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Archive for Pasta/Pizza

GIFT: Marinelli’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce

So many holiday gifts are well-intentioned, but end up being things people don’t really need and don’t have space to store or display.

One of our favorite gifts that’s always well-received is gourmet pasta sauce, with or without a package of gourmet pasta.

Marinelli’s pasta sauce is a double winner: delicious and beautifully packaged. The new boxes (and jar labels) are such fun works of art, we’re not even wrapping them. (Those who sell packaged products take note: Look at the old, boring labels (just another jar of sauce) and the exciting new design (beautiful and giftable).

Marinelli sauces are also certified gluten free, certified non-GMO, OU-kosher, sugar/sweetener-free and vegan.

Handmade in small batches from the very best all natural ingredients, the pasta sauces are healthful and low in calories—and are not just for pasta. On carb-sparing days, we ladle it over spaghetti squash or steamed zucchini.


Marinelli’s gourmet pasta sauce has both great taste and great packaging. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


The sumptuous sauces are made in nine flavors: Hot & Spicy Sicilian, Meat Ready Bolognese (add your own meat), Mushroom & Onion, Oven Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Spicy Black Olive & Garlic, Sweet Sundried Tomato & Oregano, Tomato & Basil and Vegetable Primavera.

The sauces are available on in six-packs, about $12.65/jar.

Learn more at

Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes.



TIP OF THE DAY: Make Dumplings Or Ravioli From Thanksgiving Leftovers

If you still have Thanksgiving leftovers, this tip from Chef Johnny Gnall shows how to turn them into favorite comfort foods: dumplings or ravioli. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

At Thanksgiving, just about every content source offers you a new take on what to do with leftovers. Here’s my take: Use them to stuff dumplings! It gives you the chance to practice your dumpling- or ravioli-making skills and produces some delicious pasta.

Dumplings are a stuffed pasta similar to ravioli or tortellini, but with a thicker dough. If you have a pasta machine to press out thin dough, go for the ravioli!

All the Ziploc bags and Tupperware in my fridge, crammed full of leftover Thanksgiving goodness, were soon transformed into dumpling goodness (and you can freeze any extra dumplings).

So impress your family and friends with fresh, handmade pasta that lights up their taste buds and reminds them of that most special of eating holidays: Thanksgiving! I guarantee you they will GOBBLE it up, and may well demand that it become an annual event.


You can use up the remaining leftovers in a sandwich…or you can make “Thanksgiving Ravioli.” Photo courtesy



First, make a simple pasta dough by mixing 1 egg, 1 cup of sifted flour and 2 or 3 tablespoons of room temperature water. Professionals will do this on any clean, floured surface; but use a large bowl if you want to keep things contained and neat.

  • Combine the ingredients. Use your hands to gently bring the flour, egg and water together. If you find things getting dry and caking, add another tablespoon of water or two. If it’s too wet, add some flour.
  • Work the dough very gently. The more you handle it, the tougher any dough gets. So knead it softly and form it into a smooth ball. Don’t get frustrated if your first attempt doesn’t come together just as you’d expect. Feel free to scrap it and start over if you’d like—it’s only an egg and some flour. Don’t aim for perfect on your first few tries.
  • Roll out the dough. You can use a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. Try to get the thickness to about 1/8 of an inch, and keep your surfaces well floured, flipping the dough a few times to keep it from sticking as you roll it. Take a ring cutter with a width of 3-4 inches (the rim of a drinking glass or cup works in a pinch) and cut out as many circles as you can. Re-knead the scraps and roll out the dough to coax out a few more pasta circles.
  • Fill. Lightly brush the edges of one pasta circle with a diluted egg wash (1:1 ratio of egg to water) and spoon filling into the center, compacting it as much as you can without pressing on the dough.
  • Press on. Take another dough circle, brush one side with egg wash and place it, wet side down, onto the bottom circle. Gently press the edges of the two circles together (pressing too hard may cause it to stick to the surface). Once you’ve connected it all the way around, pick up your dumpling or raviolo (the singular form of ravioli) and now, more firmly, press its edges together.
  • Overstuffed? If you find you’ve overstuffed your little guy and filling comes out, wipe it off and use some flour on your fingers to absorb moisture. It’s important to create a dry, secure seal all the way around or the ravioli will open up in the water, spilling their contents like pasta piñatas.
  • Go for function over form. Do your best to center your filling and make your edges pretty, but put your focus on function over form. A well built, slightly less attractive dumpling or ravioli can be called “rustic” and still be successful, as long as it’s tasty. A poorly built pasta, on the other hand, can’t be called anything if it falls apart and doesn’t make it to the plate.

    Ravioli stuffed with leftover turkey and
    butternut squash. We even used up the last
    of the peas and the sage. Photo courtesy

  • Filling trick. If you find, after cutting your pasta circles, that your dough is on the thicker side, you can make tortolloni—large tortollini. Place your filling slightly off center and fold the circle over on itself, almost like a semi-circular taco. Lightly brush the edges with the 1:1 egg wash before you fold, and keep your fillings compact and your seal tight.
  • How to make tortelloni. Once you have taco-like half circles, pull the two corners slightly downward and in toward one another to form tortelloni. It takes a gentle hand a little practice to get them nice looking, so put on your favorite holiday tunes and take your time.
  • Don’t spare the flour and water. As always, if things get sticky, dust with a little flour; if the dough feels dry, put a few drops of water on your hands. Keep any dough that needs to sit for a while (as you work on other dough) under a slightly damp paper towel or two. With doughs, you have to roll with the punches to get things just right.
  • Ready to cook! Cook the pasta in gently boiling salted water for five to seven minutes or until tender and al dente (how to cook fresh pasta). Pull out a “tester” and taste to make sure they are just right.


    Here are five delicious fillings I made for my own pastas, all from fully cooked leftovers straight out of the fridge:

  • Brussels Sprouts, Glazed Ham, & Pomegranate: Thinly slice the ham and Brussels sprouts; toss in a few pomegranate seeds per piece.
  • Classic Turkey & Cranberry: Mix shredded dark meat with a dot of turkey drippings, stock or gravy and a bit of leftover cranberry sauce. Bonus: If you can get a bit of turkey fat or gelatin to mix in with the meat, your pasta may approach Asian soup dumpling moisture consistency as it cooks and the filling liquefies. This could be one of the tastiest and most satisfying items you have ever enjoyed. Just make sure your filling holds together well enough to allow for successful pasta construction.
  • Turkey & Mascarpone: Substitute the tart cranberry sauce in the previous bullet for a dash of creamy mascarpone cheese and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. If you don’t have mascarpone you can use sour cream, or simply whip a tablespoon of heavy cream to soft peaks. The nutmeg is a really nice offset to the rich cream.
  • Maple Squash: Take a few pieces of roasted squash, pumpkin or potato and mash with a fork along with a teaspoon or two of cream, or sour cream or mascarpone (or Brie, fromage blanc, crème fraîche or cream cheese—get creative). Get the mixture smooth and creamy, taste and adjust for seasoning, then go in for the kill: a generous drizzle of maple syrup stirred. The maple takes the whole recipe to holiday heaven. If you really have a sweet tooth (or a nostalgia tooth, for that matter), finish with a shake of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Stuffing: Toss in the stuffing with any leftover fresh herbs, carrots and peas, even cranberry sauce.
    How to serve the dumplings? In broth, as a side or with a sauce of your choice. We like a white sauce, or try mixing tomato sauce or olive oil with some cranberry sauce.

    Use these ideas as a jumping-off point, but remember that the point is to eat up the leftovers in a fun and delicious way, whether they’re from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah or last Thursday.

    Review my tip on “Guerilla Cooking”, then head to your fridge, grab all leftovers you can carry and begin to perfect your handmade pasta technique!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Eliminate Microwave Spatter & An Excellent Gourmet Pasta Sauce

    No need to spatter sauce all over the
    microwave. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    To save cleaning a saucepan, we often microwave sauces in the bottle or jar. Dessert sauces are thick and don’t spatter. But pasta sauces can create microwave spatters that take more time to clean than the saucepan.

    Here’s our handy trick: Fold a paper towel into quarters and tie it loosely over the mouth of the jar with twine or a silicone cooking band.

    We start at 40 seconds in the microwave, then stir and test. We repeat until it’s the desired temperature. You can do this to your heart’s content: The paper towel cover comes off easily so you can test the temperature, put the towel back on and continue to heat.

    Another tip: If you’re pouring it over hot pasta, the sauce itself can be warm rather than super-heated.

    And by the way, we enjoyed Monique’s Outrageous Olive & Caper Sauce, shown in the photo, very much.



    Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces are part of the Al Dente Pasta line, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Company founder Monique Deschaine has this philosophy of sauce: “It has plenty of character [so] you can count on it to come through for you again and again.”

