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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Rigatoni With Sweet Italian Sausage And Zucchini

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This dish is one of Steve’s favorites. Loaded with sweet Italian sausage, sweet bell peppers, zucchini,, canned diced tomatoes, and shavings of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese. The dish comes together with it’s garlic and white wine sauce that’s light and flavorful.

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Preparing all the veggies for this dish in a small dice. Onions, sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and minced garlic. Next for the sausage. Whenever I cook my sausage, the first step I take is to prick holes in the links with a fork to allow the inside of the sausages to get a head start on cooking. After that, I place them all into a large saute pan that has a tight fitting lid. I add in around a 1/2 a cup of low sodium chicken broth to the pan with the sausages. On med high heat, with the lid on the saute pan, I let the sausages steam in the liquid for around 15 minutes, turning them over half way through. This gives some extra flavor to the sausages and ensures that the sausages will be completely throughout.

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For the next step I take the sausages out and set them onto a plate. I get my grill pan out and heated up for the next stage of cooking the sausage.

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Once the grill pan is nice and hot, I place the steamed sausages on the grill. This takes around 3-4 minutes per side with the grill pan on med high heat. Once all the sausages have those beautiful grill marks all over, I let them cool down for about 10 minutes. Next I slice the sausages on the bias for this recipe. Now that all the components are ready, it’s time to start putting this dish together.

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In a large Dutch oven on med heat, I have some olive oil and the diced onions sauteing until the onions are soft. Next I add in all the other veggies on the plate, stirring them around until they just start to soften, around 5-7 minutes. At this point I season with some Kosher salt, pepper, and dried oregano.

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To the vegetables, I add back in the sliced sausage and stir that all through. Next for some liquid.  I add in some white wine and let that go for just a couple of minutes, coating and flavoring all the ingredients, before adding in the drained canned diced tomatoes and low sodium chicken stock. I am using chicken stock and not broth for this recipe. It has a deeper flavor and I thought it would be a perfect accompaniment for the other ingredients. Still on med heat, I let everything come up to a good simmer and this will allow time for the pasta to cook.The pasta will take about 10-12 minutes according to the box, which is the perfect amount of time for the sausage, peppers, and zucchini to be doing their thing.

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Once the pasta is al dente, I drain the pasta and place some of that beautiful Rigatoni into a bowl.  Next, I ladle the sausage, zucchini all over the top of the pasta, making sure that I get plenty of that delicious broth too. Finally adding a few shavings of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese over the top.

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To garnish, a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes ( this includes time for sausage to steam and grill)
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 package of sweet Italian sausage ( 5 links)
1 box of Rigatoni
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 package of fresh zucchini diced (3 large zucchinis)
1 yellow onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 quart of low sodium or unsalted chicken stock (1/2 a cup for steaming the sausage)
1 -1/2 cups of good white wine ( Pinot Grigio)
Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (3-4 shaved pieces per serving)
1/2 a cup of freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (garnish)
Directions:
While the sausage is steaming in the pan, dice up all the veggies and set them aside on a plate. When the sausage has steamed for a good 15 minutes, take them out and start heating up a grill pan. If you don’t have a grill pan, you can roast them off in a cast iron skillet in a very hot oven. I would say 425 degrees for about 30-35 minutes or until the internal temp is 155 degrees. Let them rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Once you have grilled all the sausages and they have grill marks on all sides. This again will take about 3-4 minutes per side, then take them off and let cool down before trying to slice them on the bias. In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot add the olive oil in a pot that’s been heating up on med heat. Add the onions in first. Once they’ve softened, add in all the other veggies. This is when I season with the Kosher salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir all the veggies around and let them go for about 5-7 minutes. Next add in the wine and let that bubble for a couple of minutes before adding in the sliced sausage pieces and the drained diced tomatoes. Stir that all through and then add in the remainder of the quart of chicken stock. Have a large pot of boiling salted water ready for the pasta on the back burner. Let all this simmer on med heat while you get the pasta ready. The pasta takes about 10-12 minutes and I like the pasta to be al dente. Drain off the pasta and place the hot pasta in the bottom of your serving bowls. Next ladle on some of the delicious sausage and zucchini over the pasta. Using a peeler, shave some of the cheese over the top. Finally garnish with the parsley. If you are not going to be needing all that pasta at one time, maybe because there are only two of you, a good tip is, to rinse the pasta off really well with a bit of cold water. Place the pasta in a large Tupperware container, and then add in some olive oil. This will prevent the pasta from clumping up until the next time your going to use it. Then all you need to do is have some boiling water on the stove and place the cooked pasta in for just a minute to get it hot for your next helping.

