stock
1 28oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
2c low-sodium chicken stock
1tb balsamic vinegar
1ts brown sugar
Parmesan rind or a few heaping tablespoons of grated parm
1 package fresh or frozen tortellini
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes, optional


1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pan to medium high. Add in the sausages and sear, 3-4 minutes. Flip the sausages over sear the other side for 3-4 minutes. Once the sausages have browned a bit, start breaking them up with a wooden spoon into small pieces. This allows the sausages to caramelize instead of steam. Once broken up and cooked a bit more, remove the sausages with a slotted spoon to another bowl, leaving behind the fat.

2. Reduce the heat and add in the onions and generous pinch of salt, sauteing until soft, roughly 6-8 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook til fragrant, 15-20 seconds. Add the red wine (or chicken stock), turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Scrape up the delicious little bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.

3. Add in the canned tomatoes and their liquid. Using kitchen scissors, cut up the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Toss in the stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and parm. Stir all together and then add a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the whole thing to a boil and add in the tortellini. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the spinach to the pot and stir. Once the spinach has wilted, taste your soup and add any salt and/or pepper to taste. (If you’re using the parm rind, you can remove it at this point.) Serve with a bit more parm and a drizzle of olive oil.

*if you find that the leftovers are a bit thick, you can add a bit of water when you are reheating.


Penne w/ Braised Beef & Rosemary Sauce

1 Oct

Having a big ol’ kitchen to mess around in has inspired me to get back in there and try some new recipes. We had a friend over for a Dinner ‘n’ Dexter night and I wanted to make something hearty and comforting. I know our friend is a big fan of pasta (as am I) and I have lots of herbs kicking around, so I opted to make a braised beef and rosemary pasta sauce. Not too fancy but definitely comforting, aromatic and flavourful. I recommend making this in the slow cooker as you’ll be using stewing beef. The longer you let it go in the pot, the more tender it will be.

Serves 4.


1.5lb stewing beef, cubed
2 tb veg oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tb dried rosemary
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 ts dried oregano
2 tb balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 ts dried thyme
1 ts salt
2 ts pepper
2 ts fresh rosemary, chopped
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


1. Pour the vegetable oil into a pan and set to medium-high heat. Brown the beef in batches being careful not to overcrowd the pan, roughly 1 minute per side. Season with salt & pepper. Place browned meat on a plate and continue with next batch.
2. Lower heat to medium and add in the onion, dried rosemary and a pinch of salt & pepper. Sauté 3-4 minutes until onions soften.
3. In the slow cooker, combine the onions and rosemary and the crushed tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, thyme, 1/2 cup of water and season with salt & pepper to taste. Put the beef and any of the juices that have accumulated into the pot and stir. Set to low and simmer for 4-6 hours until the beef is tender, stirring and tasting occasionally.

Simmering away…

4. With a few minutes to go, add in the fresh rosemary and stir.
5. Cook pasta to al dente and ladle sauce over. Top with parmesan cheese.

Ultimate Spaghetti w/ Clams

9 Nov

Tyler Florence’s “Ultimate” recipes are a favourite at our place.  Everything we’ve made from the cookbook has turned out wonderfully. They tend to have a lot of ingredients, but the preparations are never difficult and the results are always worth it. We never make a recipe once: whatever makes it to the table makes it there repeatedly.

J made this yesterday for his folks and, once again, the recipe delivered. Briny, garlicky, spicy: all the things that spaghetti with clams (or, if you want to impress your dinner guests, linguine vongole) should be.

Serves 4.