    Monique uses the finest, freshest ingredients: plump tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, fresh garlic and perhaps most importantly, fresh, grated carrots for sweetness rather than sugar or corn syrup.

    The result: Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces taste just like homemade (really, really good homemade).

    The flavors include:

  • Luscious Leek & Sundried Tomato
  • Marvelous Marinara
  • Outrageous Olive & Caper
  • Rustic Roasted Garlic

    These gourmet pasta sauces make delicious gifts. Photo courtesy Al Dente Pasta.


    At $6.00 per 25-ounce bottle, Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces are delicious and affordable gifts that may open recipients’ eyes to options other than supermarket sauces. Think of them for teachers, nurses, personal care associates and others.

    For a slam dunk, package them with some Al Dente Pasta, available in a broad selection including better-for-you whole wheat varieties (12 ounces, $3.49).

    You can buy both online at

    And don’t just save the sauces for pasta. Parmigiana dishes (chicken, eggplant, fish), pizza and anything requiring a tomato sauce will be deliciously enhanced.

    Find more of our favorite pastas and sauces plus recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Design Your Own Halloween Pizza Recipe

    Decorating your own individual Halloween pizza is a fun family dinner activity on the nights leading up to Halloween. Or, turn it into a Halloween party feature.

    Set out bowls of garnishes—bell pepper, sliced mushrooms pepperoni, olives (eyes)—and let the participants make their own designs.

    If your kids are too young to plan a design, you can design the pizzas yourself.

    And if you don’t have the time to make your own pizza crusts, you can use frozen cheese pizzas. Here’s how from

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
  • Number Of Servings: 8 (six-inch) pizzas

    Ingredients: Crust

  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast or RapidRise Yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/3 cups very warm water (120° to 130°F)*
  • 1/3 cup oil

    Create your own creepy pie design. Photo courtesy Fleischmann’s Yeast.


    Ingredients: Toppings

  • 1 to 2 cups pizza sauce (tomato sauce)
  • 1 pound (total) shredded white and yellow cheeses such as mozzarella and cheddar
  • Selection of toppings: bell peppers (green, red and yellow), black olives, broccoli florets, curly leaf parsley (for “hair”), mushrooms, pepperoni and salami slices, zucchini slices and anything else you think makes face decoration

    Turn your pizza into a jack-o-lantern. Photo courtesy



    The biggest task in this recipe is creating the crusts. You can do this in advance and refrigerate overnight or freeze them for up to one month.

    1. PREHEAT. Preheat oven to 425°F.

    2, MIX. Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute.

    3. ADD. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead† on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Divide dough into 8 portions; cover. If using RapidRise yeast, let dough rise for 10 minutes.

    4. FORM. Pat each portion of dough with floured hands into an 8-inch circle on a greased baking sheet. Form a rim by pinching the edge of the dough. Add a second crust to the same baking sheet.

    5. BAKE. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes; dough will be just set and only lightly browned on the bottom. Remove crusts to a wire rack to cool. Continue with remaining pizza dough (it works best when you use use several baking sheets). You can use crusts immediately or place them in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. If making a day ahead, place crusts in resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.

    6. BAKE AGAIN. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 475°F. Spread each crust with pizza sauce. Top with desired toppings to make Halloween designs. At this point in the dinner or party, each guest should decorate his or her pizza. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until cheese is melted and lightly browned and bottom of crust is browned.

    Alternatively, you can bring baked, undecorated pizzas to the table ready to decorate and eat. The pizzas may will cool during the design process, but that’s what microwaves are for.
    This recipe and photo are courtesy Fleischmann’s Yeast. This year Fleischmann’s and sister brand Karo Syrup have donated $200,000 to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign. Teach the kids that “together we can make a difference.” Tell them they can donate some of that Halloween cash to

    *If you don’t have a thermometer, water should feel very warm to the touch.
    †To knead the dough, add just enough flour to the dough and your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Flatten dough and fold it toward you. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away with a rolling motion. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat the “fold, push and turn” steps. Keep kneading dough until it is smooth and elastic. Use a little more flour if dough becomes too sticky, always working the flour into the ball of dough.
    Find more of our favorite pizza recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Low Carb Pizza Alternative: Zucchini Pizza

    Zucchini “canoes” substitute for pizza crusts. Photo courtesy Lucero Olive Oil.


