Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedFunny that as long as I have been cooking, certain dishes continue to elude me. Most often they are the most basic dishes, like meat loaf or ribs. I’ve tried countless recipes and techniques but can’t quite nail it. Lasagna is also a dish I was never 100% satisfied with. Too watery, too dry, pasta not quite right, too heavy, and so on and so forth.  Like Goldilocks searching for the perfect porridge or chair.

Then this past weekend, while flipping through some back issues of Cooks Illustrated, I came across a technique for making streamlined manicotti.  No tedious filling of pasta shells, just spread the cheesy filling over no-boil lasagna sheets, roll up and bake. I had great confidence, being from Cooks Illustrated, the recipe would be fantastic, which it was. What I didn’t expect was to realize that this was the perfect lasagna I’ve been searching for!

Just in a slightly different form.

The pasta is melt-in-your-mouth tender, the cheese filling light and airy and the fresh tomato sauce takes just 15 minutes to make but is bright and fresh. As with all recipes, I made several modifications and proclaimed the dish “blog worthy.” So browse through some of the photos, if you wish, or dive straight into the recipe and all it’s cheesy, tomato goodness!

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedYou don’t need many ingredients or time to make a delicious tomato sauce. I upped the amount of garlic from the original recipe and also gave the sauce a shot of tomato paste at the end to thicken it a bit.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups } Dinner Is Served

The filling contains all the traditional ingredients you’d expect in a cheese filling, along with fresh herbs.

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is Served

And assembly could not be easier.  Just soften the no-boil noodles in a little boiling water, spread some filling on each one, combine with the tomato sauce and bake.

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedSunday supper at its very best!

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | DInner Is Served

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups *

Tomato Sauce

2 (28-ounce) cans petit cut tomatoes, with their juice

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 TBS minced garlic

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Salt

1 TBS tomato paste (optional)

2 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves

Cheese Filling & Pasta

3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

2 cups grated Parmesan/Romano blend cheese

2 1/2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

2 TBS chopped fresh basil

16 no-boil noodles (prefer Barilla® brand)

Preheat oven to 375°

Heat oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, but not browned (1-2 minutes). Stir in tomatoes and about 3/4 tsp salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. If you want a slightly thicker sauce, stir in tomato paste. Sauce can be left chunky or, if you prefer a smoother tomato sauce, puree a bit using an immersion blender. Stir in fresh basil, adjust seasonings, and set aside.

For the cheese filling, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese, 2 cups of the mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings.

To assemble, pour 1-inch boiling water in a 13×9-inch broilersafe baking dish. Add noodles, one at a time, completely submerging them. Let noodles soak until pliable, separating then with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Discard water from dish and wipe dry.

Spread bottom of baking dish with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Using a large spoon, spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle, leaving top quarter exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining noodles and filling. Top pasta evenly with remaining tomato sauce, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for bubbling, about 40 minutes.

Remove baking dish and adjust oven rack to 6 inches away from broiling element. Heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese blend.  Broil until cheese just begins to brown, about 4 minutes.

Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

*Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au Jus

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwich with Swiss Cheese and Thyme Au Jus | Dinner Is Served

Is it just me or has the late Thanksgiving just thrown everything off kilter?  I feel like Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m starting to panic a bit (and I’m not a panicking kind of person).  To add to my already full plate, wrestling season is now in full swing for my son and weekend speech team meets for my daughter, multiple concerts, parties….ahhhhh!!!

Well when the going gets tough around these parts, it makes me love my slow cooker even more.  Having a meal essentially ready for everyone when I get home and before the evening activities start is a blessing.  And this recipe in particular…oh my.  I’ve been meaning to share it with you since forever because it is indescribably delicious.

So let’s get going with the game plan, shall we?  The night before, whip up this magical fantastic sauce, which I can pretty much guarantee you have all these ingredients in your pantry.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au Jus

Then chop up some carrots and slice a little onions.  Refrigerate everything and go to bed!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au JusThe next morning, things could not be easier.  Just throw the veggies and the magical sauce into your slow cooker, season your pot roast and place on top, set your cooker for 7-8 hours and go about your day.  When you return home, you will be met by an aroma so seductive, you’ll want to dive right into that meat!  But wait, because it gets better.

