2 or 3 cups dried pasta, prepared according to package directions.
3 cups Roasted Tomato sauce
2 balls fresh mozzarella torn in small pieces or 2 cups grated regular mozzarella cheese.
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 small bag baby spinach or kale
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
salt and pepper
In a sauté pan or frying pan, heat oil. Add garlic, and heat briefly.
Add washed spinach (or kale or swiss chard, chopped) and sauté just until wilted.
Let cool a bit and squeeze in a kitchen towel to remove water.
Combine with ricotta and add beaten egg, 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In deep casserole dish, spread a layer of tomato sauce. Top with a layer of pasta, and more tomato sauce.
Sprinkle with half of mozzarella.
Add another layer of pasta and top with ricotta mixture.
Top with another layer of pasta, sprinkle with mozzarella and cover with tomato sauce.
Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on top.
Cover with parchment paper and aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove cover and bake for about 20 more minutes or until the top is crusty and brown around the edges.
Allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 4 litre basket of Roma tomatoes, washed and quartered
2 large onions cut in pieces
sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled or just cut in half
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
(optional: bell peppers and/or jalapeños)
Place tomatoes, garlic and onions in shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, pepper. Toss with herbs and place in 400 degree oven.
Stir tomato mixture every 20 minutes and allow to roast until edges are browned and liquid is reduced somewhat. It will take about an hour or so.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place everything in a bowl or food processor and squeeze out garlic cloves.
Remove the stems from the herbs. Puree the mixture using an immersion blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and/or a pinch of sugar.
Add torn basil if desired.
Sauce freezes beautifully.
Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
2 or 3 cups of dried pasta, macaroni, penne or rotini, etc.
Salted, boiling water
1 small head of cauliflower
1 stalk of broccoli (optional)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or other good quality oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese or a combination of cheddar and Swiss, Asiago or other ‘melting’ cheese.
¼ cup melted butter
2 cups breadcrumbs or panko
¼ cup grated parmesan
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Cook until just ‘al denté’. Drain, toss with a little olive oil.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Shave the outside of the broccoli and cauliflower so just the outside of the florets are removed. Save the rest of the vegetables for soup or a purée (alternatively, place florets in food processor and process until mixture is about the size of garden peas.)
Toss these with the oil and salt and pepper.
Place in the casserole dish you will use for the macaroni, and roast in the hot oven until the mixture begins to brown.
Remove from oven and save to combine with the macaroni and cheese mixture.
Heat the milk gently but don’t let it boil.
In a large saucepan, heat the butter. Add chopped onion and
sauté until the onion is translucent.
Add the flour and stir for about 2 or 3 minutes to cook the flour.
Slowly add the hot milk mixture and bring to a very gentle boil.
Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and the taste of flour is gone. (about 10 minutes)
Remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted.
If a little zestier flavour is what you like, add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add pasta and combine well.
Add to the vegetables in casserole dish and stir to combine.
Top with bread crumb mixture and return to oven to brown bread crumbs.
Casserole may be frozen before or after baking. If you double the recipe and make one casserole for the freezer, allow the one for the freezer to cool, wrap tightly and freeze before cooking. Add the topping just before baking and serving.
Zesty Succotash with Corn and Tomatoes
2 tbsp. good quality oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced finely
kernels from 3 or 4 cobs of fresh corn
2 cups lima beans fresh or frozen
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or 3 or 4 roma tomatoes, diced)
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (optional)
salt and pepper
Steam lima beans or immerse in boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes. Remove and ‘shock’ them in cold water. Drain.
In a large sauté pan or wok, heat oil over medium heat.
Add onions and cook just until they begin to soften.
Add minced garlic and stir together.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add corn and lima beans and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
If using jalapeño, add it with the corn and beans.
When the corn and beans are tender, but still crisp, turn off the heat and add tomatoes and toss gently.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Sprinkle with torn basil leaves.
Note: If you intend to freeze part of the recipe, remove it before adding the tomatoes.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
3 cups of roasted tomato sauce
1 liter of chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
2 grilled cheese sandwiches, cut into ½ inch cubes
Combine tomato sauce with broth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Add chopped or torn basil
Garnish with grilled cheese croutons.
Pear Tarte Tatin
(as we discovered in our session, the pears are delicious without the pastry as well!)
This recipe is equally delicious with apples.
4 tbsp. butter
½ cup white sugar
2 or 3 pods of cardamom
1 tsp. Kosher salt
4 or 5 pears, peeled, cored and cut in half
1 sheet of frozen butter puff pastry
Cast iron frying pan or other heavy frying pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat.
When butter is frothy, sprinkle sugar over the surface of the pan as evenly as you can, keeping it away from the sides of the pan.
Sugar will begin to melt and this is the time to add the cardamom pods.
When the sugar is melted, brown and bubbling, carefully place the pears in cut side down. Reduce the heat a little and allow the pears to caramelize.
Turn the pears over with tongs, and arrange in circles in the pan.
Remove from the heat for a few minutes.
Dust the counter with flour and roll out the puff pastry a little larger than the frying pan.
Lay the sheet of pasty over the pears and carefully tuck the sides of the pastry down around the pears.
Bake in a hot oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is puffed and golden brown.
Remove from oven.
Using a large plate or platter, place it upside down over the top of the frying pan.
Using oven mitts, carefully turn the pan and platter over.
There are several excellent videos on the internet to demonstrate this operation if you are nervous about it.
You can find one on JamieOliver.com. The recipe is slightly different, but the method is the same.