Category Archives: Pasta

CSA Week 5: Cannolicchi alla Caprese

Lately I’ve been trying and trying to use all my CSA ingredients before I use the next batch. And overall I’ve been really successful. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had to toss anything that went bad before I could use it, although I’ll admit to taking a couple of weeks to get to some items. I don’t blog about everything I use since some of it just gets snacked on (I’m looking at you blueberries) and so much of it gets tossed into side salads or breakfast scrambles. That being said, I was afraid if I tossed kale and/or squash into one more recipe this week, there would be a revolt in my household.

The first three or four farm boxes included an herb plant, which has contributed to quite a nice little herb garden in my backyard. My basil in particular has been doing great and was absolutely delicious in this. Later in the summer when I’m trying to figure out what to do with an overload of tomatoes, this recipe will definitely be making another appearance. For the best flavor, use an assortment of vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo). With so few ingredients, quality really does matter!

This recipe combines my favorite flavors of all time in symphony of simplicity and deliciousness. I love basil, tomato and mozzarella together. Give it to me in salads, sandwiches, pizza, or just sliced up together on a plate and I am a happy camper. I’ve made a few different versions of this from time to time, but this one really was nice. The big difference with this recipe is combining the ingredients ahead of time and letting them marinate for several hours before tossing with the pasta. Mmmm. Perfect.

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese
(from The Pollan Family Table – the original recipe is Conchiglie alla caprese, I just used a different noodle)

2-3 cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo of roma and cherry tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups diced fresh mozzarella (or buy the little balls, which I had on hand)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (little ribbons)
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
1 pound pasta, either shells or a spiral shape to catch all the little bits and flavors

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, oil, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and let the sauce marinate at room temperature while you prepare the pasta, or for up to three hours to enhance the flavors. I highly recommend letting it sit a while, it did make a big difference.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, the drain the pasta.

Add pasta to the tomato mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce. Season with sea salt and pepper as needed. Sere hot or at room temperature.

 

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CSA Week 3: Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

Got my third farm box and it was a doozy! The head of lettuce was almost 2 feet in diameter and when washed and stowed, took up two large storage containers. I don’t know what they feed this stuff, but I will be eating lots of salad this week.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

Since I had so much lettuce for salads, I decided to get more creative with the kale (I still have some kale left from last week too, yikes!). For this recipe I took some inspiration from creamed spinach. I’ve always loved the rich creamy flavor and how the cream and garlic and onions mellowed the flavor of the greens, but I’ve never liked the mushy texture. But hey, grind that stuff up like a pesto and toss with some springy pasta and now you’re talking! My daughter actually hates creamed spinach and she’s not such a big kale fan either, but she really liked this. Of course, you toss bacon into just about anything and she’ll eat it.

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

5-6 strips of bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped (I used the flat leaf “dinosaur” kale)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper, just a pinch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package fusilli or rotini

Chop bacon and cook it in a pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and wipe pan clean.

Cook pasta until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the onion. Cook for a minute or two and then add the kale, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until veggies are soft. Add cream and heat through. Put mixture into a food processor or blender and process until it’s creamy, sort of similar to a pesto consistency (if you like your pasta a little more chunky and rustic you can skip this step).

Drain pasta (reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water). Combine pasta, bacon, parmesan and kale mixture and toss to combine. If needed, add some pasta water a little at a time until it’s the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

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CSA Week 1: Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

We loved this recipe from this week’s CSA box (see this post for this week’s box contents). The morels were not in the box, but I bought them at farmer’s market the same day. I had never tried them, and they are not always available, so I thought it would be a fun treat. Yeah, I’m a little strange that way. If you don’t have morels, you can substitute shiitakes or crimini mushrooms instead. Although there is no meat in this one, the mushrooms really gave it a meaty quality and using the beef broth (feel free to sub veggie if you are not into beefiness) lended an almost beef stroganoff flavor when combined with the mascarpone. Thumbs up all around.

One thing I’m fairly competent at growing is herbs. I have a nice little start to an herb garden in my back yard. For this recipe you could use whatever fresh herbs you like or have. I happen to love thyme with mushrooms, the earthiness of both just go so nicely together. I also threw in a little basil and chives, because hey, why not?

If you haven’t worked with fava beans, they can be a little more labor intensive than some veggies. They come in big giant pods, so you shell them like peas. Then you blanche them in boiling water for a minute, rinse them with cold water, and then each bean (mine were about the size of nickel) needs to be peeled. It doesn’t take long (the skins come right off due to the blanching), but if you’re in a hurry, feel free to substitute shelled edamame or green peas.

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Marscapone

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

Bowties with Fava Beans, Morels and Mascarpone

1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cup fresh or rehydrated morel mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fava beans (after shelling)
3/4 cup beef broth
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh basil, sliced in ribbons
1 tsp. fresh chives, snipped
1/2 cup mascarpone
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add fava beans and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Remove outer skins from beans. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and add onions. Saute for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add fava beans, beef broth and herbs. Turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until liquid is reduced but not gone. If it dries up add a bit more broth or water so there is 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid in the pan.

Add mascarpone, salt and pepper to pan. Drain noodles and add to pan. Gently toss until everything is combined and mascarpone is melted.

Serve with parmesan to sprinkle on top.

 

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Greek Lamb with Orzo

I’ve been slacking on the blog lately. No good excuse. Life happens, and sometimes the paying work has to come first. But never fear, I’m still around, and still cooking!  This recipe was just too good to keep to myself.

I had actually planned to make something else last night, but when I turned on my oven, the smoke and the smell and the burning happened. And the smoke detector went off and chaos ensued. And then I remembered. Scalloped potatoes happened on Easter. I made a delicious batch but filled the pan a tiny bit too much and it bubbled over and dripped everywhere, doing its best to adhere permanently to my oven. Did I feel like cleaning it right then? Of course not! I left it and promptly forgot it was there…until I tried to cook again.

So. Plan B. I had found this recipe on Food52 and was planning to make it later in the week. But it got moved up in the schedule since it can all be cooked on the stove top.

If you haven’t tried cooking with ground lamb, give this one a go. It’s easy to cook, with delicious, savory, wonderful flavor. And it’s got orzo! Who doesn’t love that? If you have olive and/or feta haters (who ARE those people?) among you, you can serve the olives and feta on the side if you prefer.

Greek Lamb & Orzo

Greek Lamb & Orzo

Greek Lamb with Orzo
(from Food52)

1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and smooshed with your hands (fun!)
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 pound orzo pasta
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta

In a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Cook, stirring to break it apart, until it is browned. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Return the pot to the stove top and add the onion and garlic (still over medium-high). Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices (cinnamon, oregano, cumin, coriander, and red pepper) and cook until they start smelling extremely toasty and fragrant (1-2 minutes). Then, stir in the smooshed tomatoes.

Cook the smooshed tomatoes in the spices, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Then, add the can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked lamb back to the pot, give a good stir, then cover the pot and leave it to cook, stirring from time to time, for 20 minutes. At this point, stir in the fresh spinach and cook just a couple more minutes until the spinach is wilted. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind you’ll be sprinkling just a touch of feta and olives on, which will add to the saltiness).

While the lamb and tomatoes are simmering together and marrying their flavors, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 or 8 minutes, usually. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Drain the orzo. Toss the orzo with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, and all of the parsley, adding a bit of pasta water at a time, if you feel it needs additional liquid.

The yummy orzo before it gets it's coating of lamb and other goodies.

The yummy orzo before it gets its coating of lamb and other goodies.

Spread the orzo out on a large serving platter or bowl. Spoon the lamb and sauce all over the top, then sprinkle with the feta and chopped olives.  Serves 4-6.

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Creamy Orzo Pilaf

I like rice pilaf.  It goes with anything. I’ve always thought “pilaf” was just a fancy way of saying rice with stuff in it to make it more interesting. Some rice pilaf (particularly the kind you get in a box) comes with not-rice that looks like rice, but it’s actually a noodle! And that lovely stuff is orzo. It is always my favorite part.  So I figured I would make my rice pilaf with orzo instead. And to get really decadent, I finished it with a little cream just to make it a little more saucy.  The result? A cross between pilaf and alfredo, with some fresh veggies and herbs thrown in for brightness.

