Baked Penne, Broccoli, and Ricotta + Lagostina Martellata Pasta Set Giveaway

A tasty pasta dish and a fabulous Lagostina Pasta Pot giveaway! Best National Pasta Day ever!


Happy National Pasta Day, friends! In honor of today’s holiday, I have a fabulous giveaway from the nice folks at Lagostina (you might remember them from this post last December, when I gave away this snazzy Risotto Pan).


One of you will win this truly gorgeous Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper Pastaiola Set. I’ve had the one pictured above in my kitchen for about a month now, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s functional, conducts heat beautifully, and may well be the most beautiful piece of cookware in my kitchen.


I’ve used it for all manner of blanching, steaming, and cooking by now (it also happens to work well as a canning pot for half pint jars!) and have taken to leaving it on the stove between uses, because I so enjoy seeing it there in all its gleaming glory.


The recipe I’m sharing with you today puts this pot to work twice. First, I use it to blanch off a bunch of chopped broccoli. Once it’s cooked, I use the same water to cook the whole wheat penne.


While the broccoli cooks, I browned some chicken sausage in the a little olive oil and then drained it on a plate. Once the broccoli is bright green and tender, it gets drained and poured into the pan where the sausage had cooked.

From there, it’s a matter of building a sauce of pressed garlic and ricotta cheese. I wrap it up by adding the cooked sausage back in, along with the pasta, a healthy splash of pasta water, and a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese.


I love having a petite pasta pot like this one in my kitchen, because it allows me to stay at the stove, rather than dripping water between the sink and the stove. I’ve long had a larger pasta pot, but rarely pulled it out because it was just too much for my regular weeknight cooking. This one is just so much more functional for my household.


The Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper Pastaiola Set can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and other specialty shops, and retails for $249.99. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of these glorious pasta pots to give away to you guys. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you’d use this pot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 22, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, October 23, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this pasta pot to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Baked Penne, Broccoli, and Ricotta

Yield: serves 4-6


  • 1 pound broccoli florets and stems, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage
  • 12 ounces short whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Fill a pasta pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, salt the water well and add the broccoli. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until it turns a vivid green.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken sausage from its casing and brown in the pan, using a spatula to break it up into crumbles. Once it is brown, use a slotted spoon and transfer the cooked pasta onto a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Tumble the cooked broccoli into the pan that had once held the sausage and reduce the heat to medium. Bring the water in the pasta pot back to a boil and add the pasta.
  4. Add the garlic to the broccoli, along with the ricotta cheese and the drained sausage. Stir to combine.
  5. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and pour it into the pan with the other ingredients. Stir to combine and add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, along with 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, and add more pasta water, if it is too thick.
  7. Top with the remaining parmesan cheese. Slide the pan under the broiler to brown the top.

Links: Pickled Figs, Cinnamon Simple Syrup, and Winners


We fly away tomorrow for a much-needed vacation (to Ireland! I’ve never been and I’m so excited!). I have a handful of posts scheduled to appear in this space while I’m away, but please know that I’ll be waiting until I get back to reply to emails and comments. Please be patient with me! Now, links!


It was so fun to see how many of you were excited about the new Luigi Bormioli Lock Eat jars last week! Here are the five winners in the giveaway. I will be in touch with all the winners soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Homemade Peanut Butter in an Omega Nutrition Center Juicer


If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I have an enduring fascination with homemade nut and seed butters. I included a handful in my first cookbook. There are nearly half a dozen recipes in the archives of this site (as well as this very worthy chocolate sun butter I wrote for Simple Bites a few years back).


A large part of my nut butter quest has been the search for the best tool for the job. At one time or another, my go-to nut butter machines have been a 40 year old Cuisinart, a Blendtec (best when used with a Twister jar), a Vitamix, and a newer Magimix food processor. I have also spent more than a few minutes lusting after Margo’s commercial peanut butter maker.


However, I think my search for the best nut butter method is over. The piece of gear that has brought my journey to an end? The Omega Nutrition Center Juicer. I tried it for the first time yesterday, and it transformed a pound of roasted peanuts into smooth, spreadable butter in less than two minutes. I was agog at how fast and easy it was.


The folks from Omega sent me this juicer last month, wondering if I might find it useful for prepping fruit for jelly making. However, I was more intrigued by the line in the description that mentioned its ability to make nut butters. Could this be the piece of equipment I’ve been looking for?


Here’s how it works. The Nutrition Center comes with two screens. One is designed for juicing, but the other blocks off the hole where the pulp is ejected, allowing the entirety of the product to go through the machine. As long as you use one of the wider aperture nozzles on the end of the juicer, the auger grinds the nuts and out comes butter!


I added some salt as the nuts went through the machine, so that the finished butter would be uniformly salted. That worked well enough, but going forward, I plan on seasoning the nuts during the roasting step, to ensure that there aren’t any pockets that are spicy or salty.