After you remove and shred the meat and strain the sauce, now get out a few pieces of Texas toast and spread with a little horseradish mayo:

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au Jus

Top with some of that delish pot roast and a slice of Swiss cheese like this:

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au Jus

Then run them under the broiler till the cheese is all hot and melty and serve with that wicked good thyme au jus.  Seriously, you’ll need a moment or two alone with this meal.  Added bonus: if you have hungry teens in the house and you serve this to them, they will love you so much, they might even offer to do the dishes.  That’s how good it is.

So with twenty-three shopping days till Christmas, I best be getting to the mall now.  Here’s to panic-free and stress-free cooking in the weeks to come.  I need it!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with Swiss Cheese & Thyme Au Jus

For the Roast:

2 medium or 1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 carrots, chopped

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 TBS dried thyme OR 1 large bunch fresh thyme

2 TBS tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 boneless chuck roast, about 3-4 pounds

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

For the Sandwich:

 1 cup mayonnaise

2 TBS prepared horseradish

8 slices Texas toast, toasted

8 slices Swiss cheese

In a 4-6 qt. slow cooker, combine carrots, sliced onions, broth, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, thyme, tomato paste and bay leaf. Season roast with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place on top of the vegetables.  Cover and cook on low heat 6-7 hours or on high 4-5 hours.

Transfer meat to a large bowl or rimmed cutting board and shred with two forks, adding a few TBS of the cooking liquid to moisten.  Set aside.  Strain vegetables out of liquid and transfer the au jus to small saucepan; keep warm over low heat (discard solids).

Preheat broiler and place rack to about 6-8 inches away from heating element.

Toast the bread and place on a sheet pan.  Combine the horseradish and mayo and spread a thin layer on each slice of toast.  Top each piece of toast with some of the shredded meat.  Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese.  Broil until cheese melts, about two minutes.  Serve sandwiches with the warm au jus.

Serves 8

Orecchiette with Fennel, Sausage and Tomatoes {quick..family..comfort}

2012-11-18 18.41.58

Oh I’m telling you, I am cranking them out fast and furious now!  It does help that I am currently in between assignments at work, although today I am home bound with a most annoying cold.  And in my Daquil-induced haze, it took me about thirty minutes to just add text to my photo.  Oy..

Anyway, this recipe has an unusual twist from traditional pasta dishes, which frequently begin with a onion/garlic saute.  In their place is a generous portion of fresh fennel, sauteed to a mellow stage, beautifully complimenting the sweet Italian sausage and tomatoes.  Fresh basil and some piquant Pecorino Romano cheese brighten the dish.  It comes together in about 30 minutes, so it definitely qualifies as quick and well…it’s pasta so of course it’s comfort food!

For a healthy variation, you may certainly substitute turkey Italian sausage and whole grain or whole wheat orecchiette or medium shells.    And a glass or two of some nice sangiovese certainly would not hurt either.

Eat well and take your vitamin C.  I’m off in search of a big box of tissues  :-/

Orecchiette with Fennel, Sausage and Tomatoes {quick..family..comfort}

Kosher salt
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed (or 3/4 lb. mild turkey Italian sausage)
1 large fennel bulb (about 1-1/4 lb.), quartered, cored, and finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups fresh (or canned) seeded diced tomatoes, drained if using canned
12 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb. dried orecchiette pasta or medium shells
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a metal spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate and pour off and discard any fat left in the pan.

Set the pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil, the fennel, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until the fennel softens and browns lightly, about 6 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the wine, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the sausage, tomatoes, half of the basil, the red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 6 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in the boiling water, stirring frequently until just tender, about 11 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well. Return the pasta to the pot, add the sauce, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 1 minute so the sauce and pasta meld. If the pasta seems dry, add enough cooking water to moisten it to your liking. Stir in half of the pecorino, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with the remaining pecorino and basil.

