Yellow Squash Bolognese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Yellow Squash Bolognese! I’m at it again. The Spiralizer has become my new best friend. This time the star attraction is yellow squash noodles in place of pasta. But first, prepare the Bolognese sauce. It not only takes a bit longer, but it will turn your kitchen into an aromatic sensation. The rich Italian Bolognese sauce is a time-honored tradition that can take up to four hours to duplicate. This version, however, requires less than an hour from start to finish. I knew you would appreciate that fact.

YELLOW SQUASH BOLOGNESE

Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, diced

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 pound ground Sweet Italian sausage

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

8 basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, Vidalia onion, and minced garlic. Add celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Increase heat and add ground Italian sausage, fennel, marjoram, and oregano. Cook until meat is no longer pink and appears crumbled, approximately 10 minutes. Lower heat and add tomatoes, parsley, basil, sea salt, and pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Noodles:

1-2 yellow squash

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Spiralize the yellow squash into noodles. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add yellow squash noodles; toss gently. Sauté no longer than two minutes. The noodles will turn soft, but not translucent. Serve with Bolognese sauce garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita! When there’s nothing in the house for lunch, take stock of leftovers in your refrigerator. Transform that last pita pocket into a personal pizza with basil pesto, sliced pepperoni, a dollop of tomato sauce, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. That’s what I did. Suddenly, it’s an appealing alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

X-TRAORDINARY PESTO PEPPERONI PITA

Ingredients:

1 pita bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons basil pesto

3-5 slices pepperoni

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon pimento

Instructions:

Spread olive oil evenly over one side of pita bread. Warm pita bread in an iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Press to flatten. Next build the pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and basil pesto. Layer pepperoni over sauces. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with black olives and pimento. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt. For a crispy crust, remove lid and raise the heat back to medium. Do not burn. Serve whole with salad greens.

Quattro Formaggio Ravioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Quattro Formaggio Ravioli! Four different cheeses in one dish make me think I died and went to Heaven. Or at the very least, I did something right. Let me share with you a little secret. It doesn’t matter that you use store-bought ravioli because it’s the cheese sauce you practically slurp with a spoon!

QUATTRO FORMAGGIO RAVIOLI

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Bleu cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup butter

1 cup light cream

4 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

Fresh Basil

1 cup marinara sauce

Stuffed Ravioli, any variety

Instructions:

Combine Bleu, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add light cream and bring to boil. Slowly add Neufchâtel cream cheese in chunks, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add remaining cheeses, stirring constantly until smooth. While stirring return to boil for one minute. Add herbs de Provence. Reduce to simmer. Warm marinara sauce in another pan or microwave-safe dish. Cook ravioli as directed on package. Drain ravioli and divide into portions. Spoon cheese sauce and marinara sauce over cooked ravioli. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with garlic bread drizzled with olive oil.

La Spezia Restaurant and Wine Bar in Koloa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: La Spezia Restaurant and Wine Bar in Koloa, Kauai. An Old World Italian dinner is as priceless as the family recipes that brave the test of time. At La Spezia, the customer becomes the guest of honor with classics “like Grandma used to make” that include house-made pastas, rich creamy sauces, and seafood specialties. They also understand the importance of island heritage to include local land and sea favorites. Put down the cell phone, sit back, and sip on a citrus Aperol Spritz. Taste the Prosecco? Now that’s refreshing. Nibble on focaccia bread and linger over conversation. This is a long-established Italian tradition and one you won’t want to miss.

Florentine Meatball Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Florentine Meatball Pasta! When you talk about a meal in minutes, this one ranks at the top of the list. After all, some days the family schedule runs tight between daily obligations and evening commitments. In the time it takes to cook the pasta, everything else can be thrown together. Utilize the microwave in conjunction with the stovetop for time-saving results. Ready-Set-Go!

