Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette

Orecchiette, Rapini and Sausage

This is another one of my old-standby favorite recipes which makes it into the rotation almost once a month during the cooler months.  It’s super easy and oh-so delicious...I consider it a slightly more upscale comfort food. Great for a cold or rainy night, the type of dish that warms the soul and makes the house smell delish.

Broccoli Rabe is also known as Rapini and what I love about it in particular is how the greens develop a slightly bitter, horseradish-like flavor, yum.  Orecchiette is an ear shaped pasta that stays nice and firm when cooked so that it has a nice bite to it.
Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta

It's been years since I've bought dried pasta.  That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too.  The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid.  In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment.  Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house.  Flour, eggs and water.  That's pretty much it!  Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook.  We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners.  The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!

Mom’s Vegetarian Lasagna

Mom's Vegetarian Lasagna

This is one of the first meals that Christian's mom made that I absolutely fell in love with...so after watching her make it a couple of times I've created the recipe below.  It's healthy in terms of being vegetarian, but it is heavy on the Alfredo sauce and cheese...so not that healthy.  Hence the yumminess!

The original recipe calls for topping the lasagna with herb  feta cheese, but over the years we've decided that we like it better the traditional way so we just put lots more mozzarella on top.  We also always make our own lasagna noodles vs. buying store bought...which means no pre-cooking of the lasagna noodles required!  That was always one of the biggest pains of lasgna to me...cooking the noodles, then keeping them moist enough while you layer so they don't all get stuck together but also waiting long enough so your not burning your hands.  Issues!  So homemade noodles are the way to go in my opinion...preferably wheat.
Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata & Mint

This is phenomenal.  I almost don't want to write anymore than that...just phenomenal. I know it's a bit summery for this time of year, but if you still have some melon in season in your area make this immediately.  If not, make sure to mark it down somewhere for next summer so you don't forget to make it!  It's a fresh, heartier take on the classic prosciutto with melon appetizer. The mint is a divine addition (versus the more traditional basil) and the flaky, salty ricotta salata balances the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

The original recipe from Bon Appétit can be found here.

As a shortcut we used diced pancetta instead of thinly sliced pancetta that you have to break into bite size pieces, but either approach works. We also used more melon than it called for simply because the orange honeydew we had from the farmer's market was so juicy, sweet and amazing.  Otherwise, this recipe is perfect as is. This salad would be great cold as a side dish (you would knock the socks off of your BBQ buddies if you brought this along) or warm as a main dish as we served it. You really can't go wrong with this one...make it soon and make it often!

Homemade Pici

I learned how to make this super simple, rustic & traditional Italian pasta at one of the 18 Reasons Noodle Labs (see my post on the class here) that I attended in the Mission here in San Francisco.  If you've never attended an 18 Reasons class, I strongly recommend doing so...super fun, laid back and informative! What I love about this particular pasta, though, is that it forces you to slow down, use your hands, and enjoy some quality time (and wine!) with friends while making it...don't try to make this pasta alone!  It wouldn't be nearly as fun and you'd end up stuck at a table rolling out the pasta for an hour to get enough for two by yourself.  But don't let that scare you off, I promise it's super easy, just a bit manual, but the resulting pasta (and traditional breadcrumb topping that goes along with it) is so worth it.  I know it's going to feel a bit odd for some to not have a sauce and instead just have the pasta with the breadcrumb topping...but trust me on this one, the Italians know what they're doing!
18 Reason’s Noodle Lab #2: Italy

Christian and I have been making our own pasta for about 2 years now...but the start of that coincided with the purchase of our Kitchen Aid pasta attachment, so needless to say we’ve stuck pretty closely to the lasagna noodles, spaghetti and fettucini varieties.  Which is great...I don’t know many people who can say that they haven't bought dried pasta in two years!  But we LOVE Italian food, so have been ready to branch out for a while...enter the opportunity to learn how to make hand-cut Italian noodles with a former pasta maker of Quince, Andrew Pimlott!
Smoky Pea, Prosciutto & Artichoke Pasta
The EatingWell website very rarely steers me wrong, and this recipe is certainly no exception.  It's a relatively quick and easy recipe, unless you've never worked with fresh artichokes to get the heart for a recipe.  That takes a little bit of time, but once you do it once or twice you'll breeze right through it!  The lemon water is imperative so you don't end up with brown ugly artichoke hearts.  Of course, you could certainly use canned artichoke hearts, but with the spring peas & artichokes in season and so great right now this is a great way to use local, seasonal veggies in a delicious recipe.
Stinging Nettle & Walnut Orecchiette

This is a SavoryGirl Original, but based on one of our favorite recipes (Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette). We randomly stumbled across Stinging Nettles at our local Farmers’ Market this weekend and decided to give them a try based on all the good things we’ve heard about them.

Once we got the stinging nettles home we (luckily) did some quick research and found out that there were some serious implications to working with them....so you have to really be careful and prep them properly or else feel a similar sting to that of fire ants due to the formic acid that the little spines all over the plant secrete. That’s right, formic acid. Yikes. Okay, don’t be scared off though, the prep is quite simple...here’s what you do:
SavoryGirl’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

I get rave reviews about my spaghetti and meatballs from Christian...granted, he loves most of my cooking, but still he really likes when I make this!  It's a little blasphemous since I'm Italian, but I often use jarred sauces (Francesco Rinaldi is my favorite, although a bit expensive) and I mostly use ground turkey rather than the richer beef/veal/pork combo.  But you know, it makes my dish a bit easier, more affordable and somewhat healthier.  So be it.  I don’t really have a recipe for this...I kind of just wing it since I’ve been making it for so long, but I’ve outlined my basics below in case you do want to follow along:
Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

So I just realized that we’re on our way to spring and I’ve barely used my slow cooker all winter!  I used it a ton last year, but just seemed to forget about it this year.  I haven’t had Beef Stroganoff in years so I have no idea why once I decided to use my slow cooker I decided to look up this type of recipe, I must have been in an old-school comfort food mood or something.  Anyway, this Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Recipe comes from the Cooking Light website and it definitely reminded me of what I knew growing up when I tasted it, but it’s quite a bit healthier which is nice!  That being said, it’s still a pretty heavy dish so a nice side salad or something bright is needed to perk it up!

To be honest our first try at this one didn’t come out perfect so I would make a few changes to the recipe as follows: