Archive

Tag Archives: Pasta Recipes

you know how they say that winter is all about nesting? how we all gain those extra 5-10 pounds courtesy of meat sauces and carbs and other such comfort foods? well, while i definitely gained my “winter weight”, i haven’t exactly been nesting. or, maybe i’ve been nesting, but i haven’t been cooking nearly as much as i did last winter. i got this amazing giant dutch oven from sur la table for hanukkah, and i’ve used it once. ONCE! that is a travesty.

i’m not sure what got into me this winter. i could use the easy excuse and say i was too busy for heavy duty cooking, but i think the true reality is that i just got lazy. but suffice it to say, my kitchen has not been seeing enough action (you and me both, kitchen), and it’s time to whip my ass back into shape.

this weekend marked the first time that it actually felt like spring here in new york, and i celebrated it with a stroll through the union square greenmarket on saturday afternoon. i only came home with flowers – the best of the produce isn’t out yet – but as i walked through, i was reminded of just how much i love picking up a bunch of fresh vegetables and herbs, coming home, and making magic out of them. spring is one of my favorite cooking seasons – hellooo, sugar snap peas and asparagus – so it’s high time that i get my booty in gear.

as a little inspiration, here are 5 easy weeknight meals i’m vowing to whip up over the next 2 weeks. first up is tonight’s meal: easy weeknight chicken tacos. YES PLEASE.

2bcba94c0e94e7e75cafda7e50fff2de

other recipes i’m dying to try:

this rigatoni with asparagus pesto and ricotta salata (i heart pesto)

908317f98f29aeff86bc987703fad843

this roasted harissa salmon with lemon couscous

56ff06c5264f0f4c966cd45d2ee20dec

this slow cooker healthy chicken tikka masala (i am forever on a quest to make good tikka masala)

NOTE: slow cookers aren’t exactly quick, but they are easy. pile the stuff in before you leave for work, come home, and voila! dinner is served. 

a3eb933490286358e4328c1014e699be

and last but not least, this creamy corn chowder. i LOVE corn chowder, but never thought to blend it. genius!

c19fef35026a18e4e0b13d13b38d2ea8

Advertisements

sunday night bologneseit’s no secret around these parts (or any parts, really) that i looove me some carbs. more specifically, pasta. as in, i’m sure i would be really really thin if i gave up pasta. i would look like a miniature version of myself. and i’d probably have b cup boobs (let’s be real, a cups are out of the question). and while both of those things would be really wonderful for my self image, they’d also make me a sad sack of a person, because honestly, WHO WANTS TO LIVE WITHOUT PASTA?!

not i. i think all those people who swear paleo food is delicious and “going gluten free” is the shit are LYING.

why? because there’s nothing like digging into a giant steaming bowl of pasta. pasta is an antidote to sadness, to madness, to anxiety and to stress. it’s like a hug in a ceramic bowl – and this bolognese recipe is no different. comprised from not just one but three types of meat (bacon, italian sausage, and ground sirloin), it’s sure to create a  serious ‘happy in my mouth’ moment. it also makes your home smell incredible while it simmers on the stove, and makes people think you’re an all around domestic goddess.

see? i told you i could never give up pasta.

one of my favorite things to do on sunday afternoons is to wile away the hours in the kitchen. i can dice, chop, and simmer with the best of them, and there’s something almost meditative about slicing onions and chopping fresh rosemary into teeny tiny bits of flavor. this past sunday, i put on spotify’s “your favorite coffeehouse” playlist (the best, i tell you, i listen to it all day long at work) and got to work, and by 7pm, i’d taken a spin class, taken a bath, cooked this amazing meal alongside a batch of peppermint bark brownies (omg, i can’t even tell you about the goodness), and was ready to plop on my couch for an SVU marathon.

a good sunday, indeed.

so, let’s cook, shall we?

what you’ll need:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium stalks of celery, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 lb dry rub bacon, chopped into 1/4 pieces

