Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard, Basil, & Burrata

This wonderful dish was lemony and rich with burrata. I must confess that the “burrata hack” I shared in my last post was not a true match to the real thing. :/

This recipe was adapted from Bringing it Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. I increased the garlic and decreased (gasp!) the burrata.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried orecchiette (can substitute fusilli, cavatelli, gemelli, or conchiglie)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 4 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (about 1 large or 2 small bunches) Swiss chard, leaves sliced into 2-inch pieces, ribs and stems thinly sliced crosswise
  • freshly grated zest from 3-4 lemons
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz burrata cheese
  • 1/2 cup torn or sliced basil leaves
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.
  3. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, and 3/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add half of the chard leaves and stems and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the greens are wilted.
  5. Add the remaining chard leaves and stems, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until all of the chard is just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot.
  7. Add the chard to the pasta along with the reserved pasta water; cook over medium heat, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  8. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
  9. Place in a serving dish and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Cut the burrata into chunks.
  11. Top the pasta with the burrata and sprinkle with the basil leaves. Additional lemon zest can be added as well, if desired. Serve.

Sweet Summer Corn- Two Ways

I typically enjoy our amazing Long Island summer corn simply on the cob after boiling it for two minutes in salted water. No butter, no extra salt. It’s perfect. 🙂 But, I must admit that both of these dishes brought sweet corn to another level and were absolute crowd-pleasers.

The first dish, pictured above, is Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn. It was buttery and indulgent. We ate it as a side with grilled chicken. The second dish, photo below, is Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream. I served it on a separate occasion as an appetizer with tortilla chips.

The Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn Recipe is from Ina Garten’s Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks via barefoot contessa.com. The Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. The street corn had more of a spicy kick compared to the buttery chipotle corn.

Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shallots, halved lengthwise, peeled, and thinly sliced crosswise (3 large shallots)
  • 8 cups white or yellow corn kernels (8 to 12 ears) (I used 9)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime (about 2 T)
  • 1 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Standing the cob upright inside the center of a medium to large shallow bowl, cut the corn kernels off of the cobs. (This prevents the kernels from scattering all over the counter.)
  2. Heat the butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the corn, chipotle powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the corn to brown lightly, until the corn is tender but still firm.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and Parmesan.
  6. Taste for seasonings and transfer to a large shallow serving bowl. Serve hot.

Martha Stewart’s Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

  • 8 ears corn, husked and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • pinch or two cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, or more, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or goat cheese
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the hot grill.
  2. Grill the husked corn cobs, turning occasionally, until kernels are tender and charred in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, lime juice, cayenne, chili powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Cut off the tips of the grilled corn cobs and stand in a wide, shallow bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Combine the corn kernels with the sour cream mixture.
  6. To serve, top with the crumbled goat cheese. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, as desired.

Note: This dish can be served warm or at room temperature

Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken

This second breaded chicken dish is one of Ina Garten’s favorite weeknight meals, second only to roasted chicken. It has a wonderful balance between the crispy meat and lemony greens. We loved it!

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and 7 boneless skinless chicken legs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, divided (I used 1 T per batch)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I used 1 T per batch)
  • salad greens
  • lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)
  1. Pound the chicken meat between 2 layers of plastic wrap, to 1/4 inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate or in a glass pie dish.
  3. On a second plate or dish, beat the eggs and egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.
  4. On a third plate or dish, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread crumb and cheese mixture, pressing lightly.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan (I used a 14-inch skillet) and cook 3 to 6 pieces of chicken, depending on size, on medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through, 165 degrees in the center.
  7. Lightly salt the hot chicken after removing it from the pan. Place in a warm oven or warming drawer while cooking the next batch.
  8. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken as above. (I cooked the chicken in 2 batches.)
  9. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette.
  10. Place a mound of salad on the center of each individual plate and top with extra Parmesan and hot chicken. (I used shaved Parmesan as topping and sliced the chicken.) Serve.