FLORENTINE MEATBALL PASTA

Ingredients:

1/2 pound rigatoni pasta

6-8 Italian meatballs, pre-cooked

12 ounces spaghetti sauce, any chunky style

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Cook rigatoni pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, microwave Italian meatballs according to package directions. In a large skillet on medium heat, combine chunky spaghetti sauce and Italian meatballs. Cook until bubbly, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring gently. Add cooked rigatoni; toss to coat pasta. Turn off heat. Add baby spinach to the skillet. Toss to combine and cover. The steam will wilt the spinach. Right before serving, add Parmesan shavings.

Veal Parmesan

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Veal Parmesan! Actually, this recipe works really well with chicken, if you choose to substitute. Either way, it’s a gourmet dinner entrée that deserves a friendly nod of approval. By first browning the coated veal in a skillet, the crust seals in the rustic Italian flavor. Top it with Muenster cheese instead of mozzarella for a tangy smooth complement to the savory tomato sauce.

VEAL PARMESAN

Ingredients:

1 pound veal cutlets or chicken breasts

1/3 cup Italian dry bread crumbs

1/3 cup Panko seasoned dry bread crumbs

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups Italian tomato pasta sauce, chunky

2 cups Muenster cheese, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Between plastic wrap, flatten each cutlet to a disc. In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk together to blend. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine Italian bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Dip veal into egg mixture, then coat with bread crumb mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the veal 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. In a greased baking dish spoon half the pasta sauce on the bottom. Next layer the veal cutlets. Spoon remaining sauce over veal. Top with Muenster cheese overlapping the meat. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is golden brown in spots. Garnish with fresh basil.

Original Marinara Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Original Marinara Sauce! Marinara isn’t just a fancy name for spaghetti sauce, it actually lacks one key ingredient that sets it apart. You guessed it: MEAT. Basically, marinara is a tomato-based sauce infused with herbs and spices. It can be prepared very easily in less than half an hour. Personally, I find it perfect for a meatless meal. I like chunks of tomatoes, the hint of garlic, and a slight kick of red pepper spice. Look again at the snapshot. Perhaps it’s time to make marinara at your house.

ORIGINAL MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can Italian Roma tomatoes, diced with sauce

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm olive oil. Add minced garlic; sauté for one minute until slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Add diced Roma tomatoes with sauce, fresh oregano, chopped basil, sea salt, marjoram, agave nectar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer sauce until thickened, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Marinara sauce will be chunky and thick. Serve with cooked pasta.

Ziti Baked Spinach

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ziti Baked Spinach! Four simple ingredients are baked together to create a timeless Italian favorite: ziti pasta, tomato sauce, spinach, and cheese. The rest is simply embellishment for the palate. The short tubular shape of ziti grabs onto chunky sauces, making it a distant cousin to penne, which may be easier to find in the grocery aisle. However, I visited a specialty store where I chose an authentic organic brand of ziti pasta made in Italy. Buona Saluté!

ZITI BAKED SPINACH

Ingredients:

8 ounces ziti

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

16 Italian style meatballs, halved

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

24 ounce jar of basil spaghetti sauce

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain in a colander. Sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, 1/4 cup cheese, and ziti. In a large skillet, mix spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Layer a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill the next layer with the spinach ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Yellow Pepper Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Yellow Pepper Spaghetti! You know how spaghetti always tastes better the second day? There’s something about those savory spices intensifying the sauce and melding it with the pasta. Some of it has to do with starch, I’m told, but I don’t want to get too scientific. I’ll trust my taste buds to go with the flow. Because my garden has a bounty of peppers right now, this seemed like a natural progression. Stuff ‘em. Not only did the leftover spaghetti taste amazing, but the yellow pepper added it’s own smoother mild flavoring. Not bitter. Not sweet. Just right. Maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion.

YELLOW PEPPER SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

4 yellow peppers, whole

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cups of leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce

Chopped tomatoes, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut off the top of each yellow pepper and remove the insides. Rinse and drain. Stand peppers upright in a baking dish. Put a heaping tablespoon of mozzarella cheese in the bottom of each yellow pepper. Then stuff each pepper with the leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, divide remaining cheese over the tops. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately.