Tag Archives: pasta

Spring Vegetable Pasta

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By the time late spring rolls around I’m all about lightening up my dinners and taking advantage of the fresh vegetables that are popping up in the local markets. Pastas are always a go-to meal in my family and they serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting the best vegetables of the season. In this dish adapted from Cooking Light, fresh snap peas, carrots and radishes are the featured vegetables. Many people shy away from radishes thinking their flavor is to pungent but when they are sliced thinly then lightly sauteed in butter, they emerge sweet and tenderly crisp. Topped with lemon zest and a handful of freshly chopped dill, this dish is bright, flavorful and a true spring celebration.

Use the recipe as a suggestion and choose whatever vegetables you prefer. Really, your options are endless so pick a few vegetables that look good, add in the freshly chopped herb of your choice and enjoy!

 

SPRING VEGETABLE PASTA

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup thinly diagonally sliced baby carrots

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

8 ounces snap peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest, divided

5 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounce fresh noodles of your choice

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain into a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the carrots and radishes and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 4 minutes.
  • Add the snap peas, green onions and half of the lemon zest. Simmer for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
  • Add the cooked noodles to vegetable mixture; toss to coat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid; adding additional cooking liquid as needed to thin sauce to your liking.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and dill over pasta mixture.
  • Divide pasta mixture into 4 shallow bowls.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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Greek Chicken Pasta

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Who doesn’t love an easy yet tasty pasta meal? I know I certainly do and this chicken pasta dish adapted from the Noble Pig doesn’t disappoint. The chicken adds protein to the dish while the addition of spinach makes this a complete one pot meal. The feta and olives give the dish a Mediterranean flair. Depending upon what I have on hand, I’ve used both Greek and Spanish olives so simply choose one you like. If you are short on time or have leftovers, use rotisserie or pre-cooked chicken. Simply add the chicken in during the final step and cook until heated through.

GREEK CHICKEN PASTA

12 ounces spaghetti

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces baby spinach

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 cup whole olives of your choosing

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

  • Cook spaghetti as package directs.
  • While the spaghetti cooks, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken breasts and tossing regularly, cook until browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add in the onion and the garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the spinach, wine, oregano, chile flakes, olives, pine nuts, salt and pepper.
  • Drain pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Add the chicken and spinach mixture and cook over medium heat until warmed, about 4 minutes.
  • Transfer to plates and top with feta cheese.

Serves 4

“Sauceless” Fettuccini Alfredo

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Ask most Italians about fettuccini alfredo and they are likely to not recognize what you are talking about. Or at best they may shudder since they don’t recognize the often gloppy cheese and cream sauce that covers pasta as being remotely Italian. They would say it is Italian American cooking and nothing like what Grandma used to make. Personally, I’ve always found alfredo sauce to be too rich so rarely have I partaken in this American pasta tradition. But when time is tight I do whip up my own take on the dish and think it is so much better.

My version is inspired by The Splendid Table and is fast, delicious and decidedly not covered in thick sauce. With all of butter and the cheese is it still decidedly rich but an occasional splurge never hurt anyone. I prefer to use fresh pasta; not only does it cook faster but I think it tastes better as well.

“SAUCELESS” FETTUCCINI ALFREDO

1 pound fettuccini

3/4 cup diced pancetta

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

2 cups grated parmesan cheese

  • Cook the fettuccini according to package instructions. Drain and return to the pot.
  • While the pasta is cooking, saute the pancetta in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Once the pancetta is crispy, turn off the heat and add the butter, allowing it to melt.
  • Pour the butter and pancetta mixture over the cooked pasta and toss well to coat.
  • Sprinkle with the red chili pepper flakes then add the grated parmesan cheese, again tossing well to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese

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Who doesn’t love a good macaroni and cheese? I know it is a favorite dish in our household. But to keep things interesting I’m always looking for new takes on this classic dish. This version, adapted from Cooking Light adds the mild yet distinctive taste of roasted garlic to two types of cheese and noodles. While raw garlic can be harsh and is definitely an acquired taste, roasted garlic is mild and mellow and frankly, delicious.

There is more than one way to roast garlic. The traditional way involves your oven and more time. If time is an issue simply “roast” your garlic in the microwave. Both methods yield the same mild and flavorful results.

GARLIC ROASTED MAC & CHEESE

2 whole garlic heads
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces dry pasta
3 cups milk, divided
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup Emmental cheese, shredded
To roast the garlic:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the papery skin from the garlic heads and place both garlic heads on a large piece of aluminum foil.
  • Drizzle with the olive oil then wrap the foil around the garlic to from a sealed packet.
  • Place the garlic in an ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the garlic is very soft and fragrant.

OR

  • Remove the papery skin from the garlic heads.
  • Place the garlic heads in a microwave-safe bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.
  • Pour 3 tablespoons of water in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH for 4 to 5 minutes or until the garlic is very soft.

