This recipe from Canadian Living’s Best Weekend Pleasures is, hands-down, our favourite baked pasta recipe. I’ve been been making it for years and it is always a big hit. Lean ground turkey is formed into meatballs, which are then browned. Make a sauce with tomatoes, peppers, onion and mushrooms and simmer the meatballs. Add cooked rigatoni, top with cheese and bake until the cheesy is gooey and delicious. This dish would be perfect for a casual holiday dinner party and you can make it in advance.

If you can’t find ground turkey, buy a skinless, boneless turkey breast and process it on high in your food processor.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Ingredients in this recipe that may contain artificial ingredients include the dry breadcrumbs, Parmesan, canned tomatoes and mozzarella. Look for breadcrumbs without additives, or substitute panko. Use Parmesan and mozzarella without colour and canned tomatoes with nothing added but salt, such as Unico brand.

Make turkey meatballs and brown well

Saute onion, peppers, garlic and mushrooms

Add tomatoes and turkey meatballs and simmer

Add cooked rigatoni

Top casserole with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses

Bake until browned and piping hot



1 Egg

1/3 c Onion, finely chopped

¼ c Dry breadcrumbs

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 tb Parmesan, freshly grated

1 ts Dried oregano

¾ ts Salt

½ ts Pepper

1 lb Lean ground turkey


2 tb Olive oil

1 Onion, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 c Mushrooms, sliced

1 Sweet green pepper, chopped

1 ½ ts Dried basil

1 ½ ts Granulated sugar

1 ts Dried oregano

1 ts Salt

¾ ts Pepper

28 oz Canned tomatoes, chopped

2 tb Tomato paste

3 ½ c Rigatoni pasta

1 1/3 c Mozzarella, shredded

¼ c Parmesan, freshly grated


Meatballs: In bowl, beat egg lightly; mix in onion, crumbs, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix in turkey. Shape heaping tablespoonfuls into balls. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook meatballs, in batches if necessary, for 8-10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, green pepper, basil, sugar, oregano, salt, pepper and 2 tb water to skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to boil. Add meatballs; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook rigatoni for about 8 minutes or until pasta is tender but firm. Drain and return to pot; add tomato sauce, stirring to coat rigatoni. Transfer to 11×7-inch baking dish or 8-cup shallow oven casserole. You can make the recipe to this point, cool and refrigerate for up to one day.

Sprinkle mozzarella (use part-skim mozzarella), then Parmesan evenly over top.

Bake in 400F 200C oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden. Per serving: about 780 calories, 49 g protein, 34 g fat, 70 g carbohydrate very high source fibre, excellent source calcium and iron. Serves 6.

From Canadian Living’s Best Weekend Pleasures

Now that we’re in the apartment for the winter, I no longer have access to a barbecue. For a year-round barbecuing person, this has been a challenge. However, it has provided an opportunity to experiment with the oven. And with the smoke detector.

This recipe for pan-fried steak is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Cooking with Jamie. The recipe calls for one-inch-thick sirloin steaks, but I have also used rib-eyes, with good results. You can make a pan sauce or not. This is my recipe for Brussels sprouts and squash and it couldn’t be easier – just toss the vegetables with oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes.

You may think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, but if you haven’t tried roasting them, this recipe may change your mind. Roasting brings out their nutty flavour, and, unlike what happens when they are boiled or steamed, they don’t turn that insipid shade of green.

You can cook this dinner in about 45 minutes, including preheating the oven. It’s not exactly a meat-and-potatoes meal, but it’s close, and just as satisfying.

Toss sprouts and squash with oil, salt and pepper

Fry steak in a hot pan, about 8 minutes for medium-rare

Pan-fried steak with sprouts and squash

To avoid additives and preservatives in the sauce, use colour-free butter (such as Gay Lea unsalted) and a low-sulfite wine.


For the steak and pan sauce

2 x 7 oz sirloin or rib-eye steaks, 1-inch thick, fat scored

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil

2 tbsp butter

2 shallots or 1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked

6 oz. Chianti or other red wine

Extra-virgin olive oil

For the sprouts and squash

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed

1 lb. buttercup or other dry squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

½ tsp each salt and pepper

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts and squash with oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, with the cut side of the sprouts down. Roast in oven, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.

