Tag Archives: pasta

Sausage Pasta skillet

Whenever dinner can be ready in under thirty minutes while only using one skillet, it is a good thing. Lately, there have been an overwhelming number of pasta one pot wonders floating around the internet. I admit, I was skeptical, but it really works! This recipe is my first attempt at one of these meals and I will definitely be creating more.


First, lightly brown one pound of sweet italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. This will add flavor and make the sausage easier to slice. When the sausage is lightly browned, remove from the skillet and set aside until cool enough to slice.


While the sausage is browning, slice one onion, two shallots and five cloves of garlic.


Add one tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil into the skillet and add in the aromatics. Salt well and sauté until they begin to soften.


Add the sliced sausage, oregano, basil and red chili flakes to the aromatics. continue to sauté until the sausage is almost cooked through. The onions and shallots will be beautifully caramelized by now.


At this point, add in one quart of tomatoes, two cups of chicken broth, and one-half cup of plain almond milk. We canned tomatoes this summer so I used those. You could substitute one can of whole or diced tomatoes. You can also use milk or soy milk instead of the almond. Bring to a boil.


Add in the pasta, turn down the heat, and cover. You want it to remain at a strong simmer. Cook for ten to twelve minutes until the pasta is cooked to your taste.


When it is done cooking, the pasta should be tender and the sauce will have thickened up nicely.


Now it is time to add in the cheese! I used dairy free ricotta, but soft tofu, full dairy ricotta, or even fresh mozzarella would also work well. Also add in a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast, or parmesan cheese if you prefer.


Stir well until the cheese is fully incorporated. The sauce will take on a beautiful pink hue.


Allow to sit off the heat for a little while prior to serving so the sauce thickens up to your desired consistency.


Serve topped with additional nutritional yeast or parmesan. Had I not forgotten, I would have also served garlic bread on the side.


Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Penne in Buffalo Cream Sauce

Sometimes my brain works in mysterious ways, seriously mysterious. Maybe the name of the blog should be Melissa’s Mysterious Menu? What do you think? The other night I was craving some good meatballs and that craving for traditional meatballs somehow morphed into this dish. No rhyme or reason.

This dish has two components. The buffalo chicken meatballs and the buffalo cream sauce. I wanted it to be really reminiscent of eating buffalo wings but it a unique, healthier way.


First, for the meatballs, grate three carrots, three celery stalks and three cloves of garlic into a mixing bowl.


Into the mixing bowl, add one pound ground chicken, one large egg, one-half cup of panko bread crumbs, two ounces of dairy free cream cheese, a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, and a pinch of salt. There are several substitutions you could make here. First, if you do not have ground chicken, ground turkey would work well also. Second, if you have a favorite hot sauce, feel free to substitute it. For me, Frank’s is the taste of wings. Third, feel free to substitute full dairy cream cheese or even blue cheese. Mix well until combined. Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands, it is the best way to know when everything is mixed.


Form into small-medium sized meatballs, I made eighteen. Keep them as close in size as possible for even cooking. I placed the meatballs in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up prior to baking.


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and space meatballs out on tray. Place into 400* oven on the middle rack.


Bake for twenty minutes, turning once or twice during cooking time. The meatballs will be nice and golden brown when done.


Next for the buffalo cream sauce. Start with one cup of plain unsweetened almond milk.


Once the almond milk is warm, add in four ounces of dairy free cream cheese. Watch carefully, stirring until melted. Again, feel free to substitute full dairy cream cheese or blue cheese.


Once the almond milk and dairy free cream cheese are nicely combined, mix two tablespoons of corn starch with cold water and whisk in to help thicken the sauce. Simmer to cook out the starch. Season with salt.


Time to add in the buffalo! Add six ounces of Frank’s Red Hot, or to taste. I went for a little kick. Simmer until well combined and the sauce reaches the desired consistency.


Toss sauce with cooked penne pasta until the pasta is well coated. Any pasta you have in your pantry will do.


Serve a generous portion of the pasta topped with a few meatballs, and a few extra dashes of Frank’s Red Hot too taste. Your mind will wonder if you are eating wings or pasta or maybe both! Another serving idea would be to make the meatballs and the sauce and serve in a crock pot, similar to serving swedish meatballs, only different!

