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Cooking For Fun

Italian Main Dishes

Pasta Picante
Courtesy of Carole A. Jasiewicz

2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, cubed
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (10 oz.) can tomatoes and green chilies with cilantro
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh parsley
12 ounces fettuccine
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onion, cook, stirring until onion is translucent. Add zucchini and bell pepper, cook, stirring, over medium-high heat 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Add tomatoes, basil and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated through. Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain well. Put fettuccine in a warmed serving bowl. Add vegetable sauce; mix gently. Sprinkle with the cheese. Serve immediately.

Pope's Spaghetti
Courtesy of

4 slices lean bacon
4 tbl olive oil
1 small onion
1/4 lb boiled ham
2 tbl flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 chicken bouillon cube
salt and white pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 tbl butter

Slice the bacon into julienne strips. Put into a saucepan with the oil and the onion
finely chopped. Saute until almost golden over a moderate flame. The ham, also. is to
be julienne-sliced and added to the saucepan, but care must be taken not to brown it
too much. Now add the flour and stir for a while. pour in the white wine and allow half
of it to evaporate, stirring continuously. Dissolve the bouillon cube in 3/4 cup of hot
water and add to the saucepan with salt and white pepper to taste. Simmer for 15
minutes. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water for 8 minutes. In the meanwhile,
put the whole egg and the 2 yolks into a small bowl together with a pinch of pepper
and 1/2 tbl of the grated cheese and beat well. When the spaghetti is cooked, put it
into a preheated serving bowl with the butter cut in pieces. mix. Add all the sauce
and half of the remaining grated cheese. Toss. Add the egg mixture and toss
energetically until very well mixed. serve with the rest of the cheese sprinkled on top.
Serves 4.

Italian Sea Shells
Courtesy of Carole A. Jasiewicz

1 1/2 lbs. Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup grated cheese
1/4 Cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Parsley flakes
1 Lb. Large sea shells

Boil Sea Shells, and drain. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl all execpt the sea shells.
Fill each sea shell with the stuffing mixture. Place filled shells in a single layer in
baking dish. Pour spaghetti type meat sauce evenly over the stuffed shells. Top with
Mozzarella Cheese and grated Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 Degrees until cheese

Strozza Pretti Alla Boscaiola

1 recipe basic pasta, recipe follows
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped into 1/4inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 pound crimini or portobello mushrooms, quartered
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked 10 minutes in warm water
1 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup

Roll out pasta to No. 4 setting, roughly 1/8th inch thick. Cut pasta sheets into 4 inch
long pieces and fold each in half. Cut roll into strips 1/2 inch thick. Take each piece
between hands and roll back and forth several times to form a twisted piece. Set
aside. Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. In a 12 to 14 inch
sauce pan, heat olive oil, onion and celery over medium high heat until soft, about 8 to
10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until sweated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add
tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, drop pasta into boiling water and cook 1
minute until soft. Drain well and toss into pan with mushrooms. Cook until wellcoated.
Add parsley, toss into warm platter and serve. Yield: 4 servings

Fresh Egg Pasta

4 extra large eggs
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Make a mound of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well
in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, oil and any other flavoring you choose.    Using a fork, beat together the eggs, oil and flavorings and begin to incorporate the
flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the
flour up to retain the well shape. Do not worry that this initial phase looks messy.
The dough will come together when 1/2 of the flour is incorporated. Start kneading
the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands primarily. Once you have a
cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over crusty
bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough
should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes,
remembering to dust your board when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow
to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Note: do not skip the kneading or
resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta. Yield: 1 pound

Fusilli with Broccoli
Courtesy of Carole A. Jasiewicz

1 Teaspoon olive oil
2 Cloves garlic, minced
3 Medium red bell peppers Chopped (3 cups)
1 Cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces fusilli pasta
1 Cup fresh broccoli
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large non-stick skillet,heat oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add
garlic,cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and broth simmer until liquid is
reduced to 1/3 cup, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package
directions,but do not add salt. Drain pasta in a colandar. In a blender,fitted with a
metal blade, process pepper mixture until smooth. Return mixture to skillet. Stir in
broccoli, basil,and red pepper flakes. Simmer until broccoli is heated through, about 4
to 8 minutes. Place pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon parmasean cheese and sauce
over pasta. Toss to coat. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the mixture. Serve