Meanwhile, heat heavy frying pan, large enough to cook both steaks at once without the touching. Season steaks with salt and pepper and brush them with olive oil. Using tongs, hold the steaks fatty-edge down in the frying pan to render and colour the fat. When the fat is golden (about 2 minutes), fry the steaks for 8 minutes in total for medium-rare, turning them every minute. Remove from pan to a plate to rest, covered loosely with foil.

Turn the heat down and add a tablespoon of butter to the pan. Fry the shallots and thyme for 4 minutes, then add the wine and reduce by half. Pour in the resting juices from the meat, add the remaining butter and take the pan off the heat. Stir around to emulsify. Taste, season and serve with the steak. Serves 2.

Adapted from Cooking with Jamie

There must be thousands of recipes for paella. Some use seafood only, some are made with seafood and chicken and others include seafood, chicken and sausage. Some use Arborio rice and others long-grain rice. The common ingredient in most recipes is saffron. However, Bill is allergic to saffron, so I substitute turmeric, which works quite well. This recipe is adapted from Canadian Living’s Best One-Dish Meals. I used chicken drumsticks and clams, and added red pepper, Hot Italian sausage and jalapeno for colour and heat. The recipe below also includes shrimp.

Dredge chicken in flour before browning

Brown chicken well and set aside

Soften vegetables and add stock and tomatoes

Stir in rice and return chicken and sausage to pan

Nestle clams in rice

Cover and cook until clams are open; discard any that stay closed

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use all-natural chicken stock (I use Imagine brand), all-natural sausages and canned tomatoes with no artificial ingredients (such as Unico).


12 mussel or clams

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Pinch each salt and pepper

2 ½ lbs. chicken pieces

½ lb Hot Italian sausage

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 jalapeno, minced

½ tsp saffron threads (or substitute turmeric)

1 cup hot chicken stock

1 28-oz. can tomatoes

½ tsp dried oregano

1 cup long-grain rice

1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups frozen peas

Lemon wedges for garnish


Bring water to boil in saucepan or skillet. Add sausages and simmer for 5 minutes to render excess fat. Remove sausages from water and, when cook, remove casings and slice sausages into ½-inch pieces.

Scrub mussels under running water and remove any beards. Discard any that do not close when tapped. If using clams, soak them in cool water for at least 10 minutes so that they disgorge any sand inside. Lift them out with a spider or slotted spoon. Discard any that do not close when tapped. Set aside.

In shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper; toss chicken in mixture to coat lightly.

In large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Add sausage to pan and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.

Drain off all but 3 tbsp fat from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Dissolve saffron in stock; add to pan. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; bring to boil. Stir in rice. Return chicken to pan.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Nestle shrimp and mussels in rice; cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that do not open. If using clams, cook for only 5-10 minutes; discard any that do not open.

Stir in peas; cover and let stand for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 8.

Adapted from Canadian Living’s Best One-Dish Meals

As most of you know, my husband Bill has life-threatening allergies to food additives and preservatives, so eating at a restaurant is often not easy. However, a number of chefs at Toronto restaurants are able to accommodate him, including Jake at the Harbord House, Kevin at Matisse and Courtney at the Duke of Devon. This simple and tasty fish recipe is adapted from Courtney’s version. You can make it as hot or mild as you wish and it takes less than 20 minutes to make, including marinating.

Make this marinade as spicy or mild as you like

Marinate fish for 10 minutes

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Bill's Fish


2 tbsp olive oil, plus oil for pan

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Chopped banana peppers or jalapeno peppers, to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro

4 fillets of Haddock or other white fish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together first five ingredients in a small bowl and then pour over fish. Marinate for 10 minutes. Heat a small amount of oil in an oven-proof pan over high heat. Flash fry fish for three minutes on one side. Flip and bake in oven for 5 minutes, or until done. Serves 2.

