Italian Style Chicken Sausage with Roast Vegetables

Italian Style Chicken  Sausage with Roast Vegetables and Rigatoni

Italian Style Chicken Sausage with Roast Vegetables and Rigatoni

I wish you could taste how good this dish is!  But since you can’t, you’re going to have to take my word for it.

This baked dinner came about as a result of having roast vegetables left over from when I made the Roast Vegetable Subs.  It’s everything I love in a meal and it’s all ready in about an hour.

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I used spicy chicken sausage to give it a little kick, but if you want it to be milder, simply swap it for sweet Italian sausage. The pasta I used is a large size rigatoni and I chose it so it would be compatible with the chunks of roasted vegetables.  For sauce I used a small jar of prepared pizza sauce mixed with a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano.  Grated Italian blend cheese sprinkled on at the end of baking time gave it a nice melty topping.  We added more grated cheese at the table.  There wasn’t much conversation going on at this meal;  all we kept saying was  “MmmmmMm, Wow, this is So good”!!

If you’d like to Wow your family, here’s the recipe……

ITALIAN STYLE CHICKEN SAUSAGE WITH ROAST VEGETABLES (and Rigatoni)

Yield:   Serves  6

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups roast mixed vegetables (refer to Roast Vegetable Subs for directions)IMG_9390
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • 1 jar (15-oz.) pizza sauce
  • 1 can (14.5-oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
  • 1 package (12-oz) Italian style Chicken Sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese, plus more for the table

Directions:

1.   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and keep warm in the  pot.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté the chicken sausage just to brown a little;  add the roast vegetables and stir to combine.

Saute sausage with roast vegetables.

Saute sausage with roast vegetables.

Add the pizza sauce and tomatoes with their juice.  Heat the mixture thoroughly.

Add pizza sauce and tomatoes.

Add pizza sauce and tomatoes.

3.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

4.  Pour the sausage mixture over the cooked pasta and stir well to combine.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.

Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.

Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

5.  Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake uncovered, an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

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Comfort food….Yes!

Comfort food….Yes!

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Winter Immunity Boost: Roast Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Flu season is upon us.  Am I going to get it?  Nope!  Not going to do that.  Cold season?   No, get outta here with that stuff.

Feeling achy?  Sniffles?  Congestion?  Don’t have time for it!

There’s no guarantee, of course, but I’m doing everything I can to keep the sickness ‘bugs” away from our door.  How, you might be asking?  I’m preparing as much healthy produce as I possibly can and shoving it into our mouths 2-3 times a day.

In the morning it could be a green smoothie,  for lunch a salad with both cooked and raw veggies, throw in some citrus for good measure; and for dinner at least two veggie side dishes per meal.   I haven’t  fallen in love with every combination I’ve put together, but there have been several that I will be making again.  This is one of them.

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Parsnips are a late fall vegetable, harvested after frosts have set in, as they need the cold weather to convert their starches into sugar.  They are not a vegetable that I cook with any frequency, since up until now, I hadn’t found a way to prepare them that was terribly appealing.  In this dish, however, the parsnips are combined with sweet potatoes;  two vegetables that each have their own kind of sweetness.  Roasting them concentrates and blends their flavors, and then just before serving you pour a simple glaze of honey and Dijon mustard over them and toss to coat.  Well, that sauce is the magic that makes this dish sing.

I went from “not sure I’m going to like this” to “Wow, I love these”.  As I write this, it’s two days since I made the original dish and this evening  I’m making it again.  That’s how much I loved these veggies.  And Mr. D. loved them too!!  So I know I’ve got a winner in this dish.  Won’t you try it and see if you agree?

HONEY-MUSTARD GLAZED PARSNIPS AND SWEET POTATOES

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 pounds parsnips  (about 3 large or 4 medium)IMG_8954
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

2.  Prepare the vegetables.  To cut parsnips:  Trim tops and bottoms; peel, and slice in half crosswise to separate thick and narrow parts.  Halve or quarter thick parts lengthwise, until all parsnip pieces are roughly the same size. Then cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

 To cut sweet potatoes:  quarter them lengthwise so they are about the same thickness as the parsnips, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

3.  Put the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.  Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender and golden, tossing once or twice, about 30 minutes.  Transfer into a serving bowl.

