Purists call this dish white ragu pappardelle pasta; others call it white bolognese (which makes the purists mad). The point isn’t the name (it tastes just as good no matter what you call it). And, much as I love tomato sauces, the white sauce is a tasty change from the usual red one.
It starts with onions and carrots, then adds ground beef and sausage, which is simmered gently with porcini mushrooms, white wine, and a touch of cream. Soooo good.
I first made this right after Pesach, when the urge to eat starch (and lots of it) is strong, so I splurged for fresh pappardelle pasta. Being on an involuntary low-carb diet is no fun! Since I was using fresh pasta, it takes less time to cook than the dried version. If you use dried pasta, allow 10 minutes or so to boil the water and another 8 minutes or so to cook the pasta. Fresh pasta only needs a couple of minutes. If you can’t get pappardelle, rigatoni will work fine. You want a substantial pasta with bite (angel hair won’t do here).
The original recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms, which I didn’t have. So, I substituted fresh ones. If you use the dried version, add the soaking liquid to the sauce instead of the water. The pasta water at the end thickens the sauce (with the starch from the cooked pasta).
I made a few other changes too. As a commenter rightly pointed out, the onions and carrots take different amounts of time to cook, so they shouldn’t be added all at once. First the onions, then the carrots. Also, I never have beef bouillon cubes (the ingredients make me wince) so I used beef stock instead.
White ragu papardelle is a fun and delicious change from the usual red sauce.
2 T olive oil
2 T onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
2-3 porcini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 mild Italian sausage (you can use pork sausage or chicken sausage), chopped up (take the casing off)
1/4 pound ground beef
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 C beef stock
3/4 C water
1 1/4 T heavy cream
1/4 pound pappardelle (plus 2 quarts of water to boil the pasta)
2 T freshly ground Parmigiano cheese
Add the oil to a wide, deep frying pan (the wider the better, so there’s more surface area to reduce the liquids faster) on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion. Cook for a minute.
Then add the carrots, and the mushrooms, and sauté about five minutes or so. The veggies should be slightly tender, but not soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then add the cut up sausage and the ground beef (break up the beef into small pieces, so there are no clumps of meat; you want it distributed throughout the pan). Cook that until the meat is all thoroughly browned.
Add the wine and let the liquid cook down until it is nearly dry. Now add the beef stock and lower the heat from medium-high to medium. Let it simmer (just bubbling) until the stock has practically evaporated and then add the 3/4 cup of water. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
Taste it and add more salt and pepper if necessary. The sauce should be slightly runny, (think stroganoff, but Italian).
Take the pan off the stove, away from the heat, and add the cream (folding it into the sauce). Cover the pot to keep it warm.
Put two quarts of water in a medium size saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add the pasta. Cook 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta, 8-10 for dried. When the pasta is nearly cooked, remove a ladleful of the pasta water and set it aside in a bowl.
Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot you used to cook it. Add the ragu sauce and stir it gently. Add the pasta water you set aside in the last step.
Serve with grated cheese.
Note: if you use dried mushrooms, soak them in the 3/4 C water and add them (and the water you soaked them in) after you add the stock.
White Ragu Papardelle Pasta Substitutions and Variations
Substitute bacon or pancetta for the sausage
Swap ground veal and pork for the beef and sausage
If you like venison or boar, those would work too
Add a few cloves of garlic and top with basil when you serve it
Don’t want sausage or beef? Use ground turkey instead (add a bit more fat to the pan)
Shortcut your dinner cooking routine with staples you already have in your pantry. This tomato artichoke pasta sauce recipe (also called Pasta Sauce Raphael) is ready in less than half an hour. The original called for fresh tomatoes and hours of simmering. My version is faster and tastes just as good!
It’s flavored with rich, sweet tomatoes, a bit of earthy oregano and summery basil, plus a gentle kick from red pepper flakes and plenty of black pepper.
The only thing you need to get is the jar of marinated artichoke hearts. You likely already have the rest of the ingredients in your larder (yay!). Since the basil and oregano are dried, you don’t have to go and get fresh herbs.
The best way to approach this is to begin by making the pasta. Set the pasta pot on the stove with water and start to bring it to a boil. While that’s heating up, start working on the sauce.
Save the rest of the artichokes to make the recipe again, or add them to an antipasto platter with salami, fruit, olives, and cheese on a night you don’t feel like cooking.
