Vegetarian Bolognese

Vegetarian Bolognese

This wonderful dish came out of a lazy weekend at the Sonoma Coast with just the two of us. Our kid was off galivanting in Italy, we were missing her and dreaming of eating all that amazing pasta. We consider this the perfect Sunday afternoon thing to have simmering away on the stove making the house smell amazing. It's healthier than it's meaty original but tastes just as rich, if not richer. We hope you enjoy it.


One medium onion, chopped 10 oz pappardelle pasta
One medium fennel bulb, chopped 4 oz package of ‘nduja
15 cloves garlic, crushed ½ tbsp espelette pepper
1 pound cremini mushrooms One cup dry wine, preferably Riesling
 24 oz tomato puree Olive oil
 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

Clean mushrooms and chop into quarters.  Toss with some olive oil and about one tablespoon of garlic.  Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast until soft, but not completely dehydrated, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool.

Heat large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil, then onion, fennel, white wine and Espellete Pepper and stir frequently.  Once softened, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until very soft and slightly brown.  Add garlic and ‘nduja and cook and stir until ‘nduja is broken apart and incorporated completely, about three minutes.  Add roasted mushrooms and tomato puree and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes or so to incorporate flavors.

Boil a large stock pot and add pasta.  Cook according to package instructions or until desired doneness.  Before pasta finishes cooking, add torn basil into sauce and stir to combine.

When pasta is ready, add one cup of pasta water to sauce and stir to combine.  Drain pasta and dump into large mixing bowl.  Add sauce with a ladle one scoop at a time until you have enough to coat pasta.  Season with salt to taste.  Save or freeze remaining sauce for another time.

Divide pasta into four large bowls and top with fresh parmesan.

Serve with a hearty red like Aglianico or Zinfandel

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Pasta Con Broccoli

Pasta Con Broccoli

This is a recipe I learned as a young 20something living in Boston and working at an Italian restaurant there. It was a frequent staff meal request. 


3 tbsp Olive Oil 

3 large Broccoli

1 Onion

1 cup Cream

1/4 cup white wine

Parmesan Cheese

Red Pepper Flakes


Cut off stems of broccoli and dice. Chop onion. Pour Olive Oil in saute pan on medium heat. Cook onion until soft and translucent (not browning) add diced broccoli stems and soften. This should take about 10-15minutes depending on how small you have diced the broccoli. Once softened puree the broccoli onion mixture. Return mixture to pan and add cream on low to medium heat. Once sauce starts to thicken add wine and continue simmering until sauce like. Add in a sprinkle of red pepper flake depending on how spicy you like it.

Bring water to boil for pasta, salt the water. Add in broccoli florets from top of broccoli. Blanch for about 3 minutes in the boiling water until they change color or are cooked but not pulverized. Remove Broccoli and add pasta according to cooking instructions. When cooked remove and add to broccoli mixture. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese - YUMMM and so easy


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Open Faced Rock Shrimp Ricotta Ravioli

Open Faced Rock Shrimp Ricotta Ravioli


1 lb        Rock Shrimp (peeled and deveined), rinsed and patted dry

4             4”x4” pieces of lasagna noodles (Capellos Gluten Free Lasagna Sheets work great) cooked to package instructions

1 cup     Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta (or similar)

2 cups   Baby Spinach

½ tsp     Meyer lemon zest

1 tbsp    Extra virgin olive oil

1 lb        Unsalted butter

½ tsp     Espelette pepper (or similar)

2 tbsp    Dry white wine

1 tbsp    Chives, finely chopped

               Salt and pepper



In a small mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, olive oil and lemon zest until creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a small saucepan, heat white wine on medium low heat until just simmering.  Add butter to wine in chunks of one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly to maintain emulsion.  Once all butter is incorporated, add the Espelette and stir to combine, then add the rock shrimp, stirring to coat all pieces and increase heat to medium.  Stir frequently and cook through, about 3-4 minutes.

Pre-heat a large sautée pan over medium heat.  Add two tablespoons of butter mixture from the rock shrimp, then add spinach and cook until just wilted, stirring often, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, spread a small amount of ricotta mixture in the center of four warmed plates to hold pasta in place.  Place one lasagna noodle on top of ricotta, then spread the rest of the ricotta evenly on top of the noodle between the four plates.

Divide the spinach among the four plates and place on top of ricotta.  Divide the rock shrimp evenly between the four plates on top of the spinach.  Season the rock shrimp with salt and pepper.  Spoon some of the butter cooking liquid over each plate as a sauce.


