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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

quick fixes for the busy italian
(view more italian recipes!)


You have come to the right place... Everyone I know works long hours and has wide-ranging interests and
you must organize your freezer, refrigerator and pantry to make them work for you
activities outside of work. There is very little time left over for cooking. If you do not know how to cook, don't like to cook or think you don't have time to cook, here is help. I have collected some really fast, low fat recipes which anyone can make - no special talents necessary and you need not spend hours in the kitchen.

Try to shop only once a week. Each time you shop, buy something already prepared such as roast beef, frozen lasagna or chicken pot pie. In between you may wish to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables.

In order to make sure that you spend the least amount of time in the kitchen with maximum productivity, you must organize your freezer, refrigerator and pantry to make them work for you.

Here is a suggested list of things to have on hand. This is only a suggestion; buy what you like and what you know you use on a regular basis. Although this list contains meat, chicken, turkey and shrimp in the freezer, I personally don't keep any meat in my freezer but I do keep frozen shrimp. The reason I don't keep meat is that I can never remember to take it out in the morning so it will defrost in the refrigerator.


Bread, ice cream

Meats: beef flank steak, boneless chicken breasts and tenders, ground turkey breast, pork loin, scrod fillets, shelled and deveined shrimp, turkey cutlets

Vegetables: baby carrots, chopped broccoli, chopped spinach, corn, peas, chopped peppers, vegetarian lasagna (for unexpected guests), dinner rolls, frozen pesto.

Condiments and flavorings: anchovy paste, capers, ketchup, chili sauce, fresh ginger, horseradish, hot pepper sauce, mustard, reduced-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chicken, beef & vegetable broth cubes, mango chutney (wonderful on grilled chicken and other meat)

Dairy products: sweet butter, cheeses (cream cheese, Gorgonzola, Cambozola, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Mozzarella whole & shredded), eggs, milk (1 percent and nonfat), nonfat yogurt, reduced-fat sour cream

Fruit: apples, lemons, oranges

Vegetables: carrots, celery, cucumbers, green onions, lettuce, spinach packages, peppers, fresh mushrooms (in a paper bag - you can keep these only 2 or 3 days)

Miscellaneous: light mayonnaise, low-fat tortillas, orange marmalade, sesame oil, sliced cooked ham, tofu


Baking ingredients: baking powder, cocoa (delicious in coffee on cold mornings), cornstarch, flour, molasses, semisweet chocolate, sugar (brown and granulated), vanilla extract

Canned goods : Buy all the canned things which appeal to you and keep them in stock. Canned foods keep their nutritional value as well as and sometimes better than frozen foods and are less expensive. beans (black, kidney, white), 5-bean salad, broth, corn, fish (salmon, tuna), mild green chiles, tomatoes (diced, whole in juice, whole in puree); dried beans in glass jars, instant mashed potatoes, canned soups of all kinds.

Condiments and flavorings: dried herbs and spices, nonstick cooking spray, oils (olive, vegetable), salsa, honey ( wonderful on bread or toast with cream cheese), vinegars (balsamic, cider, red wine, seasoned rice),fresh garlic bulbs and dried peppers

Grains, pasta, potatoes: bulgur, couscous, pasta (capellini, shells, spaghetti pastina), quick-cooking oats, red-skinned, white and baking potatoes, rice. Miscellaneous: aseptically packaged milk, bread crumbs, dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, dates, raisins), light coconut milk, onions, powdered egg whites, ready-made pizza crusts


DESPERATION LEVEL - no previous planning
These are for those times when you come home starving and exhausted with no desire to cook....

Alice's Pesto Pizza
The World's Fastest Cooked Recipe - 20 minutes (Please note: if you have small children, this recipe will take one and one-half hours) This is a real description of how I do it.

