40 Cloves of Garlic Spaghetti

Whole garlic cloves are caramelized stove-top in an olive oil and butter bath until they turn a gorgeous shade of warm, golden brown all the way through to their very centers. The cloves are briefly simmered in tomato sauce then tossed with spaghetti and fresh basil before being served with Romano cheese…. 

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Pasta Puttanesca with Hot Sausage and Bocconcini

Pasta Puttanesca has a dark and murky past! It’s said to have origins with Italian “ladies of the night” who used the pungent aroma to lure men into their lair. The story goes on to say they were too busy to shop for fresh ingredients or spend a lot time cooking. The result was a quick dish made exclusively from pantry ingredients…. 

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Garlic Bread Crusted Macaroni and Cheese with Brie

Macoroni and Cheese with Brie and a Garlic Bread Topping

This is a very non-traditional recipe for Macaroni and Cheese made with creamy Brie, fresh tomatoes, spinach, black olives and a crusty Garlic Bread topping. This is a bit fancier than the childhood classic. And definitely not your run-of-the-mill mac ‘n’ cheese!

I considered combining the mild-mannered Brie with a sharper cheese but didn’t want to over power it or change the consistency. Instead, I tossed in an array of colorful goodies to brighten up the flavor: fresh, chopped tomatoes, meaty black olives and chopped spinach. I used soft, fresh Italian bread cubes tossed with garlic and butter to make the crust; a component that really sets it apart and makes it special.

This is the first time I’ve had a macaroni and cheese taste better the next day, I usually like them less the second time around. I loved this just as much reheated, if not more. The flavors developed further and it was almost as creamy as if it had just came out of the oven.

The golden croutons are crispy on the outside with a tender interior. The contrast between them and the soft, creamy pasta is totally delectable. The pungent bite of the garlic is a lovely complement to the brie. This is a complete comfort meal that you will love just as much as my family. You can serve it as a main dish with a salad or as a side dish where it will steal all the glory.

Garlic Bread Crusted Macaroni and Cheese with Brie

This can also be made without the tomatoes, olives and spinach: increase the pasta to 8 ounces.

Brie Macaroni and Cheese with a Garlic Bread Crust
(by Reeni)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
6 cloves Garlic, minced
5 tablespoons Butter, divided
3 heaping cups of Cubed, Fresh Italian Bread, 1/2-3/4 inch
1 tablespoon Parsley, fresh, chopped
6 ounces Penne Pasta (like Barila whole-grain)
1 cup Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 cup Tomato, diced
1 cup Olives, diced
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Thyme
2 cups Whole Milk
8 ounces Brie, rind removed, cubed (like Ile De France)
Parmesan Cheese

1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat the olive oil, add garlic and saute until fragrant, add 2 tablespoons butter and melt, turn off heat and add bread and parsley, tossing well to coat the bread cubes. Remove from heat and set pan aside.

2. Cook penne to al dente according to package directions in plenty of salted water, also adding the spinach in. To a large mixing bowl add the tomatoes and olives. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 8×8-inch deep sided casserole or baking dish. Toss drained penne and spinach with the tomatoes and olives, season with salt and pepper. Pour into casserole pan.

3. In a medium saucepan melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat, whisk in flour and thyme, cook for three to four minutes whisking, then slowly whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to low and slowly add in Brie cubes whisking over low heat. When Brie is melted remove from heat and pour over pasta. Evenly spread the bread cubes over top making sure to get every bit of garlic and parsley from the pan.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 400, turn down heat to 375 and bake for 10 more minutes until bubbly.

5. Let set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Printable Recipe

Macaroni & Cheese with Brie and a Garlic Bread Topping

I’m linking to this to Meatless Mondays at Chaya’s of My Sweet and Savory.

I’m also adding it to my Side Dish Showdown! Keep your side dishes coming! Add your links here at the bottom of the post.

I’m sending this to Rachel of The Crispy Cook for her Presto Pasta Nights round-up.

Thank you Ile De France for the complimentary samples of Brie!

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Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

I have a hearty soup recipe today for Italian Wedding Soup. The name refers to the meat and vegetables marrying well together. Minestra Maritata means married soup. And it truly is a harmony of flavors with tasty, tender, little meatballs swimming in an herby broth with tubettini pasta, spinach, carrots, onion and garlic. It is the sort of soup you wish was served in a bottomless bowl…

This is a main course soup that is fairly quick and easy to make. Depending on how fast you get the meatballs made and the veggies chopped this can be ready for the table in about 45 minutes from start to finish.

Italian Wedding Soup
(by Reeni)
1 pound Ground Beef, 80-85% lean
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
1/2 cup Carrots, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Sea or Kosher salt and Fresh Black Pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Basil
6 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 – 2/3 cup Tubettini or Ditalini*
2/3 cup Chopped Spinach, frozen or 2 cups Fresh, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus more for serving

1. Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl using a fork. Form into small meatballs about the size of a quarter using your hands. Set aside.

