Archive for the 'pasta' Category

Creamy Avocado Pasta

This is a meal that I would be eager to serve to my family and Jeff’s family without telling them exactly what it is. See, I’d be dead certain they’d love it, but they would be dead set against trying it if they knew what was in it. Both of us come from families with less adventurous palates who would likely be repulsed by the pureeing of an avocado tossed with pasta. I used to be that way not too long ago. Let me tell you, life’s much better on the other side.

This dish is basically just pasta coated with smooth guacamole. It’s crazy healthy, tastes fantastic, and requires only the amount of time it takes to boil pasta.

I licked the bowl and you may just do it, too.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

As Seen On: Total Food Porn (my friend Corrina’s amusing blog. Check it out!)
Originally From: In Good Taste

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, plus much more for garnish (optional for vegan)
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 servings of your choice of pasta, about 1/3 lb. (I’ve used both whole wheat and regular, I prefer regular)

Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Drain almost completely, but leave about 1/4 cup pasta water for the noodles to mingle in. Meanwhile, place the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. and blend until smooth. Next, add the avocado, basil, salt and cheese process until the mixture has a smooth and creamy consistency. Toss pasta with sauce and garnish with extra basil and Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Cacio e Pepe

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Or “Anthony Bourdain Pasta”, as we call it in our house. Why do we call it that? We first became aquainted with this simple idea of spaghetti, cheese and pepper as a delicious main dish last year while watching the Rome episode of No Reservations. The segment can be seen in the video below beginning at 2:50 (or just watch the whole thing, you won’t be sorry).

Tony makes it seem simple enough – just pasta, pasta water, butter, cheese and pepper, but the coward in me needed a recipe or some sort of proportional guide. After Googling it, I was pleased to see that everyone’s favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen, had me covered.

I’ve made this dish, following SK’s recipe, probably 20 times. It is one of Jeff’s favorite meals and it is, by far, Marlo’s favorite. It’s my go-to meal when I’m getting low on fresh food, and this on the dinner table generally foreshadows a trip to the store. I always have the ingredients around, and I bet you do, too. Since there is really only three ingredients worth acknowledging, go ahead and try to make them the best quality you can accomplish. Spend the extra 80 cents to buy the good pasta. Go ahead and splurge and spend a dollar more on the cheese that says “Pecorino Romano” not just “Romano”. Break the bank. I dare you. And unless you’ve got some crazy arthritis, crack your pepper fresh, don’t you dare shake it out of a tin box.

I always serve it with something green, but if I had no shame I would just fill a giant bowl to the brim, call it supper and be happy (very happy). Too bad about that shame stuff.

Cacio e Pepe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated *
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Salt (optional)

Cook spaghetti in well-salted water according to package directions. Drain spaghetti, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Dry out your pot, then heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add drained spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water (careful here, it will spatter ferociously).

Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt to taste.

Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and and more black pepper.

* I’ll be honest, I don’t really measure the cheese. Just throw it in and quit when it looks “cheesy enough” for me. No reason why you can’t do the same.

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini

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I generally like being told what to do.

I may sneer at you after you boss me around, but secretly, I’m relieved. Why? Because I am, for lack of a better and more pc word, a pussy. I may know the best way to tackle something. It probably is even better than your way. But, I don’t have the confidence to go it alone, unless we’re playing Euchre.  So give me your plans, your ideas, your set of directions and even if I think they’re terrible, I follow through with what you say anyway. What a terrible quality to have, huh?

What’s so ridiculous about all of this, is when I do actually step out on a limb and skip what you say and do what I say instead, I usually have had pretty redeeming results. Particularly with recipes. Especially with this one.

I tried finding a recipe a few days ago for a pasta with tomatoes and zucchini. And out of everything I found, I was either several ingredients short, or it sounded boring. So I decided, what the hell, I’ll just use what I’ve got and make something up.

