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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Taste The Love

Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons

Tuscan Soup With Parrmesan Croutons

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This soup is one you’ll have to try, it’s my Updated-Tuscan Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons.

Filled with chicken sausage, potatoes, and kale, and topped with homemade croutons. I decided to make a lighter version, instead of pork sausage, I’m using chicken sausage here but, turkey sausage would be just as delicious. The heavy cream added just at the end gives a touch of silkiness to the soup.

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Below is a picture of Tuscan Soup With Homemade Croutons by my daughter, Melissa. She made it her own by using an Italian-style vegan sausage and substituted spinach for the kale.

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Let’s start with the potatoes.

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Kale

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven, large mixing bowl, 6-quart stockpot, Serrated knife

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds chicken sausage (substitute pork or turkey), casings removed
6 large red potatoes, sliced thin, then cut into half-moons (as seen above)
2 bunches of organic kale, chopped (8 to 10 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package of frozen yellow corn, drained and thawed
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-quarts chicken broth, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Prepare the Potatoes:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the sliced potatoes. Par-boil sliced potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking prep all the veggies.

In a 6-quart Dutch oven, over medium heat, add olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and fresh rosemary, cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add diced onions and diced red bell peppers, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook and continue stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

To the pot, add the chicken sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage. Next, add the dried thyme. Cook sausage until brown, about 15 minutes. Chicken sausage is lean so there is no fat to drain.

Still, on medium heat, add the pre-washed chopped Kale in batches. Once the first batch goes into the pot, stir and combine until wilted. Add the second batch and repeat the process. Add the sliced potatoes, chicken broth, and corn. Stir to combine. Cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low, add the heavy cream, stir and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Cover to keep hot. There you have it my Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons.

Click the link below for my recipe for Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Zuppa Toscana

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Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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Thanks to my mom and grandmother, I’ve learned so much about the art of making great meatballs. The one important thing that they both told me was not to overwork the meat when adding in the flavorings. Well, keeping that in mind, I went one better. I came to the conclusion, that if you mix all the wet ingredients along with the spices first, then add in the meat, there was less likelihood of over mixing. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs. 

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 30 minutes (time includes making the meatballs and dicing the onions and garlic for the sauce)
Cook Time For Meatballs: 25 minutes
Cook Time For Tomato Sauce: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 22 golf-size meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper, large 6-quart Dutch oven,6-quart saucepot,  2 large mixing bowls, colander, cookie-dough scoop, olive oil cooking spray

Ingredients For Meatballs:
olive oil cooking spray
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of ground chicken
1/4 cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh store-bought basil pesto (store-bought fresh pesto can be found in the refrigerated section where you find the fresh pasta and sauces)
1/4 cup of  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of plain Panko bread crumbs
1/2 a cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
2 large eggs, beaten
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup of Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half (start with 3/4 cup until you get the consistency of wet sand)

Ingredients For Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
1 cup of unsalted chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for the pasta (reserve some for garnish)
1/4 cup of fresh basil, julienned

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Start in a large mixing bowl, by adding all the ingredients that will flavor the meat, mix to combine. The mixture needs to have the consistency of wet sand as shown in the above picture.

In another large mixing bowl, containing the ground chicken (a mixture of dark and white meat) and sweet Italian sausage add the flavoring mixture. Use a fork to evenly distribute the flavoring mixture throughout the meat. It does take a minute, but it will ensure there’s no chance the meat will become compacted compared to if you were to use your hands to combine the ingredients.

To ensure the meatballs are the same size use a large cookie-dough scoop as seen in the above picture. This yielded about 22 golf-size ball meatballs. On two rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper lightly spray olive oil cooking spray. Scoop out the meatball mixture and roll them into golf-size meatballs. Arrange the meatballs at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray the tops of the meatballs with a little of the olive oil cooking spray to ensure they brown nicely. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tip: Use the cooking spray, (a light spritz) to lubricate the cookie-dough scoop every so often. This will ensure the easy release of the meat mixture.

In the meantime in a large saucepot over medium heat, add olive oil and diced onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  To the onions, add the minced garlic, tomato paste, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Continue stirring, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes

Next, add the chicken broth. Let that come up to a bubble and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the crushed and whole tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon break up the whole tomatoes. Next, add brown sugar, stir to combine. Bring the sauce up to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Once the meatballs come out of the oven, transfer them to the sauce and let everything simmer together on medium-low heat for another 45 minutes. Remove from the heat add the fresh julienned basil, gently stir to combine. Cover to keep warm. After 45 minutes, start cooking the pasta.