1/2 lb spicy (or mild) italian pork sausage, casings removed

1/2 lb ground sirloin

4 tbsp tomato paste

1 28 oz can of tomatoes, diced or whole

1/2 cup dry white wine (sav blanc or pino grigio both work well)

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

1 tsp fresh thyme, washed and chopped

2 tbsp fresh basil, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

2 tbsp fresh oregano, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

2 bay leaves, dried

what you’ll do:

start by dicing your mirepoix (a fancy french word for carrots, celery and onions), as well as your garlic.

put a large pan on the stove – a dutch oven like this one is great, but you can also just use a large soup pot if you don’t have anything le creuset-like (you just need to be able to cover the pot to simmer it later on.

sauté  your mirepoix and garlic in the olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until soft.

add your chopped bacon and auté on medium heat 3-4 minutes, breaking up the chunks.

do the same with your sausage. then do the same with your ground sirloin – make sure it’s evenly browned (but not fully cooked).

add tomato paste, wine, chicken broth, and your 28 oz can of tomatoes* (i like chopped because i’m lazy, but whole is thought to be better – who knows why?). mix thoroughly, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. things are going to start to smell realllly good.

add your herbs: basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, etc. you can really throw in any herbs you’ve got laying around – they’ll add more flavor; it’s hard to go wrong. i love thyme and rosemary, so i always use those, and bay leaves are sort of like a magical ingredient. you put ’em in, simmer, take ’em out, and VOILA, flavor blast.

simmer an additional 10 minutes. remove bay leaves.

at this point, you’re ready to serve – but the longer you simmer this stuff, the better, so long as you do so on really low heat. i let my sauce simmer for about 45 extra minutes, and let’s just say, it didn’t do the bolognese any harm.

when you’re ready to dine, serve over pasta (i love penne or rigatoni to catch all the meaty bits, but spaghetti would look nice too), and grate fresh parmesan cheese atop your delectable dish. now, dig in, enjoy, and try not to guilt yourself for eating so many carbs. what, that’s just me? sunday night bolognese

*some recipes call for no canned tomatoes, just tomato paste. if you omit the canned tomatoes, you’ll end up with a less sauce-y sauce – more meat with a little bit of tomato. i like my meat sauces pretty sauce-y, so i always throw in the extra canned tomatoes (you could use fresh too!)

Image

over memorial day weekend, i attended a party on a rooftop that blew me away. and not just because it had a spiral staircase leading up to it, or because the apartment underneath it had massive skylights. nope, it was because there was a garden. built into a bench. that the guy had made with his own two hands. i mean, color me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two! (if you don’t get that reference, see here). and actually, there was seating for two – and then some – because the garden was planted on top of an L-shaped bench, which the guy had also built with his own two hands. swoon city. 

so, tell me, oh rooftop man, how does your garden grow? the guy had butter lettuce. he had multiple herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary and more). he had large tomatoes. he had cherry tomatoes. he even had those adorable green striped tomatoes, which is what sparked this meal. as i sat up on that roof, sweating my ass off and praying that god would send rain, or a cold front, or even just a little bit of a breeze, i thought about tomatoes. heirlooom tomatoes, to be exact. those colorful little babies that are ultra adorable and make any boring pasta dish look fun and colorful and a little bit martha-esque. 

anywho, this dish was a result of the above; i picked up a quart of baby heirloom tomatoes (with a few green striped ones in there!) and sautéed them with lemon zest, spring greens, a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper, then tossed them with cubed fresh mozzarella. voila! a summer meal done right. 

of course, the ultimate situation would have involved my picking the tomatoes with my own two hands from my very own rooftop garden, but we can’t have it all, now can we? i mean, it would be great if i made my own cheese and shaped my own motz balls, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

that being said – i really do want my own garden, and i’ve been trying to research rentable/purchasable garden plots here in the city, but whenever i google, all i can find are hugely long wait lists, or gardens that only have flowers, not veggies. would love suggestions on community gardens in NYC if anyone has them!

