Archive of ‘Pasta’ category

Clams with Bucatini

Sometimes, you just need a bowl of pasta that screams comfort and Summer all in one. This pasta is close to my heart for a number of reasons, one being it lets me taste the ocean without physically being there. Chris and I decided not to do any trips this Summer, since we are saving for a nice Fall trip. It sounds fine, at first, but as the mid-July slump took over, I found myself desperately needing to be by a large body of water, soaking in the sun, and eating the fruit of the sea. It’s a Summer tradition for most folks who grew up on the East Coast. I felt something missing all Summer and I realized that was why. What are some of your favorite Summer vacations? (more…)

So back to the pasta. I have never, ever cooked anything that was considered alive. In fact, I had cooked my best friend a lobster dish a few weeks back. Instead of paying for the cheap whole lobster, that I would have to kill myself, I opted for the much more expensive lobster tail option. I just couldn’t bring myself to do the deed. I saw this recipe for clams and pasta in the July issue of Food Network’s magazine. It had everything I wanted out of Summer: briney, lemony, buttery pasta with tender, sweet clams mixed throughout. I cooked a lot of garlic, then added the wine, then gently placed the clams on top, covered the pot and walked away for 7 minutes. Opening that pot was the most beautiful surprise. All of the clams were widely open, soaking it the wine and garlic they had just been cooked in. See my notes on caring for the clams at the bottom! This recipe is too easy and too delicious not to make. I made it again this weekend and was equally satisfied! Be sure to serve this with tons of napkins! A lot of slurpin’ with happen! Happy pasta making!

Winter Stuffed Shells

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Saturday and Whole Foods are the only two words that will make Chris get out of his comfy sweatpants and brave the crowds with me to grocery shop. Whole Foods will have tons of samples out, I guess making his trip more enjoyable (and mine too! Who am I kidding?). Last year, they had this interesting Gouda titled, “Winter Gouda.” I didn’t need to know what was in it, I was already intrigued. The cheese was a salty and mellow Gouda, studded with flecks of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The combination was out of this world! It also inspired me to take those flavors to the next level. What could be better than a beef and tomato stuffed shell, bathing in a glorious spiced Gouda sauce? Not much. This recipe might be for a little more than two people but no one hates the idea of easy leftovers! Winter Stuffed Shells is warm, comforting with a spicy edge, and something you probably don’t normally have on your menu.

Brunch Pad Thai

Life is stressful and sometimes, all you need is a warm bowl of noodles. Noodles of any form are what I consider real comfort food to me and I like ’em every which way! I was the kid on spaghetti night who preferred her spaghetti sans the red sauce and with the lovely addition of butter and parmesan cheese. My favorite part was biting into a huge forkful of pasta, not being able to fit the whole bite into my mouth,  and getting those cheesy, buttery noodle footprints  all over my face. I knew I was doing something right. Those same buttery delicious noodles get me through the hardest of days and longest of hours. Of course, I’ve traded in my green can of parmesan for the real deal. I love being a grown up! Well, other than the stressful part, of course. I tried to conjure up a few more Thanksgiving leftover recipes but honestly, I need a break from the holiday food for a sec. Feel me? Usually, Asian inspired dishes are what I turn to when I need a break from the usual rich and filling foods of the holidays. I introduce the Brunch Pad Thai! It’s a simple noodle dish made with the usual suspects of brunch: eggs and bacon. You could really eat this for any meal but isn’t it a fun thought to think of having a few friends come over for a unique brunch like this? All I know is that it’s delicious and I didn’t miss my eggs benedict…this week at least. (more…)

Our ingredient line up:

Asian rice noodles, beaten eggs, pea shoots, a mixture of tamarind paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce, mushrooms, bacon, sugar, garlic, crushed peanuts, and scallions.

The key here is to have a very hot wok or heavy skillet. We add our bacon and garlic. Be prepared. Your house is about to smell amazing.

This is how pad thai works; similar to stir fry. You cook meat and veggies on very high heat, remove, and repeat. You have to literally be on your toes during the whole cooking process so nothing burns. Here, we cook our eggs by swirling them in the pan so they cook fast and evenly. Burnt eggs equal gross so work fast!

Our noodles, pea shoots, and scallions are cooked. Our tamarind paste mixture is added. Tamarind paste is a must for yummy pad thai!

We kind of just throw everything else into the pan and toss! So much going on! So much flavor! Real talk: whatever you do, DO NOT overcook your rice noodles! This sweet little gal did and everything turned to mush! The horror!

