Many times, when looking for a new recipe to use, I will find an ingredient somewhere on the list that makes me think “what in the world?” I know a lot of these ingredients are probably basic ingredients that I should know, but I can assure you, my local Wally world doesn’t carry the most exotic vegetable section. So, don’t shut a recipe out just because you can’t find one ingredient. Some of the best meals come from those that you add your own flavor in.
ALSO, do not shut a recipe out just because there is an ingredient that you don’t like. So many times I strayed away from a meal because I didn’t like one of the ingredients, but after finally making it, you realize that a lot of times you don’t even realize that ingredient is in there.
Just for an example, the meal that I cooked tonight called for a vegetable called escarole. You might know what this is, but I had absolutely no idea. So I did a little research on the internet and added that vegetable to my knowledge book and realized that I probably won’t ever find it. So, I replaced it with spinach. Now, my father and I normally completely rule out the use of spinach, but I gave it a try and was very glad I did.
Tonight’s meal ended up so good, that I want to share it with you all. And, I’ll post the link to the original recipe so you can see what I changed.
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound farfalle
- 2 tablespoons extra-virigin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 large sprigs basil, plus 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, sauteed
- 1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini, sauteed
- 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of red onion
- Polska kielbasa
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the farfalle un
til very al dente, 2 to 3 minutes less than the label directs; drain. While pasta is cooking, cook your chicken. Use whatever kind of spices that you would like. Have fun with it. I used some crushed red pepper flakes and salt. I kept it simple because there are so many fresh herbs in this dish. Remove chicken and put aside in a large bowl. Cut up the Polska kielbasa and put it aside in the same bowl. Afterwards, put some oil in the pan and add your zucchini and spinach. Saute it for a couple of minut
es and add it to the bowl.
Then, make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, red onion, and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden. Add in the crushed and diced tomatoes. Add the basil sprigs; simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, 15 minutes. Discard the basil; season the sauce with salt. (Do not skimp and buy a premade sauce, this sauce is worth it…promise).
Stir the chopped basil and parsley into the sauce, then add the spinach, zucchini, chicken and polska kielbasa.
Brush a 3-to-4-quart baking dish with olive oil. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and half of each cheese. Spread in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until browned, about 15 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Note: Polska Kielbasa is something you don’t want to miss out on. It is a type of sausage and is sold by the lunch meat. Best meat ever.
Last Tip: Don’t use dried herbs, go fresh. It is worth the extra cash.