    It’s not the toppings that are the problem with eating pizza frequently. The crust is where the ne’er-do-well carbs reside.

    The late, lamented Goldberg’s Pizza in Manhattan offered a diet pizza by heaping the toppings into an aluminum pie plate instead of onto a carb-laden crust.

    All of the vegetable toppings (bell peppers, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions—whatever you like) were added to the pie plate, covered with sauce and cheese and baked in the oven.

    It was a way for dieters (of whom proprietor Larry Goldberg was one) to enjoy the flavors of pizza without the empty carbs.

    Zucchini pizza is a modern take on the idea. In this recipe from Lucero Olive Oil, halves of zucchini serve as the base for the cheese, tomatoes and other toppings.

    Zucchini pizza is not only more nutritious; it’s a way to get family members to eat more vegetables, more often.




  • 3 zucchini (one is a zucchino)
  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
  • Fresh Basil (1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Basil olive oil (we used Lucero’s)
  • Salt and pepper or crushed chili flakes to taste
  • Optional: pepperoni or other favorite meat topping, chopped

    1. CUT. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Trim as necessary so they fit into a glass baking dish.

    2. SCOOP. Using a teaspoon, grapefruit spoon or melon baller, scoop out the center core where the seeds are to create a shallow trench. Do not scoop all the way to the bottom. (You can save the zucchini you’ve scooped out and add it to scrambled eggs.)

    3. COMBINE. Combine the crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper/chili flakes. Brush the surface of the zucchini with mixture.

    4. BAKE. Halve the grape tomatoes and arrange them inside the trench with the optional pepperoni. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes.

    5. ADD. Remove the zucchini from the oven and place diced mozzarella in the trench between the tomatoes.

    6. BROIL. Place the baking dish under the broiler until golden and bubbling.

    7. GARNISH. Remove and drizzle the zucchini lightly with basil olive oil. Top with fresh basil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

    Find gourmet pizza recipes—with the crust.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gourmet Mac & Cheese From Cucina Fresca

    America loves mac and cheese. But too much of America is content to eat reconstituted powdered cheese sauce poured over boiled elbow macaroni.

    That’s the equivalent of a glass of Tang instead of fresh-squeezed orange juice.

    If your palate demands a gourmet version of mac and cheese, Cucina Fresca is ready to fill your freezer with four different varieties:

  • Sharp Cheddar Mac and Cheese, made with two-year aged white Cheddar
  • Smoked Gruyère Mac and Cheese, made with a blend of aged Gruyère, Swiss and Fontina, and a touch of lightly smoked Spanish paprika
  • Tangy Gorgonzola Mac and Cheese, a mellow Gorgonzola cheese blended a tangy blue cheese and Fontina
  • Creamy Fontina Mac and Cheese, a blend of Fontina, aged Asiago and imported Parmesan cheeses

    Not exactly orange: what real mac and cheese looks like. Photo courtesy Cucina Fresca.


    You can bake the frozen entrées for 30 minutes or microwave them for 10 minutes. At the end, you’ve got great comfort food.

    Read the full review, and start stocking the freezer.

    It includes suggested toppings and mix-ins to make your mac and cheese even more gourmet.


  • Award winning gourmet mac and cheese recipes.
  • Macaroni and cheese history, and Ronald Reagan’s mac and cheese recipe.
  • Cooking video: Chef Marcus Samuelsson demonstrates his recipe.


  • Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Chef Marcus Samuelsson Makes Gourmet Mac & Cheese


    To make mac and cheese from scratch, there’s no better demonstrator than the buoyant and charming Marcus Samuelsson, one of America’s most popular chefs.

    Chef Samuelsson grew up in Sweden. There he had meat balls with noodles, but didn’t discover macaroni and cheese until he moved to the U.S.

    “You learn a dish, and then you want to do your own take,” says Samuesson. He tweaked the recipe into a hearty entrée: creamy, crispy and crunchy. “This is not a side dish, this is a meal by itself,” says the chef.

    Samuelsson’s take on mac and cheese includes red onion, white Cheddar, Parmesan and toasted bread crumbs, a dish seasoned with garlic and marjoram. And bacon: “It just adds something to this dish that makes it smokier, a little bit saltier, a really nice flavor.”




  • Award-winning gourmet macaroni and cheese recipes
  • The history of macaroni and cheese, and Ronald Reagan’s recipe

    We recently read Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, Yes, Chef.

