Linda Talks to the Pillsbury Bake Off $1 million Winner

Dec 4, 2014

12/04/14 - 1:30 - Syndicated food columnist Linda Gassenheimer, Special wine correspondent Fred Tasker and WLRN hosts Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman interview the Pillsbury million winner Beth Royals from Richmond, Virginia, her winning recipe is Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters.  We taste samples in the studio.

~~Dinner In Minutes~~

Featured Recipe: Italian Sausage Minestrone

Copyright © Linda Gassenheimer

Here is a simple mid-week recipe for minestrone with a refreshing blend of flavors. Minestra is Italian for soup.  The vegetables and sausage combine with the perfume of fresh basil and the crunchy texture of the pecans to make this hearty soup a complete meal.  This one-dish dinner can be made in 2


The fresh vegetables, sausage and pecans combine with the perfume of fresh basil. Pecans add a  Minestrone is a thick soup that is hearty enough to be a complete meal. This is a one-dish dinner that can be made in 20 minutes.

Fresh trimmed green beans and diced celery are available in the produce section of  most markets.  These make prep time a breeze. Or, slice the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a medium slicing blade.

Italian Sausage Minestrone


Italian Sausage Minestrone

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 pound low-fat turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup frozen diced onion

1 cup trimmed green beans cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium tomato, diced, (1 cup)

2 cups fat-free, low salt chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup packed fresh washed, ready-to-eat spinach

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup acini pepe pasta

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage, onion and green beans.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Do not brown the vegetables.

Add the tomato and broth.  The broth should cover the vegetables.  Add water, if needed.  Bring to a simmer and partially cover with a lid, leaving space for steam to escape.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach and basil.  Let stand 1 minute.

While soup cooks, bring a large pot filled with 2 to 3 quarts water to a boil.  Add the acini pepe pasta and boil 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Drain.

Spoon pasta into bowls and ladle soup on top. Sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese and pecans. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition InformationPer serving: 515 calories (34 percent from fat), 19.3 g fat (4.1 g saturated, 8.3 g monounsaturated), 88 mg cholesterol, 35.6 g protein, 51.0 g carbohydrates, 6.4 g fiber, 1361 mg sodium.Shopping List

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for tonight’s Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 1 medium tomato, 1 small package washed ready-to-eat spinach, 1 small bunch fresh basil, 1 package trimmed green beans, 1 small package broken pecans, 1 small piece Parmesan cheese, 1 small package acini pepe pasta and 1/2 pound low-fat turkey sausage.

Staples:  Olive oil, onion, fat-free, low salt chicken broth, salt and black peppercorns.

Helpful Hints

  • Buy good quality Parmesan cheese and ask the market to grate it for you or chop it in the food processor.  Freeze extra for quick use.  You can quickly spoon out what you need and leave the rest frozen.


  • Prepare ingredients.
  • Make soup.
  • While soup simmers, boil pasta.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 20 books including her newest, The Flavors of the Florida Keys and Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.  Follow Linda on Twitter: @LGassenheimer, Facebook: Linda Gassenheimer