Tag Archives: Italian sausage

Lentil and Sausage Soup: No Fuss, Simply Satisfying

When I made this Lentil and Sausage Soup, it was delightfully easy and its flavor impressive. Surprised by numerous recipes calling for “just throw everything in the pot” once the sausage browned; I struggled a little with not layering the flavors, skeptical of great taste with so little effort.  Melding a few promising recipes into one, this soup proved worthy of a regular spot on the menu rotation. Nothing fancy, just down right delicious.

Lentils boast a beautiful range of autumn colors to choose from; I selected yellow for a bright, appetizing soup. Green and brown lentils are more common and equally as tasty, but tend to make soups look muddy or cloudy. Its humble ingredients will never outshine Lobster Bisque or Cream of Asparagus for culinary elegance, however, Lentil and Sausage Soup delivers a flavorful and satisfying meal without a lot of fuss.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Serves 6
2        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1         lb  Italian sausage — removed from casings (link chicken sausage is great too)
1         medium  onion — chopped
2         stalks  celery — chopped
3         medium  carrots — chopped
1          orange  bell pepper — chopped
4         cloves  garlic — minced
1          teaspoon  sea salt
1          teaspoon  lemon pepper
1/2 – 1  teaspoon  red pepper flakes — or more, to taste
1          teaspoon  basil — or 1/4 cup fresh basil
1          teaspoon  oregano
1/2       teaspoon  thyme — or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2         cups  dry lentils
1          medium  zucchini — chopped
28       ounces  diced tomatoes — undrained
6          cups  chicken stock
1          piece  parmesan rind
2         tablespoons  fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, brown sausage in olive oil. Removed from pan and drain sausage on paper towels. In the same pot, saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, salt and spices, cook until fragrant.

Mix in the remaining items, except the parsley, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Stir in parsley and simmer about 10 minutes before serving. Remove Parmesan rind and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

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The Ultimate Meatball Sandwich

My Ultimate Meatball Sandwich recipe was published at AT&T Food & Home, how fun is that?!  When this recipe was featured last year, I made it with Ciabatta as shown above.  Now, we make these with French rolls made from soaked grains, so this delicious sandwich just got healthier.  Tender meatballs dressed in savory tomato sauce, smothered in provolone cheese, and tucked into a toasted whole wheat garlic-cheese roll—oh, so good!

Ultimate Meatball Sandwich Recipe

The bread and meatballs can be made ahead of time and frozen for a quick, easy meal any night of the week.
Serves 6-8
1         Meatball Recipe (below)
1         recipe Whole Wheat French Bread [Soaked Method]
1         jar  tomato sauce
(any favorite, we prefer Bertolli Organic with some red wine added)
2         cloves  garlic — minced
4         tablespoons  butter
1/2    cup  Parmesan cheese — grated
8         slices  provolone cheese

Meatball Recipe

1           pound  ground beef
1           pound  hot Italian sausage
1           pound  ground lamb
1           medium  onion — finely chopped
2           eggs
1/2      cup  milk
1 1/2   teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
1/2      cup bread crumbs
1           teaspoon  salt
1           teaspoon  pepper
1           teaspoon  unrefined sugar
1/2      teaspoon  ground ginger
1/2      teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1/2      teaspoon  ground allspice
3/4      teaspoon  granulated garlic
1           teaspoon  Italian seasoning
1           teaspoon  oregano
3/4     cup  Parmesan cheese — grated
1/4      cup  fresh parsley — minced

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg with milk and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix in the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, sugar, cheese, parsley and spices; set aside.  Sauté onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until caramelized.

Mix meats together, add spice mixture and onion; mix thoroughly. Shape into 1″ meatballs.  Place meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Broil on HI until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on size of meatballs.  Break one open to be sure they are cooked through, extend cooking time if needed.

Preparing the sandwiches:

Place meatballs in sauce and simmer to meld flavors.

Slice the rolls in a manner that will facilitate the sandwich (I often slice and remove 1″ of the center of the roll to minimize the amount of bread). Mince garlic and mix into butter. Spread garlic-butter on cut side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the garlic-butter and lightly toast under a broiler.

Arrange meatballs on one slice of the toasted bread as desired; cover with 2-3 tablespoons of sauce and top with a slice of provolone cheese.

Place the open sandwich under the broiler to melt the cheese. Top with the other side of garlic-cheese toast and enjoy.

Also shared on The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania and at Hearth & Soul Hop (check them out!).

Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake—Gluten Free

As the weather turns colder, main dish salads of summer give way to warm, comforting suppers. The goal around our house is to make wintertime meals as healthy as they are soothing. Pasta dishes like baked ziti are especially satisfying, but often avoided because of the glycemic index, gluten intolerance, or heavy carb load.

This Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake is reminiscent of baked ziti, but so much more. Substituting brown rice pasta for regular white pasta, chicken instead of pork, and incorporating vegetables transforms everyday baked ziti into a healthy, complete meal.  Of course, any favorite pasta will work, but if you’ve never tried Tinkyáda brown rice pasta, I highly recommend it. Its texture and taste is more consistent with regular pasta than even whole wheat varieties. Brown rice pasta gives our bodies a break from the abundance of wheat products in the American diet, avoiding that too-full feeling. Using Tinkyáda brown rice pasta makes it celiac and diabetic friendly too.

For the meat lovers out there, I use chicken Italian sausage, which is less fatty than pork sausage, yet delivers on taste.  Two great sources for specialty sausage here in Colorado Springs, Ranch Foods Direct, and Whole Foods Market, offer a delicious assortment. Savory Italian sausage, brown rice pasta, and caramelized vegetables, all team-up to create a healthy, flavor-packed one-dish meal, perfect to fend off the chill of winter.

Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake

1/2  pound mild chicken Italian sausage
1/2  pound hot chicken Italian sausage
1      cup broccoli — cut into small 1″ pieces
1      cup cauliflower — cut into small 1″ pieces
1      cup zucchini squash — cut into halved 1/4″ slices
1      pound whole milk cottage cheese
2      large eggs — lightly beaten
1 1/2  cups Parmesan cheese — grated
1/2   pound Tinkyáda brown rice penne pasta — tubular pasta
2      tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5      medium garlic cloves — minced
28    ounces tomato sauce
15    ounces diced tomatoes
1      teaspoon whole sugar (optional) — date, palm, or cane
1      teaspoon dried oregano
1/2  cup fresh basil leaves
1      teaspoon cornstarch
1      cup heavy cream*
8      ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese — cut into 1/4-inch pieces, not shredded

Heat oven to 350°.  Brown and crumble sausage; drain on paper towel and set aside.In the same skillet, cook vegetables on med-high heat to brown 3-4 minutes, evaporate excess moisture, and lightly caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside.Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large pot over high heat.  Stir in 2 tsp. salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften, but not cooked through, 8-10 minutes.   Drain pasta and leave in colander (leave pot unwashed).

Heat oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar (optional); season with salt and pepper.Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer to the pasta pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of the tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Add pasta, vegetables, and sausage; stir to coat well.Transfer pasta mixture to 13×9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 20-30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

NOTES: Tinkyada pasta can be found in health food stores, as well as grocery stores with a good health food section.  *Whole milk can be substituted for the heavy cream by increasing the amount of cornstarch to 2 teaspoons and increasing the cooking time to thicken by 1 to 2 minutes.

Judy Purcell on Foodista