Recipe—Rustic One Pot Veggie Pasta

Are you noticing a trend with all my new recipes? I think quick and easy has become my thing. As you may recall reading on my post, “The Diva is Back,” my blog fell to the wayside for a couple of years because life was just too crazy. Juggling work, youth sports, and well… just life, I have been all about quick, yet quality, meals. Don’t get me wrong, I still love spending time in the kitchen cooking for hours but 5 days a week I find myself short on time and energy at the end of the day.

This recipe is great for so many reasons. It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a veggie packed delicious dinner. This isn’t one of those “one pot” recipes where you cook something in a pot, transfer it to a plate, cook something else, transfer it back to the pot, you catch my drift. You literally throw almost all the ingredients into one pot and cook it all together. So to recap, you eat a delicious dinner and then have almost no dishes to wash. Win win! Now you can spend that extra time cozied up on the couch with a glass of wine (or beer) and unwinding from your crazy day.

1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 c white mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and halved
2/3 c frozen peas
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c heavy cream


  • In a large pot combine noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme, and 4 1/2 cups of water.
  • Season the water with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered until the pasta is cooked through, about 9–11 minutes, making sure to stir every couple of minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove the sprigs of thyme.
  • Stir in the parmesan and heavy creamy until well combined and the cheese melted.
  • Serve immediately topped with some extra parmesan.


Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious. 

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Orzo Pesto Pasta

In my office we all have a habit of bringing in various treats to share with each other throughout the year. (I know rough environment to be working in right?) Several years back we had an awesome (student assistant named Sarah. One day Sarah brought in this incredible orzo pesto pasta salad. I was in love! (With both Sarah and her pasta. Sarah was awesome.) She made her own pesto from scratch and I will not lie, I was impressed. This is the perfect summer salad. You have the seasonally fresh tomatoes and zucchini mixed with tangy vinegar and pesto giving it a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor. I make it several times of year and whenever I am generous enough to share with my friends I am asked for the recipe. It is definitely a favorite in our household. My son was even eating it by the bowlful when he was 1 1/2 years old. If you are looking for a tasty recipe for any summer cookouts or BBQs then search no further. This is perfect. While that little box of orzo may not look like much, it expands a great deal so this makes a very decent sized bowl of the tasty pasta salad.

Note: I save a couple of tablespoons of the feta and pine nuts to garnish the top of the salad with.

1 lb box of orzo pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
salt and pepper
4 oz feta cheese crumbles (see above note)
2 c pesto (make your own or get some from the market to save time)
3/4 c white vinegar
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c pine nuts


  • Cook orzo pasta per package instructions.
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zucchini for 3–4 minutes just slightly cooking it and then remove from heat.
  • Drain the orzo and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the feta and pesto stirring to combine.
  • Drizzle the vinegar while stirring.
  • Stir in the cooked zucchini, tomatoes, and pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra feta and pine nuts if you saved any.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours before serving.

Recipe—Summer Squash with Cheese Tortellini in a Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

Many pasta dishes have a certain heaviness to them, which makes them great comfort foods for fall and winter. This is a pasta dish that defies that logic. The lemon zest and fresh summer squash gives this dish a wonderful light and refreshing quality that will have your taste buds tingling all summer long. The sauce is what I would call a grownup version of alfredo sauce. It has that wonderful creamy quality but with more flavor. This recipe is great for many other reasons. It is incredibly cheap to make, it’s super easy, it’s delicious, and it took me under 15 minutes from start to completion, making it the perfect dinner for a busy night.

Note: You can also substitute ravioli for the tortellini.

16–18 oz cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash), thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp green onions or chives, chopped


  • Cook the pasta per package instructions.
  • While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallot s and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Add the squash and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the cream begins to simmer and thicken.
  • Add in the grated parmesan and stir to combine.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Once the sauce is the desired thickness, add the cooked tortellini to the pan.
  • Transfer to serving dishes and top with extra parmesan and a sprinkling of the green onions.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.


Recipe—Ratatouille Lasagna

My last recipe post was for very fabulous ratatouille. Well if you are like me you probably had leftovers. The leftovers can be used for a whole plethora of things but my favorite has to be lasagna. I love the big hearty pieces of vegetables cooked together with Italian sausage and some rich cheeses. This ended up being the best lasagna I have ever had! You can make one large lasagna in a 9” x 13” baking dish or two small ones in 8” x 8” dishes. I opted to make 2 so that I could freeze one for another night. That means I get to enjoy this delish dish twice! Oh lucky me! Gotta love this French meal turned Italian.

Note: When I make lasagna I like to double up the noodles on the top and bottom layers. I feel like it helps hold it together better for ease of serving. This requires that you cook one and a half boxes of noodles since just one isn’t enough for this method. If you don’t want to double up then one box is completely adequate.