Serves 4

Coq au Riesling

Words almost can’t describe how much I love this chicken, but the word “exquisite” comes to mind.  It’s French, it’s elegant and the sauce…oh my.  I wish I could reach right through your screen right now and let you have a taste.  Butter, wine and crème fraiche.  Need I say more?

This, is worthy of your most special dinner party, served with buttered noodles or spaetzle and a rosy red beet salad.  Going with either a vin d’Alsace pinot gris, or a delicate pinot noir, should you be in the red wine state of mind.   Of course there will be some leftover Riesling as well, but I always think the leftover wine should be saved for the cook <g>.

Bon appétit!

Coq au Riesling

  • 3-4 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (skin on or off) (see Note>)
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 TBS each butter and olive oil, plus a bit more butter for sauteeing mushrooms
  • 4 small shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS Cognac
  • 1 cup dry Riesling
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried thyme)
  • 8 – 10 oz. mushrooms, quartered (preferably cremini)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream (or 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream)
  • Chopped fresh parsley or tarragon for garnish

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the chicken on all sides, working in batches if necessary.  Remove to a plate and add the shallots and garlic to the pan for about 1 minute.  Carefully pour the Cognac in to deglaze (if you’re the adventurous type of soul, feel free to “flambé” the cognac and let it burn off).  Put the chicken back in the pan.  Pour in the wine and stock, cover and cook until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile, melt a little butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until golden.  When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a serving platter to keep warm.  Over medium high heat, boil down the cooking liquid until reduced by almost half.  Stir in the crème fraiche and mushrooms.  Discard fresh thyme sprigs and taste the sauce for seasoning.  Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 4-6

Note> You may certainly use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this dish.  Just lightly pound to a uniform thickness and proceed with the recipe as written. Reduce simmering time to about 10 minutes.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Basil & Olives

I love food matches made in heaven:  lamb and rosemary, port and chocolate, french fries and ketchup, Mama Nunz garlic cheeseburger and Little Kings Ale  at 3:00 a.m. (don’t ask).    You just know when that flavor combination hits the mark, and in this dish these classic flavors are absolute soulmates.  Garlic, olives, basil and tomatoes have existed together for centuries, in cuisines throughout the world.

I will also admit to being completely olive obsessed lately, ever since I discovered Castelvetrano olives in mass quantity at Costco.  But I digress…

I was led to this recipe by necessity: chicken thighs on sale at Whole Foods, along with a spare package of fresh basil in my fridge.  Just had to pick up a can of crushed tomatoes, kalamata olives, some green beans for a side dish and a bottle of wine.   You may also want to stock up on garlic because this recipe calls for a whopping twelve cloves.  Which in turn brings me to one of the most interesting aspects of this recipe and a first for me: cooking with whole cloves and mashing them at the end with a fork.

No surprise that Food and Wine nailed this technique and I am now a big fan!  This gives the sauce a nice mellow garlic flavor.  Not overpowering and not burned.  A perfect marriage with the bright flavors of the fresh basil and tomatoes.  And yes….those olives, oh my!

May they all live happily ever after.

Braised Chicken Thighs…

 with Basil & Olives

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic Thyme Gravy

Alternate title to this post “Channeling June Cleaver.”  Because every time I think of pot roast, I think of the Cleaver family meals and I’m pretty sure they were always eating pot roast or meat loaf.  And gosh darn it, June pulled it off every single time in her nicely pressed dress, high heels and pearls.   I am nowhere near being a 50’s fashionista, but what I lack in couture, I more than make up with kitchen gadgetry.

When  it comes to pot roast, I’ll take my slow cooker over cultured pearls any day!

Slow cookers and pot roast = a match made in heaven.  That said, I am a recent convert to slow cookery.  Prior to my going back to work in the fall of 2010, the only slow cooker I owned was a relic Crock Pot from the 1980’s (pretty sure that’s the Paleolithic era, correct?).  In my mind all it was suitable for was serving hot apple cider at a party.  I also admit to being somewhat of a food snob.  Crock Pots were the realm of the “I’m Too Lazy to Really Cook” crowd.  You know, throw in a cheap piece of meat, a couple cans of cream of anything soup and cook it till it’s mush.