 Image

so, wanna make this ish yourself? you do, it’s yummy. and super fast.

The Recipe

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 box of fusili (or penne would do here as well)

1 quart baby heirloom tomatoes  (i got mine at trader joe’s)

approximately two handfuls of greens – you could get yours at the farmer’s market, i got mine at TJ’s

2 tsp olive oil

about 8-10 oz of mozzarella (mine was a big ball, but you could buy shredded, or mini balls – whatever strikes your fancy).

to make, put a pot of salted water on to boil for your fusili. meanwhile, warm up a skillet with olive oil and throw in your diced garlic. cook a minute or two, until softened and slightly golden. now, throw in your tomatoes and saute for a few minutes, until slightly softened. put pasta into your boiling water and cook according to package directions. 

once your tomatoes are softened, remove from heat and throw in the lemon zest and greens. stir.

drain your pasta and reserve a tiny bit of pasta water. toss tomatoes with pasta and douse in lemon juice. add your motz, toss again, until all ingredients are evenly distributed. if you need more cheese, add a bit of shredded parm or romano. you could also toss some fresh basil on there too if you wanted. i didn’t have any on hand, so i skipped that part.

 

Image

when all else fails, i make pasta. it’s the quickest, generally the easiest, and of course, the carb-iest, which gets high points in my book. the other night while at trader joe’s, i was in the cheese section, stocking up – as cheese lovers do – and came across a log of herbed goat cheese. a lightbulb went on. i hadn’t the faintest idea what i would be making for dinner, and then i remembered this martha stewart recipe. in an age where cookbooks appear to be somewhat of a relic, what with everyone pinteresting up a storm and most, if not all, recipes living online, i’m proud to say i make great use of my great food fast book by the great MS. the title speaks the truth: it’s full of easy to make, quick and delicious recipes that generally call for ingredients you’re likely to have on hand. none of that complicated food network stuff. martha may be the queen of homemaking, but she understands the beauty of a simple recipe.

anywho, as the genius she is, martha came up with the thought of mixing a little bit of pasta water with goat cheese to make a simple sauce, and let me tell you – i am so on board. the beauty of cooking is that sometimes the best dishes are the simplest. case in point: this pasta.

i riffed on martha’s recipe, added lemon juice and zest, because i love a little citrus. i also used herbed goat cheese, because why not? and sautued my asparagus instead of roasting them, because it was hot out and i didn’t feel like turning on my oven. but you could roast yours, if you’d like.

so, let’s get to it.

The Recipe

2 bunches asparagus, tough ends cut off

1 cup frozen peas

1 box rigatoni or pasta shape of your choice

1 log herbed goat cheese (5 oz)

2 lemons, zested and juiced

to make, put a pot of water on to boil. zest your lemons and halve them. once your water is at a rolling boil, dump in your pasta with a little bit of olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon. stir every few minutes to keep pasta from clumping together.

meanwhile, cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces and saute over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and about half a lemon’s worth of juice. season with salt and pepper as you saute. while the asparagus cooks, crumble your log of goat cheese. when asparagus is bright green and slightly browned at the tips, turn off burner and remove from heat.

about a minute before pasta is done, dump the peas into the pot. they’ll cook in the water.

drain your pasta/pea mixture and reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. put pasta and peas back into pan with water and add asparagus, and add your crumbled goat cheese. squeeze your remaining lemon into the pot. stir – the goat cheese will melt and mix with the water and lemon juice as you go, creating a delicious, creamy sauce.

to serve, top pasta with grated romano cheese and lemon zest. now, go catch up on your DVR-ed episodes of revenge (if you’re not watching that show, you should be. emily thorne is one badass bitch) and dig in.