Crawl in the door. Throw coat and briefcase on bed. Greet the cat. Go to kitchen; remove 2 tubs of pesto from the freezer and put in microwave. Set on defrost for two minutes. Get out ready-made pizza crust. Set oven on temperature recommended in instructions on crust. Remove shredded mozzarella from refrigerator. Put one-half of the mozzarella on the pizza crust. Put the crust on a flat baking pan. Put away coat and briefcase. Greet the cat. Remove pesto tubs from microwave and add some crushed fresh garlic and olive oil. Mix. Put pizza with cheese on it in the oven and set timer for 7 minutes. Greet the cat. Distribute mail to family members. Listen to telephone messages while reading e-mail. Jump into blue jeans and sweatshirt. Feed the cat. Throw clothes on a chair. Remove pizza from the oven and spread pesto with a rubber scraper. Add the other half of the cheese on top and put back in the oven for 3- 5 minutes. Put away clothes. Pet the cat. Remove pizza from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes while you set the table. Pour yourself a well-deserved glass of mineral water and serve the pizza. You could add a salad of sliced tomatoes...

Serve ice cream for dessert.

Serves 4

Alice's Pastina in Brodo con Gorgonzola oppure con gli Spinachi - Pastina in broth with Gorgonzola or with Spinach
You need pastina, a chicken broth cube, water, Gorgonzola and/or Spinach, Parmesan cheese - these can all be found in your refrigerator and pantry. Read the instructions on the pastina (tiny pasta) package for the ratio of pasta to water - generally it is about 1/4 of a cup of pasta to about 2 cups of liquid. Set the water to boil with the chicken broth cube. When it is boiling, add the pastina and a little bit of olive oil. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and add the Gorgonzola and/or the spinach. Serve in soup bowls with Parmesan Cheese. Add crusty bread and a cucumber salad - sliced cucumbers only or you could dress with oil & vinegar.

Serves 2

Alice's Minestrone col Pesto - Minestrone with Pesto
Thaw a small container of pesto in the microwave for one minute. Open a can of minestrone, add water, if necessary, put in a pan and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the pesto just before serving. Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread. A pre-washed and dried spinach salad would go well with this - spinach, crushed garlic, oil and vinegar.

Alice's Swiss Chard & Boiled Egg
The instructions take longer than it does to make the dish.

On the way home from work buy 2 bunches of fresh Swiss Chard - one red and one green. You have one egg in the refrigerator, don't you? Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

Put the egg into a small pan of cold water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then put the whole pan in the sink and gently run cold water over the egg for 5 minutes. Set aside. Cut the stems off and immerse the Swiss chard in a sink of lukewarm (so your hands won't get cold) water . If necessary, change the water several times. Put the chard into a large pot, cover and cook for about 5 minutes on high until it is wilted. Pour out of pot into a colander and run cold water over it (so you don't burn your hands). Squeeze the water out of it and make little balls which you will set onto the cutting board and chop. Put the chard into a salad bowl. Peel the egg and cut it lenghtwise and crosswise with an egg cutter; sprinkle on chard. Dress with crushed garlic, olive oil and vinegar. You could also add shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 1 or 2

BOREDOM LEVEL - some pre-planning/shopping inadvertently happened

Cheese Toasts with Celery Root-Carrot Salad
An unusual and good idea for a light lunch or dinner with a bowl of fresh tomato soup. From ``Cabin Cooking,'' by Tori Ritchie (Time-Life Books, 1998). Via the San Francisco Chronicle

1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds), shredded
1 celery root (celeriac)
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh tarragon, chervil or parsley (optional)
4 large slices coarse country bread, each about 1/2 inch thick
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat a broiler. Whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Pour in the oil, whisking constantly, until blended. Set aside.

Place the carrots in a serving bowl. Cut off the peel from the celery root and trim away any brown spots. Cut the celery root into quarters and shred. Add to the bowl with the carrots. Pour the dressing over the vegetables; toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss in the chopped herbs, if using.

Arrange the bread slices on a broiler pan and broil about 4 inches below the heat until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn and top evenly with the cheese. Broil until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the toasts to individual plates and spoon a little of the celery root-carrot salad evenly over the tops. Serve the remaining salad on the side.