Baked Pasta with Zucchini & Mozzarella
Courtesy of Margie Campione

3/4 pound pasta -- shaped
(fusilli, orecchiette or conchiglie)
5 small zucchini -- 1/2-inch slices
salt and pepper
1 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes -- drained/chopped
8 to 10 black olives -- sliced
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese -- freshly grated
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary sprigs
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese -- cut in 1/2' cubes

Cook pasta in boiling salted water. In a large frying pan, heat oil and saute zucchini
until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an
oiled shallow casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When pasta is almost
cooked, drain and add to zucchini. Add tomatoes, olives, Parmesan, rosemary and 1/2
of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper if desired and gently
mix together. Cover with the remaining mozzarella and bake until cheese is melted and
the top slightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Courtesy of Margie Campione

Tomato Sauce
12 oz Lasagna noodles, cooked according to the directions on the package.
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 /2 t salt
Coarse black pepper
1 t Parsley
1 t Minced garlic
16 oz low fat Ricotta cheese
2 T Parsley
Coarse black pepper
1 t Minced garlic
16 oz part skim Mozzeralla cheese, grated
1/2 lb sweet or mild Italian sausage
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta. Place the Italian sausage on a cookie sheet and make a lot of 1/2
inch slits all around it. Then cook it in a 450 deg oven for about 30 minutes. Having
the slits in it, allows the fat to drain out of it. While the pasta and sausage are
cooking, mix the ground beef, salt, pepper, parsley and garlic (listed after the ground
beef) in a bowl. Make little meatballs (about 1 inch in diameter) and set aside. In
another bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and the amounts of parsley, pepper and garlic
that follow the ricotta above. Set aside. When the sausage is cooked slice it into 1/2
inch slices. Now you're ready to put the lasagna together. Start by spooning some
sauce into the pan. Next place a layer of noodles. In your first layer, put the Italian
sausage. Add a little bit of ricotta mixture. Add sauce and another layer of noodles.
Next layer the meatballs with a little bit of mozzeralla. Add the sauce and a layer of
noodles. Now make a layer of ricotta with some sauce. Add more noodles. The last
layer is mozzeralla cheese and sauce. Put a top layer of noodles and place the
remaining sauce over it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and
bake in a 400 deg oven for about 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Rigatoni al Ragu di Salsiccia e Porcini (Rigatoni with Sausage & Porcini Mushrooms)
Shared by Margie (

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups lukewarm water for 20 minutes
1 tbls. unsalted butter
2 tbls. olive oil
1/3  cup minced yellow onion
1/2 lb. mild italian sausage, casing removed and finely chopped
3 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, with their  juice, put
through a food mill to remove the seeds
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. rigatoni
1/3 cup feshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the soaking water. Rinse the muhrooms well under cold running water and chop them roughly. Line a strainer with two paper towels and strain the liquid into a bowl to get rid of the sand  deposits. Set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly golden 4 to 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the sausage. Stir with a large spoon to break up the sausage. When sausage is lightly colored, add the mushrooms and stir for a minute or two. Add 1 cup of the reserved porcini soaking water, the tomatoes, and the  milk. Season with salt and
pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, ncovered, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tbls. of salt and the rigatoni. Cook, uncovered, over high heat until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta and place in a large, heated serving bowl. Add half  of the sauce and the Parmigiano, and mix well. Add more sauce if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Pennette con Speck, Piselli, e Panna (Pennette with Speck, Peas, & Cream)
Shared by Margie (

1 cup shelled fresh peas or fozen peas, thawed
2 tbls. unsalted butter
1-2 tbls. olive oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 lb. speck or prosciutto, cut into 1/8 in. slices and diced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound pennette (small penne)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