1 lb Italian sausage
15 oz can tomato sauce
4 c leftover ratatouille
1 1/2 boxes wavy lasagna noodles
15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/4 c fresh basil chopped
salt and pepper
4 c mozzarella, shredded


  • In a large skillet brown your sausage and drain off any excess grease.
  • Add tomato sauce and ratatouille to skillet and warm through over medium heat.
  • While the ratatouille is heating through cook your lasagna noodles according to the package instructions, drain, and separate.
  • In a small bowl combine the ricotta, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Prepare a 9” x 13” baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  • Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of the cooked noodles and then place a second layer of the cooked noodles on top of that going the opposite direction.
  • Spoon in about 1/3 of your ratatouille sauce over your lasagna noodles and spread evenly.
  • Top sauce with half the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a handful of the mozzarella over the top of the ricotta.
  • Place a single layer of noodles over the ricotta and spoon in about 1/3 of your ratatouille sauce over your lasagna noodles and spread evenly.
  • Top sauce with half the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a handful of the mozzarella over the top of the ricotta.
  • Top the lasagna with cooked noodles and place a second layer of the cooked noodles on top of that going the opposite direction.
  • Spoon remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the top is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Dinners, Side Dishes


Ratatouille Over Penne

When most people hear the word ratatouille they think of a movie about a little rat named Remy who dreams about becoming a chef. Ratatouille is not just a very cute Pixar movie; it is also a delicious dish loaded with succulent Mediterranean vegetables that your family is sure to enjoy.

Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable stew that originated in Nice. The full name is ratatouille niçoise. It is a flavorful, hearty, low calorie fare that can be served as an excellent main dish, to accompany a protein, or tossed with pasta. This recipe is a great way to utilize all those wonderful summer garden veggies that are in season. Aside from all the chopping this recipe is very easy to prepare.


I will state that this makes a pretty hearty amount so you will probably have leftovers unless you are serving a whole army. The leftovers are incredible, as the flavors seem to intensify with time. I made lasagna with my leftovers and I must say it is one of the best lasagnas I have ever had! The big chunky vegetables were awesome, especially when I paired them with Italian sausage and some ricotta. I will be sure to share that recipe with you next. Delish!

1/4 c olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped


  • In a large pot that has a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and cook for about 1 min.
  • Add in eggplant and zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer stirring once until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in bell peppers, cover, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add in tomatoes and thyme and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.
  • Stir occasionally until vegetables are cooked to desired consistency. Mine take about 12–15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in basil, and serve immediately.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Italian Stuffed Zucchini a.k.a. Zucchini Boats

With summer quickly approaching farmer’s markets will start popping up, gardens will be getting planted, and the produce department at your store will be full of fresh goods. It seems as though every summer zucchini is plentiful and I am getting lots of the delicious green squash from family and friends. I have found so many ways to creatively cook zucchini and this is one of my favorites. It is a great side dish to accompany your favorite Italian dish, especially chicken parmigiana or a big bowl of spaghetti.

3 large zucchini
1/4 c yellow onions, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c fresh tomatoes finely chopped or canned petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 c Italian breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, divided


  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add entire zucchini.
  • Cook the zucchini for 8–10 minutes and remove from water.
  • While the zucchini cools, sauté the onion and garlic in butter until tender.
  • Add tomatoes to the pan and heat through.
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out centers of the zucchini. (I find a melon baller works wonders for this!)
  • Chop the pulp and squeeze out excess water.
  • Add zucchini pulp to the pan and mix.
  • Mix in breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Stuff the zucchini “boats” and place in a baking dish.
  • Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
  • Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 minutes.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Oven Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini is definitely one of my favorite vegetables. I find that it goes great with all types of protein and is even a nice way to top off a pasta dish. This is one of my favorite ways to serve zucchini. It is relatively quick and easy, and of course delicious. You just toss it in the oven while whipping up the rest of dinner. The thyme is a great compliment to the zucchini and adds a nice blast of flavor.

4 zucchini, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Toss together zucchini, onion, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper on a baking sheet.
  • Roast 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Recipe—Zucchini “Pasta” with Basil Cream Sauce

In this recipe the zucchini replaces the noodle in what I would consider a flavorful spinoff of pasta alfredo. I have served it with just garlic bread but it also goes great with a grilled chicken breast for some added protein. The most time consuming part is slicing up the zucchini and carrots, once you get that done the meal comes together really quickly. To get a jumpstart on dinner cut up your vegetables the night before or in the morning and this dinner will take you less than 10 minutes.

3/4 c chicken broth
1/2 c white wine (If not available substitute additional broth.)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large carrot cut into julienne strips
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/8” strips
2 yellow squash, cut into 1/8” strips
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1/4 c parmesean cheese, grated
1/4 c mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c half and half
salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large skillet bring stock, wine, and cayenne pepper to a boil over high heat.
  • Add zucchini and carrot, cover and cook until tender, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Drain off most of the liquid.
  • Add remaining ingredients to skillet and toss together. 
  • Cook just until the half and half comes to a boil and the cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with a fresh basil sprig and serve immediately.