4.  In a small bowl, stir together honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Pour over vegetables, toss to coat.  Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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Isn’t this dish brightly colored and beautiful?   I mean… vitamin C,  vitamin A…..   There’s no way a cold is getting us down.   Knock on wood!

 

SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Living

 

 

Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

With yesterday being the first day of Spring, I have high hopes for this cold dreary weather to turn itself into something resembling spring pretty darn quick.  I’m ready for “peep-toe” shoes, cut-offs, short sleeves and blazer jackets.  I’m also longing for some springtime foods, like strawberries, something lemon, rhubarb, grilled chicken and some different vegetables.  I’m dreaming of sunny days, flowers poking up thru debris in the garden, buds on the trees and getting my hands dirty in the dirt–not!!

So I jotted down some things on my foods “to-make” list. Things like lemon meringue pie, baked ham with scalloped potatoes, fresh peas, cupcakes with coconut on them……etc.   Then I made this instead.  I’m sure you understand.  Before you take that dive into forbidden territory, you must fortify yourself, get your system ready for what lies ahead.  So I put all my notes into a “Spring is not here yet, but it’s coming” file, and turned to what is available at hand now.

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What I had on hand was golden beets and sweet potatoes.  Similar colors, different textures and taste, but both are root vegetables.  So I decided to treat them both the same way.   Anyone who knows anything knows that roasting is the way to go when you want to bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables because their natural sugars get caramelized.  Beets and sweet potatoes are  both loaded with natural sugars, and Gwyneth Paltrow suggested that a light drizzle with good olive oil and some spicy seasonings would turn these vegetables into a dinnertime sensation.   You know what?   She was right!

SPICY ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

Yield:    Serves 4IMG_6837

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch golden beets, (about 3 med-large size), peeled and cut into wedges.
  • 1 large, or 2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into wedges or sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, either sweet or smoky
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the spices (cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt).

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Isn't this an interesting pattern in the beet?

Isn’t this an interesting pattern in the beet?

Add cut up beets and sweet potatoes.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss lightly to coat evenly with the spices and oil.  Spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.

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I kept the two kinds of veggies separate on the baking sheet and also on my serving platter, just for appearance sake.

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3.  Roast for 30 minutes, or until they pierce easily with a knife.   Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if desired.  Serve warm.

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More thoughts on the subject:   this is a good spice mixture to have in a little jar ready for use whenever you have root vegetables to cook.  Mix up the combination of veggies.  Think of turnip, parsnips, carrots—I think any of them would be good cooked this way.

SOURCE:    my own imagination

When in Rome—

When in Rome, or anywhere in Italy, or a good Italian restaurant, do as they do, and eat Italian food. A well-known Italian restaurant in our area features this dish on their lunch-time menu throughout the summer months. I have had it there and loved it. It features a combination of eggplant, tomatoes and onions with fresh herbs served over penne pasta. A while back our local newspaper published this recipe for the dish, and I was so delighted that now I could prepare it at home. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Use the freshest eggplant and plum tomatoes you can find. Also lots of fresh basil or marjoram is key to the delicious blend of flavors. Serve with grated Romano cheese and crusty Italian Bread for a true restaurant-quality meal.

Roast Eggplant and Tomatoes with Penne Pasta

INGREDIENTS:

SERVES 4-6

  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, plus more to sprinkle on the eggplant
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh marjoram, oregano or basil chopped
  • 1 pound dry penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Romano cheese

1. Place cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss. Allow eggplant to drain at least 30 minutes. Rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Put the eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in the roasting pan. Pour the 1/4 cup oil over all and stir well to coat vegetables with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread out into an even layer.

3. On the top rack in the oven, roast, stirring occasionally , until eggplant and onions are lightly browned, 25-35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in large kettle, bring water to boil and cook penne to al dente (7 – 10 minutes). Drain. Immediately add to the roasting pan with the vegetables. Add chopped parsley and EVOO . Toss well. Transfer to a large serving dish. Serve with grated Romano cheese.

When I made this dish just recently, I omitted the pasta and in its place I added some meatballs I had in my freezer.  I browned them in a skillet on the stove top, then placed them on top of the vegetables to finish cooking in the oven. I served the whole thing with a green salad consisting of baby greens, cucumbers and green grapes; and also a small ear of fresh corn. (Still keeping a low profile with those carbs!)

SOURCE: Courtesy of Max A Mia restaurant.