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.

Stuffed Shells with Marinara

I was immediately drawn to the photo of this dish when I first spotted it in Bon Appétit magazine because it looked incredibly saucy. Maybe my expectations were too high regarding the amount of sauce, but next time I may even make 1.5 times the amount. It’s all about the sauce! 🙂

This classic marinara sauce was described as “the little black dress of Italian-American cooking.” This version, as well as the stuffed shells recipe, is from Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia, PA, via Bon Appétit. The magazine rated it one of the Best New Restaurants in America in 2017 (#4). Quite an endorsement!

Yield: 8 servings

For the Classic Marinara Sauce:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 5 minutes; stir in basil.
  3. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go; season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  4. Reduce heat; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick, about 1 hour.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Note: Sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

To Complete the Dish:
  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • coarse salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups whole-milk fresh ricotta
  • 3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups Classic Marinara Sauce, recipe above, divided
  • dried oregano and olive oil, for serving, as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente; drain. (I cooked mine for 9 minutes.) Run under cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Place noodles on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Lightly whisk egg yolks and egg in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and 1½ cups mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer filling to a large resealable plastic bag.
  6. Spread 1½ cups marinara sauce in a 13×9″ baking dish.
  7. Snip off 1 end of plastic bag and, working one at a time, squeeze filling into shells. I returned them to the rimmed baking sheet to make sure the filling was evenly distributed before placing the shells into the baking dish.
  8. Arranging the filled shells in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  9. Top with remaining 1½ cups marinara sauce and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  10. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake shells until sauce is bubbling throughout, 35–40 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.
  11. Carefully move rack to top of oven and heat broiler.
  12. Uncover pasta and broil until lightly browned on top, about 2 minutes.
  13. Sprinkle with oregano and more Parmesan and drizzle with oil, if desired.

Note: Pasta can be baked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat, covered, at 375°.

One Year Ago: Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara

Two Years Ago: Shepherd’s Chicken Pot Pie

Three Years Ago: Baked Spaghetti & Mozzarella

Four Years Ago: Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Casserole with Parmesan Croutons

Five Years Ago:

Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic & Chilies

It’s been a while. :/ Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.

It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.

This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree.  I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 pound of brown lentils
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 T Ancho Chile Purée (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Purée, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  4. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
  5. Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
  6. Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  11. Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
  12. Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Six Years Ago:

Classic Tomato Soup

Everybody needs a “gold standard” tomato soup recipe – especially in the winter. This is my new one! This tasty recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry Cravings: 173 Recipes for the Food You want to Eat Right Now by Lucinda Scala Quinn. A great book.

The soup is creamy but creamless; it is slightly pink from the emulsification of the tomatoes and stock. We ate it with extra-sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad. Mmmm. Grilled cheese croutons would be wonderful as well. Stay warm! My kids are on snow day #3 today!! 🙂 :/

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving, if desired
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice (I used Cento San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 6 x 1 1/2-inch piece Parmesan rind
  • grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the shallots, carrots, and celery, season with the salt, and sauté until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and Parmesan rind; bring to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, until the soup has thickened slightly. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  3. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, and puree. (I used an immersion blender.)
  4. Reheat the soup, if necessary. Add more chicken stock if needed for the desired consistency.
  5. Divide among bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan, if desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Margherita Pizza with 24-hour Crust

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This is the PERFECT pizza, a classic, and my favorite. Every version has subtle differences- the key to this Brooklyn pizzeria recipe is the crust for which I included the link below. It is proofed in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours before being used. The result is a more tender dough. Wonderful. It is made with a combination of refined 00 flour and all-purpose flour.

The pizza sauce recipe is from the same pizzeria. It is pure and simple, San Marzano tomatoes pureed with a touch of olive oil and salt. I titled it “Perfect Pizza Sauce #2” in the link below as it is slightly different from my original “Perfect Pizza Sauce!” It is perfect! 🙂

This is my second entry in the Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 at The Novice Gardener: to post a dish made with both herbs and yeast. This recipe was adapted from Roberta’s Cookbook by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini, and Katherine Wheelock, of Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY.

  1. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible. (At my house the oven is set to 500 degrees on “Stone”.) Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack if a stone setting is available, otherwise place the stone on the middle rack. Let the oven heat up for 1 hour.
  2. Put the sauce in the center of the dough round and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over the pizza, stopping about half an inch from the edge.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the sauce and scatter the basil on top.
  4. Break the mozzarella into several large chunks and distribute it over the pizza, covering the basil so that it is protected from the heat of the oven.
  5. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn on the broiler. Broil the pizza for an additional 1-2 minutes- keeping a close watch so that it doesn’t become too brown. Serve.

One Year Ago:

fiesta-friday-challenge-badge4

Perfect Pizza Sauce #2

IMG_8738

I thought that my original perfect pizza sauce could not be topped. This sauce is essentially identical… except for one important difference: the ease of its preparation. My original sauce utilizes a food mill to remove the tomato seeds. This method simply purees the strained whole tomatoes, and then the remaining ingredients are added. Simple, perfect, FABULOUS! This recipe was adapted from Roberta’s Cookbook by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini, and Katherine Wheelock, of Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY. I froze the leftover sauce, rationed into pizza (4 T) portions, in an ice cube tray for later use. Truly perfect!

Yield: enough for approximately 8 pizzas

  • 1 28-ounce (794 gram) can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt or fine sea salt
  1. Drain the tomatoes and discard the juice.
  2. Use a food processor or blender to puree the tomatoes until almost smooth.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, blend until smooth, and taste. Add more oil and salt to taste, if needed, but keep in mind that the sauce will reduce a little bit when it’s baked on a pizza, so it will only get saltier.

Note: The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and up to 6 months in the freezer.

If you like this you may also like:

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Vodka Sauce

My daughter and I had a “girls night” with my friend and her daughters the other night. My friends are vegetarians, so I made two batches of this sauce- one with and the other without pancetta. (I doubled the recipe below.) Both were absolutely DELICIOUS!

I used a GIANT can (6+ pounds) of San Marzano tomatoes-from Costco, and just used half for each batch. I served the sauce over a choice of regular or whole wheat penne noodles from Trader Joes’s.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe. It’s a simple and perfect version of this classic Italian-American sauce. This dish is a crowd pleaser. 🙂

Yield: 3 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup vodka (I used lemon vodka)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed by hand
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • 2 basil sprigs, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • coarse salt, to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp)
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound of penne noodles, cooked according to package directions

IMG_0412

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Sauté the pancetta, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the vodka. (Be careful- it will splatter.)
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. (I crushed them by hand as I added them.)
  6. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, at least 30 minutes.
  8. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic, if desired. (I left the garlic in the sauce.)
  9. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve.

Note: Using the same giant can of San Marzano tomatoes, I have doubled this recipe every time I’ve made it since! The additional sauce freezes perfectly.

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