Chaos. Perfect. Delicious. Chaos. You know what would be delicious with this? Cilantro and fresh lime juice! Don’t forget it at the grocery store like I did. Let me be the example. I hope you can find a calm moment in the midst of the holiday chaos and make yourself a nice bowl of your favorite noodles. Happy noodles making!

Thyme Chicken Pasta Bake with Mushrooms and Fennel

Pasta bake. I think it sounds a little bit more dignified than just a “casserole”. Not that there is anything wrong with a good casserole, they have just gotten a bad rap through the years. I don’t know if it’s because of the less than fresh contents inside of the casserole or just the thought of making it for one dinner and having leftovers for days. Growing up, my mom made a simple casserole we always looked forward to. It was mini pasta shells, canned tuna, a dash of cayenne pepper, and the liquid gold itself, velveeta cheese. I loved the spiciness and comfort of the dish. I also long for the days where the taste of velveeta overrides the guilt of eating something that isn’t actual cheese. Casseroles are great for the colder months but also great for families on the run. I’m all about the Make Once Get Two out of the deal meals where you make one for dinner and freeze the other. Just pop it in the oven whenever you get the hankering for a cozy but quick meal. Now, doesn’t that sound better? (more…)

Instead of opening a can of this, a container of that, and dumping it into a pan to be baked, I opted for a fresher take here. This pasta bake is inspired by one of our favorite dishes in Colonial Williamsburg. It consists of crepes stuffed with chicken and mushrooms and baked in a creamy sauce. It’s the perfect cure after a long and cold day of walking the cobblestone streets. Instead of making crepes, I substituted with pasta. I also added some licoricey (not a word, sorry!) fennel that sweetens as it cooks. Thyme makes everything a little bit better with it’s lemony yet slightly smokey flavor. It’s perfect for the cold months ahead and even more perfect with a glass of your favorite white wine!

The ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Parmesan, garlic, shredded chicken (don’t get me started on my rotisserie chicken rant, it’s a life saver), milk, nutmeg, fresh thyme, breadcrumbs, onion, flour, fennel, cream, butter, and mushrooms. Somewhere in there is the pasta too. You just can’t see it. But it’s there. I didn’t forget it.

We make a rich, creamy sauce with our onions and fennel. Then, we just throw everything in. You won’t miss that canned stuff one bit!

Throw in our pasta. It doesn’t get easier. I love how the farfalle look here.

After a little oven time, the top gets brown and crunchy. Sprinkle with parsley to add a little color. I didn’t have any parsley… This is warm, comforting, and so simple to throw together. Perfect for the rainy, cold weather we will be having this weekend! Happy pasta making!

Sicilian Spaghetti

It was the summer of our venture as newly weds. We weren’t your typical newly weds where we both had jobs and a family to come back to after the honeymoon. No, we decided to leave everything we had known and move straight across the country. Maryland to California, 3 days after our much anticipated wedding. After learning more than enough about the other person in just 7 short days, we settled into our first apartment together in the heart of Los Angeles. It was a quaint and cozy classic with not much room to spare but to us, it was perfect. One night, after stressing about this new life, I had realized I should better learn how to somewhat cook (does throwing a can of Cream of Mushroom over some chicken count as cooking? Boy, I’m glad those days are long gone!). We were extremely poor with not much in the pantry so I pulled together this delicious pasta dish. It’s unusual when you are used to those delectable creamy pasta dishes. But, Chris will hound me if I don’t make this at least once a month. (more…)

Do you remember when you were a kid or even a teenager and you had to ask your parents for something you knew they wouldn’t give to you? It came down to your approach. There was a certain way to sound and look while asking, that almost ensured your success. Well, I am going to attempt to do the same thing with you…now. This pasta is full of flavor! Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, cough**anchovies**cough, olive oil. See, easy, not so scary ingredients. In all seriousness, you will never find me munching on some pizza covered in anchovy fillets. I can’t do it. But, what anchovies add to dishes in terms of flavor, is remarkable. So if you or someone you know doesn’t like anchovies, still make this. You don’t taste anchovy as much as a salty flavor. Also, since there aren’t a lot of ingredients, try to reach for premium quality products. It will always make whatever you’re eating so much more delicious.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Those anchovies we aren’t scared about, extra virgin olive oil, spaghetti (this was a brown rice spaghetti), crushed garlic or garlic paste, fresh parsley, black pepper (I know I usually don’t put salt and pepper in the ingredient line up but it’s soooo necessary here), breadcrumbs (fresh is best if you can), and parmesan.

As our pasta is boiling away, we make our sauce. I know it’s not the most appetite invoking sauce but once it’s tossed with our pasta and breadcrumbs, you will believe in this pasta once more.