I threw this together as a quick side dish the other night, but we all liked it so much, next time I’m going to add some grilled chicken or shrimp to it and call it dinner!

Creamy Orzo

Creamy Orzo Pilaf

Creamy Orzo Pilaf

1 cup dry orzo
1-2 tomatoes, diced
Small handful of basil, chopped
Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan

Cook orzo according to package directions (usually 8-10 minutes, until tender). Drain well and add to a bowl with all other ingredients (start with 1/4 cup of cream and add more if you want it more saucy).  Mix well and serve hot or cold.

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Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Like to cook once and eat twice? This is a perfect double duty recipe.  I made this meatball mixture originally for potsticker filling.  Rather than making a huge batch of those, I used half for the gyoza, and used the other half for these fabulous meatballs.  Some quickie sesame noodles while the meatballs cook and you have dinner on the table lickety split.  If you don’t want to use them all right away, just stick the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag and save for another day.

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Meatballs:
1/2 – 1 pound ground pork (I used one pound, which will make a double batch or use half for gyoza filling)
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped

Noodles:
1 package thin spaghetti noodles
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Salt (if needed – sometimes the soy sauce is salty enough on its own)
1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, combine meatball ingredients.  Roll into meatballs and space evenly on a baking sheet.

Meatballs!

Meatballs!

Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, bring water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  When noodles are ready to drain, throw the spinach into the water with them, then drain the whole thing.  Toss with the other ingredients and then gently toss with the meatballs.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot or cold.

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5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

I am an expert of the field of minimal effort cooking.  Mostly this happens on days when I’m just cooking for myself (or at the end of busy, crazy days, or lazy ones).  I threw together this light and tasty pasta in about 5 minutes the other night and man, it was good!

You could use any kind of olives in this, but I happened to have some Castelvetrano olives on hand so i used those.  I recently discovered these and it was love at first taste!  They are bright green and round, and very mild and a bit nutty in flavor.  If your grocery store has an olive bar, that will probably be your best bet if you’re interested in picking some up, but I do occasionally see a jar of them here and there as well.  If you can’t find them, feel free to sub the olive of your choice.

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

5-Minute Capellini with Tomatoes and Olives

Capellini or angel hair pasta
3-4 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
Handful of olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced or minced
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Parmesan or feta cheese (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil while you heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the skillet.  Toss in the pasta and keep an eye on it.  Capellini is very thin; it will only take about 4 minutes to cook.  While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds, until fragrant but not browned.  Add tomatoes and olives.  Turn heat down to low and give the mixture an occasional stir until the pasta is ready.  You really don’t need to cook the veggies much, mostly you are just heating them up and letting some of their juices release and combine to make it a little more saucy.

Just a little mingle in the heat to really bring out the flavor.

Just a little mingle in the heat to really bring out the flavor.

Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed (depending on the type of olives you use, you may not need much salt at all, if any).  Drain pasta (reserve a bit of the pasta water) and toss with tomato mixture.  If pasta seems dry you can add in a little bit of the reserved pasta water or drizzle with a touch of olive oil.  Serve immediately with a sprinkle of parmesan or feta if desired.

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Roasted Beet Spaghetti

Today I have a bit of an unusual dish (at least for me, in my corner of the world).  Psychedelic, hot pink pasta.  I came across this recipe on Pinterest and just couldn’t resist giving it a try.  The recipe was in Polish, but with the help of a translator (thank you modern technology!) and a little creative wrangling and interpretation, I think I got the gist of it.

I am a big fan of roasted beets, particularly this time of year.  Beets are one of those things you either love or hate.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground here.  So if you are a beet-hater, just ignore this post.  You probably won’t like it.  I promise to post something sans beet later in the week.  My daughter, Claire, is a beet-hater.  I’ve been working on her, but so far I’ve met with no success in this area.  She didn’t care for this.  Her reason?  It tasted like beets.  Well, duh.  This is why my cupboard is always stocked with peanut butter.  Luke and I, on the other hand, loved it.  The roasted beets are mellowed with yogurt and the zing of goat cheese and lemon perfectly balances the earthy flavor of the beets.

