Tag Archives: italian

Eggplant Parmesan

My daddy was always a wonderful cook growing up, and one of his best dishes was eggplant parmesan. I stole his recipe and made a couple of tweaks, but the essence is the same – and delicious. This dish is very involved, so make sure you have a couple hours to do it right. Your tastebuds will thank you for the effort.


  • 2 eggplants, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 tsp. ground thyme, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup button or crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs.+ canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzerella
  • 1 lb. thin spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, stir together bread crumbs, flour, and seasonings. Coat thin slices of eggplant in egg, then dust with bread crumb mixture. Let sit on a wire rack for 15 minutes. This well help the breading stick to it.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, anise seed, fennel seed, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Lightly fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown on both sides, then drain on paper towels.
Now it’s time to assemble the casserole. In a 3 quart casserole dish, ladle 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom. Cover this with fried eggplant, then ladle another 1/3 of sauce on top. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Top this layer with more eggplant, more sauce, and then top with with the rest of the cheese.
IMG_4273Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Broil for 2-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta. Serve eggplant parmesan with the spaghetti. Enjoy!

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

Everybody has a different definition of what “comfort food” means to them. For me, it’s spaghetti with meat sauce (otherwise known as spaghetti bolognese). It was my favorite meal in my school cafeteria, and you KNOW I made a spaghetti sandwich with my dinner roll (you did it, too, don’t deny it!). This spaghetti bolognese recipe takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll make sure it becomes a part of your “comfort food” lexicon!


  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, choppedĀ 
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar pasta sauce of your choosing
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seed
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil into pan. Saute onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add ground beef, cook until fully browned.

Stir in jar of pasta sauce. Season to taste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Drain pasta. Ladle bolognese sauce over spaghetti, and top with freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, and Thyme

Gnocchi is the potato equivalent of pasta. They’re little round mashed potato ovals that boil in less than five minutes. They’re soft, gooey, and buttery, and mix well with a large palette of flavors. For this dish, I combined crimini and button mushrooms, but you can use any variety of mushrooms (portobello and chanterelle would be delectable). A healthy serving of melted butter, thyme, garlic, grated parmesan, and crumbled bacon, make this dish a mouth watering alternative to weekday pasta.


  • 1 package potato gnocchi
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels and let cool.


Meanwhile, chop vegetables.


In the same pan you cooked the bacon in, reduce heat to low and melt half a stick of butter. Saute mushrooms in melted butter for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.


Add beef broth and the rest of the butter. Season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.


Meanwhile, while all of this is happening, bring salted water to a boil in a separate pot. Pour in gnocchi, and cook until it floats to the surface.


Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Remove from heat and toss until well coated.


Serve gnocchi immediately. Top with grated parmesan and crumbled bacon.


Other substitutions you can make: you can use pancetta instead of bacon, for a slightly fancier take. You can also use fresh sage instead of OR in addition to the fresh thyme. You can brown the butter to add a nuttier flavor to the dish, but be careful – browning butter is not as easy as it sounds, and it can quickly go from subtly nutty to bitterly burnt.



Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

This was a recipe I made up as I went along; and in this case, spontaneity proved worthwhile. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef to create a leaner version of this classic, but didn’t sacrifice any of the moistness or flavor. I also made the tomato sauce chunky with myriad vegetables – a sneaky way to make kids unknowingly eat their vegetables. Japanese Panko bread crumbs are used in lieu of traditional bread crumbs to make the meatballs less dense. Topped over spaghetti, this meal is well-balanced (with lean protein, vegetables, and carbs!) and takes just over thirty minutes to whip up.


  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus another 2 tsp.
  • 2 Tbs. dried oregano (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil (x2)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (x2)
  • 2 tsp. anise seed (x2)
  • 3 cloves garlic, mincedĀ 
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder (x2)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (x2)
  • 2 carrot sticks, diced
  • 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Jar of marinara
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
    Makes 6-8 servings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix first 13 ingredients (up to salt and pepper) in a large bowl with your hands. Use only 2 tsp of olive oil – this will help to keep the meatballs moist. Be sure not to over-mix, as this will render the meatballs tough.


Form into small meatballs, about 1.5-2 inches thick.


Drizzle olive oil into a large skillet, and brown the meatballs for several minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Transfer the meatballs to a sheet pan and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.


Meanwhile, drizzle more olive oil into large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, mushrooms, and onions for 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 1-2 more minutes.


Add jar of marinara, in addition to all of the herbs and spices used in the meatballs. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, boil spaghetti in a large pot. Salt water liberally, and add olive oil so the noodles don’t stick together. Drain.


Remove meatballs from oven, and nestle into the tomato sauce. Cover, and cook another 5-10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.


Serve over spaghetti, with 2-3 meatballs a person. Top with parmesan cheese.