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Courtney at the Duke of Devon

I have been making this Feta Caraway Spread from an old issue of Homemakers quite often lately. That’s because it takes 5 minutes to make and everyone loves it. It also travels well and is a vegetarian-friendly hors d’oeuvre. You can serve it with crudités or crackers. Just be sure to mash it well so that is more like a spread and less like little lumps of crumbled feta, which will roll off the crackers!

Mash feta, olive oil and lemon juice together, then mix in remaining ingredients

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, look for all-natural feta cheese, use fresh lemon juice and paprika and cayenne with no colour added.

Serve Feta Caraway Spread with crackers or crudites


5 oz  (150 g) Feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup/250 mL)

3 tbsp  (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp  (5 mL) lemon juice

3 tbsp  (45 mL) minced red onion

1-½ tsp  (7 mL) caraway seeds

½ tsp  (2 mL) sweet paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper


In bowl and using fork, mash together cheese, oil and lemon juice. Mix in onion, caraway seeds, paprika and cayenne. Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).

From the October 2006 issue of Homemakers Magazine

We are now back at our Toronto apartment for the fall and winter, so have sadly bid farewell to our barbecue. However, the good news is that we are now able to get fresh fish. For our first meal here, I made Roasted Halibut Tagine from Lucy Waverman’s Matter of Taste cookbook. The fish is coated with a paste of herbs, garlic, lemon juice and spices, placed on top of a sauce of tomatoes and preserved lemons, and roasted. The fish is flavourful, moist and delicious.

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use fresh lemon juice and preserved lemons, canned tomatoes and green olives that do not contain artificial ingredients. Preserved lemons are easy to make, and they add an incredible flavour. However, if you do make them yourself, the process takes about six weeks. I was able to find some at Pusateri’s that contained only lemons and salt.

The fish is marinated in a paste of herbs and spices and then roasted on top of a tomato-lemon sauce

Roasted Halibut Tagine, served with couscous and sauteed zucchini


¼ cup coarsely chopped coriander

¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley

1 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

¼ tsp cayenne

Pinch ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 halibut fillets (about 6 oz. each)

3 fresh or canned tomatoes, pureed

¼ cup sliced preserved lemon rind

½ cup green olives

Fresh coriander sprigs


Combine coriander, parsley and garlic in food processor and process until chunky.

Add lemon juice, oil cumin, paprika, cayenne and cinnamon and process until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Reserve 2 tbsp spice mixture for sauce. Spread remaining mixture over fish fillets and marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine tomatoes, preserved lemon rind and reserved spice mixture.

Spread tomato mixture in baking dish just large enough to hold fish in a single layer. Top with marinated fish.

Bake fish for 12 to 15 minutes, or until white juices appear at edges. Serve fish with sauce and garnish with olives and coriander sprigs. Serves 4.

From Lucy Waverman’s Matter of Taste

This isn’t so much a recipe as a salute to the lovely tomatoes from Bill’s garden. They are ripening now – the sweet cherry ones on the deck, and the field tomatoes and plum tomatoes in the garden. Most of the latter will be used to make Bill’s salsa (see the September 19, 2010 post for the recipe). But I also steal a few to slice for sandwiches and for salads topped with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, bocconcini cheese and fresh basil. There is nothing better (except, maybe, when I use slightly warmed chevre instead of the bocconcini).

Enjoy the harvest.

Tomatoes topped with bocconcini and basil

Because bacon usually contains nitrites and other artificial preservatives, we don’t eat it (an exception is the nitrite-free bacon available at Whole Foods). A good substitute is prosciutto, which is cured with salt. In this recipe, thin slices of prosciutto are sautéed until crisp, torn into strips and used to garnish a delicious pasta dish. This is a good weeknight meal for both meat eaters and vegetarians, as the latter can simply omit the garnish.

Saute thin slices of prosciutto until crisp, then tear into strips

Stir spinach or arugula into sauce until it just wilts

Add cooked pasta to the sauce and heat through before serving

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, make sure the prosciutto ingredients are simply pork and salt, that the tomatoes are all-natural and the parmesan does not contain colour.


