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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

There are a few foods that are dinner staples in our house. We can’t seem to go a week or two without having them. Pizza, pasta and Mexican are three of the things you’ll find us eating frequently. (And coincidentally all feature carbs and/or cheese!)

We decided on pasta last night but wanted to try a new recipe. Typing “pasta” into the search box on Epicurious yields overwhelming results so in order to focus us a bit more, I gave Brandon The Gourmet Cookbook to browse through. He came up with a Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto that sounded great and featured a 20 minute start to finish time. This was perfect since we weren’t able to start on dinner until after 8 p.m.

We made a few modifications to the original recipe. The biggest was the addition of shrimp which we both agreed really took the dish up a notch. Overall, this is a very simple recipe but each element plays a big part in the flavor, especially the arugula. Don’t skip it.

While the pasta was boiling, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with a little bit of a lemon pepper rub (Dizzy Pig Shakin’ the Tree). Once the pasta and shrimp were done, I drained the pasta and dumped all the ingredients into the pot with the pasta. After a stir and a generous crank of salt and pepper it was time to eat.

I served this  dish with a hunk of bread and olive oil dipping sauce. At one point I said, “Mmm…I love carbs.” aloud. We’re happy to have another pasta dish worth repeating (over and over again) in our repertoire!

Pasta with Shrimp, Arugula and Prosciutto
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta (half box) pasta, penne, corkscrew, etc.
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Seasoning of your choice for the shrimp (salt and pepper, lemon pepper, etc)
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto, chopped
3/4 to 1 pound arugula, stems removed, chopped roughly (I used about 1/2 of a clamshell container)
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 quarter lemon, squeezed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

While pasta is cooking, sautee shrimp over medium high heat with olive oil and seasoning of your choice. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Return pasta to pot and toss with prosciutto, shrimp, arugula, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the pasta water if it seems dry.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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One of Brandon’s all-time favorite dinners is pasta with red sauce so I wasn’t surprised when he requested it for our first “return to normal eating and homecooked meals” after the holidays. I wasn’t really in the mood for traditional spaghetti sauce and Brandon suggested arrabbita sauce. Spicy homemade marinara sauce with pancetta sounded perfect.

We usually top stuffed shells with arrabbita but I was not in the mood for the richness of stuffed shells after the holidays so we stuck with plain spaghetti noodles. This ended up being a great choice because it really allowed the awesome flavor of the arrabbita sauce to be the star. The pancetta is a must in the sauce – it adds so much flavor and richness. The red pepper flakes don’t dominate the dish but contribute a nice, slow burn.

I used my go-to marinara sauce as the base for this sauce and added the sauteed pancetta and red pepper flakes at the end. If you have never made homemade marinara sauce, you must! It tastes nothing like what you buy in a jar. I recommend doubling this recipe and keeping a batch in the freezer for a quick dinner option. It reheats wonderfully.

One Year Ago: Three-Ingredient Pot Roast
Two Years Ago: Kefta – Greek Meatballs

Pasta with Arrabbita Sauce
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 stalk celery, broken into 4 pieces
1 carrot, finely diced
32-ounces high-quality crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pinch of sugar
Shot of red wine (1-2 tablespoons)
1/3 pound (around 6 ounces) pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons (or more if  you like spice!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look translucent. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and red wine. Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, uncovered.

While sauce is simmering, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then pancetta. Sautee about 5 minutes, or until it begins to look crispy. Add red pepper flakes and sautee for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into marinara sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil right before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 65

I haven’t had much luck with making pasta salad in the past. It always seemed to be lacking in flavor and pretty mediocre. We decided to grill kebabs last week and enjoy our first dinner out on our patio. I thought pasta salad sounded like the perfect side item.

I read through several recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this recipe for Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives sounded like a winner. We love Mediterranean flavors and I didn’t see how this could be boring with zucchini, olives, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and feta.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. First, I made the pasta salad ahead of time (wanted to go to a late yoga class!) so I skipped grilling the zucchini in favor of a quick saute. Second, I just do not love the flavor of raw onions and garlic so I gave those a quick saute too (and subbed Vidalia’s for red onions because they were on hand).