2. In a large soup pot saute onion and carrot in 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and tender, season well with salt and pepper. Add garlic and basil; saute until fragrant.

3. Add chicken broth and turn up heat and bring to a slow boil. When it begins to boil add meatballs carefully one at a time. Add tubettini and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Stir in parsley and Parmesan cheese. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with additional Parmesan and crusty bread.

*For a heartier soup with less broth add 2/3 cup pasta, for more broth add 1/2 cup.

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

I have a super comforting and delicious recipe today for Pasta tossed in a Ricotta Cauliflower Cream sauce with a Toasted Garlic Bread Crumb topping. If you have a hard time getting your family to eat their pesky vegetables than this is your calling. They’ll never detect the cauliflower in the finished dish and after tasting it they won’t even care. You can serve this as a meatless meal or as a side dish.

The base of the cream sauce is made by pureeing cauliflower florets and ricotta together, then mixing in fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Because cauliflower loves Parmesan. The bread crumbs are pan fried in olive oil that has first been infused with garlic. The garlic is scooped out and set aside to toss with the pasta along with a hit or two of red pepper to perk it up.

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

I have a strong preference for cauliflower over its other family member, broccoli. I love it. It’s milder and gentler in taste and smell. Because it borders on bland and boring, it is a blank canvas for flavors. My favorite way to eat it is mashed with Parmesan and a drizzle of Olive oil. Garlic too. If I’m motivated.

The first thing you will notice is how the textures play off each other. Silky, smooth sauce vs. crispy, crunchy bread crumbs. Then the flavors. Milky sauce vs. earthy bread crumbs. Add to this the ‘toothsome’ texture of whole-grain pasta and your taste buds will sing. In perfect harmony. For seconds, please.

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta with Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs
(by Reeni)
3 cups Italian Bread, cubed
6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/3 cup Olive Oil
8 ounces Pasta
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
2 cups Cauliflower Florets, cooked
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, plus additional for serving
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley or Basil leaves, minced
Sea or Kosher Salt and fresh Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast bread cubes until crispy. Use a food processor to chop into crumbs.
2. In a large skillet heat oil, saute garlic over low heat until fragrant. (If it starts to brown remove pan from heat and immediately remove the garlic using a slotted spoon). Set aside.
3. Add the bread crumbs to the oil and saute over medium-low heat until golden brown and toasted, stirring often.
4. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.
5. Meanwhile using a food processor puree ricotta and cauliflower together until smooth. Remove to a large mixing bowl. Mince the garlic you set aside earlier and add it along with the parsley and Parmesan. (and Red Pepper if desired). Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the ricotta mixture and toss well. Serve with bread crumbs sprinkled over top, extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan.

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

I’m sending this to my April Side Dish Showdown.  

Don’t forget to send me your side dishes!

Ricotta Cauliflower Cream Pasta w/ Toasted Garlic Bread Crumbs

I’m submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Daphne of More Than Words this week.

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Artichoke Chicken and Parmesan Orzo

I have a delicious dinner recipe today for artichoke chicken with parmesan orzo that will quickly become a favorite. The artichoke sauce is started in a skillet and then poured over top of thin chicken cutlets and baked. The sauce is flavored with onion, garlic, white wine, lemon and chicken broth. It is served over a simple Parmesan orzo. It isn’t at all labor intensive – you can have it on the table in an hour or less…. 

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Lemon Pasta with Mascarpone, Prosciutto di Parma and Spinach

Lemon Pasta with Mascarpone, Prosciutto di Parma & Spinach

I have another ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ type of pasta recipe to share today with Prosciutto di Parma, Spinach and a Lemon Mascarpone sauce. Sounds lush and decadent doesn’t it?

Prosciutto is quickly pan-fried, then a simple sauce is made with sauteed garlic, grated lemon peel, mascarpone cheese, Parmesan and pasta water.

The sauce is light and rich at the same time, not at all heavy like you think it might be with mascarpone. The pasta water works well at thinning out the sauce without making it watery. It also helps it coat and cling to the pasta.

Grated lemon peel and juice works in a subtle way to brighten up the entire dish. I was hesitant about using it with Prosciutto but it was delicious blended with the other flavors.

I used fresh rosemary because I had some on hand – basil would be equally good or even parsley for adding a hint of fresh flavor.

This is the type of pasta that you can just keep eating and eating forever! It’s exceptionally good; creamy and kind of chewy; rustic and comforting with slight hints of salt, sweet and citrus flavors. But don’t take my word for it – try it your self!

