Pasta and Sausage Two Ways

IMG_3919Last week was busy and we really did not have many family dinners.  In fact between after school activities running late and Mr. Mixture being out of town I got quite a reprieve when it came to cooking dinner.  We were able to enjoy several leftover type meals and breakfast for dinner, as it seems to always be a hit.  When Friday rolled around and I knew we would all be enjoying dinner together after a busy week, I decided to try something off our Recipe Must Try List.  I figured a pasta dish that Little Miss Mixture had picked would be a nice way to end a busy week.

On my initial attempt at Quick Rotini with Sausage and Tomato Sauce, I made some changes that fit into our eating style better.  As it indicated in the initial recipe we found in Cooking Light May 2014, you could substitute spinach for the Arugula.  Well in the last few years, we have become fans of all greens, so when I found an organic spinach arugula mix at the store, I decided it would add a nice touch of flavor to the pasta dish.  I substituted whole wheat pasta for the original called for rotini, as I rarely eat anything else.  I made a few other changes as well as I created the dish for Friday evening.

In the end the dish came out nicely, it had a little heat to it from the crushed red pepper and adding more greens that originally called for provided a nice color to the dish as well as increased the nutritional value.  But the greatest value in this meal was as a family of three there was plenty left over for another meal.  I do not have a problem with leftovers in fact there are some foods that I think are even better the second time around, but leftovers can be hit or miss with the other members of the Mixture family.  So when I decided to revamp the pasta dish for a nice week night meal, I was pleasantly surprised with its versatility.  The pasta dish became a perfect casserole and hit the spot on a dreary overcast day.  In fact it might have been better received and enjoyed than the first go round.

Quick Rotini with Sausage & Greens**

8 ounces Whole Wheat Rotini

Olive Oil

3 (4oz) Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage links, casings removed*

2 1/2 cups Greens (I used arugula spinach mix)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. In a large saucepan boil water.  Add pasta and cook 7-9 minutes.  Drain pasta over a bowl so that you can reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

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2. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage to the pan and cook about 5 minutes or until browned.  Add 1 cup greens, onion, oregano, crushed red pepper, and garlic.  Cook 2 minutes stirring frequently.

3. Add reserved cooking liquid, tomatoes, sugar, and black paper.  Bring to a boil and add pasta to skillet.  Cook about 2 minutes and add remaining greens.  Toss greens throughout pasta and serve.  Top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Pasta and Sausage Take Two Baked

Leftover Quick Rotini with Sausage, and Greens

1/2 cup Ricotta or Cottage Cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup spaghetti sauce ( I used trader joe organic tomato & basil)

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup sliced or grated mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

2.  In a large bowl mix the pasta dish with Ricotta cheese and next five ingredients.  Once mixed well, pour into a ceramic or glass baking dish and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 – 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbling.  Serve and enjoy.

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**We are a family of three so the original recipe that served four actually stretched to serve us twice since we enjoyed salads with it both times.  In order to get the benefit of this pasta dish two ways, you may want to double the original recipe.

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If you enjoy pasta dishes, here are some others you may like as well

IMG_3029 Red, White & Greens Pasta

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Snap Pea & Tortellini Pesto

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Arugula Pesto

Pesto is such a versatile sauce.  You can pretty much make it with most greens and herbs.  You can substitute different nuts to alter the flavor, and you can use it in so many ways.  Add it to pasta, use it as a spread on a sandwich, as a pizza sauce, or top a grilled meat or seafood with it.

ARUGULA PESTO

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Arugula, packed
  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan – Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 Medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Directions

All above ingredients needs to be combined.

When using the vitamin to make pesto, you simple add all ingredients in the order listed.  Turn on the vitamin and slowly increase up to variable 6 or 7.  Careful not to over process as a nice pesto takes on a slightly bumpy consistency and it is easy to over process and end up with a puree.  Though great tasting not a true pesto.

If using a food processor, you want to add all ingredients except the olive oil.  Combine and then slowly add the oil to mix in.