OK, so I was really wrong.   I quickly realized after starting work, that I just couldn’t pull off getting dinner on the table with lightening speed.  Not even Rachael’s 30-minute-meals could save me.  I thought about trying the Crock Pot again, but the vintage model definitely had to go.  After doing some thorough research I settled on this mighty fine Hamilton Beach programmable 6-quart model, for a mere $40.  Collected a batch of new recipes.  We’ve been living happily ever after.

As for this pot roast, I will say there is a fair amount of front end time, but it is way worth it.  And when it’s done, it’s done.  No last minute gravy making, etc.  You want a bit of over the top?  Serve these with a side of mashed potatoes made with a little creme fraiche and garnished with chives.

Oh Ward, Wally and the Beave would be so proud.  And I doubt they’d even notice I traded in the dress and pearls for sweat pants and sneakers.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic Thyme Gravy

3 TBS vegetable oil

1 3-4 lb chuck roast

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 TBS tomato paste (see Note>)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

2 cups sliced onions

6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces

3 large celery ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces

6 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 dried bay leaves

Chopped parsley (optional)

Preparation

Remove roast from fridge about 30 minutes prior to cooking.  Pat dry and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Heat oil in a large saute pan and brown roast on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer roast with a slotted spoon to a 4-6 qt. slow cooker.

Stir flour into saucepan and cook for about 1 minute.  Add tomato paste and cook for about 1 additional minute.

Deglaze saute pan with wine, cooking until liquid evaporates.  Stir in broth and Worcestershire sauce; bring mixture to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.

Transfer broth mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves.  Cover and cook on high setting for 4-5 hours or on low setting for 8-9 hours.

Remove roast from cooker and cut into serving pieces.  Spoon any fat from the gravy in the slow cooker.  Serve roast with vegetables and some spoonfuls of gravy and fresh chopped parsley for garnish.

Serves 4-6

Note> Recipes that call for just a tablespoon or two of tomato paste can pose a challenge if all you have available is a small can.  The leftovers frequently end up getting discarded or buried in the back of the fridge.  My solution is to purchase tomato paste in a tube.  And most recently, I’ve discovered a fabulous tomato powder at the Savory Spice shop near my house.  It can be reconstituted to create paste, sauce or juice.  A must have and available online!

Citrus-Herb Game Hens

That awkward moment at the very end of a cooking show where the host takes a bite of his/her food.  Eyes roll.  Lips pucker and voice moans.  Followed by some kind of explanation “Oh my god, the flavors are just exploding in my mouth…”

For heaven’s sake people, keep it rated G please!

And yet here I am, post after post.  Gushing, effusive, exclaiming “this is THE best thing I have ever eaten.”  Perhaps I should give Rachael and Giada a break, because I DO know that feeling.  The joy of creating a meal with enticing aromatics and sizzling sounds.  And then finally:  That.first.bite.

Sigh….

These citrus-herb Cornish hens definitely gave me that love-at-first-bite moment last night.  I call this technique “reverse marinating” and wow does the flavor ever pack a punch.  The hens are browned and roasted first, then get bathed in a lemony, garlic and herb mixture.  I served mine with a tomato/mozzarella salad and fresh ciabatta bread.

Feel free to substitute chicken for the Cornish hens, if you like.  Boneless skinless breasts can just be sautéed and would not require a trip to the oven.  For bone-in chicken pieces, I would knock down the oven temp to about 375° and roast for about 35 minutes.

But enough with the details.  Just make this and savor that first bite like Rachael or Giada or……me.

Citrus-Herb Game Hens

2  whole Cornish game hens

4 TBS best-quality olive oil, divided

1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds

1 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS each, chopped fresh rosemary and parsley

Salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

To prepare hens, rinse under cold water and pat dry.  Using kitchen shears or a chef knife, cut down the middle of the breast and lay flat.  Then cut along either side of the backbone (discard backbone).  Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 TBS of olive oil in a pan and brown the hens, skin side down until golden, about 4 minutes.  Turn hens over and sauté 2 minutes.  Transfer hens to a roasting pan, skin side up.  Roast hens, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165° at the thickest part of the breast, about 20-25 minutes.

