Wednesday, January 22, 2014



  • 1 (16 oz.) box of organic, whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12 oz.) package of organic, nitrate-free, GMO-free Italian Style chicken/turkey sausage (optional), chopped
  • 12 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz. raw goat cheddar, shredded
  • Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Several leaves of kale torn into tiny pieces

1. Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Place on the stove, on high, adding a few dashes of sea salt. Cook pasta "al dente" according to time listed on the package. Drain. Do not rinse. (While waiting for water to heat up and pasta to boil, complete steps 2-5.)

2. In medium skillet, on medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup of water, garlic, onion, squash, zucchini, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook for about 15-minutes, checking on the water level halfway through - add another 1/4 cup of water if pan is getting too dry. Vegetables will become very soft. 

3. Place cooked veggies into a blender or food processor and purée until it resembles a creamy texture (about 1-2 minutes). 

4. Return pan to stove. Add a drizzle of olive oil and place chopped sausage in to sauté for 3-5 minutes. 

5. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, shredded cheese, and kale. Pour puréed veggies into yogurt mixture and mix well. Pour in your sautéed sausage and mix well. 

6. Serve over penne pasta.

Penne Pasta

PENNE PASTA - Penne pasta is shown in the picture at right. A 16-ounce box of pasta is the same as 1-pound of pasta. To truly cook pasta as it is meant to be cooked, it should always be cooked 'al dente'. (More on 'al dente' later.)
ZUCCHINI - For a video on how to dice a zucchini, click here.
Yellow Squash
YELLOW SQUASH - Make sure you actually buy a yellow squash - there are several types of squash and when I wasn't paying attention I have actually purchased a spaghetti squash which is way bigger and harder to work with. For a video on how to dice yellow squash, click here.
YELLOW ONION - For a video on how to easily dice an onion, click here.
GARLIC - For a video on how to mince garlic, click here. If you are still very new to cooking and just don't feel ready to try mincing your own garlic yet, feel free to do the "cheat" method and buy already minced garlic in the jar. This can usually be found in the produce section.
SAUSAGE - Always make sure you buy "good" sausage! By "good" I mean, make sure it is free of nitrates, GMO's, and organic or all-natural. I don't usually like to use beef sausage, I like to use chicken sausage or turkey sausage. Usually sausage is already pre-cooked. When using it in a meal like this I suggest you saute it in a light drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes. For vegetarians, you can either omit the sausage completely or purchase a vegetarian sausage. (Vegetarian sausage is actually quite delicious!)
GREEK YOGURT - Use a measuring cup that has ounces listed on it to measure this out. If you don't have one, use cups; 12-ounces is equal to 1 1/2 cups.
GOAT CHEDDAR - This can be difficult to find. If you are really determined to find exactly raw goat cheddar my first suggestion is to try your local health/natural foods store. Here in Oregon we have Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, New Season's...just to name a few. Ask an employee if you aren't sure. Though I did use goat cheese, I wasn't able to find exactly "goat cheddar" - mainly because I was shopping at Safeway and didn't want to have to go to a second store. If you are at a major chain store like Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc. you are not going to find goat cheese in the actual cheese aisle. Try looking through the cheeses near the deli department where you would find more specialty cheeses.
SALT AND PEPPER - Always use sea salt versus regular salt. And if you can, always use freshly ground pepper rather than already ground pepper.
KALE - I didn't sit there and tear my kale into tiny pieces...I just chopped it up as little as I could with a knife. No need to measure exactly; just cut up as much as you think you would like. Remember, always pour in a little bit can always add more.

1. Whenever you are having to boil a large amount of water, like for pasta, always start your water going first before cooking anything else. Usually, it takes a good 15-minutes or so for a large pot of water to start boiling before you can even stick your pasta in to start cooking - you don't want all your other stuff (which should be served hot) to already be cooked and sitting before your pasta has even begun to cook. Always throw a few dashes of sea salt in your water. Do not rinse pasta! A lot of people suggest you rinse your pasta under cold water in order to stop the cooking process to ensure it stays 'al dente'...this is not necessary. Pasta cools off very quickly on it's own and rinsing the pasta with water actually rinses away the natural flavor. One thing I do like to do is to keep the pasta separated from it's sauce when storing the leftovers - this ensures that the pasta doesn't get too soggy and you can heat it up and use it with something else as a different option. To store leftover pasta on it's own, drizzle a little olive oil onto it after you have drained it and toss together. You don't need much oil, just a little drizzle. This will lightly coat it and help it to not stick together.

2. On this step, it is super important that you continue to check on your vegetables. The 1/4-cup of water can dissipate quickly when you are not paying attention, yet you don't want to dump a whole bunch of water in when you start. So the best way is to start with 1/4-cup...keep checking on it...about halfway through you will probably need to add another 1/4-cup until the vegetables have cooked about 13-15 minutes total and are very soft.

3/4. Immediately put the cooked vegetables in to either a food processor or blender (you can also pour the vegetables into a bowl and use an immersion blender). It is good to get the vegetables pureed while still hot - this way, when you pour them into your yogurt/cheese mixture the heat will help melt some of that goat cheese. Put the empty pan back onto the stove so that you can saute the sausage, drizzling a tiny bit of olive oil into the pan first. Puree the vegetables for about 1-2 minutes total, scraping any chunks from the sides to ensure it all gets pureed well. It won't be completely creamy, it will have the consistency of baby food. Saute the sausage about 3-5 minutes, sausage will begin to look "cooked" and get lightly blackened. Remember, the sausage should already be pre-cooked, so you are not sauteing the sausage to actually cook it, you are just sauteing it to get it hot and "toasted".

5/6. Get your yogurt/cheese/kale mixed together in a large bowl. Pour in the pureed vegetables and mix well. Pour in your sauteed sausage and mix well. Serve over the pasta.

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