Cheesy Vodka Bake

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil 
4 oz. Pancetta, cut into small dice 
¾ cup Asiago cheese, freshly grated, plus more for the top 
¾ cup Cheddar cheese, freshly grated, plus more for the top 
¾ cup Fontina cheese, freshly grated, plus more for the top 
¾ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, plus more for the top 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 pound penne
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Jar Monte Bene Vodka Pasta Sauce 


Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil water in large pot and salt. Cook penne until almost al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Warm Vodka Sauce in saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the cheese until completely melted, season with salt and pepper.

Place the cooked penne in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta and parsley and stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.

Combine additional fontina, cheddar, asiago, and parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the penne.

Bake in the oven until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

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Red Pepper Soup

Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
Salt to taste
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 24 ounce jar Monte Bene Tomato Basil
2 sprigs fresh basil
Pinch of cinnamon
1 ½ quarts chicken stock
¼ cup rice, preferably a medium-grain rice like arborio
Freshly ground pepper
1 Artisan sourdough loaf
Freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil leaves

Preparation:

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes, and add the carrot and celery and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add jar of Monte Bene Tomato Basil sauce, fresh basil, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the diced roasted peppers, the stock, rice, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Season with freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt.

Using an immersion blender, purée the soup, or use a blender and purée in batches, being careful to pull a dish towel down over the top and not to cover tightly with the blender lid, then return to the pot and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Slice the top off loaf and hollow out the bread bowl. Top with Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. Enjoy!

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Mac 'n Cheese Balls

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tbsp unsalted butter        
1 tbsp flour   
1 cup & 1 tbsp milk
½ lb cheddar cheese
½ lb Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg
1½ cups bread crumbs
Oil, for frying
1 jar Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce

    Preparation:

    Cook the elbow macaroni al dente. Rinse and drain with cold water, and set aside in a shallow pan.

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Use a whisk to add 1 cup milk, removing any lumps. Continue cooking until sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheeses, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold cheese mixture into cooled macaroni and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

    Use an ice-cream scoop to shape cold mac and cheese into meatball-sized balls. Place on a wax-paper lined tray, cover with plastic, and freeze 4 hours.
    Combine egg and tablespoon of milk in a bowl. Dip frozen mac and cheese balls in egg wash, then flour, then breadcrumbs. Place back on tray and in the freezer until ready to fry.

    Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer or small saucepan to 350 degrees F. Fry mac and cheese balls until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve with Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce.

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    Meatball Sliders

    Serves 4 to 6

    Ingredients:

    1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
    1 jar Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce
    1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
    2 eggs
    2 cloves garlic
    1 tsp. salt
    Pepper to taste
    12 dinner rolls
    12 slices provolone cheese
      Preparation: 

      Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper. Make meat into 1" balls and place in a baking dish. Add 1/8" film of water to baking dish to keep meatballs moist. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

      Lower oven to 350 degrees. Place dinner rolls on a sheet pan. Split open the dinner rolls and place a slice of provolone, a spoonful of Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce, and a meatball inside each.  Place sheet pan of sliders into the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

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      Calamari

      Serves 4 to 6

      Ingredients:

      • 1 jar Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce
      • 1 1/2 pounds baby squid
      • 5-6 cups vegetable oil
      • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 semolina
      • 1 tsp. paprika
      • 1 tsp. salt
      • 1 tsp. black pepper
      • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

      Preparation:

      Rinse the squid well in cold water. Cut the bodies into ½ inch rings and tentacles left whole. In a deep pot, add enough oil so that the level of oil reaches 4 inches up the side of the pot. Heat the oil to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, combine the all-purpose flour, semolina, paprika, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Dip the squid into the mixture and coat thoroughly. Carefully lower into the hot oil. Gently move the calamari pieces back and forth. Let them fry until golden brown. Remove all the calamari and let drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Plate and serve with Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce and lemon wedges.

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      Ratatouille

      Serves 4 to 6 

      Ingredients:

      • 2 cups (half a jar) Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce
      • ½ cup olive oil
      • 2 small Italian egg plants
      • 2 summer squash
      • 2 beef-stake tomatoes
      • 2 red or green bell peppers
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • ½ tsp. salt
      • ½ tsp. pepper
      • ¼ tsp. oregano
      • Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

      Preparation:

      Preheat oven to 350. Slice eggplant, squash, beef-stake tomatoes, and bell peppers into 1/8” rounds. Toss together in a large bowl and add garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Cook about 1/3 of the vegetables, tossing gently until slightly browned. Transfer sautéed vegetables to a separate dish and repeat with remaining olive oil and vegetables.

