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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup

Do you love lasagna, but hate assembling the actual casserole? Lasagna is a favorite at my house, and though I don't mind making it when I have the time, this soup allows a make-ahead version. It's perfect for easy-going mornings before a busy evening. The ricotta cheese is central to the dish, so don't leave it out.


Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup

Source: The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook by Christina Dymock

1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
1 yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c tomato paste
3 teas Italian seasoning
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (petite diced are nice but not necessary)
2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
6 lasagna noodles, broken up into bite-size pieces
ricotta cheese
shredded mozzarella
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Brown the sausage in a 12-inch skillet. Dice the onion and pepper, then mince the garlic. Place the sausage, vegetables, seasoning, and broth into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. About 30 minutes before serving, add the lasagna noodles. Put the soup in bowls, then add a generous spoonful of ricotta. Top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.

Notes: The recipe is flexible: I've made it with ground beef, ground pork, and red bell pepper instead of green. Though the sausage is more flavorful ground meat is sufficient in an pinch.

This soup also works on the stove top. Brown the sausage with the onion and bell pepper. Add garlic, and stir for 30 seconds or so until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the tomato paste, seasoning, diced tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes to combine the flavors. Be aware that the noodles do take about 30 minutes to soften. I might try boiling them separately next time, because that would only be 15 minutes. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Quick Risotto Primavera

I always think of my friend Susie and her old neighborhood in Brooklyn when I eat risotto. On a visit years ago, she took me to the restaurant Noodle Pudding, which had a daily risotto special. Here is a quick, meatless version for the spring asparagus season.


Quick Risotto Primavera

Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook
Serves 4

1 1/2 c Arborio rice
5 c chicken broth (divided)
4 T unsalted butter (divided)
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c vermouth
1/2 lb asparagus, no thicker than 1/2 inch at the bottom, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 c frozen peas, thawed
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (1 c), plus extra for serving
salt and pepper

In covered bowl, microwave rice, 3 1/2 c broth, and 2 T butter until rice is softened and most of liquid is absorbed, 10-16 minutes.

Chop the onion. Melt 2 T butter in a medium or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion in butter until softened, 3-5 minutes. Turn down the heat a bit if the onion starts to burn. Add minced garlic and stir, then add wine and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. While onions are cooking, trim the asparagus and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Also, trim the mushrooms and cut into 1/2-inch chunks.

Stir in rice mixture, remaining 1 1/2 c broth, asparagus, and mushrooms. Simmer, stirring constantly, until rice and vegetables are tender, 5-8 minutes. Add 1/2 c water if the vegetables aren't done at 5 minutes. Stir in peas and Parmesan, and cook for an additional minute while the peas heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve with extra Parmesan.

Note: This recipe seems quite flexible. The original called for vegetable broth instead of chicken, white wine instead of the vermouth, and yellow squash instead of the mushrooms. I used what I had on hand, and it turned out beautifully. Shredded rotisserie chicken would be a nice addition for meat lovers.