Sausage and Roasted Cauliflower Flat Bread Pizza

30 03 2016

This pizza was a vehicle to use up the leftover Creamy Apple-Shallot Vinaigrette I made for Easter, and it was every bit as tasty as I thought it would be! Roast the cauliflower and make the dressing over the weekend, so you can get a weeknight din on the table in a flash!

Sausage and Roasted Cauliflower Flat Bread Pizza

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 pieces Mediterranean-style flat bread, I used wheat
  • 1 lb ground pork sausage
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • About 1 cup fresh spinach
  • About a 1/2 cup or so of roasted cauliflower florets (toss florets with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon zest and bake in a single layer at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • Creamy Apple-Shallot Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large skillet, saute the pork in a little olive oil until browned, breaking up into bite-size pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.

Mix ricotta with a heaping Tbsp or so of the grease from the cooked pork and salt and pepper to taste, then spread evenly among the flat bread. Next, add a layer of spinach, the cauliflower and the pork. Bake on a pizza stone for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with goat cheese and continue baking another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is warmed.

Drizzle some Creamy Apple-Shallot Vinaigrette on top before serving.





Sausage and Lentil Soup

17 01 2015

This hearty Italian soup, packed with protein, is a great addition to your winter recipe lineup! I didn’t grow up with lentils like a lot of Italians, but my Mom did….eating them all the time. Which is likely why she left them out of her meal plans, she was over them.

But I’m a lentil convert now, thanks to this soup (and maybe my Ma will be again when she sees this)! Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients. They basically all go into a large pot and time will do the rest. I recommend making this over the weekend so you can enjoy it throughout the week – the longer it sits the better it gets.

Sausage and Lentil Soup

The following serves 6 (adapted from Food.com and The Italian Table):

  • 1 lb bulk mild chicken sausage – if using sausage that’s in a casing, just remove the casing first
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 pint fresh, diced tomatoes or a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of water or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Grated parmesan cheese for serving

In a large dutch oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until the veggies begin to softened, 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Next, add the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through and broken up in little pieces.

Next, add all the spices (parsley, oregano, basil, salt, thyme, pepper flakes and pepper) – stir to combine well and toast for a minute until the spices become fragrant. Add the dried lentils, stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the lentils are lightly toasted.

Add the tomatoes and all their juices, mix well and scrape up any bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the water or stock, stir to combine and bring to a slow boil. If using water, you can also add a few chicken bouillon cubes for extra flavor (1 cube for each cup of water).

Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 – 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you let it cook, the thicker the soup will become on its own.

Turn off heat, stir in vinegar if desired and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Allow the soup to sit for 5 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.





Italian Sausage and Leek Stuffed Eggplant and Peppers

21 08 2014

This week’s CSA grab bag was a good one, loaded with all sorts of wonderful fruits and veggies! So it was no surprise that tonight I whipped up this delicious, Italian stuffed eggplant and pepper dinner using almost all Fresh Fork Market goodies! A great tip for easily making stuffed eggplant and peppers is to grill the veggies first. You can quickly soften the veggies (just as you would in the oven) while getting a good char and smokey flavor at the same time!

Italian Sausage and Leek Stuffed Eggplant

The following makes 2 stuffed eggplants and 4 stuffed peppers (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced horizontally in half
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced horizontally in half and stem and seeds removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 large candy onion, chopped (or whatever onion you like or have)
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage (mild or hot)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 medium-large garlic cloves, minced
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 leek, white part sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping

Sprinkle some salt on the inside of the sliced eggplant and allow to sit untouched for at least 30-45 minutes. The eggplant will start to give some of its water, which will also eliminate some of its bitterness. Blot dry using a paper towel.

Preheat grill to medium-low.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drizzle eggplant and halved peppers with a little olive oil and rub all over. Grill covered over medium-low heat for a few minutes on each side. You just want to get a decent char all over and to soften the veggies so that you can easily scoop out the center of the eggplant. Remove the veggies from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and saute chopped onions a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add sausage and break up with the back of a wooden spoon. Saute until meat browns, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up into small pieces with the wooden spoon. Add red pepper flakes if you’d like, along with the minced garlic. Saute until fragrant, a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with a little chicken stock (good turn of the pan) and scrape up all the brown bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan.

The eggplant should be cool enough to handle at this point. Scoop out the center of each half and transfer to a cutting board. Just be sure to leave the outer shell of the eggplant in tact so that you can stuff it. Chop the eggplant you removed and add it to the sausage. Add the leeks as well. Season lightly with salt and saute for just a minute or two until the leeks start to wilt. Add a little more chicken stock (another good turn of the pan) and turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool, then mix in the cheeses.

Lay the eggplant and pepper halves in a casserole dish. Stuff the sausage and leek mixture into the halves – just divide the mixture among the halves, piling up high if you have too. Top with more parmesan, then transfer to the oven to bake.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until everything is hot and cheese has melted. Top with more parmesan and  serve with a side salad.





