The Missing Ingredient

A Food Blog

Lasagna Rolls: Food Network top ten recipes in 2008 January 3, 2009

Filed under: Holiday,Italian,Pasta,Proscuitto,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 1:39 pm
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According to a Food Network web article, this was one of the Top 10 recipes of 2008!  After making it and getting rave reviews I can certainly see why!  This was delicious and although somewhat time consuming, simple to make.  The béchamel sauce was the most time consuming part and next time I’ll probably substitute marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan instead.  That will cut down on a lot of the prep time and I think it’ll taste just as good.  The recipe makes 12 rolls will should be enough to serve 6 people (2 each).  I served it with a side salad.

Source: Giada de Laurentiis Episode: Italian Fast Food


2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 cups whole milk 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 
Pinch ground nutmeg


1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese (I used part skim ricotta) 
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry 
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan 
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped 
1 large egg, beaten to blend 
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 
12 uncooked lasagna noodles 
2 cups marinara sauce 
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)


1.  To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

2.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

3.  Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

4.  Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

5.  Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. I used high heat non-stick spray.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.



6.  Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.



Fettuccine “Light” Bolognese October 30, 2008

Filed under: Italian,Pasta — xigumdrops @ 8:03 am
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Who doesn’t love a rich bolognese sauce?  I found this light version of the recipe in my Ellie Krieger recipe book and was excited to try it.  It has the essence of a bolognese sauce without all of the fat.  Love it!I also used chopped steak instead of ground beef which added texture and flavor.  Change are in green.

Source:  Ellie Krieger The Food You Crave


3/4 box (12 oz) whole-wheat fettuccine (didn’t have any on-hand and substituted regular)

1 tbs. olive oil

1 small onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

8 oz white mushrooms, finely chopped (omitted; I don’t like mushrooms!)

3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbs.)

1 pound lean or extra-lean ground beef (1 pound chopped steak used for stir-fry)

2 tbs. chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried

2 14.5 oz cans no-salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk or regular whole milk (1/3 cup evaporated milk)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions.  (Do right before the sauce is ready).

2.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the water they release is evaporated, another 5 or 7 minutes, stirring a few times.  Add the garlic, ground beef, and thyme and cook until the meat is browned, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and broth and cook until the sauce is thickened, about another 5 minutes.  (I cooked the sauce for an additional 30 minutes to blend the flavors and allow the meat to get tender).  Stir in the milk and cook for 1 minute more.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Serve pasta and sauce with Parmesan cheese.


Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese September 22, 2008

This was a lot of work and I’m not quite sure about the payoff in comparison.  The ending result was quite good but some of the steps were very time consuming: i.e. poaching the tomatoes.  I’m not sure the result would have been much different if you just added diced tomatoes while cooking the pasta.  That would cut down on at least 20 minutes cooking time.

Source:  Food & Wine

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil for poaching

3 plum tomatoes – peeled, quartered and seeded

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt

1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)

3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)

1/2 tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving

Freshly ground pepper

2 Tbs. snipped chives

2 Tbs. finely shredded basil leaves


1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer.  Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.  Discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.

2.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions.  The pasta is done with it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.

4.  Stir the tomatoes into the pasta.  Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted.  Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.


Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo September 21, 2008

Filed under: Cheese,Holiday,Italian,Pasta,Pork — xigumdrops @ 8:10 pm
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A great dish for entertaining.  I served it with toasted fresh bread and tomato bruschetta.  It would also be great with a simple salad.  I reserved about 1/2 cup of the pork liquids prior to processing and added it to the casserole dish with the pasta.  I think it would be even better adding 2 diced fresh tomatoes and possibly some tomato paste or sauce before baking in step 3 as well. Comments in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

3 1/4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 pounds with large fat pieces removed)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup dry red wine

4 thyme sprigs

5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbs. chopped oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 pounds orecchiette

2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)


1.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  In a large enameled cast-iron casserole (large non-stick skillet), heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer.  Add the red wine and thyme springs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.  I couldn’t fit the stock in my largest skillet so I poured all of the ingredients into my 8 quart stock pot for the 2 hour cooking.

2.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs.  Pulse just until the pork is shredded.  Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole.  Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.  This would be a great time to add some fresh diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup reserved pork stock, and some tomato paste or sauce.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well.  Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce.  Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over the the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I sprinkled the cheese all over the top and then “pushed” the cheese into the pasta and then sprinkled all over again.  Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.  Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Triple-Tomato Pasta September 17, 2008

Filed under: Italian,Pasta,Proscuitto,Quick dinners — xigumdrops @ 7:19 pm
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I’m always looking for fast recipes and this recipe was included in the 30 best fast recipes ever in the Food & Wine 30th Anniversary Issue.  It’s really fast and was definitely tasty.  I added prosciutto but I think it would be great with chunks of chicken.  Changes in green.

Source:  Food & Wine Magazine

1 pound pasta

2 medium tomatoes, diced  (1 can diced tomatoes, drained)

4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbs. tomato paste

4 large basil leaves

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2.5 oz. prosciutto, chopped


1.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.

2.  In a blender, puree the diced and sun-dried tomatoes with the tomato paste, basil, garlic and olive oil.  Pour the sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce (add prosciutto) and toss well to coat.  Serve piping hot.


Orecchiette with Fennel, Sausage and Tomatoes August 8, 2008

Filed under: Italian,Pasta,Quick dinners,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 6:04 pm
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Ok, so obviously I am missing a few of the ingredients in the title but I know what I am doing!  I have made this recipe a few times before and am OK with omitting the fennel.  Although, I much prefer this recipe with Orecchiette, whole-wheat spirals were all I had.  I also added more wine (woops!) and cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit.

Kosher salt

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 Lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used bulk sausage and didn’t have to deal with annoying casings)

1 large fennel bulb (about 1 1/14 Lb. quartered, cored, and finely chopped) (replaced with 1/2 cup diced red onion)

3/4 cup dry white wine (1 cup)

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

2 cups fresh (or canned) seeded diced tomatoes, drained if using canned (fresh grape tomatoes cut in half)

12 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp.)

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb. dried oreccheitte (wheat

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (freshly grated 3 cheese Italian blend from cheese section)


1.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2.  Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot.  (I omitted the oil to cook the sausage; there is already enough grease).  Add the sausage and cook, break it up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes (probably more like 10 who wants raw pork sausage?).  Transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate and pour off and discard any fat left in the pan.

3.  Set the pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs. oil, the fennel (onion), and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook, stirring, until the fennel (onion) softens and browns lightly, about 6 minutes (2-3 minutes for the onion).  Raise the heat to high, add the wine (and cornstarch), and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes (nothing is evaporating in my version; a small amount of sauce will thicken).

3.  Add the sausage, tomatoes, half of the basil, the red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Lower the heat to medium, and cook stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 6 to 10 minutes (do not over cook or tomatoes will be gross).

4. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette (spirals) in the boiling water, about 11 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well.  Return the pasta to the pot, add the sauce, and cook over medium-high heat so the sauce and the pasta meld.  If the pasta seems dry, add enough cooking-water to moisten it to your liking.  I normally add 1/4 cup.  Stir in half of the pecorino, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with the remaining pecorino and basil.