The verdict? Awesome! The only complaint Brandon had was with the whole wheat pasta but that’s typical. He’s not a lover of the added chewiness. If you struggle with that too you may want to substitute white pasta for the wheat but keep in mind the added health benefits of using whole wheat pasta :)

I loved the flavors of this pasta salad and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next couple days. I cut the recipe in half and it still made a ton. This would be great for entertaining or to make for lunches for the week. I will most definitely be making this recipe again soon.

One Year Ago: Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing  zucchini
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 pound whole-wheat penne or other tubular pasta
2/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
6 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole small or torn large fresh basil leaves

In a large bowl gently stir together tomatoes, onion, garlic paste, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.

Brush one side of zucchini slices lightly with additional oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat until hot and grill zucchini, oiled sides down, in batches, brushing tops with more oil before turning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until just tender but not soft. Transfer to a small bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water cook pasta until just tender (following package directions) and drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and toss to combine. Cool pasta slightly and stir in zucchini, olives, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 37

It’s Wednesday night…which means I’m on my own! Brandon is in a bowling league (seriously) on Wednesday nights so I get to enjoy a night of eating whatever I want and watching what  I want on TV. Glorious! :) Tonight I had leftover Coconut Red Lentil Curry, a salad and a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s always some sort of meat-free feast!

It’s been a very relaxing night. I took the day off from exercising because I haven’t had a rest day in over two weeks and I’m just tired and my body needs a break. I’ve started teaching a BodyPump class on Monday mornings at 6 a.m. and it’s been a big adjustment. The 5 a.m. wake up call is very early for me. I know I’ll get used to it but so far I feel like I start the week in a sleep deficit.  The good thing is that I have a class full of people up early with me and they are ready to work!

Yesterday I went to a hot vinyasa class at Y2 Yoga. I’m so sad that my one month unlimited “new student” pass is ending! My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a pass to try this studio for Christmas. Obviously, I’ve definitely been using the free month to its fullest extent! So now I have to make the decision whether to buy a 10 class pass or a month unlimited. There’s about a $25 difference in price. I’m just not sure which is the right fit. I know I’ve been all about the yoga lately but I’m starting a new half marathon training plan on February 1. I dont’ know if I can fit in teaching BodyPump, running 4-5 days a week and utilizing a month unlimited pass to it’s fullest extent? Thoughts?

Okay…back to food. I’m sure you’re confused about the meaty pasta dish in the picture above since I’ve been going on and on about vegetarian dinners and working out. I made this dish on Monday night. It’s a Greek dish – Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio. I was craving eggplant and love Greek food so this recipe hit the spot.

It was so good…the cinnamon added an awesome warm flavor to the lamb sauce and the nutmeg I added to the cheese sauce complimented it perfectly. Although it took a couple hours start to finish, the end result was totally worth it. And it’s not all hands on time – lots of simmering and baking time in there too. I thought the double layer was really fun – you mix the bottom pasta layer with the meat sauce and the top pasta layer with the cheese sauce. Yum! I’m so embarrassed to admit that we both went back for not only seconds but thirds! And we had the leftovers again last night. If you’re a Greek food lover this is a must try. And just a side note, I think you could sub beef for the lamb if you’re not a fan of lamb.

Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, October 2001)

Ingredients:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 garlic clove
1 whole clove or a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 pound feta, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs

FOR THE PASTA
10 ounces penne (3 cups)

Directions:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add lamb and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring to break up lumps. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and pepper and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in eggplant and tomatoes. Gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is just tender, about 40 minutes. Remove lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

While meat sauce is simmering, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and add garlic clove and whole clove or nutmeg. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Add feta, salt and pepper and cook, whisking vigorously, until cheese is well incorporated.

Beat eggs in a large bowl and slowly add sauce to eggs, whisking constantly.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Slightly undercook the pasta since it will finish in the oven. Drain in a colander. Toss half of pasta with lamb sauce and half with cheese sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE PASTITSIO
Pour pasta with lamb sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish, spreading evenly. Spoon pasta with cheese sauce on top, spreading evenly.

Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until bubbling and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 15

I saw this recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook as I was putting together our menu for the week. I knew this would be a huge hit with Brandon and I haven’t made meatballs in forever. This dinner was surprisingly quick and easy to put together given that you make your own tomato sauce. I put the sauce on to simmer, assembled the meatballs and stashed them in the fridge while I was doing some things around the house. I put pasta on to boil and cooked the meatballs once we were ready to eat.