Leftover Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

13 08 2014

You’ve heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again…and again…and again. Leftovers don’t have to be boring! It takes mere minutes to use up last night’s leftovers, but in a completely different dish. And this is the reason I make meals that serve 3-4 people, when primarily I’m only cooking for me and the hubby…for the leftovers baby!

Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

The following makes 2 pizzas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

Preheat oven to 400.

Place naan on a pizza stone side by side. Distribute the leftover onions and peppers between the naan, evenly spreading all over. Next, top with the sliced sausage.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the sausage and peppers are heated through. Remove from the oven, top evenly with cheese and place back in the oven. Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.

Remove from the oven and top with some red pepper flakes and basil to garnish before serving.





Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

12 08 2014

Given my Italian heritage, I should be able to make you a sausage, onion and pepper dish in my sleep. And…I pretty much can! The best thing about this recipe is that you really don’t need a recipe, you can just wing it! As long as you don’t burn anything, this will turn out savory and delicious.

You’ll typically find sausage, onions and peppers on my family’s go-to party menu, but we don’t normally use as many ingredients as I have in this meal. But thanks to my CSA share from Fresh Fork Market, I had more produce to use up. So I threw in some extras like tomatoes and fennel fronds that I normally wouldn’t add. And that’s what makes this meal versatile. Add what you like, remove what you don’t – it won’t make a difference. Just get a nice caramelization on the onions and peppers, and you’re good to go!

Italian Sausage with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4 Italian sausage links
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small candy onions, or whatever onions you like, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, whatever color you like, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Granulated garlic
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • Good handful of fennel fronds
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Fresh basil ribbons

Preheat grill to medium, try to keep the grill around 300 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350.

Poke two-three holes in the sausages with a knife – don’t poke all the way through. Place sausages on the grill and close lid but keep it slightly ajar. Grill until brown all over, a few minutes on each side. Remove from the grill.

In a large non-stick oven-proof skillet, heat 3 Tbsp or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to soften, tossing occasionally. Add peppers and continue to saute until onions start to brown and peppers soften, tossing occasionally. At this point add the tomatoes, fennel fronds and season with salt, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic – all to taste. The salt will help the onions and peppers give off some of their natural liquid. Saute for another few minutes.

Next, deglaze the pan with some balsamic vinegar, a good turn of the pan, about 2 Tbsp or so. Let the vinegar cook down, tossing with the onions and peppers. Next, add some chicken stock, just eyeball it, about 1/4 cup, and cook for another minute or two. You’ll notice the liquid start to thicken into a sauce. Remove from the heat.

Nestle the grilled sausages into the onions and peppers and cover the skillet loosely with foil. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and finish baking uncovered, another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Serve sausages along with the onions, peppers and some of the sauce from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil. I like to enjoy this meal with a big salad of baby greens dressed in red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic.





Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

5 02 2014

The sweetness of the sweet potato really pairs well with the spicy sausage in this tasty fall/winter soup. Kale also enhances the flavor, while bumping up its nutritional value. Try making your own sausage with ground turkey – see This Girl’s tip below for a homemade sausage seasoning.

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

The following serves 4 (adapted from Everyday Food):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced large
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausage (I made my own spicy sausage seasoning to use with ground turkey, see below for recipe. You could also buy bulk sausage.)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (a little over a pound), peeled and diced medium
  • 6 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups roughly chopped kale
  • Grated parmesan for serving

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add turkey sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, continue to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer, add greens, and cook another 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve with parmesan.

This Girl’s Tip: Spicy Italian sausage seasoning (adapted from Tasty Kitchen): When my family makes our own dried sausage we usually just use a spice blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper – but because I’m not using pork, I thought I needed some additional flavor to make the turkey taste more like sausage. So I adapted a blend I found from Tasty Kitchen, along with my family’s, and it worked great. 

Make this seasoning in advance; mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. When you need sausage, mix 2-3 Tbsp of the seasoning with 1 lb ground turkey, chicken or pork. If you have time, mix the meat with the seasoning a day or two in advance and store covered in the fridge so the flavors can blend into the meat.

  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds or ground fennel
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne




Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

15 01 2014

Last week I shared that Orlando Baking Company asked me to taste-test their True Grains, 100% whole grain bread and blog about what I thought (https://thisgirlsgottaeat.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/purple-wheat-raisin-bread-french-toast-with-yogurt-caramelized-bananas-and-nuts/). Next up in the sample package, their Honey Grain bread, hence this second installment of my taste-testing adventure.

You may think of dessert when you hear bread pudding, but you can make it equally savory as you can sweet (think of it like stuffing). Because this Honey Grain bread is a bit on the sweeter side, I thought it would offset spicy sausage…winner!