    It’s an inspirational book for anyone who aspires to cook professionally and for foodies who admire the work of fine chefs. For those who are early in their careers in any industry, it’s packed with many teaching moments about hard work and a can-do attitude.

    Get your copy.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta With Greens

    We were inspired by this picture in the beautiful photo gallery of Chicken Fried Gourmet, a blog featuring the cuisine of Shreveport, Louisiana-based chef Michael O’Boyle.

    An unusual concept today, pasta with greens dates back several centuries to Italian peasant fare. Meat was costly, greens were grown in the garden: Ecco! (That’s Italian for voilà.)

    In addition to adding new flavors to pasta, piling on some greens is a way for the Greens Police to get the family to eat more (or any) greens. Greens tossed in sauce and sprinkled with cheese go down more easily with the resistance.


    1. BOIL. Cook ravioli, tortellini or a favorite pasta shape, along with your favorite sauce. You can use a red sauce, white sauce, clam sauce, or simply olive oil.

    2. SAUTE. While the sauce is heating, lightly sauté baby arugula, beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, chopped chard, kale or a mixture.


    Tortellini topped with baby spinach. Photo and concept courtesy


    3. TOSS. Drain the pasta and toss it in the sauce. Reserve some of the sauce and separately toss the sautéed greens in it.

    4. GARNISH. Top the pasta with a layer of greens. Serve with grated cheese.

    Let us know how you like the recipe, and any tweaks you devise.

    Find more of our favorite pasta recipes.

    Check out all the types of pasta in our delicious Pasta Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Grilled Ravioli

    Ravioli cooked on the grill. Photo courtesy


    Have you ever grilled pasta? Pop some fresh or thawed ravioli onto the grill and become a believer.

    We got such good response to our recent Pasta Primavera recipe that we’re sharing another take on it—grilled ravioli with grilled vegetables.

    Pasta Prima, a specialist in handcrafted ravioli, developed this recipe using its Pasta Prima Frozen Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli. You can try other ravioli flavors, as well. Consider a ravioli “mixed grill.”

    Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 4 minutes. Yields: 4 servings.



  • 24 fresh or thawed frozen spinach ravioli
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Skewers
  • Optional garnishes: fresh basil leaf, grated
    Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese
  • Marinade

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 pinches each rosemary and oregano (fresh if possible)
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

    1. MARINATE. Slice the vegetables into half inch pieces, large enough to fit on a skewer. Put the vegetables into a sealed plastic bag with the marinade ingredients, shake, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours or overnight.

    2. THAW. While the vegetables are marinating, thaw the ravioli and soak the skewers so they will not burn. For quick thawing of frozen ravioli, soak in tepid water for about half an hour, or defrost in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Soak skewers for several hours.

    3. PREHEAT. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Let the marinade drain off the vegetables in a colander, to prevent flare-ups.

    4. GRILL. Slide vegetables onto skewers. Place ravioli on the grill. Cook vegetables apart from the ravioli on the other side of the grill. Both will take about 2 ½-3 minutes to cook. Keep the grill lid open.

    5. SERVE. Top with the optional garnish(es).

    Find more of our favorite pasta recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Pasta Primavera

    A new look at Pasta Primavera, with shaved vegetable strips. Photo and concept courtesy chef Michael O’Boyle,


    To add more excitement to your cuisine, rethink classic dishes. Tweak their preparation in one small way to make them seem new and different.

    Here’s a refreshing idea from Chef Michael O’Boyle of a different perspective on the classic dish, Pasta Primavera.

    Instead of cutting the vegetables into coins, matchsticks or other shapes, use your vegetable peeler to create long strips, mirroring the shape of fettuccine.

    Not only is it visually appealing, but the way the vegetables mesh with the fettuccine makes it easier to eat your veggies.

    Pick three veggies in contrasting colors: carrots, green-skinned zucchini, red bell peppers, violet-colored red cabbage and yellow-skinned summer squash. (When peeled, most of the zucchini and yellow squash will have only white flesh.)



    The vegetables should be shaved into 3/8″ strips, or as close as possible to the width of the fettuccine.


  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 zucchini or yellow squash, unpeeled
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    1. Cook the fettuccine according to package directions.

    2. When the fettuccine is almost finished cooking, quickly steam the vegetables (you can do it in the microwave—check after 15 seconds).

    3. In a large bowl, toss the pasta, vegetables and herbs with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve; or allow diners to add their own cheese at the table, as you prefer.



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