One note:  some dishes are wonderful left over the next day.  In my opinion, this is not one of them.  I did not enjoy this nearly as much as leftovers as I did when it was freshly made.  I’m not sure why, but there you have it.  Enjoy it fresh if at all possible for best results!

Roasted Beet Spaghetti

Roasted Beet Spaghetti

Roasted Beet Spaghetti
(adapted from eintopf)

12 oz. spaghetti
4 medium beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup greek yogurt
Zest and juice from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
A few basil leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper
Goat cheese (optional)
Lemon wedges for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Poke beets a few times with a fork and lay on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until fork tender.  Remove from oven, let cool slightly and peel.

While beets are cooling, cook spaghetti.  Drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.

In a food processor combine beets, olive oil, lemon juice, onion and garlic.  Process until finely chopped, nearly smooth.  Add yogurt, lemon zest and basil leaves.  Process until smooth.  Toss mixture with hot pasta.  Add a couple tablespoons of the pasta water if needed to coat the noodles smoothly.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Top with crumbled goat cheese (if desired), fresh basil and serve with lemon wedges.

Roasted Beet Spaghetti, without goat cheese.

Roasted Beet Spaghetti, without goat cheese.

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BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

In one of my many flashes of brilliance, I decided to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into a pasta salad.  And I just have to say, it was incredible!

The greens make for a lighter than usual pasta dish and the bottled dressing make it quick to throw together (and your waistline will thank you for skipping the mayo!).  I used a Champagne Vinaigrette I found at Trader Joe’s that is one of my current favorites, but feel free to use a different brand or even a different vinaigrette if there’s one you love.

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

4-5 strips of bacon
12 ounces rotini pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 big handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/2 cup black olives, halved
1/2 cup feta
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Champagne Vinaigrette dressing
Salt & pepper

Heat water to boiling.  Boil pasta until it is tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.  Drain well.

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove from skillet and let drain and cool on paper towels while you assemble the salad.

In a large serving bowl combine tomatoes, greens, olives, green onions and feta.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Add pasta and bacon and toss to combine.  Add salad dressing, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more as needed to lightly dress the pasta.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can't find this one.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can’t find this one.

Taste and add salt & pepper or more dressing if needed.  Toss and serve immediately.

 

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Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

Heirloom tomatoes are pretty cool.  All sorts of varieties that you never see in the store.  Normally I only find them at farmer’s markets and they are just about irresistible.  But this time I spied some heirloom cherry tomatoes at Trader Joe’s and just had to snatch them up.  What didn’t go directly into my mouth ended up in this delicious pasta dish.

I make about a million versions of this particular dish depending on what’s in season and what’s in my fridge at any given moment.  This version included a double bump of basil since I had leftover pesto I had made a day or two before and then I also threw in some freshly picked pesto leaves from my garden as well.  The veggies are barely cooked, just warmed really to release the juices and get warm.  It’s absolutely bursting with summer flavors.

Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes (or the regular ones will do), halved
1/2 cup black olives, halved
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup basil pesto (click here for my recipe or use your favorite)
2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes or strips
Handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
1 pound pasta (I really like some sort of corkscrew shape for this to catch all the little yummy bits)

Get everything chopped before you start cooking, because this all comes together very quickly.

All ready to meet their destiny!  Love the pretty colors.

All ready to meet their destiny! Love the pretty colors.

Boil pasta until tender.  While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant but not browned.  Add onion and saute a bit until slightly tender.  When the pasta is just about done, add tomatoes, olives and pesto.  Cook and stir just a couple of minutes to heat through.  I prefer the veggies barely cooked so they still have that garden fresh flavor.  Toss in some fresh basil, mozzarella and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Drain pasta and add to pan with veggies and cheese.  Toss to combine and serve immediately.  Top with a sprinkle of parmesan if desired.
heirloomtompasta2

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