This recipe makes me smile whenever I make it. You may wonder what’s so funny about linguine with garlic and olive oil? Nothing really, it just reminds me of a friend.
This friend does not cook. At all. I don’t think she’s ever used her oven. I was at her house one day and I was hungry. Nobody else wanted anything, so I started poking around in her fridge and cupboards (with permission).
I found some dried pasta, bouillon cubes, some olive oil, and a can of parmesan cheese. So, I made the “shelf stable” version of this recipe. They all looked at me as if I had walked on water or parted the seas!
It is, of course, much better if you have higher quality ingredients at hand. Here at home, I used fresh linguine, homemade chicken broth, and freshly grated parmesan cheese, along with high quality olive oil.
You can do it that way, the shelf stable way, or somewhere in-between. I won’t judge.
A simple, weeknight dinner you can make even if your cupboards are nearly bare! It can be fancy (fresh pasta), or simple and basic (shelf stable ingredients). Great for those, what the heck do I eat for dinner nights. A lot of flavor without a lot of effort.
3 garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil
2 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/3 cup chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add the oil to a small frying pan. Put the garlic in the pan and cook over medium heat. until it turns slightly golden. Don't burn it! Stir it every once in a while, then turn off the heat and set it aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt.
If you are using dried pasta, add it, then stir it (to keep it from sticking).
Cook for 5-8 minutes until it's al dente (soft, but not mushy).
If you have fresh pasta, add it, stir, and watch carefully. The pasta is cooked when the water returns to a boil (a minute or two).
Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot.
Add the chicken broth and turn the heat back on to medium. Let the pasta/broth mixture simmer for a few minutes until most of the broth is absorbed.
Take the garlic/oil mixture you set aside and add that to the pasta pot. Using a spoon and a fork, toss the whole thing together, like a salad.
Remove to a plate and serve, topped with black pepper and grated cheese.
Substitutions and Variations for Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil
Make it more substantial with some cooked chicken or cooked shrimp
In my head, this was Roman spinach. Then I looked and realized that was a completely different recipe (with pine nuts and raisins). I was wrong about the Roman part, but at least sauteed garlic parmesan spinach is really Italian.
The recipe that inspired this called for blanching and baking the spinach and then broiling everything. That was too much bother! I’ve adapted it to make it simpler and easier.
This way, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare. It will go nicely, I think, with a simple pan fried fish, or grilled fish. Or, serve it with a steak.
Unlike the Roman spinach (which would have required a trip to get pine nuts), this sauteed spinach is made from everyday ingredients you probably already have at home. No special shopping trip needed!
I should probably refer to this pasta e fagioli soup as “blizzard soup.” The forecast called for up to 20 inches of snow (though we only got seven). I was determined to keep the stove going and get a batch of hot soup. Besides, there is more snow coming tomorrow!
Therefore, I deliberately made this the “hard” way. First, I soaked the beans overnight. Then I cooked the beans and sort of followed a recipe from The New York Times. I cut it in half and added pancetta (don’t know why they left that out).
I even made my own vegetable stock. If you spot potatoes and carrots in the photo, it’s because they were in the homemade vegetable stock recipe . Neither one is traditional for pasta e fagioli soup, but I left them in anyway. Why toss perfectly good veggies? I didn’t include them in the recipe here though.
You can use vegetable stock, or chicken stock if you prefer. I would have made chicken stock but I didn’t have enough chicken bones. And I certainly wasn’t going out to get some in a blizzard!
Don’t be put off by the long prep time on this recipe. That includes soaking the beans overnight. You can speed this up by using my quick soak method. That cuts the soaking time down from 8 hours to only one.
If you’re really in a hurry, and don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook the beans for an hour or more, use a can of white cannellini beans instead. Make the rest of the soup, then add the can of beans. Just cook them long enough to heat through.
Pour the soaked beans, along with the water, into a large pot (a Dutch oven will do nicely).
Add the onion and turn the heat to medium. Bring it to a soft boil (bubbling slowly,).
You may see foam rising to the top. You can remove that with a spoon (it's not harmful, it's just not attractive).
Add the garlic and the bay leaf (you can put the bay leaf in a tea ball so it's easier to remove).
Simmer the beans for 30 minutes.
