Jamie’s Bad Day Spicy Meatballs


Ever have one of those days where you just need some feel good food that makes both your heart and your taste buds happy? My friend Jamie sent me this recipe for just that. I made it on a Monday and it was just what the day needed. I mean really… who doesn’t feel better after spaghetti and meatballs? Especially ones filled with basil and spicy Italian sausage.

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
19 oz package spicy Italian sausage links

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Mix together the 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
3) Remove sausage from their casings and add to bowl. Stir in basil and mix together well with your hands.
4) Grease a baking sheet and form meatballs (makes around 18-20).
5) Bake for 20 minutes and serve with spaghetti and marinara, or some veggies and fresh bread. And feel better!


Le Pappardelle del Cantunzein


In interest of full disclosure, I have no idea how to pronounce this. But I liked it so much I made it three times in one week for different groups of people. I found this recipe after reading about it in one of Patricia Cornwell’s books about Kay Scarpetta. There are over 20 books in the series about a medical examiner who is also very Italian and loves her wine and cooking good Italian food. In each book she references several different meals she’s making, and when I read about this one my mouth watered. Sweet Italian sausage and two kinds of bell pepper with spinach pasta? Simple, but incredible flavor. I served this with herb-crusted lamb chops on the side, but it’s just as good by itself.

1 package spinach pasta
2 large links sweet Italian sausage (make sure you get sweet, it makes all the difference in flavor)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, julienned (not chopped)
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium to large fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
kosher salt to taste
fresh black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup Parmesan

1) In a large pan, cook Italian sausage over medium-high heat until brown and thoroughly cooked (about 10 minutes). Drain the sausage on a paper towel-lined plate.
2) In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add red and yellow peppers, onion, and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sausage, tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
3) While the rest is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions.
4) Drain pasta and toss in a large bowl with butter and parmesan. Stir in the sausage and pepper mixture. Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Soup

1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
5 cups beef stock
2 cups chopped tomatoes
8-oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen green beans
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried oregano
8-10 oz. package cheese tortellini
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Saute sausage in heavy Dutch oven over medium heat until cooked through (about 10 minutes), breaking it up as it browns with a wooden spoon.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a large bowl. Pour off all but 1 tbsp drippings from Dutch oven. Add onions and garlic to the 1 tbsp drippings and saute about 5 minutes.
3. Return sausage to pan. Add beef stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, zucchini, carrots, pepper, green beans, basil, and oregano. Simmer 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender.
4. Add tortellini and cook 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Ladle hot soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.