Tagliatelle Pasta with Sausage, Red Peppers and Arugula

Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe

The combination of flavors in this sausage pasta recipe are a wonderful marriage: interesting and balanced.   As a bonus it is super easy to pull together for a fast weeknight dinner or as elegant company dish.

To consider if making this dish:

    • Although the original recipe calls for fresh tagliatelle, either fresh or dried works beautifully.  As does fettucini or even spaghetti.  I always go for the wider pasta while my husband prefers thin (I usually win out:)
    • Not a fan of spicy argula?  Baby spinach is a great substitute.
    • The 1/2 cup of heavy cream makes for a luscious mouthfeel.   But if you are trying to cut fat and calories you can substitute with 1/4 cup of pasta water (make sure you reserve from as you drain).

Sesame Noodle Recipe – Serve Warm or Cold

I’m a fan of sesame noodles and I have many different recipes for them.  I’ll start off with this recipe – it’s versatile, as well as delicious, served warm or cold!

It’s versatile because you can serve prepare it exactly as the instructions below direct and serve it as a side, or you can add grilled shrimp, bite-size chicken pieces or other ingredients to make it the main dish.  It’s also delicious sprinkled with fresh, chopped cilantro.

This recipe calls for Chinese sesame paste which I could not find in my grocery store.  They did have Tahini which is a middle eastern sesame paste and it would have worked beautifully too.  However, not wanting to purchase an entire jar when I needed only 2 Tbsp., I substituted Hummus which is made from Tahini (and which we eat a lot of in our house) and it worked perfectly.

Also – I can’t get fresh Chinese egg noodles so I always sub fresh fettuccine and it works great every time!


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Parmesan Salsa – A Great Topping For Pasta, Pizza and More!

parmesan salsa

Today’s recipe, Parmesan Salsa (Salsi di Parmigiano in Italian), is a great recipe to learn not only because it is so delicious (it is!!) but because it is so versatile.  As an appetizer, it’s wonderful spread on a piece of toasted baguette.  Or it’s perfect as a topping for almost any vegetable.  It’s also an incredibly easy pasta sauce that will impress any pasta lover.

The recipe, from Food Network’s Michael Chiarello, takes only minutes to make and you can easily cut the recipe in half.  Although it calls for using 1/2 each of Parmesan and Asiago cheese, I have made it several times with just Parmesan.



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Baked Gnocchi Recipe

Just in time for family gatherings.  This decadent gnocchi ‘pasta’ is really the gnocchi equivalent of mac ‘n cheese.  But this is so much more sophisticated (and better tasting)!

This gnocchi sauce recipe combines Fontina, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese; it’s a delicious combination.  And the gnocchi cheese sauce quickly comes together by first creating a roux and then adding the grated cheese (fontina and Gruyere) to it.  Before the dish goes into the oven it is topped with the grated Parmesan.  In the words of my dear mother, “Yum Yum”!

One word of advice:  if you use a heavy hand with the cheeses like I did, you may need to blot off a little liquid from the top of the gnocchi before serving (similar to cheesy pizza).  Simply blot excess with a paper towel.

* Typically found in the Italian aisle of your supermarket.

** You’ll want to use a metal skillet so that you don’t ruin a nonstick finish with the whisk (unless you have a nonstick whisk).

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Butternut Squash Pasta

Diva Entertains Butternet Pasta

This butternut squash recipe is easy to prepare and beautiful to present! Perfect for a fall or winter meal.

Butternut squash is surprisingly easy to cut.  I first cut off both ends and then cut down the middle.  Then take each piece, stand them on their end, and trim off the sides.

Pappardelle is an extra wide pasta, although any pasta will work with this recipe.  I *love* pappardelle, though!

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Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

Diva Entertains Feta Pasta

This is a wonderful and easy pasta dish that is impressive enough for a company dinner and easy enough for a weeknight meal.  Leftovers are great too (if there are any:).

This recipe uses cherry tomatoes which tend to be a bit sweeter than most tomatoes you can purchase during off-peak seasons. And roasting teases out even more sweetness from them than if they were eaten raw.  Add a bit of balsamic vinegar to the roasting process and, voila, they are full of fabulous flavor!

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Caprese Pasta Recipe

Diva Entertains Summer Pasta

My husband and I make this caprese pasta umpteen times each summer, especially in July and August when we can get homegrown tomatoes (ours or a nearby farm).  It’s light, delicious and, aside from a bit of chopping, easy to make.  The ‘caprese’ part of the pasta (everything except the pasta) can be made earlier in the day and kept in the refrigerator.  Just make sure that you bring it to room temperature (30 minutes to an hour) before adding it to the pasta.

In my (humble) opinion, the original recipe used too much olive oil and not enough mozzarella cheese, so I’ve amended the recipe.  However, you may want to play with the measurements a bit until you get it to your exact liking (the recipe called for 1 cup of olive oil and 1 lb. of mozzarella).

Caprese Pasta (adapted from Food & Wine, May 1997)

  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
  • 8 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice*
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (and up to 1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. pasta (bow ties, spaghetti, fettucini, orecchiette …your choice)
  1. In a bowl, toss the mozzarella with the tomatoes, garlic, oil, basil and salt.  Season generously with black pepper and crushed red pepper**.  Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a stockpot of water to boil.  Salt the water and stir in the pasta.  Boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente (look to your pasta package directions for timing); drain well.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot; let sit one to two minutes.  Then add the tomato and mozzarella mixture to the pot and toss very well.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

*firm tomatoes like Romas and Juliettes are great – but any tomato is fine to use!

**you don’t have to use the crushed red pepper liberally if you’d prefer not to.  But do use at least a bit – it really adds to the dish.

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The VERY BEST Lemon Pasta (not to mention the easiest too!)

Diva Entertains Lemon Pasta

When I first came across this recipe I was intrigued by it.  It called for tossing the raw spaghetti with melted butter and then cooking it in chicken broth until the broth was absorbed.  Because I love the way many foods taste when cooked in chicken broth (collards, potatoes, etc.) I thought this had potential.  Further – it was EASY.  A one pot meal.  The only turn-off was that it called for 4 tablespoons of butter for 2 servings and that seemed a bit excessive.  Or indulgent.  And I wanted this recipe to work not only as a company dish but also as a weeknight side;  if it was going to be the latter it couldn’t swim in butter.  And, finally, I wanted the lemon to be the most pronounced flavor.  Using both lemon zest and lemon juice helped to ensure that.

Diva Entertains Lemon Zest

So I made it several times.  First with 4 tablespoons of butter.  It was delicious with a noticeable lemony butter taste.  Then I tried it with 3 tablespoons of butter and it still fabulous.  Then I took it down to 2 tablespoons of butter and I am happy to report that although the ‘butter’ taste wasn’t quite as pronounced as the fully-loaded recipe – it was every bit as delicious and still had a creamy, luscious mouth-feel to it.

Diva Entertains Lemon Pasta with ShrimpTo serve this lemon pasta as an entree, I simply added shrimp that I quickly sauteed in olive oil and a bit of red pepper flakes.  More on that after the recipe!