3 cups (750 mL) penne pasta (8 ounces/225 g)

2 thin slices prosciutto

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 sweet yellow or red pepper, coarsely chopped

8 ounces (225 g) white button or brown cremini mushrooms (or mixture of both), sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) hot pepper flakes, or to taste

One 19-ounce (540-mL) can seasoned chunky tomatoes (for pasta)

3 cups (750 mL) fresh baby spinach, or baby arugula

1/4 cup (50 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. When boiling, cook pasta 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender but firm.

Meanwhile, heat Dutch oven or large deep saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Cook prosciutto in a single layer until crisp, about 30 seconds per side. Remove to paper towel and pat off excess fat. Let cool; cut into thin strips.

Add oil to same pan. Add onion, sweet pepper and mushrooms; cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions and pepper soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and pepper flakes; cook about 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer briskly 3 minutes. Stir in spinach or arugula until wilted, about 30 seconds.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce. To serve, sprinkle with prosciutto strips and cheese. Serves 4.

From Foodland Ontario, published in the February 8, 2006 issue of the Ottawa Citizen

Warm weather means salads, and this is a delicious pasta salad from a now-defunct restaurant that was in Perth, Ontario, called The Hungry Planet. This recipe is from a June 20, 2007 Ottawa Citizen article about the restaurant that included some of its popular recipes. I like it because it is easy to make, substantial, and filled with lots of my favourite ingredients, including shrimp, olives, feta and basil.

Saute shrimp or grill on the barbecue

Assemble all the ingredients in a large bowl

Add pasta, dressing and serve

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use olives with no preservatives added. I used Pilaros brand green olives stuffed with garlic, which are available at Costco. Check the label on the feta cheese and shrimp to make sure they are all-natural. Balsamic vinegar usually has sulfites added; try to find one that has only naturally occurring sulfites.


2 to 3 large, ripe juicy tomatoes

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

1½ cups crumbled feta cheese

1 lb. cooked and cooled shrimp

4 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

4 tbsp shredded fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 lb. short pasts (such as penne), cooked, drained, but still warm

½ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Dried chili pepper flakes


In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, olives, garlic, feta, shrimp, parsley, basil and oregano. Toss with warm pasta and fess with the oil and vinegar, to taste. Add chili flakes, if desired. Add salt if needed. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

From the June 20, 2007 Ottawa Citizen

Rice is one of the easiest and most nutritious things to cook, yet I know a number of people who say they can’t make it work. I think there are two keys to perfect rice. The first is to buy quality rice – no Uncle Ben’s please. The second is to use less liquid than most recipes call for. When I make rice, I heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan for a minute before adding a cup of Thai jasmine or basmati rice. Stir the rice to coat it with oil and keep it over medium heat for a couple of minutes to “toast” the grains, which brings out their nutty flavour. Then add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 cups water or stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, give the contents a quick stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Keep the lid on for 17 minutes – no peeking! After 17 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, but keep the lid on for another 10 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork and serving.

You can also add onion and spices to flavour the rice. Here is a very tasty recipe from Canadian Living that is always a big hit.

Always use good quality rice

Saute red onion in butter or oil

Add rice, bay leaf and other spices

Add stock and bring to boil before covering

Cook rice for 17 minutes and let stand for 10, covered, before serving

Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and serve

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use a good quality of rice, butter that does not contain colour and all-natural stock.


2 tbsp (15 mL) butter or oil

1 small red onion, cut in thin wedges

1 cup basmati or parboiled rice

1 bay leaf

1 tsp (2 mL) chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)

1/2 tsp (1 mL) salt

Pinch pepper

1 1/2 cups (250 mL) chicken stock

1/4 cup (50 mL) toasted halved cashews

Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)


In heavy saucepan, heat butter or oil over medium heat; cook onion for 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in stock; bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 17 minutes. Remove from heat and keep lid on for 10 minutes. Before serving, discard bay leaf and fluff rice with a fork. Sprinkle with cashews; garnish with thyme sprigs (if using). Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

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