Usually bread pudding is made with a crusty loaf of bread or day-old bread, but you can easily turn any bread into a base for bread pudding by simply leaving it out uncovered overnight, or toasting it in the oven. The benefit to using bread like the Honey Grain in a dish like this, is for its nutritional value. Honey Grain is 100% whole grain containing OMEGA 3, which is an essential nutrient that promotes cardiovascular health.

Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

Savory Bread Pudding with Spicy Sausage, Gouda, and Sun-Dried Tomato

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Adventures in Cooking):

  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage (you could also use mild/sweet)
  • 5 cups dense bread or day-old bread, cubed (since I used a softer bread, Orlando True Grains Honey Grain, I cubed it and toasted in the oven first)
  • 2 and 2/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup gouda cheese, grated
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 bag (3.5 oz) julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped – plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or black pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the sausage in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until slightly browned and cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes and 1 Tbsp of the fresh parsley. Add the bread, garlic, cooked sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar, and 3/4 cup of the gouda. Mix and allow to sit, 5 – 30 minutes depending how much time you have, or until the bread is soft and wet.

Spray a 9 x 13-inch rectangular or 10-inch circular casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour the mixture in. Sprinkle the top with the remaining fresh parsley and gouda.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

You could also make this bread pudding as a side dish. If making ahead of time, in the morning for instance…just keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.





Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

6 01 2014

With the bitter cold temperatures upon us, it’s no surprise that I was in the mood for a comforting bowl of homemade Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans). I was planning on whipping up my usual Pasta e Fagioli, but stumbled on a sausage, bean and spinach stew recipe from Rachel Ray that sounded delicious and thought…why not mesh them together! So that’s exactly what I did. This hearty Italian dish is sure to warm your soul on a cold, winter night!

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

The following makes 6-8 servings (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat, with inspiration from Rachel Ray):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage (I used a pork/chicken sausage), casings removed, rolled into 1/2-inch meatballs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups small whole wheat pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Make the sausage meatballs and put them on a baking sheet in the freezer to quickly set (a great trick I picked up from my mama!).

Meanwhile in another large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sweat the onion and celery for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Season with salt to taste. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth, beans and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.

Once the pot of water is boiling, add the sausage meatballs. When they float to the top they’re done, using a spider utensil, remove them to a strainer. Quickly rinse with water and add to the soup.

When the soup has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. When there is 5 minutes left in cooking the pasta, add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Turn off heat and remove the bay leaf and cheese rind. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon and taste, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve grated parmesan cheese with Pasta e Fagioli,, a salad and of course, a glass of vino!





Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

17 06 2013

I saw a fabulous sausage and broccoli stoup (thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew) recipe from Rachel Ray that I eventually want to try. I love getting creative with other people’s recipes…so on this warm June night, I turned Rachel’s stoup into a delicious pasta dish of my own!

Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli

The following serves 4-6:

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 package hot Italian turkey sausage (or mild), casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Low-sodium beef stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) stewed, whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box whole wheat penne
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package. In the last 3 minutes, add the broccoli and continue to boil. Drain pasta and broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until softened, another 5 minutes. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

This Girl’s extra tip: Add a little chicken or beef stock, whatever you have on hand, to deglaze the bottom of the pan (two or so good turns of the pan) and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. This will give a little more depth to the sauce.

Next add the tomatoes and their juices (if using whole tomatoes like me, be sure to break up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon). Add the white beans and return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce and season with salt if needed.

Finally, add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring well over low heat for a minute. Don’t add all the pasta and broccoli at once, at a little at a time, continuing to stir until most of the liquid in the sauce has been absorbed.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.





Pasta With Turkey Sausage Meatballs

2 04 2013

This recipe reminds me of carbonara, just a much lighter version!  Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish traditionally made with raw eggs, cheese and black pepper (and usually cream or butter). Since spaghetti is usually the pasta of choice in the dish, I switched out the orecciette this recipe originally called for so it would feel more like carbonara.  Mangia friends!

Pasta With Turkey Sausage Meatballs

Pasta With Turkey Sausage Meatballs

The following serves 4 (compliments of Food Network Magazine):

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti (recipe called for orecciette pasta, but use whatever pasta you like)
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into bit-size pieces
  • 8 ounces Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I used hot sausage, you could also use sweet / mild)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs, adding the broccoli during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and broccoli.

Meanwhile, roll the sausage meat into about 20 small meatballs. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add 2-3 more Tbsp of oil to the skillet, the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring 1 minute. Add the pasta, broccoli and meatballs. Whisk the egg with the reserved cooking water in a small bowl, then add to the skillet (off heat) and stir until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This Girl’s tip: try to let the cooking water cool slightly before whisking the egg in, and be sure to whisk quickly and away from any direct heat to prevent the egg from cooking. Incorporating the egg this way should help make a creamy sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Sprinkle with cheese, black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.