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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 4

carbonara

This was another one of the easy weeknight dishes that Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl mentioned on NPRs Fresh Air (explanation in the Spiced Chicken post). I’ve always wanted to try to make Spaghetti Carbonara because I thought it sounded like something Brandon would love. Bacon, eggs and cheese in pasta – seriously? It’s a strange combination but the final result is pure simplicity and deliciousness. How’s that for a description?

The method for putting this together is a little different. You whisk together the eggs and cheese and stir it into the cooked pasta. It creates a creamy mixture without actually using cream. You toss everything together with the cooked meat and onions.

This pasta is not fussy and you probably have the ingredients on hand in your pantry. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight meal. The recipe makes a ton so it’s great for leftovers or to feed a family.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, March 2003)

Ingredients:

5 ounces  pancetta or bacon, diced into 1/3 inch squares
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti
3 large eggs
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup) (I used all Parmesan)
1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Saute bacon or pancetta in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir until fat begins to render, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook for another 8 minutes, until it becomes transparent. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium high and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Follow directions on package for cooking spaghetti. Make sure to cook in salted water.

While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs, cheese, pepper and  salt in a small bowl.

Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to onion mixture. Toss with tongs over moderate heat until onion mixture is incorporated. Remove from heat and add egg mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.

* NOTE: The eggs in this recipe might not be fully cooked. This may be a concern if you are pregnant or if salmonella is a problem in your area.

Yield: 4-6 main course servings

spaghetticarbonara

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lasagnapan

I have a confession. There are a few simple things that I just cannot seem to master. Among those are pancakes, gravy, biscuits and lasagna. Seriously, who can’t make pancakes and lasagna? It’s embarrassing. Well, last weekend I was craving traditional lasagna. This is strange for me because I’m not the biggest traditional meat lasagna fan – I usually go for the veggie stuff. I’m good about trying to overcome my culinary weaknesses so I decided to give it a go. I researched recipes for longer than I’d like to admit before finally deciding on this Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna on epicurious.com. I figured if it had received 4-fork reviews from 325 people it must be good.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t just good…it was awesome. I probably said to Brandon five times during dinner, “Wow, this is really delicious. I can’t believe I made good lasagna.” I loved the flavor combination with the homemade sauce, Italian sausage and fresh basil. I’ve decided that I prefer using all Italian sausage versus a sausage/ground beef mixture. If you’re going to make this lasagna DO NOT skip making the homemade sauce. It is so simple and makes a huge difference in the flavor.

Now on to modifications that I did make to the original recipe. First, I read multiple reviews that there was not enough sauce. I corrected this by using a smaller pan – 9 x 11 instead of 9 x 13. It was just Brandon and me and we can never finish a whole pan anyway. Alternatively, I recommend increasing the sauce recipe by one half. It would have been nice to have extra sauce for the leftovers too. Second, I was totally not in the mood to deal with cooking and draining lasagna noodles. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just use uncooked noodles in the lasagna (I didn’t even use the “no-boil” noodles). I rinsed them in water first to dampen them and made sure they were completely covered by sauce. I was extremely pleased to find that they’d cooked perfectly when I served the lasagna.

One final recommendation is to make sure to let  your lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. I think this makes the biggest difference in having a pretty lasagna that holds together and doesn’t turn into a mess on the plate.

So now that I’ve overloaded you with my ramblings and recommendations, here’s the recipe.

Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna
(Recipe source epicurious.com, originally printed in Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SAUCE
1 pound spicy or sweet (your preference) Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
12 lasagna noodles
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Directions:

FOR THE SAUCE
Brown Italian sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat until crumbly and cooked through. Drain and wipe down pan.

Heat olive oil in same pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look transparent and soft. Add garlic, red pepper and oregano and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add crushed and diced tomatoes and cooked sausage and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE FILLING
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in bottom of baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles and spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

lasagna

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goatcheeseveggiepasta

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it reminded me of an old favorite I hadn’t made in a while. One of my favorite easy pasta dishes is to saute vegetables and mix them with pasta and flavored Boursin cheese (usually garlic and herb). I love goat cheese so when I saw the recipe on SK I wanted to try my recipe with goat cheese instead of Boursin.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer. Tonight I was feeling zuchinni, broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. This is a great meat-free dish. I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Goat Cheese Veggie Pasta
(Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 box pasta (penne or spiral)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini
1 small head broccoli
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 -4 ounces goat cheese, depending on how cheesy you want to get
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add zucchini and broccoli and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in sun dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, goat cheese and pasta. Stir until cheese is melted and coats pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)

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beefbolognese

I grew up on good old fashioned spaghetti sauce. One weekend when I was in college I went home and my dad served beef bolognese.  It was incredible! I found myself craving it and asking for it when I came home to visit.

