Lentil Minestra


Do you sometimes start cooking and end up with something totally different? As a rule breaking-ologist, here’s a simple lentil soup that turned into a lentil minestra (peas, chicken, roasted red onions, sausage and arborio rice).

I kept adding layers:

When I started to the boil the lentils in a medium pot, I decided to add a container of chicken broth (from my freezer). I drained the lentils (after a minute on the stove), and added the chicken broth to a large pot.

The fresh chicken in the refrigerator ended up in the pot too! I simmered for an hour and then turned off the heat. I removed the chicken from the pot (to de-bone and add back to the minestra).

On my way home from running a few errands, I stopped at my favorite Italian deli (Russo’s) and bought fresh crusty Italian bread, a piece of parmigiano cheese and fresh Italian sausage.

I roasted the Italian sausage (make sure you poke them with a fork) and added two red onions (cut in slices) for thirty minutes. I added the roasted onions and sausage(cut into chunks) to the pot. I prepared arborio rice (al dente) and added to the pot. Not to mention, I also added a bag of frozen peas!

I sauteed for additional 5-7 minutes and it was ready to serve. I added freshly grated parmigiano cheese, black pepper and a few pinches of red chili flakes (optional). The finishing touches of fresh crusty Italian bread and red wine to our rustic dinner with friends.

a presto,


Great Twist to a Classic: Pasta e Piselli

Pasta with Funghi and Piselli 3-12

Have you ever thought about adding mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes to the classic: Pasta e Piselli?

My guests loved it – not to mention the chef and hostess. The colors and textures were the perfect fashion bowl to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Serves 4-6

1 lb. spaghetti (or your favorite)
1 lb. frozen peas
16 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb. mushrooms (your favorites)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, rough chop
Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, to taste (I use a handful – the best measuring cup!)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic, stir occassionally for a minute, as the garlic turns golden, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir for three minutes and then add the peas and tomatoe sauce. Lower the heat the medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sundried tomatoes, oregano and lower the heat to low.

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Drain the past, and add to the pan with sauce and toss.

Drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated parmigiano cheese.

Serve immediately……Buon appetito!

Gnocchi and Peas with Pesto

peas and gnocchi

I opened my freezer this morning and saw peas, some left over uncooked gnocchi and a small container of pesto. Let me show you a little of this and that and take note……..
1 cup of frozen peas
1/2 lb. of gnocchi (that’s all I had)
3 tbsp. pesto (fresh pesto leftover from a few months ago)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of red chili flakes
reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water
/2 cup Parmigiano cheese
Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil and add 2 tbsp. of salt. Add the gnocchi and cook for three minutes. Add the frozen peas in the same pot and cook together in the same pot.
The gnocchi will be ready when they begin to float to the surface (approx. 5-7 minutes). Drain the gnocchi and peas and put them back in the pot. Add the pesto, 2 tbsp. of olive oil , red chili flakes, pasta water and toss.
Add a handful of parmigiano cheese (in this example, I am not measuring but it should yield about 1/2 cup. Toss and serve immediately.
Buon Appetito!

Padella of Peas, Sweet Onions, and Mushrooms!

peas and sausage

This is a quick and easy side dish using three ingredients. I love peas, so versatile and a great leftover to prepare the next day. Oh yes, I loved The Princess and the Pea but always questioned the pea……

1 lb. of frozen peas
2 onions (finely chopped).
1 clove of garlic (sliced)
½ lb. of mushrooms (sliced) – I used button mushrooms but use whatever you like!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and black pepper (to taste)

In a medium pan, medium heat, sauté olive oil, butter, garlic, onions for 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and peas. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Saute for 5-7 minutes.
This side dish is delicious with roasted sausage but perfect with other meats!
As mentioned, if you have left over peas, I would serve it the next day with fresh pasta.
Tip: in a medium pan, medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of tomoto paste, 1 tbsp. of butter, 1/2 cup of water and add the left over peas. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Prepare your favorite pasta and add the peas. Add a few red chili flakes and fresh parmigiano cheese! Delicious! You just prepared a tasty meal in less than 15 minutes!