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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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

Blackened Chicken Caesar Pasta Bake

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In my twenties, going out to dinner with the girls was so much fun. Having a cocktail and always ordering a Caesar salad with blackened chicken. I can remember the first time I had a Chicken Caesar Salad like it was yesterday. You know, that cold crisp romaine lettuce topped with the warm grilled chicken and drizzled with that wonderful creamy Caesar dressing. Oh, and the cheese, that cheese, so good!

Now the chicken that you’re able to order comes one of two ways, grilled, or grilled and blackened. I always choose the blackened, I love the spiciness of the chicken alongside the cool creamy Caesar dressing.

What a great idea! Take the flavors of the creamy Caesar dressing and make that into a sauce, then add pasta, blackened chicken, breadcrumb topping, and bake. I’ll call it my Blackened Chicken Caesar Pasta Bake!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: indoor grill pan, large mixing bowl, 12-inch sautépan, 4-quart saucepot,
1-quart saucepot, colander, 9 x 13 baking dish

Ingredients For Chicken:
6 chicken cutlets
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons blackened seasoning
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Ingredients For Blackened Seasoning:
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ingredients For Blackened Seasoning:
Combine all the spices together in a bowl until evenly mixed. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark dry place.

Ingredients For Topping:
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Ingredients For The Caesar Sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
3 heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups of whole milk or half-and-half, heated
1 cup unsalted chicken broth, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 to 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 pound penne pasta

Directions:
1). Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish
2). Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
3). Preheat grill pan on medium-high heat (both front and back burner)

In a large mixing bowl add the chicken cutlet, olive oil, and blackened seasoning. Using clean hands, mix together until all the chicken is evenly coated with oil and spices.

Place the chicken cutlets onto the grill. Cook 4 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the flip side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Let cool, then slice on the bias.

Next, in a large sautépan on medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the Panko breadcrumbs to the pan, stir until they’re completely coated with the melted butter. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until a very light golden brown. Remove from the heat. Add the dried parsley, stir to combine. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta. Cook pasta until slightly undercooked by 1 to 2 minutes. Remember, pasta will continue to cook during the baking process. Drain the pasta. Let the pasta stay in the colander while you make the sauce.

In a 1-quart saucepot on medium, heat the milk just under the boiling point.

In a 4-quart saucepot on medium heat add the butter, Once butter melts add the anchovy paste and minced garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk the in the chicken stock, then the heated milk and Worcestershire sauce continually whisking until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl add the penne pasta. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the sauce to the bowl and mix with penne, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce. Next, gently fold in the sliced blackened grilled chicken until combined.

Transfer the mixture to a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish. Using a spatula smooth the mixture evenly throughout the dish. Top with breadcrumb topping. Spray non-stick cooking spray on the dull side of the foil. This will prevent the topping from sticking to the foil. Cover and bake for 35 to 40 minutes then uncover and continue baking until the top is golden brown.

Make sure to let rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting. This will give the dish time to set.

I like to serve my Blackened Chicken Caesar Pasta Bake with a Romaine salad dressed with a drizzle of *E.V.O.O., fresh lemon juice, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. There you have it, the best of both worlds in one dish!

*E.V.O.O. is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.jpg

Strata just mean a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom And Asparagus Strata is perfect. Not to mention, it’s comfort food in every sense of the word. Let’s start from the beginning…

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I like spinach to keep its beautiful green color, so I immediately remove the pan from the heat. Once the spinach wilts, toss in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into the oven.

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Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes (time includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Cook Time: 45 to 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sautépan, 9 x 13 baking dish, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans,  1 medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, Chef’s knife

Ingredients:
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta bread, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
Dozen large eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half, room temperature
4-ounces grated Gruyere cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
4-ounces grated Fontina cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300-degrees F.
Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2-inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread is in the oven start the filling.

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a large sautépan. Next, add the Fresno chili and garlic, sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes or until browned. Season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

To the pan, add the sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Sauté until all the sausage is brown and cooked through, around 10 minutes. Next, add the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through. Set the filling aside.

For the bread, I used a Ciabatta. Slice the Ciabatta then cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes onto two rimmed sheet pans. Spread the cubes out into one even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread cubes become dry and style-like. Let the bread cubes cool for 10 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Start the custard by adding to medium-size mixing bowl the eggs, milk, grated cheeses, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, whisk until combined.

In another large mixing bowl add the sausage mixture and cooled bread cubes. Gently toss to combine. Pour the custard over the sausage and bread cubes.

Gently fold the ingredients with the custard. Allow the mixture to sit for around 10 minutes giving the bread cubes a chance to absorb the custard, or at least most of it. In the meantime, butter the baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime butter, a 9 x 13 baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

After the 10 minutes, pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Drizzle (around a 1/4 cup) of olive oil all over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.

Allow the Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata to rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

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Baked Cavatappi

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I think everyone loves a baked pasta dish. Maybe it’s because it brings us back to a childhood memory, a special event where everybody gathers together to celebrate something special. Whenever I mention the words”taste the love”, it really shows how much love I put into making my Baked Cavattapi.

Now because there are a few different parts to this recipe that doesn’t mean it’s hard to do. You’ll see what I’m talking about moving forward. The great news is that this dish can be made in advance, or even frozen when stored properly.

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Are you feeling this? The whole house is smelling like my grandmother’s kitchen.

 

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish, deep-sided 12-inch frying pan, 6-quart Dutch oven with lid, large mixing bowl, mini food processor, 6-quart stockpot

Ingredients For The Meat:
2-pounds ground pork
1-pound (5 links) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Ingredients For The Tomato Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, puréed
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1-28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth, unsalted
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Ingredients For Pasta:
1 1/2 pounds of Cavatappi (1 1/2 boxes)
1 8-ounce container Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 15-ounce containers Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella, freshly grated, reserve 1/2 cup
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, reserve 1/4 cup
4 tablespoons of freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, reserve 2 tablespoons for the top
1 stick of unsalted butter, half to *dot the top and half to grease the baking dish

Directions For Meat-Filled Tomato Sauce:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
In a 12-inch deep sautépan, on medium-high heat, add of olive oil and whole fennel seeds cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. To the pan add both the ground pork and sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon break up all the meat. Add the minced garlic, dried oregano, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and dried parsley flakes.

Sauté until the meat is completely browned, around 10 minutes Using a slotted spoon to strain off any excess grease, transfer the browned meat from the pan to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

In a mini food processor, add roasted red peppers, in batches if need be, process until all the peppers are puréed and have a crushed tomato-like consistency. Transfer the processed peppers to a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat a  Dutch oven, on medium heat, add the olive oil. Next, add the diced red onions, Kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic, dried oregano, dried rosemary, tomato paste, and light brown sugar. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until onions are soft and translucent and spices are fragrant. Add the chicken broth. Simmer to reduce the broth by half. Finally, add both cans of tomatoes, breaking up the San Marzano whole tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

Simmer the sauce on low heat for around 25 minutes. Add the browed meat to the sauce and allow to cook together for 1 hour more.

While the sauce is simmering start the pasta.

Note: Undercook the pasta by 3 minutes according to the directions on the box. Pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

In a large stockpot of boiling salted water add the pasta, stirring occasionally. Undercook the pasta by 3 minutes, then drain. Using the same pot add back in the drained cooked pasta, Mascarpone cheese, Ricotta cheese, Mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1 1/2 ladles of the meat sauce, and chopped Italian parsley. Mix to combine.

First, butter the baking dish. To assemble, add 1 ladle of the meat sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Move the sauce around so it covers the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of the half the pasta mixture. Top with half of the reserved Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Next, add a third of the meat sauce mixture spreading the sauce evenly over the top of the pasta. Repeat. End with the meat sauce on top.

For the top of the dish, sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses evenly all over the top. *Dot the top of the dish with small pieces of unsalted butter.

Tip: Before covering the dish, spray the underside of the foil with non-stick cooking spray so it will release without taking your cheese with it.

Bake at 350-degrees F. covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting. Serve hot.

*Dot: to scatter bits of butter over food. Refer to the picture above.

 

 

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Stuffed Cabbage

Let's Dish

Small

packages

filled with

delicious

goodness!

Stuffed Cabbage (2)

Stuffed Cabbage is one of those dishes I love to make for family and friends. I love everything about it. I like to start with the filling for these little packages of joy.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 5 servings
Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish, 6-quart stockpot, 12-inch sauté pan

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of chopped yellow onions (1 large onion)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1- 28-ounce cans of crushed San Marzano tomatoes and the juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed lightly
1/2 cup of golden raisins (regular raisins are fine)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 large head of green cabbage with outer leaves

Ingredients For Filling:
1 1/2 pounds lean ground sirloin
2 extra large eggs lightly beaten
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup of par-cooked long grain white rice ( cook the rice half the required time)
1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

DirectionsFor Sauce:
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until translucent. Add in the chicken stock,  bring up to boil, and reduce by half. Next, add in the crushed tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil,  then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer 1 cup of sauce for the filling aside to cool. Set the remainder of the sauce aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Place the cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes. Using a pair of tongs, peel off each leaf as soon as it’s pliable. Place each of them on a plate lined with paper towel.  At least 12 leaves will be needed.

For the filling, in a large bowl combine the ground sirloin, eggs, ricotta cheese, apricot jam, crushed red pepper flakes, chopped onions, minced garlic, par-cooked rice, thyme, dried oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix together gently using a fork to combine all the ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a paring knife. Place  1/2 cup of the filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll, like you would a burrito.

Place 1 to 2 ladles of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the cabbage rolls, seam side down into the baking dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of each cabbage roll. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve hot.

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