lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

linguine with shrimp, fresh tomatoes and basil

Hallelujah, spring is upon us!  Even though it’s hardly been a brutal winter here in Northern Illinois, I’m still excited for longer and warmer days. This weekend was a much-needed stay at home treat for me, as there’ve been many personal issues that have had me more stressed than usual. lately. I’m a big believer in taking time for yourself. Physical and mental rejuvenation is vital, not only for your own sense of well-being but for also having the strength and peace-of-mind to take care of those you love. Today was that day for me. My feel-good dish of the day was fresh pasta with garlicky shrimp and fresh tomatoes and basil.

lola rugula pasta with shrimp recipe

This recipe was mostly just inspired by 3 things:

  1. I was really craving shrimp
  2. I was really craving something healthy and fresh-tasting
  3. I had some Roma tomatoes that I really needed to use

Looking for a quick and easy weeknight (or even weekend, in my case) dinner with pasta and shrimp? This definitely fits the bill.

lola rugula linguine with shrimp and tomatoes

pasta with shrimp, garlic, fresh tomatoes and basil recipe

  • 9 oz. fresh linguine (I keep Buitoni pasta in the freezer when I don’t have homemade on hand)
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (divided – you’ll use 2 Tbsp. for the shrimp and 2 Tbsp. for the sauce)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (divided – you’ll use half for the shrimp and half for the sauce)
  • 1 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 small sweet yellow sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 generous cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced. Retain a few fresh slices for serving, if desired.
  • Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water for sauce.

In the meantime, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat half (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil. Add half of your chopped garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and heat. Add remaining garlic and yellow peppers and cook about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add scallions and cook, continuing to stir, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and their juices, and stir well. Cook for about 7 minutes, until tomatoes start to release all of their juices. Pour over reserved shrimp.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to sauce pan and scrape well, loosening bits from the pan. Continue to cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes.

Add drained pasta to pan and stir.

Add plate of shrimp and tomato sauce to pasta and toss well.

Add fresh basil, stir and remove from heat.

Serve immediately, with reserved basil.

Easy, right? This dish satisfied me today on many levels, with the fresh tomatoes and basil bringing in thoughts of spring when I needed it most.

Pasta is so versatile – you can toss it with a bit of olive oil and so many, many things. Carbs get a bad rap sometimes but when you pack your pasta dish full of veggies and protein, you really can’t lose. Toss in some fresh herbs and you really do have a beautiful, flavorful dish that everyone will love.

Happy spring everyone!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

bloody mary shrimp

This is one of those ridiculously easy recipes that’s just as fun to serve as it is to eat. I love a good Bloody Mary and I love shrimp, so these Bloody Mary Shrimp are the best of both worlds. I keep my recipe pretty simple, with a kick of horseradish and hot sauce, but you can adjust this recipe to your own personal tastes.

lola rugula how to make bloody mary shrimp

bloody mary shrimp recipe

  • 1 lb. large cooked shrimp, shelled and deveined, with the tails removed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced or small diced celery
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (save about 1 tablespoon for serving)
  • 3/4 cup V8 Juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons horseradish (don’t drain)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup vodka (totally optional)
  • lemon wedges for serving

Special serving pieces, such as Chinese soup spoons or shot glasses – you can use glass or plastic, whichever you prefer.

In a large bowl, whisk together everything except the shrimp and lemon wedges. Toss the shrimp in and mix well again.

Spoon  1 shrimp and some of the bloody mary mix into each serving piece, until all of the shrimp and mixture is used. Sprinkle with reserved sliced scallions and fresh lemon juice immediately before serving. You can refrigerate these for a few hours before serving. but don’t add the scallions and lemon juice until right before you serve them.

Makes about 35 servings.

lola rugula how to make bloody mary shrimp recipe

The style of serving these is really key, as you want each serving to include a shrimp plus the bloody mary mix, which is why Chinese soup spoons and shot glasses work perfectly. This way, you and your guests can slurp them down easily.

I’ve served these with and without the vodka and they’re just as good either way, it really just depends on your taste and the occasion you’re serving them at.

You know I always tell you not to be afraid to play with your food, so play it up with these. The scallions, horseradish and hot sauce can all be adjusted or removed entirely if you’re just not a fan of one or all of them.

As a gardening side note, check out my post on how to grow and make your own horseradish, in case you’re interested.

Tell me this doesn’t make an impressive presentation…

lola rugula bloody mary shrimp recipe

Chilled, spicy and delicious, I think this will become one of your favorite go-to appetizers. It’s easy and always a hit at every event I serve them at.


lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

udon noodle bowl

Sometimes the stress of the holidays or just daily life can be overwhelming and drag down your defenses. This often leads us to eat the wrong things, which can weaken our immune system even more.