Garnish the top of each plate with chives and serve immediately.


Serves four as a heavy appetizer.

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Rock Shrimp Pasta

Rock Shrimp Pasta



1 pound Rock Shrimp, deveined, rinsed and patted dry

4 tomatoes, chopped (preferably seeded and skinned)

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 shallots, minced

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups dried penne pasta

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter


Pepper (preferably Aleppo pepper)

½ cup grated parmesan

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley


  1. Bring six quarts of water to a boil and cook pasta using package instructions.

    Heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When fragrant, add shallot and sauté until soft, about one minute.  Add garlic and cook for one minute while stirring.  Add fresh tomatoes and cook until melted, about five minutes.  Add white wine and return to simmer.  Add rock shrimp and cook until shrimp are cooked through, about four minutes.  Turn off heat and add butter, stirring to melt.  Drain pasta and add to saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine (check seasoning) and divide into four warm bowls. 

    Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.


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Ricotta Dumplings with Peas

Ricotta Dumplings with Peas



2 cups ricotta cheese (I like Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta)

2 large egg yolks

½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 cup diced shallot

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups sliced Shiitake mushrooms

1 cup (or more) fresh or frozen peas

½ cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup vegetable stock

extra-virgin olive oil

Shaved Parmesan cheese & arugula for garnish


  • Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Dust a large baking sheet with flour. Line another baking sheet with paper towels.
  • Stir ricotta, egg yolks, flour, basil, pepper and salt together in a medium bowl until combined. Form the mixture into about 20 oblong dumplings using about 1 heaping tablespoon for each. Place them on the floured pan.  (Hint - use 2 spoons to form your dumplings into ovals. Scoop one tablespoon of the ricotta mixture from one spoon onto the other, until you end up with a smooth football-shaped dumpling.)
  • Carefully drop the dumplings into the boiling water and cook until they begin to float, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-towel-lined pan.
  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in large nonstick pan.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally until water is released and they are slightly browned – about 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Heat another tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the dumplings and cook, turning once, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with another tablespoon oil and dumplings.
  • Add shallot and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peas, vegetable stock and marscapone. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add reserved, cooked mushrooms and stir to combine.  Serve the dumplings with the sauce, garnished with Parmesan, arugula and more basil, if desired.

    Serves Four




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    We discovered this terrific dish when we attended the International Housewares Show in 2016 at a wonderful little restaurant called Osteria Langhe. It was recommended to us by a friend from our wine days, Brian Duncan and we'll be forever grateful. It was a major highlight of our trip and now the restaurant is a regular pitstop once a year when we visit Chicago. On returning home we were obsessed with how to make it and Walt immediately set to figuring out how. It helped a lot that our daughter knew how to make pasta. It is now a classic dish in our home. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do every time. 

    For Pasta (Follow your favorite pasta recipe or cheat by using won ton skins)






    La Tur Cheese (Italian soft cheese somewhat like brie but in a little tub)

    For Sauce

    ¼ cup     White Wine

    ¾ cup    Chicken Stock

    1             Garlic clove (smashed)

    3             Thyme sprigs

    1 tsp      Thyme leaves

    3tbsp     Butter



    Make pasta and roll into thin sheets, then cut into three inch squares.  Alternatively, use square won ton wrappers.

    Remove La Tur cheese from refrigerator and spoon about ½ tablespoon into center of pasta square.  Wet the edges and seal into a triangular package.  Please on a parchment lined, floured baking sheet.  Repeat until you have made the desired quantity. (5 is a good number per person for a hearty appetizer)

    Boil six quarts of water to cook pasta.  Meanwhile heat white wine and chicken stock in a small saucepan.  Add smashed garlic and thyme sprigs and simmer until pasta water is ready.  If liquid evaporates too quickly, add more chicken stock as needed.  You will want about ¾ cup of liquid when finished.

    When water comes to a boil, salt generously and cook the plin until they are al dente and rise to the top – about three minutes.  While this is cooking, strain the sauce into a clean bowl and return liquid to pan and simmer.  Whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time until incorporated in sauce and remove from heat.

    Drain the plin and divide evenly into small bowls.  Spoon the sauce equally over the top of each and sprinkle with thyme leaves.

    Serve with something delicious - this past week we opted to enjoy it at the restaurant with a bottle of delicious Arneis from Vietti. 

     Word of note - this is Mr CapaBunga's version of the dish - the picture of the actual dish from the restaurant is above. 



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