Lemon Pasta with Mascarpone, Prosciutto di Parma & Spinach
Pasta with Mascarpone & Prosciutto
(by Reeni)
8 ounces Spaghetti* (like Barilla Whole Grain)
1 cup frozen Spinach*
5 cloves Garlic, minced
6 ounces sliced Prosciutto di Parma, rough chopped in large, bite-size pieces
Olive Oil, for sauteing
1 cup Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, fresh grated, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Basil or Parsley, chopped
1 lemon, the peel grated and juiced
1 cup of Pasta Water
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for serving
1. Cook the pasta and spinach together in plenty of water to al dente according to package directions. Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water. Add pasta back to pan with a tablespoon of butter.
2. Meanwhile saute Prosciutto in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it starts to curl and shrink around the edges – it should only take a few minutes – be careful not to over cook. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. In the same skillet (let it cool a bit so as not to brown the garlic) add a teaspoon or two of oil and saute garlic over low heat until fragrant. Carefully add enough pasta water to just cover the bottom of the pan along with the mascarpone and lemon peel. Whisk together over low heat until well combined. Turn heat up to medium-low, add Parmesan and more pasta water if needed. Simmer for two to three minutes.
4. Toss everything together including the lemon juice and Rosemary, adding more pasta water if the sauce becomes too thick. Serve with a drizzle of Extra-Virgin Olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
*Substitute fresh Spinach, 3 cups loosely packed, chopped, saute with garlic and remove before making sauce.

I recommend that you prep everything and have it lined up ready to go like you would a stir-fry. It goes quickly once you get everything prepped. Start your pasta water and then get right to work sauting the Prosciutto. By the time the pasta is done the sauce will be coming together. Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water – or carefully dip a ladle into it if it’s still cooking and your ready to start the sauce.

Lemon Pasta with Mascarpone, Prosciutto di Parma & Spinach


I’m sending this to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast for Presto Pasta Nights!


Pasta with Fried Chile Peppers and Bread Crumbs

Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs

This is a bold and sassy recipe for pasta with fried red chile peppers and bread crumbs.

It is a traditional recipe from the region in Southern Italy known as Basilicata. A special pepper is grown there called peperone di Senise; a sweet red pepper with a flavor much like a mild red Mexican chile.

The peppers are dried on strings like ancho chiles. For this dish they are fried until crunchy and added to pasta with tomatoes and pan-fried bread crumbs.

Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs

I used arbol chiles and replaced the country bread called for in the recipe with Italian bread.

The bread is baked until dry and crunchy, processed into chunky crumbs and then pan-fried in olive oil to a toasty, golden-brown.

I fell in love with them.

My mind keeps winding back to them and the possibilities. The technique will show up in my recipes again. And again. Just look at the way the bread crumbs stick into all the nooks and crevices.

Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs

The peppers are then pan-fried in olive oil to a rich, dark burgundy color that infuses the oil with spice to cook the tomatoes in.

The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes that I replaced with canned, diced tomatoes. They are cooked along with garlic and anchovies until soft and are mashed gently with a fork into a thick sauce.

The sauce is tossed with the pasta allowing the infused spice to permeate the entire dish.

The bread crumbs are sprinkled over top along with broken up pieces of the crispy chile peppers.

Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs

It all works together to make one of the most outstanding pasta dishes that has ever graced my lips.

It’s the kind of rustic dish that I can imagine my Great-Grandma cooking, even though she was from Abruzzo.

She and my Great-Grandpa grew their own chile peppers, figs, grapes and all kind of other fruits and vegetables that as a little girl I thought were exotic. None of my friends or neighbors had grapes growing in their backyard.

Her and Great-Grandpa brought their own ‘special’ seeds with them from Italy. They stepped ‘off the boat’ with naught else but their beloved heirloom seeds.

The Kitchen Cat & Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs
While I was immersed in picture taking Moon saw it as an opportunity to sneak up on me… and the pasta!
Pasta with Fried Chile Peppers and Bread Crumbs
(adapted from Saveur)
1⁄4 pound Italian Bread, cut into 1″ cubes
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
6 dried mild chiles, such as peperoni cruschi di Senise, chile de arbol,
guajillos, or pasillas, stemmed and seeded
4 anchovies, chopped or 2 teaspoons Worcestershire or Fish sauce
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 – 14 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
8 ounces pasta, like fusilli or rotini
Parmesan, fresh grated, for serving

1. Heat oven to 325˚. Bake bread cubes until hard, about 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. Transfer to a food processor; process into coarse crumbs. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add crumbs; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a bowl.

2. Wipe out skillet; heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add chiles and toast, turning once, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Tear chiles into 1″ pieces. Reserve oil in skillet.

3. Set reserved skillet over medium heat and add anchovies (if using); cook, breaking them apart with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. If not using anchovies add garlic, tomatoes and Worcestershire/fish sauce; cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften, about 10 minutes. Mash tomatoes with a fork right in skillet and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Meanwhile cook pasta to al dente in plenty of salted water. Drain, reserving 1⁄4 cup water. Transfer pasta and water to reserved skillet of tomatoes over high heat. Toss to combine; cook until sauce thickens, 1–2 minutes. Transfer pasta to a platter; sprinkle with bread crumbs and chiles; drizzle with a little oil and serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Pasta w/ Fried Chile Peppers & Bread Crumbs

I’m sending this to Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week by Savoury Specialist of Our Taste of Life.

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