In a large saucepot of boiling salted water drop the pasta.

I love to use Pappardelle for this dish. The wide ribbons of pasta have so much more surface area for the sauce to adhere to. Follow the cooking instructions. Drain the pasta really well.  Add a cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into the bottom of a large mixing bowl tossing the cheese through the pasta, very gently, so all those ribbons get coated really well. Then add a couple of ladles full of the tomato sauce, using a pair of tongs toss to combine. What you are witnessing is the cheese sticking to the pasta and the sauce sticks to the cheese. Win-Win!

Finally, I finish with ladling the meatballs on top with a bit more sauce, and a little more cheese. Serve with some crusty cheese bread and garnish with fresh basil. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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Chicken Sausage, Black Bean, And Cilantro Lime Rice Burritos

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These Chicken Sausage, Black Bean, And Cilantro Lime Rice Burritos are delicious and so easy to make. Today I’m using Italian chicken sausage. It’s much leaner and adds a really nice flavor.

Pan searing the outside of the whole-grain tortillas gives these burritos great texture.

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Non-stick Cooking Spray

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Cast Iron Grill Press

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (12-inch) cast-iron skillet, 1 (cast-iron) grill-press, non-stick cooking spray, chef’s knife, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, 2 large serving bowls, Microplane

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of Fajita seasoning
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, unsalted
1 lime, juiced
1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, low sodium, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped

8 large whole-grain flour tortillas (substitute flour tortillas)
1 package (8 ounces) of shredded Colby jack cheese
Cilantro Lime Rice
Pico de Gallo

Ingredients For Cilantro Lime Rice:
1 bag of Success (boil-in-a-bag) Basmati white rice (substitute brown rice)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of lime zest (2 to 3 limes)
1 lime, juiced

Ingredients For Pico de Gallo:
1-pint of red grape tomatoes halved
1-pint of yellow grape tomatoes halved
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced (substitute jalapeno)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Fajita Seasoning:
8 teaspoons of chili powder
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
4 teaspoons of Kosher salt
4 teaspoons of smoked paprika
4 teaspoons of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of onion powder
4 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of ground cumin

Note: Recipe yields approx. 2 1/2 cups of Fajita seasoning.

Directions For Seasoning:
In a medium-size mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the above list, mix to combine. Tip: Store in an air-tight container, in a cool dry place.

Directions For Cilantro Lime Rice:
In a 3-quart saucepot, over medium-high heat add 1 quart of water. Submerge 1 unopened bag of rice. Bring to a boil add Kosher salt. Boil uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes.  Using a pair of tongs to remove the bag from the saucepan. Drain any excess water. Carefully cut open the bag with scissors before transferring the rice to a large mixing bowl. Add lime zest, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Set aside.

Directions For Pico de Gallo:
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the list above for the Pico de Gallo. Toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill before serving.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat add olive oil and the diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

Stirring frequently, cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onions become soft and translucent. Add red pepper flakes, minced garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Next, add the chicken sausage. Using the back of a wooden spoon start breaking the sausage up. Add 2 tablespoons of the Fajita seasoning. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Add chicken stock and fresh lime juice, reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the sausage has been simmering for 25 minutes add the black beans, mix to combine. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes allowing the beans to heat through. With the heat off, add the chopped cilantro.  

Start by warming up 8 whole-grain flour tortillas. Place a tortilla on a microwave-safe plate, cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on the number of tortillas. This process makes them pliable.

Layout the tortilla on a flat surface. Place 2 tablespoons of the chicken sausage on the bottom third of the tortilla, add small amounts of Colby jack cheese, cilantro lime rice and finally, the Pico de gallo. Once you have all the fillings in place, pull the bottom half of the burrito over the meet the top half. Then, pull the tortillas back. This will form the filling into a roll. Next, fold one side in. Then the other side. With both ends folded, tightly roll your tortilla.

Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly spray non-stick cooking spray on each side of the burrito. Set the burrito into the hot skillet placing the grill press on top. Every 30 seconds, check the burrito. You’re looking for a golden brown color. This process happens quickly. Flip the burrito and repeat on the other side.

To serve, slice the Chicken Sausage, Black Bean, And Cilantro Lime Rice Burritos on the bias and served with a side of my Pico de Gallo. You can see the layers of deliciousness inside. I felt really good about this dish. Using leaner meat, and a whole grain tortilla, this meal was totally guilt-free and super satisfying.

Pico de Gallo

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