A great way to recharge your system is a bowl of my ramen-style udon noodle bowl recipe. It’s packed full of veggies and protein and can be customized a lot of different ways, to suit your personal taste. If you’re ever looking for a clean-out-your-fridge recipe, this is a good one. You can even make this vegetarian by adding tofu instead of shrimp.

The key to this dish is to really pack it full of a big variety of your favorite veggies and use a good-quality broth. I typically have homemade broth on hand, but you can certainly use store-bought instead.

lola rugula how to make udon noodle soup bowl recipe

Also, feel free to change up the noodles. I’ve used soba noodles in this dish and they’re also very good. Soba noodles can be a great gluten free option, but you have to check the ingredient lists because some of them still contain wheat. Rice noodles or vermicelli are also options.

Also, I add white miso paste and wakame to my bowls when I have them on hand, as they both add great, healthy benefits. They’re not necessary though, so if you don’t have them, don’t sweat it. There’s really no hard and fast rules to my Asian-inspired bowls, I just like to have fun with them and see how deliciously healthy I can make them.

Of course, if you like things hot, this is a great dish for adding a little fire. You can add some hot peppers in the veggie mix or just drizzle a little of my hot chili oil over the top of it before serving.

lola rugula ramen udon noodle bowl recipe

udon noodle bowl recipe

  • 1 10 oz. package of udon noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 12 oz. large raw shrimp, thawed, if frozen and shelled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-8 cups fresh vegetables – here are the ones I used here:
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
    • green cabbage, sliced
    • red radishes, sliced
    • 5-6 stalks asparagus, sliced
    • 8 baby carrots, julienned
    • 5 portobello mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 broccolini stalks, sliced
    • 4 small sweet red bell peppers, sliced
    • 1 medium celery stalk, sliced
    • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh spinach
    • 6 scallions, sliced (plus more for serving)
  • 4 cups good-quality vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup wakame, resconstituted in a cup of hot water
  • 1 generous tablespoon white (shiro) miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • for serving:
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
    • scallions, sliced
    • boiled eggs, peeled and halved
    • hot chili oil (optional)

Cook the noodles, drain, rinse with cool water (to stop the cooking process) and set aside.

Grill the shrimp in a hot grill pan or under the broiler just until they’re pink, turning once halfway through cooking time. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, Add garlic and regular onions and cook just until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the rest of the fresh vegetables and cook just until they all start to soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Stir the veggies often, so they don’t burn.

Add broth and water. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes. The veggies should be tender but not mushy.

Add cooked shrimp, wakame, miso pasted and sesame oil, bring back to simmer and remove from heat.


Scoop a cup and 1/2 of noodles into each bowl. Ladle hot shrimp and veggie mixture over noodles, being sure to include some of the broth.

Top each bowl with 2 egg halves and a generous sprinkling of fresh cilantro and sliced scallions. Drizzle a teaspoon or so of hot chili oil (if using) over everything and serve.

lola rugula homemade ramen style udon noodle bowl recipe

I love my veggie broth bowls and think you will, too! I have to emphasize that you can customize this to your tastes and/or what you have on hand.

All kinds of proteins work well in these bowls – think beef, turkey, chicken, shredded pork, tofu, tempeh, firm white fish, scallops, salmon, etc…play around with it and see what combo you like best. Try adding beans, if you love them. And don’t ever be afraid to use leftovers in this recipe; in fact it’s a perfect vehicle for your leftover proteins and veggies.

The types of veggies you use are limited only by your imagination, so load up on your favorites.

This recipe may sound like a lot of ingredients and it is, because of all the veggies, but trust me, it’s all prep time. This is a great example of mise en place, meaning you have everything in its place and ready to go. Once the veggie prep is done, this noodle bowl dish comes together pretty quickly.

These udon noodle bowls are calling your not ever, ever be afraid to play with your food.

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

the ultimate basic marinade

This is a marinade that has served me well time and time again. It’s great on beef, pork, salmon, tuna, and even lamb chops. It’s a great starter marinade recipe, which you can customize to your tastes or recipe if desired.


  • 1/2 cup oil – I typically use olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Marinating time depends on your cut of protein – salmon and tuna only need an hour at most, whereas lamb, pork and beef can be marinated for just a couple or hours or overnight. The longer the marinade, the stronger the flavor.

The beauty of this marinade is that you can make a ton of customizations to it. Want to go more Asian? Add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of minced ginger and a teaspoon of sesame oil. If you have sesame seeds, add a teaspoon of those, too. A teaspoon of miso paste works great in this, too (although you’ll want to omit the salt if you add miso)

Don’t have soy sauce? Substitute Worcestershire sauce.