Add salt to taste and let the beans cook another hour. Check to see that they're soft. If not, cook another half an hour.
Taste the beans and add more salt if needed. Take out the bay leaf. Drain the beans with a colander over a bowl. Keep the broth, you'll use it for the soup.
Heat oil in dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for five minutes or until the onion softens.
Add the rosemary, garlic, and pancetta.
Cook for a minute. The scent should start to waft through your kitchen.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper
Cook for 5-10 minutes.
Add the bean broth you set aside, and the stock.
Add the bouquet garni, Manchego rinds, and more salt.
Turn the heat to medium-high until the soup boils. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for half an hour.
Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes, until it's al dente.
Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
Remove the cheese rinds and serve.
Use dried beans if you have them, and have the time. If not, this works with canned beans too. If you use canned beans, drain the can first. Place the beans, water, and the remaining ingredients from the bean recipe in your pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Then move on to the rest of the soup.
You can tie the bouquet garni ingredients together (if you use fresh herbs). If not, put them in a tea ball. It makes it easier to remove them.
Substitutions and Variations for Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Save time and use canned beans
Try different kinds of beans: pinto, kidney, or cranberry
Use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock
Use bacon or pork fat instead of pancetta (I even used soppressata salami once)
Add one potato (cut into chunks) to the soup
Chop up a handful of spinach and add that with the pasta
In a hurry for dinner?Pasta is your friend. This pasta dish with olives, tomatoes, and capers (or pasta puttanesca) has a slightly racy name. Nobody really knows why. One theory says the dish was popular with the ladies of the evening because it was easy to cook and the ingredients were cheap.Another says that the sauce’s aroma helped lure in customers.
Whatever the reason, it certainly is budget friendly and you can make it in about 20 minutes.
Whoever is responsible created a dish that’s packed with flavor. There’s pungent little bits of garlic, slightly briny capers, and Niçoise olives.
Capers, in case you don’t know, are the buds of a Mediterranean plant that are picked and then pickled (try to say that three times fast).I always thought Niçoiseolives were a variety, but I found out today that they’re really called Le Calletier.Niçoise is just the method of curing them.
I adapted this recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. They suggested using whole canned tomatoes, and then squeezing them out and chopping them up. That’s too messy for me. You can use crushed tomatoes, purée, or even tomato sauce in a pinch.
Traditionally, this recipe also includes anchovies.However, I am a fish wimp. The strongest fish flavor I like is salmon.Also, anchovies were $32 a pound.Nope. Not happening. Nuh uh.
The other great thing about pasta puttanesca is that you can use canned tomatoes, jarred capers, dry pasta, and spices you probably already have sitting on your shelf.
Sometimes, meals are carefully planned. Other times, it’s pure serendipity. I spotted goat cheese on sale at the market and grabbed some. When I got home, I remembered I had some leftover pizza dough in the fridge. I decided to put them together and make a goat cheese caramelized onion pizza.
You can approach this recipe two different ways. If you make the crust yourself (not hard, but it does take time), it’s a weekend meal. Buy the crust pre-made (you can get it at grocery stores or even your local pizzeria), and it’s a 30 minute meal. So, dinner in half an hour!
I made my own crust (following Smitten Kitchen’s easy recipe), but if you’re in a rush, you don’t have to. By the way, she says to roll out the crust, but I find it works better if I just place it on the baking sheet and gently press outward from the center with my fingers.
If you do make the dough, it makes enough for one generous dinner serving, or two lunch servings.It will keep in the fridge for several days, so you don’t have to eat it all at once.Take it out and let the dough come to room temperature before you start working with it.
Cooking, of course,is often a process of taking what you already know about food and flavors, doing a bit of research (in cookbooks or online) and combining bits of ideas and techniques.I often find myself taking bits and pieces from two or three recipes and putting them back together in different ways.
In this case, I started with the pizza crust recipe I already had. Then I added the goat cheese. I took the caramelized onions and the bell pepper from one recipe, the spinach from a second, and the garlic oil from a third. You can always mix and match to suit your own taste, or the ingredients you have on hand (see more in the Substitutions and Variations section).
Also, I don’t normally post “in progress” photos, but the pizza looked so good I couldn’t resist!
With a pre-bought crust, this is dinner in thirty minutes. Just a bit of chopping and cooking the onions.
Pizza crust (either pre-made or purchased).
4 T olive oil (divided)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion. sliced
1/4 C sliced red bell pepper
1/4 C goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 C fresh spinach
1-2 tsp semolina or cream of wheat
Preheat the oven as high as it will go.
Mix half the olive oil and the chopped garlic together in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions on low heat, until they soften and caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the bell pepper, cook stirring for thirty seconds or so. Then add the spinach for another 30 seconds.
Sprinkle the semolina on a pizza stone (if you have one), or a baking sheet. This will help keep the dough from sticking.
Put the pizza dough on the baking sheet. Using your fingers, push the dough out from the center, to form a circle.
Brush about half the garlic/oil mixture over the crust.
Add the cooked vegetables and the goat cheese. Brush the remaining garlic/oil mixture over the top.
Bake for 10 minutes.
The pre-made dough in the store is usually enough for two, so use half.
Substitutions and Variations for Goat Cheese Caramelized Onion Pizza
After all the soup, turkey, and holiday food, it’s time for something a bit simpler. Until, of course, the next holiday comes along. The market had some beautiful Campari tomatoes on sale, right next to the fresh mozzarella. I couldn’t resist. So, I put that together with some basil, leftover roast chicken, and a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread. Voila! The chicken caprese panini sandwich.
This is more of a guide than a recipe. There’s not a lot of measuring.
I started with leftover roast chicken, so I didn’t need to make the chicken. If you already have cooked chicken, just pop it into the sandwich. Some leftover rotisserie chicken would work nicely. All you have to do now is grill the bread, melt the cheese, and add the tomatoes and basil.
If not, see the substitutions and variations section below for ideas on how to cook the chicken,
The bread does tend to slurp up the olive oil, but really it’s worth it! The sandwich gets golden brown, and the cheese is gooey and melty. It’s your favorite childhood grilled cheese sandwich for grownups!
Do use the fresh mozzarella if you can get it. It’s far more flavorful (and I think it melts better) than the pre-packaged kind.
Turn a caprese salad into a full lunch with some chicken and grilled bread.
2 T olive oil
2 slices ciabatta bread (or a small baguette, you want something crusty)
1/4 C shredded cooked chicken
1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
1 Campari tomato (or half a small beefsteak tomato), sliced
2-4 basil leaves
Heat the oil in a small frying pan
Add the two slices of bread, side by side.
Let the bread cook until it turns golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).
Add the cooked chicken and the mozzarella cheese. Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one, to make a sandwich. If you like freshly cooked tomato, add it with the cheese. If not, slide it in after you remove the sandwich from the pan.
Cover the pan and let the sandwich cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese melts.
Add the tomato (if you haven't already) and the basil.
Substitutions and Variations for Chicken Caprese Panini Sandwich
Saute some mushrooms (do that first) and add them to the sandwich at the end.
Start with fresh chicken breasts (season with salt/pepper/balsamic vinegar/olive oil) then gently cook in olive oil
Or, season the chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook that in a bit of olive oil
Add some avocado
Get an extra serving of veggies and put in a few spinach leaves
Or, try cooking it in the broiler instead (less oil needed)
I adapted this from a “spinach and egg omelette” recipe in the The Book of Jewish Food. That’s not really accurate. It has eggs and spinach, but I think it’s closer to a frittata than an omelette. So, I’m calling it a spinach and egg frittata.
There are lots of recipes for spinach (the spinach and potato pie looks great too and I’m going to try the spiced spinach and eggs with ginger). I am working on using the “spinach tree” so all those spinach recipes will come in handy!
The nice thing about this frittata is that you can serve it hot or cold. Eat it hot out of the pan, or wrap it up and take it on a picnic.
The spinach, eggs, nutmeg, coriander, and fresh dill add lots of herby and savory flavor. Top it with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
I ate it with a thick slice of buttered fresh rye bread and strawberries for an easy Sunday brunch.
The original recipe called for putting the frittata under the broiler to cook on the other side. However, since we’re only making a single serving, it’s much easier to just flip it over.
Spinach and Egg Frittata for lunch, picnics, or Sunday brunch.
1 handful spinach
2 T canola oil (divided)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 scallion, trimmed and sliced
1 tsp dried coriander
1 spring mint, chopped
1 sprig dill (or a generous pinch of dried)
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 T Greek yogurt
Wash the spinach thoroughly to get out all the grit. Then drain in a colander. Leave the spinach in the bowl, get a paper towel, and push down on the spinach to squeeze out the water and dry the leaves as much as possible.
Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the spinach. Cover the pot and let the spinach steam for a minute. It should wilt completely and become a sort of formless green mass.
Remove the spinach from the pan with a spoon and let it cool for a minute. Then get another towel and squeeze out any remaining liquid.
When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it into pieces.
Add the cooked spinach and the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the eggs. Stir everything to mix it thoroughly.
Wipe dry the pan you used for the spinach. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Pour in the egg mixture, cover, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom has set.
Remove the lid. Using a wide spatula, carefully flip the frittata over to cook on the other side. Cook for a minute or two.
This recipe for spaghetti with spinach and lemon cream sauce was a bit of an accident. I innocently ordered a bunch of spinach (along with other groceries) from Fresh Direct. I expected, well a standard bunch of spinach. What I got was a “spinach tree.” It’s enormous. It’s so large I had to prop it up against a bottle of seltzer and a plant to take a photo of it.
So, if anyone from Google noticed a spike in searches for ‘spinach recipes’ over the last few days, it was me.
I adapted this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. She used basil (or arugula), and while I have basil growing in my window, I don’t have arugula.
Besides, there’s that enormous bunch of spinach to use up!
So, I combined the two. A bit of basil, and a handful of spinach, some diluted Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream (didn’t have the cream and couldn’t leave to get some), and dinner is served!
A great summer pasta dinner with fresh lemon, spinach, and a bit of cream.
one handful spaghetti (about 4 ounces), it should be about the diameter of a quarter
1 lemon (for juice and zest)
1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more when you serve the pasta
1 T heavy cream*
2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more when you serve the pasta)
Handful of spinach, washed thoroughly, shredded, or chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up so they look like a cigar, and then chop them cross-wise)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Boil a pot of water (a dutch oven will work nicely because it's wide enough to hold the pasta). Salt the water and then add the pasta. Cook about 8 minutes until it's al dente.
As you wait for the pasta to cook, zest the lemon (you'll need about 3/4 of a teaspoon of zest). Then, squeeze the lemon to juice it (this works best if it's warm; if you had it in the fridge, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up). You'll get about 1-2 tablespoons.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil, cream, lemon zest, and about half the reserved water. Cook that on high heat for a minute. Put the pasta back in the larger pot, add the lemon zest mixture, and stir until the pasta is coated with it.
Add the parmesan, and half the lemon juice. Stir and toss together thoroughly (I used a spaghetti spoon and a standard fork ) until the sauce is distributed evenly over the pasta.
If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
Stir in the basil and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Top your pasta with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese and serve.
Substitutions and Variations for Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce
If you don’t have heavy cream, melt 1/3 C unsalted butter and add 3/4 C whole milk. This makes about a cup.
Use plain Greek yogurt and thin it out with a little milk. If you do this, add a little hot water to the mixture first, before putting it in the pasta. This will prevent it from curdling.
Use frozen peas instead of spinach (add to the pasta while it’s cooking and save yourself an extra pot to clean; put the peas in for about 3 minutes).
Add some leftover cooked chicken for more protein.
I love the Smitten Kitchen blog (as does a friend who is a professional chef). Deb’s recipes are consistently good. And, her original kitchen was nearly as small as mine. Which just proves you don’t need a lot of space, drawerfuls of gadgets, or an enormous pantry to create delicious food.
Everything is made from real ingredients, and ingredients that are easy to find. I know it really bugs me when some recipe calls for a teaspoon of some exotic ingredient I’ll never use again! One thing about this book is that the format spreads the recipes over more than one page, so it can be a bit hard to follow.
It’s a small thing, but this spoon makes it much easier to toss your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce. It’s also a lot easier to get it out of the pot and into a bowl for serving. And because it’s OXO, it’s comfortable to hold too.
This is one of my favorite tools. It’s just the thing for zesting lemons (and getting only the zest without the bitter pith). Hard cheese can be tough to grate with a box grater, but this produces perfect little curls that practically melt into your pasta. It’s also ideal for grating nutmeg, ginger, or even garlic. Since it’s long and thin, you can just perch it right on top of the bowl while you grate. Note that it’s sharp, so be careful!
More Recipes for One Person with Spinach or Spaghetti