I found this recipe online accidentally while sourcing for baked pasta dishes. As usual, I have tweaked the original recipe and this time I hv excluded the garlic, egg and nutmeg.
I have now a baked pasta dish favored by my family. Ricotta Cheese in baked savory food - what an incredible delicious idea! I wasn't aware that ricotta cheese even existed till I came to Penn.
Baked pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese is a complete fulfilling meal. It is sure to be a winner with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 lb/ 6oz medium shell pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups marinara sauce ( See Note )
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups low fat Mozarella Cheese
4 Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to season per your preference.
Preheat oven to 375 deg F and get a 10inch by 7 inch baking dish ready.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese together.
Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the baking dish.
Put half of the cooked pasta over the marinara sauce.
Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mix over the pasta and spread it out evenly.
Top this layer with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the process with the remaining marinara sauce, the cooked pasta and the remaining spinach ricotta mix.
Finish it off with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and toss the chopped basil leaves.
Using your fingers, press the entire mix gently part by part so as to get a good layered finish when cut after being baked.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 mins. Then uncovered for another 10-15 mins till the sides are slightly browned and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm with additional chilli flakes or hot sauce.
Marinara sauce can either be made at home or you can buy from any grocery store. I like my Marinara sauce to be light and not overwhelmingly loaded with Italian spices, sugar and salt. I tried a few brands before I came across Rinaldi's Marinara Sauce.
We loved the combination of so many types of cheese and hence the second time I baked this dish, I doubled all the cheese! It became heavy and we just couldn't go for seconds! I believe the above combination is the best. But, do try out different quantities - every family has its own preference.
A healthier twist to the traditional Eggplant Parmesan. I switched breadcrumbs with quinoa and chia seeds. I have never tried Quinoa so far and was quite unsure of what to expect. I must say I am now a Quinoa convert!
Quinoa are grain like seeds of the quinoa plant found in the Andes and of all whole grains, it has the highest protein content. It takes only 10-15 mins to cook and it tastes yummy just by adding a few seasonings. And because Quinoa contains 9 essential amino acids, it is a complete protein suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family and are a very good source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. These super seeds are very versatile and because it does not alter the flavor of the food they are put in, it can be sprinkled on almost anything - salads, cereals and even ice cream!
The end result of making this dish is a crunchy, flavorful tomato based Italian dish. There are no carbs in this dish. Why not add in al dente pasta in the middle? Or serve this with mashed potatoes?
Ingredients ( Serves 6 as a side dish)
I big Eggplant, sliced thinly and soaked in salted water for 10 mins
2 tbsp EVOO plus extra for roasting eggplant slices
1 cup low fat Mozerella Cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
12 oz marinara sauce
2 cups spinach
Freshly ground pepper
Extra basil leaves for garnishing
Preheat oven to 400 Deg F and get a rectangle deep baking dish of 10 in by 7 in ready.
Brush both sides of eggplant with EVOO and roast in the oven on a separate baking tray for 12-15 mins till they are tender.
Meanwhile, mix the mozzarella cheese with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and set aside.
Take another mixing bowl and mix the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan, quinoa, chia seeds, fresh basil and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
Now for the assembling.
Spread half of the marinara sauce on the baking dish
Arrange 1/2 of the roasted eggplant slices and 1 cup spinach on top and then layer with half of the mozzarella, parmesan and basil mix.
Repeat with the remaining marinara, roasted eggplant slices, the remaining 1 cup spinach and the remaining mozzarella mix.
Top with the quinoa, chia seeds mix and bake until brown for about 25-30mins.
Whoever prayed for snow, enough already! Why not bring the much awaited spring to our kitchen by making warm comfy Mushroom Risotto? That's what I did last night.
I had my first taste of risotto when my husband, Anand and I were in Brussels, Belgium during his work stint in Europe in 2001. We had just got married at the beginning of the previous year. So it was just the two of us.
Anyway, we chanced upon this fancy Italian Restaurant while driving around. It was an isolated restaurant in the middle of nowhere and the roads were empty probably because of the weather. I remember the evening clearly - it was a cold Jan evening and while we were sitting in that cosy dimly lit restaurant waiting for our dinner, rain was pouring down from the awning outside...
When the waiter served the steaming Mushroom Risotto on a large white plate it looked similar to a rice porridge. I was skeptical about its taste. Alas, looks can be deceiving. When I savored my first spoonful, it was simply heaven. I loved its creamy rich flavor and when it landed in my tummy it felt so warm and comfortable. How was it that I had not tasted this incredibly delicious food before? We actually ordered the same dish again because it was so delicious! It has become one of my favorite Italian dish ever since.
Mushroom Risotto has a chance of becoming heavy and creamy if the right ingredients and the right techniques are not used. Though it might seem time consuming ( because it requires constant stirring while pouring in the stock), it is well worth the effort and time.
This is the recipe for authentic Italian style Mushroom Risotto cooked skinny.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
3 tbsps olive oil ( 2 tbsps for cooking the mushrooms and 1 tbsp for cooking the rice)
2 portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly (See Note 1)
8 button mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1.5 cups Arborio Rice (See Note 2)
6 cups Fat Free Vegetable Stock, warmed (See Note 3)
4 tbsps light olive oil butter
1/3 cup Light Parmesan Cheese
Salt for taste
Warm 2 tbsps of olive oil in a big pot and put in all the mushrooms, 2 pinches of salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Keep the mushrooms and its liquid aside.
Warm another tbsp of olive oil in the same pot and add in the chopped onions and fry for 2 mins. Put the Arborio rice into the pot and let the oil coat all the rice grains for another 2 mins. Season with salt sparingly (See Note 4)
Start adding in the stock slowly. Only 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly tilll the stock is absorbed by the rice grains and then add the next 1/2 cup. It's tedious but the stock has to be absorbed evenly. This whole process of the stock being absorbed will take 20-25 mins. That's right - 25 mins. (I can hear you going 'what?! ')
When the last 1/2 cup has been absorbed, reduce the fire to its lowest. Add in the mushroom and its liquid, light butter and Parmesan. Mix thoroughly. Check for seasonings.
Remove from fire and serve immediately garnished with parsley flakes. Any risotto is best eaten when it has just been cooked. A simple garden salad will suffice as a side dish.
1) You can substitute the mushrooms with asparagus as well.
2) Arboria Rice is the special rice used for cooking risotto. It is readily available in many grocery stores.
3) You can make your own veg stock. Look out for the recipe in my earlier posts.
4)Watch out for salt when adding during the cooking because Parmesan Cheese has sodium as well.
5) Risottos are very suitable for those who have a sensitive tummy( ie nothing fiery) and need to be on a bland diet.
I am using a whole wheat base here for the pizza. You can buy a ready made one from your grocery store but if you are not hot about the preservatives, you can create your own base using the recipe below. This pizza requires a bit more effort and time but I assure you it is all worth every effort you put in. The recipe below yields a 12 inch round pizza.
WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH
Ingredients ( Pizza Dough)
1/2 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup warm water ( 110 deg F or 45 deg C)
1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
Some extra all purpose flour for dusting rolling board
Method ( Pizza Dough)
Place the warm water in a bowl and dissolve the sugar in it.
Then sprinkle the yeast on the top but do not stir. Leave it to get foamy for about 10 mins.
After 10 mins, add in the salt and olive oil and stir.
Add in both the flour and mix for a few minutes. You would have got a ball of dough by now.
Remove this dough and place it on a floured rolling board. Knead to form a smooth dough. Add in a little olive oil or extra flour to help.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a loose towel and let it rise for around 2 hours near a warm place.
In the meantime, prepare the toppings.
BOSCAIOLA PIZZA TOPPINGS
Ingredients ( Toppings)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
5 cups Spinach, washed
4/5 button mushrooms, washed, dried and then sliced
Salt to season
75 g Fontina Cheese, sliced thinly ( Provolone will do too)
Powdered Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Method ( Toppings)
Take a sauce pan and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in it. Fry 2 minced garlic cloves till slightly brown, put in the spinach , add a pinch of salt and cook till it wilts. Set aside.
Take the same saucepan and heat the other tbsp of olive oil in it. Fry the other 2 minced garlic cloves again till slightly brown and then put the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt and fry till the mushroom slices are cooked and water has all evaporated. Set aside.
Slice the Fontina cheese and set aside.
After 2 hours, preheat the oven to 425 deg F or 220 deg C.
Roll out the dough on a floured board till it stretches very thin. Then, arrange the cooked spinach and mushrooms till it covers the entire base.
Arrange the sliced Fontina Cheese systemically. Sprinkle a little powdered Parmesan Cheese on the top and bake on a well oiled pizza tray for 15-20 mins till the cheese melts and the dough browns at the edges.
Enjoy warm with red chilli flakes or on its own.
I added mango to tomatoes to give the regular bruschetta a tropical twist. I liked the sweet flavor but you be the judge when you make them on your own.
Ingredients ( 8 slices)
1/2 baguette (multi grain or wholemeal is preferred)
3 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 cup diced peach/mango/pineapple
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced finely /half a tsp dried basil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
EVOO for drizzling
Salt for seasoning
Slice baguette and toast till light brown.
In the meantime, combine tomato cubes, fruits and basil leaves in a bowl. Season with salt
Remove Baguette slices from toaster and rub garlic cloves onto them.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Spoon the mango tomato mixture onto the baguette slices. You can even add fat free feta cheese crumbles for extra flavor.
Serve warm with a nourishing soup.