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Guacamole

Guacamole (6)

Guacamole (1)

Tex-Mex wouldn’t be the same without some great guacamole. My recipe has a secret ingredient that will make your guacamole pop! I tell you about that in a minute.

I have a some diced red onion, a minced Fresno chili, diced and seeded plum tomatoes, the juice of a lime, and some store-bought fresh salsa. Yep, that’s my secret ingredient. You can find this salsa in the refrigerated section of the produce department, at your local grocery store. I like the medium, it’s not too hot but still has a slight kick.

Salsa is really close to being a Pico de Gallo in the sense that it has small diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos, except that it also contains lime juice. I love to use fresh salsa as an ingredient, especially in guacamole. I also prefer my guacamole to be on the chunky side rather than completely smooth.

I prefer Haas avocados. They are super buttery in flavor. When I’m buying avocados, I hold them in the palm of my and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t be overly soft or mushy. I look for ones where the skins have just turned brown in color, still pretty firm, yet have a slight give when you press on them.

Guacamole (6)

Guacamole (1)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 ripe Haas avocados, halved and pit removed (large dice)
1 seeded and minced Fresno chili (substitute jalapeno)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup of fresh salsa (mild, medium, or hot) (traditional, substitute 1/3 cup seeded plum tomatoes, fine dice)
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper

Directions:
Using a paring knife make slits in the flesh making sure not to go the way through the skin. I make a crisscross pattern and then scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Toss the chunks of avocado into a large mixing bowl. Add Kosher salt and black pepper. Next, add the diced onion, minced Fresno chili, cilantro, and lime juice. Next, strain off, as much as possible, the juice from the fresh salsa before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Mix gently to combine.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole. This will prevent air from getting to the avocados and causing the guacamole to turn brown.

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Bella Collina

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On the west side of Orlando, 15920 County Rd 455 Montverde, Fl. 34756, lies a resort like no other I’ve seen. I was able to get a few pictures to show you, but they really don’t do any justice to what their website can do. It’s a moving video of the grounds that’s just breathtaking. For more information visit their website at  www.bellacollina.com

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Tom West Blueberries- Local Harvest

 It was a day for just us girls yesterday. We went to a local blueberry farm. It was my first visit and I was totally amazed. Acres and acres of blueberry bushes as far as the eye could see. One of the things I found fascinating was that they also produced their own honey.

To find a place so close to my home that used to be covered in orange groves, and now is a place where you can spend the day, with family and friends, picking your own blueberries.

The scenery around the farm is really beautiful. You can see the homes in the distance that surround the lake, on the outskirts, of the blueberry farm. My dear friend Cheri and her daughter Story, helped me pick as many blueberries as possible before the rain came. I think a homemade blueberry pie is on my list when I get home.

Even the turtles were enjoying the scenery. One thing I noticed was all the birds flying overhead. They have visual and audio deterrents that keep these birds away from eating the blueberries. They had hawk shape kites that flew high above the farm and noise machines that produced periodic siren type sounds. I have to say, it was working. None of those birds flying overhead came too close to the farm.

What a great time. I have my blueberries and I’ll be sure to pick up some of that delicious local honey on my way out. Oh yeah, I bought a small blueberry bush too. If you live in the Orlando area, and looking for something to do with the family, you need to visit Tom West Blueberry Farm at 155 W Oakland Ave. Ocoee, Fl. 34761. For more information visit their website at www.tomwestblueberries.com.

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