Pasta in Mushroom Spinach Cream Sauce

While scrolling around the internet one day I saw this dish that made my mouth water. It incorporated two of my favorite foods…mushrooms and spinach! I was so excited to go home and try it. Then I read the ingredients and saw cream of mushroom soup. I really try to avoid processed and canned goods when cooking for my family so I decided to create a fresh version.


Just look at these beautiful cremini mushrooms! These are definitely the star of the dish. Any mushrooms would work, but I love the earthiness of cremini mushrooms. There are about two pounds here.


This gorgeous fresh spinach is the costar. I think kale, swiss chard or escarole would also work very well. Two large bunches will go into the dish.


To start, make mushroom stock. In your favorite stock pot, take the stems and a handful of mushrooms and add four cups of water. Boil for ten to fifteen minutes then reduce to a simmer. Making your own mushroom stock really adds flavor to the dish.


Slice all of the mushrooms.


Also slice four cloves of garlic.


Heat a skillet over medium heat, add in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of dairy free butter. Feel free to use regular butter if you prefer. Once the butter is melted, add in the mushrooms and garlic.


Once the mushrooms have browned nicely, add the spinach to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste.


Pour one cup of the mushroom stock into the skillet. Simmer until the spinach wilts.


At this point, add in four tablespoons of dairy free cream cheese. Goats cheese or full dairy cream cheese would also work nicely. Sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast. Stir until melted and well combined.


While preparing the sauce, the pasta should also be cooking. For this dish, barilotti was grabbed out of the pantry because it would hold the sauce well. Once the pasta is al dente, strain and toss into the sauce.


Serve all on it’s own or with some crusty italian bread. This is a great week ugh dish because it comes together so quickly. In about thirty minutes, a healthy and delicious meal is on the table!

Roasted Veggie Pasta

One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh, delicious, local vegetables available at our farmers’ market. Since these vegetables have been winning my heart, I have been creating simple dinner dishes highlighting them.

Veggies Before

For this dish, I used four large tomatoes, one large zucchini, one large yellow squash, three banana peppers, two onions, and four cloves of garlic. The larger vegetables got quartered and sliced. The peppers and garlic just got sliced. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet.

Next I picked a few handfuls of parsley and oregano from the herb garden and tossed the whole leaves over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and your prep work is done.

Roasted Veggie Pasta 2

After thirty minutes in a 375* oven, the veggies are still slightly crisp but roasted nicely.  .

Roasted Veggie Pasta 3

In less time then it took the vegetables to roast, I cooked a package of quinoa pasta according to the package directions. When the vegetables come out of the oven, toss  with the cooked and strained pasta. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Roasted Veggie Pasta 4

All that is left is to enjoy the flavors of the season, and we certainly did!

Tofu and Veggie Penne

One day I was trying to decide what to do with a package of carribean tofu (you could use any tofu) I had in the fridge…and this great lunch is what became of it. To start, I filled my four-quart pot with well salted water and put in on the stove top to boil. Once the water came to a boil, I added in a box of whole wheat penne pasta.

In the meantime, I drained the carribean tofu. With the flavored tofu, there is nowhere near as much liquid to drain, so no tofu press needed. Just take it out of the package and squeeze gently over the sink. I cut it into squares and it went into the skillet on medium-high heat to brown (just a couple of minutes). Once the tofu was nicely browned and crispy, I removed it to a plate on the side.

While the tofu was browning, I sliced two shallots, five cloves of garlic, one red pepper and one orange pepper. These now joined some olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Saute the veggies until they begin to soften (ten minutes or so).

Once the veggies began to soften I added one cup of unsalted vegetable broth and a bunch of broccolini rough chopped. Isn’t this broccolini gorgeous??

Continue cooking the veggies until they are all starting to soften nicely (not long…five minutes maybe). Be sure to stir often to combine all the fabulous flavors.

By the time the veggies were all nicely cooked the pasta was ready to strain. You want to cook the pasta a couple of minutes less than the package calls for so it can finish cooking with the tofu and veggies. Before straining, reserve a half-cup or so of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, add it, the tofu and the pasta water into the skillet and stir well to combine. Let simmer a minute or two until the pasta is cooked to your liking.

I didn’t feel the need to add any extra seasoning to this dish…between the carribean tofu and the well salted pasta water it was seasoned just right for me. Season to your taste as necessary and within twenty minutes or so, you have a healthy, yummy meal! Actually, you have several healthy, yummy meals because it made quite a bit!

All that is left is to enjoy!!

Mrs. Twinkle

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