Image

the worst: those nights when you have no food in your fridge (or at least, no food that you feel like eating). those nights where you stand in front of your fridge, eying the avocado that’s probably gone bad by now, the parmesan cheese that’s begging to be grated, the mint that was supposed to end up in a wheatberry salad a few days ago. everyone has those nights – where you just can’t figure out what to do with what you’ve got in your fridge.

the other night, i had one of those nights. and i made this. and thankfully, it was delicious. hearty, interesting – a party in my mouth, really – and loaded with carbs. i mean, who doesn’t love carbs? i should start running marathons so i can carbo-load with reckless abandon. i bought a bunch of italian sausages on a whim a few months ago at my local organic grocery store, thinking i’d find something to do with them. i was bored of chicken and red meat and even my beloved tofu, so sausages it was. let it be known, sausages gross me out. that whole, jam a bunch of squished up meat and lord knows what else into a gross wrapper that kind of reminds me of a condom thing…not really my cup of tea. BUT, sausages, when out of their condom, are delicious. especially when you break them up and saute them with garlic and onions and other yummy things that make your kitchen smell like good ol’ rachael ray came to dinner.

so i bought the sausages a few months ago, and used three out of six to make a weird lentil dish that i probably won’t attempt again. it sounded good in my head, but it was just so-so in my mouth. i decided to freeze the other three sausages until inspiration struck.

fast forward to tuesday night, when i needed a dinner and didn’t really want to eat anything i had. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! i had sausages! and since there’s no legitimate sausage in my life right now to speak of (did i go too far?), i figured i’d whip those babies out and make them into something yummy. and that i did! i sauted them with a lil bit of garlic, threw in some sliced red onions and some tomato paste, deglazed the pan with a little bit of my dear friend white wine, then threw in fresh tomatoes and a bit more wine. then i threw the whole thing over a batch of penne, called it a sauce, and topped it with some fresh mint (a stroke of genius, might i add – could have been oh so wrong but somehow, it tasted oh so right!). et voila, a meal! in under 30 minutes, might i add.

so, want to make it for yourself? you do, it’s good. you can use any sausages, really (italian sausage, flavored sausage, chicken sausage) – though i wouldn’t recommend fake vegetarian ones. veggie peeps, this recipe ain’t for you. go eat some tofu.

The Recipe

Makes enough for two with a little bit left over for lunch.

1/2 box of penne or the pasta of your choice

3 sausages, cut out of their little holding cells and ready to be broken up

3 gloves of garlic, diced

1/2 red onion, sliced

olive oil, for the pan

1 beefsteak tomato, cut up into large chunks

3 tbsp tomato paste (use your judgement – you can add more if you want a more saucy sauce)

1/4 cup white wine

3 tsp fresh mint, chopped

grated parmesan cheese (though romano would be good too)

to make, put a pot of water up to boil for your pasta. meanwhile, throw a bit of oil into a skillet and toss the sausages in there. if you can handle touching the raw meat with your fingers, break the sausages up into bits – much like you would with chop meat if you were making tacos. if you can’t handle touching the sausages, use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. let cook until browned, about 5 minutes. while the meat is cooking, slice your onion and garlic and tomatoes. once meat is browned, add garlic and onion and tomato paste. turn your burner down to low. cook for a few minutes, until the onions wilt and the tomato paste is mixed in. add wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet to get up all the good stuff at the bottom. i love a good wine sizzle, don’t you?

your water should be boiling by now. add your pasta and throw a dash of olive oil in the pot. i learned this trick from rachael ray, and it’s a lifesaver. your pasta will never stick together again! GENIUS. i love that woman. and her husband is in a band that i once saw open up for hanson, so there’s that.

while pasta is cooking, turn your burner on the meat up to medium and add your tomatoes. feel free to salt and pepper your dish here, or add some red pepper flakes. my sausages were spicy, so i didn’t need the extra kick. but if your sausages are just so-so, a pinch of red pepper flakes will work wonders in taste department. once the tomatoes have wilted down, remove the skillet from heat. set aside.

drain pasta and reserve a tiny bit of pasta water. mmm, starchy goodness. divy up pasta into two bowls and top with sausage mixture. sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and top with the chopped mint. now, dig in and try and tell me this stuff ain’t GOOD.