This was perfect and exactly what I wanted. A lot of flavor with a little bit of heat. The name is just too long.

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini

12 oz. Penne pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 small zucchini, cut in half and sliced into thin half moons
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed
1/2 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for sprinkling at table
salt and pepper to season

1. Set large pot of water over high heat to boil. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pot.
2. In large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
3. Add onions. Season with salt and saute until softened.
4. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Stir zucchini into pan and season well with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
6. Add tomatoes and Herbes de Provence to pan and stir. Heat until tomatoes begin to pucker, about 5-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add contents to pot with pasta.
7. Add lemon zest and juice to the pot and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Toss well.
8. Transfer to large serving bowl or platter. Top with Asiago cheese.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

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Marlo loves this.

No, I’m not kidding.

Let me be clear. The noodles are covered in green stuff and she can’t get it in her mouth fast enough.

When it’s all gone she asks for more while still chewing her last bite.

It’s good, good for you and unbelievably simple.

But then again you expect that here, right?

Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Family Vegetarian Cooking

12 oz. (just shy of the full pound box) spaghetti
16 oz. bag frozen broccoli florets
2 big garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
coarsely ground black pepper

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, prepare broccoli according to package directions. I opt to microwave. Works great every time.
3. In food processor fitted with blade attachment, puree cooked broccoli, garlic, broth, cheese, olive oil and salt.
4. Mix pasta with broccoli pesto. This takes some time to get it evenly distributed.
5. Serve immediately with a generous grind of black pepper. Don’t skip the pepper.

Ravioli with Pesto, Peas & Tomatoes

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If I were Italian, would my name be Emiliana Andretti?

I sure hope so, as that would probably mean I would be related in some way to the racing Andretti’s and I would live a very comfortable lifestyle. Not to say my lifestyle as an Irish Kraut with a Swedish last name isn’t lovely, but I can’t help but wish for Italian heritage if only for the food and wine and Peroni. I love Italian food more than any other. More than Mexican. I said it!

I made this Italian meal for the first time while we were still living with Jeff’s parents. His mother said, “I’ve never had peas and tomatoes in my mouth at the same time.” Then I got to thinking, neither had I! Though they may be an odd couple, they make a good pair. I loved this meal because it’s simple, fresh tasting, colorful, and elegant. Surprisingly, Giada didn’t dream this one up. Way to go Good Housekeeping!

Ravioli with Pesto, Peas & Tomatoes
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Family Vegetarian Cooking

1 pound refrigerated or frozen cheese ravioli (I used Meijer brand frozen cheese ravioli – seriously yummy)
2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. package frozen peas
1/4 cup homemade or store bought pesto (the refrigerated kind is best)

1. In a large pot, prepare ravioli according to package directions. In the last 4 minutes of boiling, add package of frozen peas to pot with ravioli.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine diced tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.

3. Once raviolis and peas are finished cooking, drain and place in large serving bowl. Toss ravioli and peas with pesto and tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

Easy Italian Chicken & Pasta Casserole

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What is it about casseroles? I mean, they’re awesome. They’re kind of fail-proof. They usually always taste great, at least relative to the effort it takes to make them which is minimal. They usually always involve at least one can of something and they definitely always involve a crunchy top.

Though I think my favorite thing about casseroles is the “put in the oven for 30 minutes” and walk away part. Then you’re life kind of turns into one of those Domino’s pizza commercials. You know, what can you do in 30 minutes?

Normally, for me these 30 minutes consists of cleaning up the kitchen and then making a side dish. But this still isn’t half bad. I don’t have the stress of having multiple dishes cooking up all at the same time, and when we’re done eating dinner, most of the clean-up is already done.

The one bad thing about casseroles refers back to that “can of something” point. Usually it’s a can of high sodium, high fat Campbell’s Cream of Whatever soup. I love these casseroles as much as the next mom from Ohio, but there’s gotta be something better. There is. Giada made a casserole.