Serves 4.

Eggs in Purgatory
From ``Little Italy Cookbook,'' by David Ruggerio (Artisan, 1997).

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups diced, seeded, peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 slices (each 1/2 inch thick) Italian bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium-size sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until it turns translucent. Add the red pepper flakes, tomatoes, basil and parsley. Cook for about 20 minutes over low heat. Reserve.

Cut a circle in the center of each bread slice with a medium-size cookie cutter. Discard the cut centers.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan. Place the bread slices in the oil. Cook on one side until nicely browned.

Flip the slices onto the other side.

Crack an egg into the center of each slice of bread. Continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat until the eggs are firm.

Carefully remove the bread-and-egg combination with a spatula and place on a plate.

Top with the sauce, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve.

Serves 4.

Panzanella - Bread Salad
1 (1-pound) loaf Italian-style country bread
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds tomatoes, any color or variety
1/2 pound bocconcini or fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch basil, chopped

Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and toast at 375 degrees until crunchy, about 15 minutes. While bread is toasting, combine red onion, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste in bowl and set aside to marinate. Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and gently squeeze out seeds. Cut tomatoes into pieces about same size as bread cubes. Cut bocconcini in half or, if using larger ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces. Whisk olive oil into vinegar mixture, then add tomatoes and mozzarella. Just before serving, add bread cubes and basil and toss.

4 servings.

Figs With Ricotta and Honey
1 (1-pint) basket fresh figs
1/2 pound ricotta
2 tablespoons honey

Halve or quarter figs. Mound ricotta in center of plate and drizzle with honey. Scatter figs around outside.

4 servings.

Alice's Tuscan White Bean Salad with Tuna and Artichoke hearts
This is great either as a main dish or side dish. Remove from your pantry:

one can of white beans
one tiny can of tuna
one jar of marinated artichoke hearts
and some fresh parsley from the fridge

Put the ingredients (except the parsley) into a colander and drain. Then put into a pretty ceramic bowl and toss with the parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

DENIAL LEVEL - "I don't know what I am doing in this supermarket since I don't cook, but while I am here I will pick up a few things on my shopping list"

Seafood Linguine
1 or 2 cans white clam sauce
1 can baby clams
1 container lump crab meat or canned crab meat (1 or 2 cans)
frozen or fresh shrimp (small sized)- amount to taste
minced garlic-to taste
bay or sea scallops (optional)-amount to taste
one cup sliced mushrooms
dash cooking sherry
2 tbs butter or margarine
clam juice in can or bottle
Mozzarella cheese-shredded
Linguine or Fettucine

Boil water for pasta and cook until it is al dente. Drain. While water is boiling, melt butter or margarine and add garlic and sherry. Saute sliced mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops and crab meat and saute 1-2 minutes. Add canned clam sauce and clams. Heat to boil and turn down to simmer.

Add clam juice until desired consistency is achieved. Oregano, basil and thyme may be added to taste if desired. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour sauce over pasta and sprinkle mozzarella cheese to taste. Serve with bread of choice and salad.

Serves 4

Red Cabbage Salad
1 small to medium head red cabbage; 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

3 or 4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 Tbl sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Thinly slice red cabbage. Add sliced almonds. Mix dressing, adjust to taste. Toss salad mixture with dressing. Refrigerate; serve cold.

Mixed Berries with Ricotta Creme
This is also good with wedges of winter pears, slices of star fruit, circles of navel oranges and bananas.

1 quart strawberries
1 quart raspberries
1 quart blackberries
3 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 orange zest only
3/4 cup toasted almond slivers
6 sprigs mint

Combine berries in a large bowl. Place ricotta and sugar in a processor and mix until smooth, or mix by hand. Remove from the processor and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve half cup of berries per person. Top with a good sized dollop of the ricotta creme. Garnish with mint sprig.

Serves 6

Let me know if you find these recipes useful and if you would like more.


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