Thursday, April 28, 2011

Italianish Cooking Week

This week, I have made two Italianish dishes. Monday night, I struggled with whether to cook or just drive through somewhere, since I had an evening meeting at work and left late. I am trying really hard not to succumb to the tempting ease of driving through for fast food. I don't even like it, most of the time, but it's so much easier than cooking after a long day at work. If I didn't love to cook, it would be harder. Anyway, I am glad I came home and made a pasta fazool casserole, adapted from the Bon Appetit cookbook. I think next time I make it, it will do it with all ground beef. To me, Italian sausage smells horrific when cooking and doesn't taste awesome. Last night, it was Italian shepherd's pie. Both are good with salad and some kind of fruit for dessert. I picked up some Maple Groves Farm citrus vinaigrette and am anxious to find out if it tastes like the fab citrus vinaigrette I got in Florida several years ago. Last night's fruit was canned peaches. I am not usually a canned fruit fan, but I love Margaret Holmes raggedy freestone peaches for some reason.

Pasta Fazool Casserole

1 lb. Italian sausage, casing removed

1 lb. ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. thyme

28 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped but with liquid

8 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 tsp. cayenne (I might up this to 1/2 tsp. next time)

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 lb. rigatoni

1 c. grated parmesan

1/2 c. grated Italian cheese blend (mozzarella, fontina & provolone)

1/4 c. chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute meat, onion, garlic, oregano and thyme together in a large skillet to brown the meat. Drain meat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and cayenne. Simmer 5 minutes. Add beans and heat through. Season with salt & pepper. Cook and drain pasta. Toss with sauce, parmesan & parsley. Put in a 13x9 baking pan and top with Italian cheese blend. Bake half an hour. Serves 8.

Italian Shepherd's Pie

1 lb. hot breakfast sausage (mild is fine, too, I'm sure...heck, use Italian sausage if you like it)

5 scallions, sliced into 1" pieces

14 oz. can stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs (plain is fine)

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. oregano

1 c. shredded Cheddar

1 9" pastry shell (it would probably be equally good without. I will either skip or prebake next time)

4-5 servings mashed potatoes (I used Bob Evans chive mashed potatoes, the premade sort)

1/2 c. shredded Cheddar


Preheat oven to 375. Brown the sausage with the scallions. Drain. Add tomatoes, eggs, oregano and 1 c. cheese. Press pie shell into pie plate. Add filling. Spoon or pipe mashed potatoes around edges. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 50-55 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 8.

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