I make this a lot. It’s easy and fresh and not too heavy. Give it a shot and tell me what you do in your 30 minutes.

Easy Italian Chicken and Pasta Casserole
Adapted from Food Network

1/2 box Farfalle Pastini (tiny bow ties)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed (1-inch cubes)
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice (I use the ones with Italian seasoning)
2 generous handfuls shredded Italian cheese blend (I use Sargento Italian 5 cheese blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, season a little more, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, shredded cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 2 or 3 quart baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Edamame Walnut Ravioli

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This picture makes me realize that I need some sort of colorful serving dish. If you look closely, you will see there is something on the plate underneath the mushrooms and wilted spinach. There are little raviolis. Yes, it’s true. They’re there, it’s not an optical illusion.

This was my first ever ravioli making experience. Did I go for a simple cheese filling with fresh herbs? Nope, step aside Italy, you too Giada, cuz I’m cheatin’ with some wonton wrappers and fillin’ ’em up with nuts n’ beans. Yee haw. Okay, yeah Indiana isn’t the wild west. It’s actually more Amish than cowboyish. Either way, I felt exotic making and eating these, even though I suppose the most “exotic” ingredient was the edamame which is only considered exotic because I had a dandy of a time finding it in local supermarkets here. Speaking of finding things, the wonton wrappers – not so easy to locate. (Tip of the day!) I used Nasoya brand and found them at Meijer in the produce section where the mushrooms are displayed. Beats rolling our your own dough. And I’ve even seen Giada use them, so they’ve gotta be approved for Italian raviolis, too. Try them.

Okay, so these were good. Not life changing, but good. I felt healthy eating them. But I must say, they were very light and I felt hungry again about 2 hours later, so maybe these would make a good weekend lunch meal, or a side to some fish or chicken for dinner. If that’s the case, though, enlist help. Even a child could help you make them. They aren’t exactly tricky, in fact, they’re very easy (not to mention, fun)…but they can be a bit time consuming.

Edamame Walnut Ravioli with Spinach Mushroom Saute
Adapted from Veggie Belly

1/4 scant cup walnuts
1 cup frozen shelled Edamame
1 small garlic clove
1 tbsp white wine
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
18-20 wonton wrappers

1. Place the walnuts in a large pan. Toast the walnuts on medium heat until they are lightly browned. To the pan, add frozen, shelled edamame, garlic clove, white wine, and season well with salt and pepper.

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2. Let the wine bubble away on medium heat, about 1 minute. When the wine has evaporated, transfer the walnut-edamame mixture to a food processor. Blend into a smooth paste.
3. Place about 18 to 20 wonton wrappers on a clean work surface. Place a 1/2 Tbsp. full of the walnut-edamame mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper. Then sprinkle some chopped chives on top of the mixture.

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4. Dip your finger in water and coat all four sides of the wonton wrapper with water. This will help the edges to stick. Fold the wonton over to make a triangle. Make sure none of filling is leaking out. Press the edges together to seal. Repeat for all wonton wrappers.
5. In a large pot, bring plenty of water to a gentle boil. Place the ravioli a few at a time into the water. Boil them gently for about 1 minute. (A rapid boil may break apart the ravioli). Ravioli are done when they rise to the top. Remove the ravioli from the water and place on a towel and gently pat dry. You could spray them with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking.

For the Saute

8 oz box of sliced mushrooms
1 small garlic clove
3 tbsp white wine
4 cups fresh baby spinach tightly packed
2 tbsp fresh chives chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Rinse spinach leaves, and finely mince the garlic clove. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms in a single layer. Cook the mushrooms on medium high heat, moving them as little as possible, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, salt, pepper and white wine. Let the wine bubble and evaporate a little. Then add the spinach leaves and sauté till they are just wilted.

2. To serve the ravioli – place the spinach mushroom sauté in a serving dish. Place the ravioli on top. Garnish with chives.



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