Pasta e Fagioli

Soup season is well underway! It’s easy to make, it warms you up, it’s great for leftovers/lunch at work and can be a very healthy meal. Plus you can usually make a great soup with items left in your fridge and a can of beans or lentils.

Pasta e fagioli is one of my favorites, sprinkled with a little parmigiano cheese and you have yourself a comforting well-rounded meal! This soup is packed with veggies and proteins and vegetarians can make it without the sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 link, Hot Italian sausage (you can substitute sweet sausage, pancetta, prosciutto or skip the meat all together. But it definitely gives it a nice flavor)
  • Sprinkle of fennel seeds (optional- but I love the flavor it adds to the sausage)
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrot stalks
  • 2 small sweet red peppers- or one bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can white cannelloni beans
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container chicken broth
  • Pasta of your choosing- about 1 cup (I recommend a tiny noodle)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parmigiano cheese

The nice thing about this soup is you don’t have to include all the veggies or beans I used. It’s all about what you have on hand!

Instructions:

Chop all your veggies and garlic.

Get your large soup pot on medium to high heat, add a little oil and add your sausage. Break it up into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon and brown it.Add in the fennel seeds now if you’re using them. 

Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. 

Then add the carrots, celery and peppers. Stir and let cook for another 2 minutes. 

Then add zucchini and your can of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir all the ingredients together.

Add in the beans and turn the heat up on the pot. 

Add in any chicken broth or stock you have on hand. You can also use veggie instead. 

Bring it up to a boil. Then reduce. Let the soup cook with the lid cracked. You then have two options with the pasta.

Either 1)  bring your soup up to a low boil and add the pasta in 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat or 2) boil your pasta separately in hot water and add to each dish based on how much you want.

I tend to prefer option 2 only because the noodles will soak up a lot of your broth otherwise. But sometimes option 1 is just easier. Have extra chicken broth on hand in case your broth gets soaked up.

The soup is really ready at any time because all the ingredients are cooked through, but I like to let it simmer for at least a half hour to let all the flavors meld. Then eat with fresh basil and parmigiano cheese.

Enjoy!

Sausage & Pepper Grinders

Sausage and peppers is an Italian classic. It’s easy to make and can be a meal on it’s own or on fresh Italian bread for a delicious sandwich. The catch is that this meal is all about getting the right ingredients. Go to an Italian deli and get their store made sausage, mozzarella and fresh baked bread. The ingredients will make the difference in an average grinder and one that blows you away. This sandwich we made last Sunday night was incredible and the two of us ate two of these…


Ingredients:

  • 3 small hot Italian sausage links and 3 sweet links (or whatever combination you prefer) fresh made at a deli
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1-2 sliced garlic cloves (this is optional)
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 fresh baked Italian grinders
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • Turn your pan on med/high heat and brown your sausages, then remove from pan.
  •  Add olive oil and sliced onions & garlic to pan and sautee until start to brown. 

  • Add your peppers and let them cook down for several minutes. Then add your diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil. Bring them up to a simmer and add sausage.
  • Cover the pan with a cracked lid and let cook through and let the favors meld. Roughly 15-20 minutes. You really can’t over cook this dish.
  • Cut your sausages length wise in half so you can place them flat on the bread. Then add the toppings and fresh sliced cheese.     
  • Put in the oven on broil until the bread is toasted and the mozzarella is melted. Then enjoy a truly amazing sandwich. 

A note on leftovers… We had leftover peppers and onions in the sauce but no sausage. The next night I boiled some pasta, tossed it in the sauce, topped with some fresh parm and you have yourself another meal. You can also add some seared chicken or white beans for some protein 🙂  You can’t let that delicious sauce go to waste.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

A classic recipe and one of my absolute favorites. I order this at Strada 18 in Norwalk almost every time we go and I finish the entire ginormous bowl. It does cost $18 however so this Saturday night I thought we could save some money and still enjoy a delicious meal at home. I was right! (Post updated with new photos 3.23.17)

After a trip to Fresh Market in Westport, the broccoli rabe was $4, the orecchiette was $2 and the hot italian sausage was $4.50. So, two of us will enjoy this meal for only $11, or $5.50 per person AND we will get to have the delicious left overs tomorrow for lunch.

I like a little spice so I opted for a hot Italian sausage but you can certainly go sweet if that is your preference (or do 1 of each!). Those who are trying to stay on the healthier side can opt for a fennel chicken sausage which would be a great substitute. But for a Saturday night dinner, I’m going all out, no substitutions please!!

Kyle’s review of the night: “This is the best pasta dish you have ever made, ever. It has the perfect amount of heat, the flavor is incredible, the bread crumbs add such a nice crunch and this is superior to restaurant quality!”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup or so of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs and/or whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe
  • 2 links Italian hot sausage, 2 links chicken sausage removed from casings
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until the stems are tender, roughly 2 to 3 minutes. This takes some of the bitter bite out of the broccoli. Then put in a strainer and set aside.

In a pan over medium-low heat, warm 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat them with the oil. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are an even, deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. I added in some fresh chopped parsley I had on hand.20120310-221830.jpg

 

In your pan warm olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, garlic and red pepper flakes and break up the sausage meat with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned, about 7 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and stir to combine with the sausage. Season with salt.

img_1651-1img_1652img_1655-1

Add the pasta to the boiling water until al dente. (The pasta will absorb the vitamins and minerals from the broccoli and take on some extra flavor which is nice!) After you put your pasta in, add your chopped broccoli to the pan.

img_1661

When the pasta is ready add to your saute pan (reserve some of the water in case you need to add it in). Add cheese and stir well over low heat to combine. Top with the bread crumbs, cheese and maybe a drizzle of more good quality olive oil and serve.

 img_1666-4
Mangia! Buon Appetito!
Here’s our dog Kona taking a nap while we eat. So cute I had to share.