Don’t have balsamic vinegar? Try red wine. rice or white balsamic vinegar, for a lighter flavor.

Want to kick the heat up a bit? Add a bit of sriracha, crushed red pepper flakes or hot chile paste to taste.

Got some fresh limes, lemons or oranges? Add a tablespoon of fresh citrus juice to really brighten this up.

Want fresh herbs? Add parsley, cilantro, rosemary….use your imagination.

I’ve used the basis of this marinade in a lot of recipes. It’s particularly good on flank and skirt steak, salmon, chicken breasts and thighs, and lamb chops. It even works great on veggies, especially on the grill.

If you’re looking for an easy marinade recipe that you can customize and call your own, this is it. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Remember what I always say: never, ever be afraid to play with your food.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Enjoy.

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

lobster bisque

It’s been a long time since I looked up a lobster bisque recipe, because I’ve always made it (and shrimp bisque) the same way.  So what I discovered is that I’ve (apparently) been making it wrong all these years. Every recipe I came across called for the veggies (and the veggies vary, per recipe) to be part of the strained stock and not actually part of the soup. Well, I like my veggies and I like them actually in my soup. Now, bisques are a classic and typically they’re strained, but I really don’t want to strain all the good stuff out. I also like my bisque with a little body to it, which is what leaving the veggies in my bisque accomplishes. I hope you enjoy it!

Also, here’s the deal on my stock: I always, always, always make my stocks with the not-going-into-the-actual-soup parts so food doesn’t go to waste. It’s all getting strained out in the end, so add those pieces and parts – veggie tops and ends, onion and garlic skins, herb stems, etc. Your ugly veggie tops and bottoms have the same nutrients as the rest of the veggie, you know? Also, don’t go too crazy on salting your stock because this is going to reduce, reduce, reduce. Better to add more later.

Making your own stock with the lobster shells is really key – it’s the only way to truly achieve that rich, lobster flavor.

For the love of all that’s holy though, please use real butter and cream here. This is meant to be a bit of a decadent dish and the real butter and cream makes it oh, so rich. If you only have 1/2 and 1/2, that will work, too. For a gluten-free lobster bisque, omit the flour and add a diced potato when you add the other veggies. This will help add some thickness to your bisque.

As far as the sherry goes – please make it something you’d actually consume on its own. If not, use a nice white wine. If you don’t want to use alcohol, use a really good vegetable stock. It’s lobster we’re working with here and the lobster is the star, so don’t skimp out on the rest of it.

And for Pete’s sake, if you don’t have carrots and celery use your fridge as a guide: leeks, asparagus, broccoli….go for it. Be brave and play with your food a bit.


 lobster bisque recipe (a little healthier lobster bisque recipe)

For the stock:

  • lobster shells
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 carrot tops, ends and peels
  • 2 celery tops and ends
  • ends and skin from 1 onion, plus 1/2 of the onion (the other half will go into the bisque)
  • 4-5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • parsley stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • water

For the bisque:

  • 1/2 stick butter (please use real butter)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup sherry
  • 7 cups of your freshly made stock
  • 2-3 pounds fresh whole lobster, lobster claws and tail or combination of them, shelled and chopped or shredded. Reserve shells for stock.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley, for serving

For the stock: place all off the ingredients in large stockpot, cover with about 8-9 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about one and half hours. Strain through a colander and then strain again through a cheesecloth-lined colander. Set stock aside. Discard solids

For the bisque:

In a stockpot over medium heat, heat pan and melt butter. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute about 12-15 minutes.

Add flour to veggies and stir well. Let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like my flour to lightly brown a little, but you don’t want to burn it.

Add tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I add my tomato paste here because I like to to “roast” a little in the pan. To me, this gives your finished bisque a richer flavor.

Add sherry and, using a whisk, whisk everything together until well blended and there are no clumps of flour or tomato paste remaining.

Add stock. If you need to add a little water to achieve 7 cups, that’s fine. Stir well.

Let this simmer for about an hour. Veggies should be completely soft and soup base reduced by at least a third.

Using an immersion blender, blend the base together until creamy. Now’s a good time to taste it and if you need to add any additional salt or pepper, do so.

Return to low heat, add lobster and cream, and cook just until heated through.

Serve with freshly chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

Be sure and serve this with a warm loaf of crusty bread – it’s good for mopping up every last drop from your bowl.

Enjoy and eat well!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

easy summer recipes

There’s not been much time for blogging for this girl lately. First there was painting, to get ready for new living room furniture. Then veggie gardening, followed by flower gardening. And in between, I’ve been working on refinishing a cool side table I found at a flea market; pictures of which I hope to post when the project’s complete!