If using fresh peas, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over med. heat. Add the peas to the boiling water with a pinch of salt. Cook, uncovered, until tender. 5 to 10 min., depending on size. Drain and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over med. heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly golden, 4  5 min. Add the speck and cook about 1 minute. Add the broth and the cream, season with salt, and cook until the sauce has a medium-thick consistency, 2 to 3 min.Add the peas, stir once or twice, and turn the heat off under the skillet. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tbls. of salt and the pennette. Cook, uncovered, over high heat until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bit. Drain the pasta and place it in the skillet with the sauce. Add Parmigiano,and mix everything quickly over low heat until the pasta and the sauce are well covered. If pasta looks dry, stir in a bit more broth or cream. Serve with additional Parmigiano, if desired.

Funghi in Tegame ( Stewed Mushrooms)
Serves: 6

2 1/2 lbs firm white mushrooms
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup warm water
6 Tbls. olive oil
2 Tbls. coarsely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 tsp. dried savory
3 large cloves garlic, whole ( do not mince)
freshly ground black pepper

Trim, wash, and drain mushrooms. Cut the larger ones into halves or four pieces and leave the smaller ones whole. Soak the dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. lift them from their bath with a fork, reserving the water. Remove and discard any parts that still have some dirt attached to them. Place in non-metallic saucepan with the fresh mushrooms. Add the oil, parsley, savory, garlic, and small amounts of salt and pepper. Carefully pour the reserved water from the soaked mushrooms, making sure that any sand remains at the bottom of the cup.  Cook uncovered over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to a few tablespoons.  Discard the three garlic cloves and serve.

Ossobuco (Italian Veal Shanks)

A delicious way to prepare veal shanks. Serve with a light pasta dish.

4 veal shanks
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
4 strips lemon peel, each 1" x 3"
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 small can (14 oz.) Italian peeled tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
2-4 leaves basil, chopped
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat veal shanks in flour. In a large, heavy saucepan, add olive oil, butter, garlic, and veal shanks. Cook until nicely browned. Remove veal. Add onions and carrots, and continue to saute. Add lemon peels, basil, and parsley. Add white wine, chicken broth and tomatoes. Return the veal to the pan. Cover and bake for two hours or until veal is tender when poked with a fork. Turn veal once during cooking. Season to taste. Add more chicken stock if desired.

Shared by Margie (

1 cup (225 ml) Arborio rice
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (60 ml) Romano cheese, grated
3 Tbsp (45 ml) fresh parsley, finely minced 1/4 cup (60 ml) tomato sauce (homemade if you have it) 1/4 cup (60 ml)
mozzarella cheese, diced
1/2 cup (125 ml) prosciutto (ham), diced 2 cups (475 ml) fresh bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
peanut oil for deep frying

Bring 2-1/2 cups (600 ml) water to boil, in a saucepan, and add rice. Cook 15 minutes, drain and transfer to a bowl. Beat one egg and add to rice, along with Romano cheese, parsley 2 tbsp (30 ml) tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill in refrigerator 15 minutes. In another bowl mix mozzarella, prosciutto and remaining tomato sauce. Flour hands and divide rice into 8 portions and roll into a ball about the size of a small orange. Poke a hole in the ball with your finger and put about 1-1/2 tbsp (20 ml) of the mozzarella mixture into the hole. Reshape and smooth rice ball to close hole. Beat remaining eggs in a shallow bowl and spread bread crumbs out on a plate. Roll rice ball in egg, coating well, then in bread crumbs and coat evenly. Let sit for 45 minutes. In a heavy pan, or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees (200 C.). Fry rice balls until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve hot.

Shared by Margie (

1 1-pound loaf frozen bread dough, thawed 1 3 1/2 oz. package sliced
1 cup pizza sauce
1/2 t. crushed fennel seeds
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425. Divide dough in half and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. In a bowl, combine pepperoni, piza sauce, fennel and crushed red pepper. Cover half of each circle with mozzarella cheese, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edge. Top with pepperoni mixture. Fold dough over filling. Press edges with fork to seal. Place on greased baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes or until puffed and deep golden brown. Serve with additional pizza sauce, if desired. Serves 2-4.


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