Overall, I would have to say that the meatballs were a definite success but I would use a different sauce recipe next time. I loved the combination of veal, pork and beef in the meatballs and they held together beautifully. No falling apart while cooking – this could have been helped too by the time they spent in the fridge prior to being cooked. I found the sauce to be a little too thin. At first I attributed this to my laziness, the recipe calls for pulsing whole tomatoes a food processor. I just stuck some kitchen shears in my whole tomatoes and cut them up so they were more diced than pureed. Then I read the reviews on the online recipe and saw that others had issues with the thin sauce too. I think this could be helped by adding a little tomato paste and maybe using crushed tomatoes instead of whole. Or just use your favorite marinara recipe (see my favorite recipe here) and skip this one all together. Also, if you’re big on sauce and serving this over pasta you may want to double the sauce.

The meatballs are a definite winner though. I recommend using this meatball recipe next time you make spaghetti and meatballs. I’m so excited to use the leftovers for meatball subs tonight! (They were so good I couldn’t resist snapping a photo to share. Yum!)

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, January 2002 and The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely diced, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Shot of red wine (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 lb meatloaf/meatball mix (mixed ground beef, pork, and veal)
5 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add garlic and about 1/4 of your diced onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until onion softens and becomes transparent. In the meantime, if using whole tomatoes, pulse tomatoes with juices in food processor until chopped. Add tomatoes, oregano, Italian seasoning, splash of wine and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to pot. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes (can simmer longer if necessary).

While sauce is simmering, stir together bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes until bread crumbs have absorbed milk. Add meat, rest of onion, 3 tablespoons parsley, red pepper flakes and remaining teaspoon salt. Blend with your hands until just combined (do not over mix). Form 2-tablespoon amounts into meatballs. You should have about 20.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Carefully add meatballs and sauté in 2 batches, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to tomato sauce using a slotted spoon.

Simmer meatballs, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with remaining  2 tablespoons parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 9

I don’t even know where to start. I don’t want to gush so much that you think I’m crazy but this macaroni and cheese recipe is pretty life changing as far as mac and cheese recipes go. If you think you’ve already found the perfect recipe you still have to try this one. I found it in The Gourmet Cookbook. They had me at, “this is arguably the best macaroni and cheese on the planet.”

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort food dinners. I just serve it with a green salad and call it a meal. (Who needs meat anyway when you can just eat more mac and cheese!?) The method in this recipe is pretty basic for mac and cheese: make a roux, stir in milk, cream and cheese, mix in macaroni, sprinkle on topping and bake. The results are a creamy, cheesy mac and cheese with a crunchy topping – heaven!

I’m already planning the next time that I’ll make this…and that will be this weekend. My sister-in-law just brought home a new baby and I know they will love this mac and cheese. This recipe makes a full 11 x 17 pan so it’s perfect for leftovers or entertaining.

Please try this and let me know how it compares to other mac and cheese recipes! This has definitely been one of the highlight recipes of 68 Days of Gourmet so far and I know I’ll be making this for years to come.

Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

FOR TOPPING
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups panko or coarse dry breadcrumbs
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

FOR CHEESE SAUCE AND MACARONI
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound elbow macaroni

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 3-4 quart baking dish or 13 x 9 pan with butter or cooking spray.

FOR THE TOPPING
Mix together panko, butter and cheese in a medium bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE
Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in milk in a slow steady stream. Increase heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is thickened a bit. Stir in cream, cheese, mustard, salt and pepper until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

COOK THE MACARONI AND ASSEMBLE THE DISH
Cook macaroni according to package directions, making sure to add plenty of the salt to the cooking water. (At least 1 tablespoon for every 4 quarts.) Undercook macaroni about 3-4 minutes so that it still has quite a bite to it. This ensures the pasta won’t get mushy when cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and then drain noodles.

Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water and sauce in a large bowl or in your sauce pot if it’s big enough. Transfer to prepared baking dish, mixture will be loose.

Sprinkle topping evenly over mixture and bake for about 25-35 minutes. Top should be golden and bubbling.

Yield: 8 main course servings or 12-14 side dish servings

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