My dad emailed me the recipe a couple years ago and it’s now one of my favorite “comfort food” Italian dishes to make. While I still love basic spaghetti sauce and keep it in the freezer at all times, I’m glad to have this in the repertoire and make it a few times a year.

Beef Bolognese
(Recipe source my Dad)

Ingredients:

1 -3  tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diceed
1 carrot,  shredded
3-4  cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup red wine
1 cup whole milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
About 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions:

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain and set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven and heat the oil. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef back to the pot. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. (Note, the longer it cooks, the better it gets. Leftovers are even better).

Serve with cooked  tagliatelle or thin spaghetti pasta . Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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pastavodka

Brandon is in the middle of law school finals and I haven’t been seeing much of him lately. He’s been studying around the clock. He had a final from 6-9 last night and I wanted to have a simple dinner waiting for him when he got home. I’m not going to lie that the inspiration for this dish was a great bottle of Toscano Rosso that I tried while I was wandering around Whole Foods after work yesterday.  I picked up a bottle and decided it would be a pasta night.

I had all the ingredients on hand for Pasta with Vodka Sauce and it was perfect with ciabatta served alongside. I love how easy this dish is to put together – the touch of red pepper and fresh basil definitely set it off. Try this out next time you are looking for a simple pasta dish.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
(Recipe source mostly Bakin’ and Eggs with guidance from the Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 15 0unce can of tomato sauce (pureed tomato)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, thinly sliced, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 box of pasta (a little less than 1 pound) ziti or penne recommended
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to get tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add vodka and let cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add butter and red pepper flakes. Let butter melt into onion mixture. Pour in tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Follow directions on pasta packaging for cooking. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin your sauce.

Pour cream into tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish plates with Parmesan and basil.

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One of our favorite vegetarian meals is red coconut curry with tofu. When I saw this recipe on A Year in the Kitchen I thought it would be a fun version to try.

This recipe was originally titled “Spicy Thai Coconut Tofu Soup” but ours ended up being more noodle bowl than soup. It wasn’t very brothy (which was tasty anyway).

I made a few modifications to the original recipe so I’m going to post my version of the recipe. This definitely fits the quick and easy category and it’s very filling and tasty.

Spicy Thai Noodle Bowl with Tofu
(Recipe adapted from A Year in the Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/2 a cup)
3-4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable stock to make this meal vegetarian)
1 15 oz can light coconut milk
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced white or baby bello mushrooms
1 cup sliced snap peas
1/2 package thin rice noodles
1 tbsp hot red curry paste
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (optional, can sub soy sauce)
2 tsp honey
1 block extra firm tofu, diced
Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper and saute for about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir frequently and watch it closely. Don’t let your garlic and red pepper burn.
Add chicken broth, coconut milk and carrots and mushrooms and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Add all the remaining ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes.
I served this in bowls with soy sauce and red chili sauce (like Sriracha) on the table so we could season to taste.

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pennebetsy

After hearing rave reviews, I’ve been wanting to try Penne a la Betsy from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. If you’re not familiar with the Pioneer Woman, you should definitely check out her site – especially her food blog. You’re in for some serious entertainment and great recipes. Now, I will say that most of her recipes are a bit of a splurge – think Paula Deen-esque. But I’m a firm believer that everyone has to splurge sometimes and we had some leftover heavy cream from a Tres Leches cake I made last week.

This dinner was a hit. Brandon told me several times how delicious it was and requested the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’m going to do some brainstorming about how to lighten this up a bit so we can add it to the dinner rotation.

Penne a la Betsy
(Recipe source The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

1 lb uncooked shrimp
3/4 lb penne pasta (about 3/4 a box – I used Barilla Plus and Brandon was none the wiser)
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (can sub chicken broth)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream (I only used about 1/2 a cup and it was plenty)
Fresh parsley, chopped (As always, Publix was sold out on Sunday so I used dried)
Fresh basil, chopped (definitely splurge for the fresh basil – it makes so much difference in the flavor)

Directions:

Follow cooking directions on package for pasta.

In the meantime, peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add the shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes until they turn pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, they cook quickly! Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

In the same skillet, add a little more olive oil – another tbsp or two. Add the onion and sautee for a few mintues until it starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken broth and let simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionaly. The wine will evaporate.

Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then stir in the heavy cream and continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer while you chop herbs and shrimp. You want to chop about 1-2 tbsp each of basil and parsley (to taste) and chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

Add shrimp and herbs into tomato cream sauce and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add cooked pasta and stir until combined. Top with grated parmesan if desired.

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