Now, I’ve only used the Omega for peanut butter, but judging by how beautifully it worked with peanuts, I have a feeling it will do other nut butters really well. I’m looking forward to trying other nut and spice combinations as well!


Do you have a favorite method for making nut butters at home? If you have an juicer, have you ever tried using it to make nut butters?

Disclosure: As stated above, this juicer was sent to me as a review unit. No additional payment was provided for this post and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Low Temperature Pasteurization + Crab Boil Pickles


I have spent the last five years working as an independent, creative person. One of the things I’ve learned about myself in that time is that my path towards getting things done is shaped like a snail shell, with the product at the center and the track towards it running in a spiral shape.


I orbit around the goal for days, weeks or even sometimes for months until I final land on the thing in the center. This is the process I take whether it’s a small project or a large one and people who know me understand that when they ask me how something is going, my response is often along the lines of, “I’m getting closer.”


The reason I’m sharing this with you today? This blog post is one I’ve been circling around for a very long time. I first started thinking about low temperature pasteurization for pickling six or seven years ago. A tool to accomplish it effectively (the Anova Precision Cooker) came into my life more than two years ago.

And the recipe I’m sharing at the bottom of this post was directly inspired by a press trip I took to New Orleans with the folks from Zatarain’s back in January (nine months).


Finally, it’s all come together and I’ve landed on center of the circle.

The story starts with low temperature pasteurization. For many people, this approach is the answer to the question, “How can I make crunchy, shelf stable pickles?” It is preservation technique in which you simmer your filled jars in water that’s between 180 and 185 degrees F.

You do this for a longer period of time (typically 30 minutes) than you would normally process them in a boiling water bath canner. The longer, lower temperature allows you to kill off bacteria while retaining a firmer finished texture.


Now, the trick to low temperature pasteurization is finding a way to maintain the proper temperature over an extended period of time. I have tried it on my ancient electric stove, but found that it was nearly impossible to consistently hit and sustain the target range.

Now, here’s where the Anova Precision Cooker comes in.


Several years ago, various companies started making immersion circulators for home use and the thought occurred to me that it would be the perfect tool for low temperature pasteurization. The reason being that immersion circulators are designed for sous vide cooking, a process in which you bring water to a certain temperature and then hold it at that temperature for an extended period of time to fully cook various kinds of food without overcooking them.


Two years back, the folks from Anova got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in trying one of their immersion circulators. Thinking about low temperature pasteurization, I said yes. They sent me the unit, and then life got the better of me. I moved it from corner of the apartment to another for nearly a year, and then finally tucked it into my closet, forever promising myself that I would eventually use it for processing pickles.


That brings us to 2016. Back in late January, I went on a press trip to New Orleans to learn more about Zatarain’s. Before that trip, all I knew about that iconic brand was the fact that they sold boxed rice mixes. While on the trip, I discovered that Zatarain’s is synonymous with New Orleans food. Never before had I encountered a brand that was so interwoven with the food culture of a place.


It was a magical trip and I came away feeling moved by the welcome of the city and motivated to devise a cucumber pickle recipe that employed the Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil flavoring. The reason for the recipe idea was this. They told us that originally, people would flavor their crab boil with packets of pickling spices. Over time, they’d created the concentrated liquid flavor out of a blend of extracted oils from those classic pickling spices.


Always dreaming up preserving recipes, it seemed obvious that I should make a pickle using the liquid flavor, if for no other reason than it would create a classically flavored pickle without the mess of the whole spices.


So, that brings us up to mid-August. I was home between book events and was determined to finally make my crab boil pickles, and preserve them using the low temperature pasteurization process, facilitated by the Anova immersion circulator. I went to Reading Terminal Market, intending to buy 10 or 15 pounds of pickling cucumbers, and ended up coming home with a bushel (it weighed nearly 50 pounds).


I proceeded to make a lot of pickles. I made horseradish pickles. I make classic garlic dills. I cut them in spears, coins, and halves. All in all, I made nearly 30 quarts of pickles, thanks to an idea, a tool, a trip, and a little bottle of crab boil seasoning.

I realize that cucumber season is done for most of the country at this point, but since I finally managed to pull these things together experientially, I wanted to get this blog post written in this calendar year (and plant the seed that if you value crunchy pickles, perhaps an immersion circulator should be on your holiday list this year).

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Homemade Low Sugar Concord Grape Jelly

Homemade, low sugar Concord grape jelly is a fun one to have in the pantry and makes the most delicious nut butter sandwich imaginable!

Concord grapes for Concord grape jelly

I was certain that I was going to miss the Concord grape season this year. I spent most of September away from Philadelphia and while I did plenty of canning while out in Portland, I didn’t manage to get any grapes.

Concord grapes in a colander for Concord grape jelly

Now, it’s easy enough to get good quality Concord grape juice any time of year for jelly making (and I tell you how to do exactly that in my first cookbook). But I do so like to make it straight from the grapes when I can, because there’s nothing like the fragrance and flavor of fresh Concord grapes.

simmered Concord grapes for Concord grape jelly

A couple weekends ago, I spent the morning demonstrating how to make honey-sweetened jam at the Antietam Valley Farmers Market. When I was done with my demo, I made a quick circuit to pick up a few things for the week and one of the vendors had three quarts of Concord grapes left. They all came home with me.