In the midst of all of this, I’m still cooking fresh, delicious food, without a lot of fuss. It’s summertime and the living should be a little bit easy, right?

So this, my friends, is a roundup of some of the dishes I’ve been making. The photos all came from my Samsung Galaxy, so cut me a bit of slack where the quality is concerned, will you? 🙂

First up, with our influx of spring asparagus from the garden, is an easy, but beautiful asparagus frittata recipe.


easy asparagus with ricotta and capicola frittata recipe

  • 15-16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • fresh chives, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few slices of capicola, diced
  • 1 lb fresh, thin asparagus spears

Preheat oven to 375°

In a bowl, whisk together everything but the asparagus. Pour into a 10-inch (or close) non-stick pan. Gently press the asparagus spears into the top of the mixture.

Bake in oven about 20 minutes, just until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Don’t sweat this if you don’t have pencil-thin asparagus! Just dice up your thicker spears and add them to the mix. Maybe not as pretty but, trust me, still delicious. I’ve done it both ways and it works like a charm. If your spears are super-huge, try blanching them first.

Next up is what I call “Italian Salsa”. This is delicious simplicity at its best.

fresh tomatoes mozzarella basil bruschetta recipe

This is a recipe where you’ll just have to figure out the proportions on your own.  I’ve never come close to measuring this, as sometimes I make a little and other times I make a lot. Just start off easy on the garlic…

fresh italian salsa recipe

  • Fresh tomatoes, diced
  • Minced garlic
  • Fresh mozzarella, diced
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Bread slices, either fresh or toasted

Mix everything but the bread together in a bowl and let sit for about 30 minutes, to let the flavors develop and the cheese soften. Serve on fresh or toasted bread slices.

Next on the list is grilled whole rainbow trout. Grilled seafood is one of summertime’s true pleasures and, if you usually only grill meats, I highly recommend you try this. Again, not an exact recipe, but super easy to make with stunning results. I have a fantastic fish basket that’s made for the grill, but you can do this right on the grill grates, if needed; just make sure you’ve oiled the grates well before placing the fish on.


 whole grilled rainbow trout with fresh herbs and lemon recipe

  • whole rainbow trout, cleaned
  • minced garlic
  • fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley and chives here)
  • olive oil
  • a few thin slices of real butter
  • fresh lemon slices

In a small dish, mix garlic, herbs, olive oil and butter until well blended. Set aside and let soften.

Using a very sharp knife, make diagonal slices on the exterior of the fish, cutting just through the skin to the flesh, about 1 inch apart.

Using a brush (or your clean hands), brush the interior and exterior of the fish with your herb and garlic mixture. Place fresh lemon slices inside the fish, in a single layer. Squeeze one or two of the slices over the fish first, for extra lemon flavor.

Place fish on a hot grill and cook until skin is crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Carefully flip fish over and cook on the other side until skin is crispy all over. Remove from grill and let sit about 5 minutes before serving.

Last, but not least, is a favorite of ours: lemon and parmesan pasta. In the world of recipes, this has to be one of the easiest but tastiest recipes around. Have no doubt, this is for lemon lovers so, if you don’t like lemons, you won’t appreciate this. But if you do like lemons….oh, the sheer joy….

I’ve made lemon pasta a number of different ways and even posted another variation of it, with shrimp and broccolini, here.


 lemon pasta with asparagus and seared sea scallops recipe

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly-grated good quality parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice  – zest them first (about 4 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguine – reserve 1 cup of cooked pasta water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil and parsley
  • 1/2 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch slices and steamed just until fork-tender
  • 1 lb sea scallops, cleaned and tough muscle removed
  • A tablespoon of olive oil and/or butter to sear the scallops in (I prefer to use a bit of both)

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice and black pepper.

Cook pasta and drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Add pasta back to pan and toss with lemon juice mixture and 1/2 cup of your reserved liquid. Add lemon zest and herbs, along with steamed asparagus, and toss well. If pasta is still a bit dry, add remaining cooking liquid. Plate, top with seared sea scallops and serve.

To sear the sea scallops (preferably while the pasta is cooking), get a good cast iron or grill pan nice and hot. Drizzle a bit of oil (I also llike to add a pat of real butter) into the pan and add your scallops, which have been patted dry. Sear well on each side until golden and starting to brown just a tad at the edges. Be sure not to crowd the pan or the scallops will steam in their liquid, instead of searing. If scallops start to brown too quickly or burn, reduce heat. When scallops are cooked all the way through, move to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Well, that’s some of what I’ve been up to this summer! How about you? Have your cooked, traveled, or been writing the great American novel? I’m sorry I’ve not had time to catch up with everyone, but hopefully I will soon.

Happy summer, everyone! Relax a little and enjoy!