To make the pasta:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions; drain and set aside.
  • Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft pulp of each clove into a medium sized bowl. Pour in two cups of the milk and use a stick blender to puree the mixture until smooth. Set aside.
  • Place the remaining 1 cup of milk and the flour in a large saucepan. Stirring continually with a whisk, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Add in the milk and garlic mixture, stirring well to combine. Continue cooking for an additional minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the salt, pepper, dried mustard, the cheddar cheese and half of the Emmental cheese. Mix until smooth.
  • Stir the reserved pasta into the cheese mixture.
  • Lightly coat a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Pour the pasta into the dish, then top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
  • Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Caprese Mac ‘n Cheese

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If you love homemade macaroni and cheese but not the time it takes to make it, this is the dish for you. I think of it as middle of the week comfort food. The recipe is from Cooking Light so it is a healthier version of an old standby but it is so flavorful that you would never know that it is good for you. A combination of cheese, in this case mozzarella and parmesan makes the sauce taste rich while the roasted tomatoes add a deeper flavor than expected. And because the tomatoes are mixed right in, your kids will be so busy scooping up the pasta and sauce that they won’t even realize they are eating tomatoes. (At least that is the case in my house). Serve it with a salad—a Caprese salad would continue with the theme–and dinner is good to go.

CAPRESE MAC ‘n CHEESE

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces uncooked penne, or other small tubular shaped pasta
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons panko crumbs
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Preheat the broiler to high.
  • Combine the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 3 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to break down. Leave the broiler on.
  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to package instructions. Drain and return to the saucepan.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the flour then add in the milk, salt and pepper, stirring continually with a wire whisk.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer then good for 1 minute or  until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheeses until blended.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and toss well.
  • Add the tomatoes and torn basil to the pasta and fold well to combine.
  • Spoon the pasta mixture into 4 6-ounce gratin dishes which have been coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the top of each dish with the panko crumbs and the crushed red pepper.
  • Broil for 2 minute or until the panko is browned.
  • Garnish with additional basil leaves if desired.
Serves 4

Pumpkin & Sausage Chili Mac

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Here’s an easy dinner dinner adapted from The Yankee Kitchen Ninja that is sure to please everyone.  I’ve swapped out pumpkin for the butternut squash called for in the original recipe and, catering to the tastes of the youngest family member, used mild Italian sausage instead of the hot version.  Pumpkin and kale are two of my favorite autumn ingredients and when combined with the sausage they create the perfect “sauce” to serve over freshly cooked pasta. And I personally love the use of the pumpkin in this recipe since it creates a creamy and mild tasting sauce that coats the rest of the ingredients making an otherwise simple meal taste quite luxurious.

PUMPKIN & SAUSAGE CHILI MAC

12 ounces fresh pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 ounces loose mild Italian sausage

2 cups pumpkin, cubed

1 small red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

4 cups coarsely chopped kale

  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook, stirring to crumble, until the sausage is browned. Remove from the skillet.
  • Add the pumpkin, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, flour, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring continually.
  • Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, cooking until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Add the kale and cook until it just begins to wilt.
  • Return the sausage to the skillet and stir to heat through.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Serve the sausage and pumpkin mixture over the prepared pasta.

Serves 6

Minestrone Soup

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Nothing satisfies on a cold day more than soup. Most weekends I will make a big pot of whatever strikes my fancy. I allow it to simmer on low all afternoon then we enjoy it with crusty bread for a Sunday night dinner. There are always leftovers which is perfect since soup tastes better the next day. I have yet to find a soup that I didn’t like but this minestrone is a soup that I absolutely love.

It is more of a method rather than an exact recipe; I will use whatever vegetables I have on hand or whatever looked good at the market that morning. I like to be heavy handed with the vegetables and go lighter on the pasta and beans but you could easily add more of the later if that is to your liking. Not only is this soup vegetarian but it is also low in sodium. Rather than using a pre-made broth, I simply add water as the soup base and allow the cooking vegetables to flavor the broth. The results? A rich, tasty and satisfying soup that everyone will love. Serve it with crusty French bread and dinner is served.

MINESTRONE SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 leek, quartered and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 small zucchini, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 cup Brussels sprouts, quartered

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 26-ounce can tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 cup small pasta (shells or elbow macaroni works well)

1 large handful fresh basil, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Grated parmesan cheese, to serve

  • Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot set over medium high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the onion, leek, celery and carrots and stirring occasionally, cook until soft but not brown, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the zucchini, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, beans and canned tomatoes. Stir well.
  • Add enough water to the pot to cover the vegetables by 1 inch.
  • Bring the soup to a simmer then reduce the heat and cook uncovered until the vegetables are soft, 35-45 minutes.
  • Add in the oregano and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  • At this point you can proceed to the next step or cover the pot, turn the temperature to the lowest setting and allow to sit until you are ready to proceed.
  • Return the temperature to medium-high.
  • Once the soup is boiling again, add the pasta, stir well and cook until the pasta is al dente, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  • Stir in the basil, adjust the seasonings and serve, topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

 

 

 

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