Concord grape pulp in a food mill for Concord grape jelly

This preserve is halfway between a jelly and a jam. Instead of simply extracting the juice from the grapes, I simmer them and then push them through a food mill, so that I can get as much pulp as possible into my finished product.

Just remember. Concord grapes stain like crazy, so wear dark colors or your least favorite apron when making this. And if you have marble countertops, take care!

Concord grape jelly in Lock Eat jars

This is a lower sugar grape jelly that you often find (I used a ratio of 4 parts juice to 1 part sugar). I’ve got a similar preserve in Naturally Sweet Food in Jars that is sweetened with maple sugar, if you want to avoid the refined stuff entirely.

I like this version because the flavor of the grapes is the one that it spotlights, and there’s nothing better on piece of peanut butter toast than a smear of grapey goodness.

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Giveaway: Lock Eat Jars from Luigi Bormioli

Lock Eat jars from from Luigi Bormioli are the first jars designed with both canning and serving in mind.

Lock Eat jars with their brand embossing

You might not know this about me, but I get positively giddy when I discover new canning jars. The most recent line of jars to send me over the moon? The Lock Eat jars from Luigi Bormioli. They are sleek, easy to use, and have a very pleasing heft to them.

An assortment of sizes of the Lock Eat jars.

They’re the first jars designed with the understanding that they will have multiple uses in our homes. They work beautifully for all manner of boiling water bath canning, but are also perfect for portable meals. The lid detaches completely and once removed, you’re left with a smooth container that’s ideal for yogurt, grain salads, and smoothies.

Lock Eat jars designed for holding juice

They come in two different shapes, and a number of sizes. The juice jar shape is available in 8.5, 20.5, and 34 ounces, and the straight-sided jars hold 2.75, 4.25, 6.75, and 11.5 ounces. All the Lock Eat jars are made in Italy, and are safe for both the microwave (once the lid is removed) and the dishwasher.

A GIF of how to securely close Lock Eat jars.

The lid is really easy to lock into place as well. Holding the base of the jar firmly, you just push the stainless steel arm down until it slides into position.

Lock Eat jars in a canning pot

I’ve had a small assortment of the Lock Eat jars in my kitchen for a little over a month now and have used them for leftovers, dry good storage, packed lunches and canning. So far, I like them a whole lot.

Hot Lock Eat jars ready to be filled

Using them for canning feels very much like processing preserves in Weck jars. Before you start making your preserve, arrange your selected jars in a canning pot (I’m using the Lagostina Martellata pasta pot here – more on that next week). Remove the rubber seals from the lids and arrange the glass lids in the pot as well. Bring to a boil. In a separate pot, simmer the rubber seals to soften.

Lock Eat jars filled with grape jelly.

Once your preserve is ready, remove the jars from the canner and fill them to the bottom of the solid glass band that runs around the top of the jars. This is a little more headspace than one leaves when working with mason jars, but it makes sense once you remember that the lid sits in the body of the jar and so takes up some of the header space.

The lid of a Lock Eat jar

Once the jars are filled, you ease the rubber seals back onto the lids, taking care to ensure that the tab is positioned so that it won’t be in the way of the latch when you go to lock the lids into place.

Three filled and closed Lock Eat jars

Then you wipe the rims and the top interior of the jars, place the lids onto the jars and carefully lock the lids into place.

(If you’re curious about the contents of these jars, check back tomorrow, when I’ll be sharing a recipe for low sugar grape jelly.)

The Lock Eat jars play nicely with regular jar lifters, provided that you take care to place the lifter on the sides of the jars, rather than get them tangled up with the lid latch. Set them into your canning pot and process as your recipe instructs.

Using a jar lifter to move Lock Eat jars

Once the processing time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. Once the jars are completely cool, you can check the integrity of your seal by carefully releasing the clamp, grasping the lids, and lifting. If the lids stay firmly in place, the jars are sealed and can be stored in the pantry. As always, any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

The rubber seals can be safely reused for canning as long as they remain springy and in good shape. If they seem to be losing their elasticity, you’ll want to order new ones prior to canning with them again.

Cooled and sealed Lock Eat jars.

Because they want to spread the word about their new jars, the folks at Luigi Bormioli are offering up five sets of Lock Eat jars for this week’s giveaway. Each of the five winners will receive an assortment of 14 food and juice Lock Eat jars, at a retail value of $125.

To learn more about Lock Eat jars and watch a video of them being used for canning, make sure to visit this page on the Luigi Bormioli website. Use the widget below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you like the looks of the Lock Eat jars, you can follow Luigi Bormioli on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #LBandME if you post about them.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Luigi Bormioli sent me the jars you see pictured here and paid a small fee to compensate me for my time and attention. All opinions remain entirely my own. 

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