Just before hens are finished, place lemon slices in a glass dish and microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.  Combine heated lemon slices, remaining 3 TBS olive oil, garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper.

Remove hens from oven and transfer to the dish with the lemon mixture.  Let rest for 10 minutes, flipping the hens every few minutes to coat with the oil and herbs.

Serves 4

Macaroni and Beef Comfort Casserole

A term I would be happy to never hear again: “comfort food.”  Overused and a bit too folksy for my taste.  And yet, certain kinds of foods are just that, aren’t they?  Comforting and healing.   Meals that take you back to your childhood,  keep you warm on a cold day, or make you smile when things aren’t quite going your way.

When a best girlfriend called me last week to tell me she was having elective out-patient surgery, of course my first thought was that I MUST make dinner for her and her family.  And as luck would have it, this recipe happened to appear on one of the many food sites I frequent.

Just what the doctor ordered!

And lucky for me, this recipe yielded enough for two casseroles, so one for my friend’s family and one for mine.    I also had an opportunity to try out one of my finds from the new spice shop that opened last week nearby:  Smoky Hills Cheese Powder.  I know that thought of cheese powder does not sound inherently appealing, but it is all natural and really boosts the cheesy flavor.  It’s a new secret weapon in my spice cabinet!

The verdict from my family was an enthusiastic thumbs way up.  And well,  I admit going  in for seconds,  which means I definitely need to run my three miles today.   A small price to pay for enjoying a delicious and yes….comforting meal.

Macaroni and Beef Comfort Casserole

  • 12 to 16 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)…or more if you really love cheese
  • 1-2 TBS Savory Spice’s Smoky Hills Cheese Powder (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain well and transfer the macaroni to a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cumin and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook until no floury taste remains. Stir in the tomatoes and stock and simmer until thickened, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the macaroni, cream, parsley and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the mixture to one very large (or two medium-sized) ceramic baking dish(s) about 2 inches deep. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese and panko on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted. For extra crunchy topping, run under the broiler for a few minutes.   Let stand for 5 minutes. Scatter the scallions on top and serve.

Make Ahead

The unbaked casserole can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Italian Pot Roast with Cannellini Beans and Herbed Tomato Sauce

Dinner Is Served fact:  I love fall cooking and baking.  And as much as I dislike saying so long to warm weather, I must admit that buying a chuck roast at the butcher yesterday and bringing the slow cooker up from the basement really warmed my heart.

There are so many soup and stew and slow cooker recipes I want to share, it’s tough to know where to begin.  So let’s start with something delicious and EASY.  Just a little work on the front end, toss a can of cannellini beans at the end.  With very little effort, you’ll be in pot roast heaven.  Serve with some soft polenta or mashed potatoes, if you have time.  Otherwise a loaf of fresh Italian bread will suffice.  Oh, and a glass of Chianti (duh).

Bring on the chill, Mother Nature….my slow cooker, Chianti and I are ready to rumble!

Italian Pot Roast with Cannellini Beans and Herbed Tomato Sauce

1 cup sliced carrots

6 new potatoes, cut into thirds

1 medium onion, sliced

3 lb boneless beef rump roast, trimmed (see Note>)

4 TBS minced fresh basil, divided

4 TBS minced fresh oregano, divided

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 can cannellini beans, drained (19 oz)

Layer carrots, potatoes, and most of the onion slices in a 4-6 quart slow cooker; top with roast.

Mash 2 TBS basil, 2 TBS oregano, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and pepper flakes in a small bowl; spread on roast.

Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, remaining basil and oregano and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Pour tomato mixture over roast; top with remaining onion slices. Cover; cook until meat is fork tender, on high heat setting for 5-6 hours or on low heat setting for 8-9 hours.

Stir beans into sauce; cook on high-heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove roast from cooker. Let roast rest for 5-10 minutes before thinly slicing meat against the grain. Skim any accumulated fat from sauce.  Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon beans, vegetables and sauce over roast.

Serves 8

Note>  You may also use a Bottom Round Roast.  Or a chuck roast may be used…just cut into pieces rather than slice.