Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna

Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna is a meatless variety of this popular pasta casserole that features cauliflower that has been oven-roasted and caramelized before being baked into the dish

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Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork.com, 2016)

Serves 4

8 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 head, about 2 1/2 lbs)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 28-oz. can whole plum tomatoes
3 garlic cloves (2 sliced, 1 chopped)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
4 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup fresh basil leaves
8 oz. no-boil, whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 large egg
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425F.

Toss cauliflower in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the florets in an even layer on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, turning the florets over once midway through, until tender and golden brown in spots, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool.

Put the tomatoes in a medium bowl and, using your hands, crush them. Rinse the can with 1 cup of cold water and add it to the bowl of tomatoes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the 2 sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of salt and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add pepper and mushroom and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and their juice and 4 large basil leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 40 minutes. Will yield about 3 1/2 cups of sauce.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the ricotta, egg, 1 1/2 cups of roasted cauliflower and the chopped garlic and pulse until evenly pureed. Tear the remaining basil leaves into small pieces, add to the processor and pulse 3-4 more times. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

To assemble the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pyrex dish. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread half of the cauliflower-ricotta mixture, followed by half of the roasted cauliflower, one-third of the remaining tomato sauce, one-third of the mozzarella, and one-third of the Parmesan. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread the remaining cauliflower-ricotta mixture, followed by the remaining roasted cauliflower, one-third more of the tomato sauce, one-third more of the mozzarella, and one-third more of the Parmesan. Top another layer of noodles then add the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 425F until bubbly and hot, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the cheese begins to brown, about 10 minutes more. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Nolan’s Pasta and Arugula and Shrimp

Nolan’s Pasta and Arugula and Shrimp is a recipe created by my son, a budding foodie who loves cooking. This delicious pasta dish combines peppery arugula-laced pasta with shrimp in a light, white sauce.

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Nolan’s Pasta and Arugula and Shrimp
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Nolan Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4

1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 10-oz package fresh arugula
1 lb. pasta, preferably whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails-on
2 Tbsp minced shallots
3/4 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Shaved Romano cheese, to garnish

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl toss the shrimp with a tablespoon of oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange shrimp on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit more oil. Bake shrimp for 4 minutes. Remove and turn the shrimp over. Bake for another 4 minutes, or until just cooked through and pink.

To prepare the sauce: In a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, saute 1/2 tablespoon of garlic and shallots in a tablespoon of oil about 1 minute. Add broth and lemon juice to the skillet; simmer for 5-8 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about half. Stir in butter. Set aside. Add the shrimp and any juices from the baking pan to the sauce and toss to coat. Rewarm just before serving.

While pasta is boiling, in a large bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of garlic with the arugula. Drizzle with a couple dashes of oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss until dressed. Add cooked and thoroughly drained pasta to the arugula salad and toss well.

To serve: Arrange pasta/arugula mixture on each plate. Spoon warmed shrimp and sauce over each serving. Garnish with shaved cheese and serve warm with crusty bread.

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White Lasagna

White Lasagna is a very rich and indulgent pasta dish with a rosemary, garlic and thyme infused bechamel sauce and lots of Fontina cheese. Serve with crumbled Italian sausage, pesto and sautéed wild mushrooms.

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White Lasagna
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, December 2014)

Serves 10 – 12

1 1/2 boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 gallon 2% milk
Kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

To make the bechamel: Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened but not yet browned, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until the roux is light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes total. Press the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Set aside and allow to cool at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To assemble the lasagna: Brush a deep 9-by-13 baking dish with oil; spread a layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of pasta over the sauce. Spread another layer of sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle a quarter of each cheese over the sauce. Place another layer of pasta over the cheese. Repeat until all of the sauce and cheese is used with a layer of cheese on top of the lasagna. The lasagna can be assembled a day ahead of time and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Seal the lasagna tightly under aluminum foil. Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove the foil and place 6-inches below the broiler. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes until the top begins to brown taking care not to burn the top. Remove and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Linguine with Mushroom Ragu

Linguine with Mushroom Ragu is a rich, meatless pasta dish with flavor enhanced by fresh basil, parsley and Marsala wine. Serve this dish in a shallow bowl with warm, crusty bread to sop up the broth.

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Linguine with Mushroom Ragu
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis, 2005)

Serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs mixed mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake), stemmed and sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups Marsala wine
4 cups lower-sodium chicken stock
1 1/3 cups freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 lb whole wheat linguine

In a large skillet heat the oil to a shimmer. Add the onions and garlic and soften them over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until juices are released and mostly evaporated. Add the Marsala and cook until it is mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the ragu is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.

Before serving remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, basil and parsley and stir until the cheese is melted and the broth is thickened.

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A Variation on Pasta Carbonara

This variation on Pasta Carbonara uses thick-cut bacon in place of the traditional pancetta and incorporates succulent baked shrimp as an additional protein.

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Pasta Carbonara with Shrimp
(Mark Kelly, April 2015)

Serves 4 – 6

4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces
7 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 lb pasta
Kosher salt
1 cup finely grated Parmesan and Romano, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F. Put bacon on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn the bacon and bake for 6-8 minutes more, until bacon is crispy. Save the foil-lined baking sheet with bacon fat for cooking shrimp. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined bowl and let cool. Put egg yolks and egg in a bowl; whisk to blend. Add the bacon bits to the egg mixture.

Bake the shrimp for 5 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp to a platter. Season with pepper

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid.

To egg mixture, immediately add the pasta and 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid; toss to coat. Working in 3 batches, gradually add the cheese, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Toss until the sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by tablespoons, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta and the shrimp among bowls. Garnish with cheese and parsley and serve immediately.

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