Cauliflower Parmesan

I have made this wonderfully cheesy dish a couple of times already- just to get the proportions right. I knew that I had to increase the amount of simple and flavorful sauce after making it the first time.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I lightened the dish by baking the cauliflower after coating it instead of frying it. We ate it over linguini fini with sautéed broccoli rabe on the side. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red Chile flakes, optional
  • (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  1. In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
  2. Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden.
  3. Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
  5. Bring sauce to a simmer, add the Parmesan rind, if using, and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. If using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down.
  6. Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.

For the Cauliflower & To Finish the Dish:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 large or 2 small/medium heads cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets (I used 1 small and 1 medium)
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
  • linguine fini or other pasta, optional, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place flour, eggs, and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. (I used glass pie dishes.) Season each generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip a cauliflower piece first in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
  4. Place on 2 parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets. Roast coated florets for 22-24 minutes, or until nicely browned.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce.
  8. Scatter half cauliflower mixture over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces.
  9. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.
  10. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes. While the dish is baking, prepare the pasta, if desired.
  11. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Serve over prepared pasta, as desired.

Marcella Hazan’s Rice & Smothered Cabbage Soup

The use of Arborio rice in this hearty soup makes it almost a soupy risotto. My husband was skeptical about eating it after hearing the name of the dish, but he absolutely loved it! I knew it would be delicious coming from such a classic book.

This “community pick” recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, via Food 52’s Genius Recipes. I used green cabbage, leeks, and red wine vinegar to make the smothered cabbage. I omitted the butter and added fresh lemon juice and Parmesan rind to the soup. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 people

For the Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds green, red, or Savoy cabbage (1 head)
  • 1 1/2 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced or 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T wine vinegar, white or red

For the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  • smothered cabbage, from above
  • cups homemade meat broth or stock (we used beef here, but chicken/turkey is also good)(Vegetable stock can be substituted for a vegetarian version)
  • 2/3 cup rice, preferably Italian Arborio rice
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • T butter, optional (I omitted it)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Smothered Cabbage:

  1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage.
  2. The remaining head of leaves must be shredded very fine. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
  3. Put the leeks or onion and olive oil into a large sauté pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes colored a deep gold, then add the garlic.
  4. When you have cooked the garlic until it becomes colored a very pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar.
  6. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly.
  7. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed.
  8. When done, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Note: The smothered cabbage can be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead of the soup, or served as a side dish from here. It also freezes well.

To Make the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  1. Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot, and turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice and Parmesan rind.
  3. Cook uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow, but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick, add a ladelful of homemade broth. If you are not using homemade broth, just add water. Remember that when finished, the soup should be rather dense, but there should still be some liquid.
  4. When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, swirl in the butter, if using, the lemon juice, and the grated Parmesan, stirring thoroughly.
  5. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  6. Taste and correct for salt, and add a few grindings of black pepper.
  7. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, and allow it to settle just a few minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with more grated Parmesan.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

This recipe is absolute GENIUS. It was a genius idea for me to make it on Super Bowl Sunday too. I am usually cooking while my family is watching the game- and commercials- in another room. This year, the meal was cooked and ready to go; it was kept warm in the pressure cooker with the lid in place while I was sitting on the sofa with everyone. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the garlic and used ground turkey and whole wheat spaghetti. I also made it in my stove top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot.  We enjoyed it with garlic bread and Caesar salad. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 basil sprigs, plus more thinly sliced for serving
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (not thin spaghetti), broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or substitute veal, pork or beef)
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a stove top pressure cooker or Instant Pot on sauté. Stir in garlic, red pepper and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, salt and basil sprigs; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped basil, egg, salt and garlic. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. (I used a large cookie scoop and placed them on a large plate, shaping them into balls when I placed them into the pot.)
  4. Pour 1 cup water into sauce in pot, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot.
  5. Scatter uncooked spaghetti over the sauce.
  6. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over spaghetti, stirring gently (try to keep the spaghetti on top of the sauce), then top with meatballs.
  7. Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, then remove the cover and stir to separate the spaghetti.
  8. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  9. At this point, the pasta will be almost but not quite cooked through. Place the top back on the pressure cooker (loosely) and let it sit for 3 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and spaghetti is al dente but not mushy.
  10. Serve dolloped with ricotta, if using, and sprinkled with thinly sliced basil and more Parmesan if you like.

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