We combine our pasta with our sauce. Magic is about to happen. It really is. See that black pepper, it needs to get in here…now!

Toss that pretty thing until it’s nice and mixed through. Make sure you don’t overcook your pasta. Since there is so much tossing happening here, it will fall apart. Cooking it to al dente will make a perfect spaghetti!

I like to add sausage to this but it’s yummy on it’s own. The ball is in your court!

One more pic for good luck! Happy ‘sghetti making!

Brie Mac and Cheese with Figs

Remember that time I told you that I absolutely love pasta dishes here? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Mac and cheese is a dear favorite of mine but sometimes, it needs a face lift. (more…)

 The cheddar original is always fun but I enjoy feeling like an adult sometimes. And we all know eating figs and brie cheese means we are adults! Figs are in season right now and are delicious raw, stuffed, or made into an elegant sauce for pork, chicken or even a burger topped with goat cheese. I thought this would be semi-vintage and a change of pace to serve as an appetizer.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: elbow macaroni (duh!), onion, fig, butter, balsamic, milk, white wine, nutmeg, flour, brie, gruyere, and parmesan.

We begin with our onions and figs. Cook the onions until golden brown then add the precious figs. Meanwhile, your pasta should be cooking to just below al dente. You can also be horrible at multi-tasking like me and forget about your pasta, as the boiling water overflows onto your cook top. Which ever works for you!

Add the wine and reduce. Keep that wine around; it will be lovely with the mac and cheese later on. Finish with the balsamic vinegar. Look at that dark color! This is simply elegant!

We make our bechamel sauce (milk sauce), season, and add our cheeses. Taste for seasoning and by taste, I mean a few spoonfuls. You can never be too careful. Add your cute macaroni. I was having a party (your invite totally got lost), and thought serving mac and cheese in a portion friendly muffin tin would be more appealing and casual. Just fill up the holes and top with the onions and figs.

Bake until hot and bubbly! This is all cheese and it’s glorious!

Perfection. I’m sorry if that fig weirds you out. They’re delicious. Happy mac and cheese making!

Antipasti Pasta Salad

How was your 4th of July? Mine surprisingly wasn’t hot and sticky but cool and crisp. I had a small shindig with family and of course, TONS of food (hence my post today). I know we are all coming off the carb loading train but in case you have another cookout or gathering soon, here is a fun spin on pasta salad. As you will learn, I love pasta. I love it hot with a meaty wine tomato sauce doused over it. I love it cold with a tangy, creamy dressing and all sorts of goodies cut up (dill pickles, anyone?). I also like to take a favorite and make it into something totally different and new. Aside from pasta, my favorite snack is antipasti. In case you were wondering, antipasti is an Italian appetizer of cured meats, cheeses, and marinated veggies. It’s a brilliant snack (or dinner), especially for hot summers. I combine my favorite aspects of a good pasta salad with the vinegary, saltiness of salami, mozzarella, and marinated artichokes. This pasta is perfect for a cookout or just a night in, hanging with friends. Either way, enjoy this sophisticated take on a barbecue classic.

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And our ingredient line up is:

From Top to Bottom: red wine vinegar, cooked to al dente penne pasta, dried oregano, fresh parsley, soppressata, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, buffalo mozzarella, red onion, anchovies, and last but not least, marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers. Whew!

I know that seems like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are being thrown into the blender to make our luscious sauce! We put into the blender our red wine vinegar, dried oregano, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, and anchovies. Add a pinch of salt and a bigger pinch of black pepper. We are using a lot of vinegary and salty ingredients so make sure you don’t over season! Blend until nice and smooth. Taste the sauce once blended and figure out what you need to add. We are all about modifications here.

Blending our ingredients is the majority of the work needed for this recipe. But get those stirring arms ready because that’s what stands between us and this delicious pasta salad!
Put your pasta in a bowl (or be lazy and keep it in the pot you cooked it in) and pour the sauce over it. It’s best to add the sauce when the pasta is still warm so it can soak up all of the yummy flavors of the sauce. I try to be self aware and transparent so I apologize for the picture below. I’m still learning! You get the drift!

Once the sauce and pasta have cooled a little bit, add your mix ins! Choose your favorite antipasti ingredients, dice them, then just throw them in! I chose buffalo mozzarella (provolone would be fun), soppressata, marinated artichokes and roasted bell peppers, and fresh red onion. Toss until combined. Taste again for seasoning!

I had some left over and ate it straight from the bowl the next day (see, I am being transparent). Like most things. it’s even better the next day! What are some of your favorite pasta salad combos?