Kosher salt
40 littleneck clams
extra virgin olive oil
2 tb unsalted butter
10 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 lb pancetta, chopped
1/2 ts red pepper flakes
handful of fresh basil
1/4 c white wine
2 pints cherry tomatoes
black pepper
1 lb spaghetti (or linguine)
1/4 c chopped parsley, for garnish


1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
3. Scrub the clams with a stiff brush under cold water. Discard any that are open.
4. Put a roasting pan over two burners on medium heat. Add a 2-count of olive oil, the butter, garlic, pancetta, red pepper flakes and basil. Cook until the pancetta renders its fat, roughly 4 minutes.
5. Add the clams, white wine, tomatoes and a good amount of black pepper.  Put the pan in the oven and roast til the clams open, around 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the water and cook 7-8 minutes or til al dente.  Drain the pasta, put it in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and add all the ingredients – including the liquid in the pan – to the pasta and toss. Discard any clams that did not open.
8. Add parsley and toss again.

Pasta with Portobellos, Sage & Walnuts

29 Nov

A simple, easy, savoury pasta dish that can be thrown together quickly. The toasted walnuts are a great touch: some crunch to go along with the nutty flavour. Note, though – when you’re toasting them, keep a close eye on the pan! Those things’ll burn before you know it!

You can use whatever pasta you have in the cupboard. I made my first batch with penne, but you could use spaghetti, rigatoni…anything your heart desires! Also, while this is a vegetarian recipe, if you have some prosciutto in the fridge, it goes quite nicely for a salty bite.

Serves 4.


3/4 lb pasta
3 tb extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c unsalted butter
3 large portabello mushroom caps, gills discarded, caps thinly sliced and cut into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 c loosely packed fresh sage leaves
1/3 c toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


1. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1c cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and 2 tb butter in a medium sauce pan. Add mushrooms, sprinkling with salt & pepper. Cook roughly 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender and brown. Set aside on a plate.
3.  Using the same pan, add in 8tb butter (it’s a lot, I know, but it’s the sauce!) and heat to medium. Add sage leaves, stirring occasionally until  dark and crisp. (3 to 5 min.)
4. Add the mushrooms back to the pan along with the pasta, the walnuts and half a cup of the reserved liquid. Season with salt & pepper and toss until the pasta is well coated. Add in more liquid if you need it.
5. Serve in warm bowls and top with a generous portion of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Spaghettini w/ Feta & Cherry Tomatoes

21 Sep

Easy, tasty and gave us the chance to use some of the cherry tomatoes from the garden.

Serves 4.


1 lb spaghettini
2 garlic, minced
10 pearl onions, peeled & halved
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c feta, crumbled
1/4 c basil, julienned
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 tb olive oil
salt & pepper


1. Boil the salted water for the pasta and cook to the directions on the package.
2. Heat 2tb of olive oil to low-medium in a sauce pan.
3. Add onions.  Saute 5 minutes.
4. Add garlic and tomatoes and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Strain pasta, reserving one cup of water.
6. Gently mix the onions, garlic & tomatoes to the pasta. Add the rest of the olive oil, feta, basil & lemon juice.
7. Stir, adding salt & pepper to taste. For a creamier texture, add in the reserved pasta water.

Asian Pasta

17 Aug

We call this “peanut butter pasta” at home, but that can sound kind of unappealing. My mother-in-law made this a while back and I absolutely dug it. It covers a wide range of flavours – salty, sweet, hot – and is very versatile.

Serves 4.


12 oz spaghetti (or however much you think you need! Some peeps are hungry, okay?)
1/2 green/red/yellow pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cabbage (Napa or red. Depends on your preference)
1/2 onion, julienned
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tb sesame oil
2 tb cider vinegar
1 tb hot sauce
2 tb olive oil
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
2 tb sesame seeds (toasted if you have time)
1 scallion, chopped


1. Set a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Slice (julienne) all the vegetables. (Note: you can really put in any veg you like. It all works!)
3. Whisk together the peanut butter, soy, sesame oil, vinegar and hot sauce. Taste it! You might want to add more of one ingredient depending on your personal preference.
4. The pasta should take 6-8 minutes to cook. Add salt to the pasta water, followed by the spaghetti.
5. Heat the oil in a medium pan to medium heat. Add vegetables, then salt and pepper.
6. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid. Add the vegetables and sauce to the pasta. Combine all the ingredients and add some of the reserved water if the sauce is too thick.
7. Plate the dish and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallion.

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