 

 

 

 

Red, White & Greens Pasta

Yes I know it is the week for Red, White, & Blue, but lets be honest there are just no good blue vegetables that would work in a pasta dish.IMG_3028

In preparing for the week, I asked Little Miss Mixture to help pick the meals.  Sometimes when I do this I get nothing, other times I get some of the most common foods we eat and then every now and then surprise a mix of favorites and new.  She had a perfect pick for meatless monday.  As we over the past several years begun eating more and more meatless meals.  There is a movement to encourage this called Meatless Monday, so I decided to join the movement.  It is not hard for us since we generally eat at least 1-2 meatless meals a week.  Now I just have to make sure it is how we start our week.  To find out more about the Meatless Monday movement and why you should give it a try check out this webpage.

You will find Let’s Have Mixture featured as a blog alone with other resources for meatless meals.

The meal Little Miss Mixture picked for monday was a pasta dish from her must make list in the May Cooking Light Magazine.  The dish first appeared in cooking light as a side dish and I am pretty sure it caught her attention because the bow tie shaped pasta.  Little Miss Mixture has a diverse palate, but just like many of us she is caught by eye appeal.  I am fine with this as I am often victim to this method of picking things as well.  I am sure most of us can agree we tend to pin recipes on Pinterest based on pictures.  Thus a reason I need to work on my food photography.  Check out my pinterest boards and you will most likely find more dessert than other items and I am sure this is due to my searching Pinterest after dinner and when I am in the mood for something sweet and the pictures.

In general we do not tend to have pasta dishes as a side item, so I decided to use her recipe pick for inspiration on a meatless meal.  My choice would have been to use a multi grain or whole wheat pasta as I generally do, but based on Little Miss Mixtures request we were to use farfalle, a bow tie shaped pasta.

I wonder why most of the fun and unique shaped pasta is not made whole grain?

The base of the recipe and the inspiration was taken from Cooking Light Tomato, Feta, and Thyme Farfalle.  We had some chard that I picked up at the farmer’s market over the weekend, so I decided that would be the perfect addition for a more balanced and hearty dish.  Thus Red, White, and Greens pasta was born.

Red, White, & Greens Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Leeks, sliced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch Greens (rainbow, swiss chard)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Pasta
  • 1 Cup Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes halved, or chopped tomatoes)
  • 4 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Thyme ( if using fresh double)
  • 3/4 Cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 Tbsp Olive oil

Directions

  1. Cook pasta per directions
  2. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add leeks and cook about 2 minutes
  4. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute
  5. Add greens and allow to partially wilt
  6. Add pasta, tomatoes, thyme, lemon juice to the leek, garlic, and greens mixture.  Stir to combine. Add small amount of reserved pasta liquid if needed.
  7. Add feta cheese. Combine and serve.

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Printable recipe and nutrition information can be found here.

Tortellini with Snap Peas & Pesto

IMG_2833Looking for a quick and easy light summer meal, well look no further.  I took this recipe from my Recipe Must Make list, as it was one of the Cooking Light recipes that Little Miss Mixture picked.  I am a fan of Trader Joe’s refrigerated ravioli and tortellini.  Yes I would prefer if they were whole wheat like the dried pasta I use, but for a weeknight meal they are perfect.  I find they cook quickly whether you store them in your refrigerator or freezer and with some added vegetables, meats, or sauces they can quickly be transformed into a satisfying dinner.

Here is a great recipe to pair with refrigerated tortellini as you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and then you can get dinner ready in less than 10 minutes.

Tortellini with Snap Peas & Pesto

Ingredients
1 pkg Refrigerated Cheese Tortellini
8 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Cup fresh mint leaves
1 Cup fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions
1. Cook tortellini according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add snap peas to pan during last 3 minutes of cooking; cook 3 minutes. Drain.
2. Place mint and next 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or Vitamix; process until finely chopped, scraping sides of bowl once. Combine oil and juice in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. With processor on, slowly pour oil mixture through food chute; process until well blended. If using Vitamix simply add oil before other ingredients and process to combine (to get more detailed instructions on making pesto in the Vitamix refer here.  Combine tortellini mixture and mint mixture; toss gently to coat.

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* this recipe first appeared in Cooking Light

As I mentioned this recipe is on our must make list and we decided it deserved 4 out of 5 stars.  What does 4 out of 5 mean?  It means we will definitely use our fresh mint and basil plants again this summer to enjoy this fresh pesto dish.