      Pour Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce onto the bottom of a large casserole dish. Arrange sautéed vegetables over sauce as desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and vegetables are tender.

      Serve with bread and extra sauce as desired.

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      Zucchini Boats

      Serves 6-8

      Ingredients:

      • 4 medium zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise
      • 1 tbsp. olive oil
      • 1 lb. loose Italian sausage
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 2 cups Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce
      • 1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated
      • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shaved
      • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
      • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
      • Salt and pepper to taste

      Preparation:

      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the interior of the zucchini, so they resemble boats. Place the zucchini boats in a baking dish. Cut the scooped out zucchini flesh into bite sized pieces.

      In a medium pan over medium-high heat, cook the Italian sausage for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, chopped zucchini, Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce and salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

      In a medium bowl, mix together the Parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and parsley.
      Spoon in and mound the sausage mixture into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over top. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes. Let cook for 5 minutes and serve.

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      Cheesy Bread Bites

      Makes 20 cheesy balls

      Ingredients:

      • 1 jar Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce
      • 1 pizza dough recipe
        • 1 package instant yeast
        • 3 ¼ to 3 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
        • 1 1/3 cups very warm water (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
        • 1/3 cup shortening (gently dissolved in microwave and cooled)
        • 2 tbsp. honey (dissolved in warm water)
        • 1 tsp. salt
      • 2 tbsp. butter
      • 20 cubes of mozzarella
      • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
      • 1 tsp. coarse pepper, freshly ground
      • Salt to taste

      Preparation:

      Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease 1 to 2 large baking sheets (there should be enough space for each cheesy ball to have an inch of room on the sheet).  

      Combine 2 cups of flour with the instant yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water and honey mixture, then add shortening, mixing for 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended. Add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough begins to form. The dough should be slightly sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place it on a floured surface. Knead the dough for about 4 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a large ball, then divide it into 20 equal sized pieces (about ½” inch pieces). Flatten the dough onto the baking sheet.

      Place a mozzarella cube on each piece of dough and mold the dough around the cheese to form a ball. Press the seam together tightly and then turn the ball seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cheese and dough.

      Cover the dough with a loose sheet of plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes, until puffy.Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan with parsley, garlic cloves, pepper, and salt. Brush this mixture over the dough balls, then sprinkle them evenly with Parmesan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and some of the cheese is beginning to ooze out.

      While they bake, heat Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce.Serve cheesy balls hot with sauce for dipping.

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      Spicy Meatball Tomato Soup

      Serves 4 to 6

      Ingredients:

      Soup

      • 1 jar Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce
      • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
      • Salt and pepper to taste
      • ½ cup water
      • 1 half a medium sized white onion, diced
      • 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
      • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
      • Fresh basil leaves or parsley  

      Meatballs

      • 1 lb. grass-feed ground beef
      • 1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
      • 2 eggs, whisked
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
      • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
      • 2 tsp. salt
      • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
      • 1 tsp. pepper

      Preparation:

      Preheat oven to 450. In a large bowl, combine beef, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Mix using your hands or a large spoon. Shape meatballs into 1” balls and place in a large baking dish. Add 1/8” film of water to the baking dish to keep the meatballs moist. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until meatballs are heated through (slice open one meatball to determine how well-done it is).

      Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add onion and sauté until slightly translucent. Reduce heat and add Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce and water. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, until hot. Add salt and pepper and fresh oregano.

      When the meatballs are done, ladle the tomato soup into bowls. Add 3 or 4 meatballs to each bowl and garnish with fresh basil or parsley. Serve warm with grated Pecorino Romano.  

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      Bucatini All’ Amatriciana

      Serves 4 to 6

      Ingredients:

      • 1 jar Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce
      • 6 oz. bacon
      • 1 lb. spaghetti 
      • 1 small onion, peeled and minced
      • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • ½ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
      • 1 large pinch red pepper flakes
      • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
      • Fresh basil to garnish

      Preparation:

      Chop bacon into evenly sized chunks. Add olive oil to a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and saute about 4 minutes, until rendering fat and sizzling. Stir in the pepper flakes and black pepper. Add the onion and minced garlic and stir until the onions become soft and the bacon is golden, about 10 minutes (some of the onions should begin to caramelize). Reduce heat to low and add Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente, then drain. Take about 1 cup of the bacon sauce and stir it into the pasta to prevent it from sticking. Plate the pasta and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and garnish with basil.

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