Pasta

This subcategory includes pasta. noodles. noodles. pasta.

A German-ish Recipe

German food always seems to me a fall or winter thing. When the weather turns chilly, I get cravings for my daughter’s schnitzel and späetzle, which she makes to perfection. I long for hearty, comfort food and the Germans seem to have that down. Not too long ago, I was trying to think of something for dinner and wanted to use up some pasta in the cupboard. I also had some sauerkraut in the fridge and some smoked pork chops in the freezer. I came up with a recipe that had some serious German undertones—cabbage? check. mustard? check. sour cream? check. smoked meat? check. Pasta? well, maybe not so much. But, it works, and is in fact quite tasty! In this recipe, I add the sauerkraut last to preserve the health benefits of the probiotic in this product. Just heat it through enough so that it’s nice and warm when you put it on the table.

German Sauerkraut Pasta

3 tablespoons butter
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
1 package Johnson’s Smoked Pork Chops, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon stone ground Dijon mustard
½ cup sour cream
One 16-ounce container of raw sauerkraut (I like Sonoma Brinery brand)
½ pound Farfalle pasta, cooked al dente
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In large skillet, melt butter and add onion; cook until transparent. Add pork chops, mustard seeds, and mustard and cook for 5 minutes. Add sour cream and sauerkraut and warm through. Add pasta, stirring until warmed through and season with salt and pepper. Serves 4

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It’s Not Summer Yet

Even though summer officially arrives on June 20th, those of us from the Pacific Northwest know perfectly well that it might not be here until the middle of July, and even that can be somewhat questionable! We want to eat outside and grill everything we bring home from the market, but the weather isn’t always cooperative.

I recently found a recipe from Ina Garten that is great for those in-between times, when heavy, rich food feels wrong, but you still crave something a little heartier than light summer fare. It’s pasta, so I’m all in, it’s meatless, so it’s great for our “Meatless Mondays,” and it’s full of cheese, which is always good. If you’re in a hurry, it’s a meal in itself, or you can serve it with a green salad and a nice bottle of wine. As usual, I changed the recipe a bit to suit my own taste. Don’t be shy when you’re cooking up the cauliflower—the brown bits add a lot of flavor!

Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound medium shells, such as Barilla
Good olive oil
2½ pounds cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized florets (1 large head)
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon (3 cloves) garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups Italian Fontina, freshly grated
1 cup (8 ounces) fresh whole milk ricotta
¾ cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
6 tablespoons Italian Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced

Preheat the oven to 400°

Fill a large pot with water, add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender.

Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.

Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.

Stir in the Fontina.

Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish. Spoon rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top.

Combine the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot. Serves 6-8

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Long-Standing Tradition

LeanneAs I’ve mentioned before, Food and Wine has long been my favorite cooking publication.  You’d easily be able to tell if you saw my collection of magazines dating back to 1987! Some of their recipes from way back have become tried and true family favorites such as this gnocchi recipe from Dom Deluise’s mother. It’s different from the standard gnocchi in that it’s made of ricotta rather than potatoes.  Now, if we ever have the standard potato gnocchi my son complains that it isn’t “real” gnocchi.  It’s a long-standing family tradition at our house and I’d like to share it with you. P.S. The marinara recipe with this is excellent and can stand on its own.

Cheese Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce

 Mariana Sauce
One 35 ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ pound mushrooms (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Empty tomatoes with the juice into a large bowl.  Remove and discard the stem end from the tomatoes.  Squeeze the tomatoes with your hands to break them up.

In a large nonreactive skillet, combine the oil and garlic.  Cook gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is deep golden but not brown, about 8 minutes.  Increase the heat to high, wait for 30 seconds and then add the canned tomatoes with their liquid.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the watery liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick, about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Gnocchi
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and stir well.  Add the ricotta and eggs and using a large spoon, beat until the dough forms a large bowl.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over moderate high heat.  Cut the gnocchi dough into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ½-inch thick rope.  Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces.  With a knuckle or your index finger, make a dent in the center of each piece.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water; they’ll sink to the bottom.  Boil, stirring occasionally, until the gnocchi firm up and lose their raw taste, about 10 minutes.  Drain well.  Transfer the gnocchi to a large warmed platter.  Top with Marinara Sauce and serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and shredded basil.
Serves 4

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Sometimes Simple is Best

LeanneI grew up in a family that went camping for a week twice every summer. We had a tent the size of a small meeting hall to accommodate the five to seven family members and friends involved. I watched my mom work hard to feed everyone.  I have wonderful memories, but when it came to camping with my own family, is it any wonder that I’ve been reluctant to fill my mother’s shoes?  Perhaps this is why “glamping” (glamour + camping) has caught my fancy.  My husband and I recently rented a decked-out vintage trailer that the company delivers to any park outside of Bend, Oregon.   Now, that’s my idea of camping!  Of course, I got carried away planning the food for this trip and we ended up abandoning some of the more elaborate meal ideas for simpler versions. My husband made a simple pasta dish that was just what I like and I wanted to share the recipe with you here.  I’m learning that it’s good to keep food preparation at a minimum while camping, even if it is “glamping!”

Fresh Fettuccine with Chorizo

2 ounces dry Spanish-style chorizo, sliced
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup panko crumbs
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop chorizo and garlic in a food processor (or finely chop by hand if camping).  Sauté mixture in 1 tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned.  Cook pasta until al dente and drain well.  While pasta cooks, add crumbs to chorizo and sauté until well toasted.  Right before serving, toss pasta with chorizo mixture and season with salt and pepper (Chorizo can be salty so taste before salting). A little finely chopped parsley would be nice on this as well. Serves 2 or 3 people

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Dreaming of Poached Eggs

LeanneOne of the earliest food memories I can recall involves waiting for my older siblings to get home from ski lessons on Sunday evenings.  I must have been about five at the time and I remember watching The Patty Duke Show (if you’re old enough, you’ll recollect those “identical cousins”) after everyone arrived home.  We’d have a very simple supper in front of the television since we ate our big meal, usually a roast, after church, during the day.  My mom would give me a warm poached egg with buttered toast, which today seems like one of the best meals I can think of.  Wouldn’t you know it, I still have a thing for poached eggs? I absolutely love them—by themselves, in Eggs Benedict, on salads and on top of pasta.  Speaking of that, here’s a recipe, I think originally from Gourmet Magazine and slightly altered by me, that would make a smashing Sunday evening dinner.

Peppery Pasta Carbonara with Poached Egg

4 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ to ¾ pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
⅔ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 large eggs

Cook bacon in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a 4-quart saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve  ⅓ cup cooking water, then transfer spaghetti with tongs to a small bowl, shaking off excess water, and keep pan of water simmering.

Pour off all but 4 teaspoons bacon fat from skillet, then whisk butter into fat in skillet over medium heat. Add spaghetti, reserved cooking water, cheese and a ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and almost completely absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bacon and 2 tablespoons parsley and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Break egg into a cup and gently slide into water; repeat with second egg. Poach at a bare simmer  until the eggs have a firm white with a runny yolk, 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve pasta topped with eggs (transfer using a slotted spoon). Sprinkle with remaining  parsley and additional cheese. Serves 2

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Fast Tortellini

As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Food and Wine magazine.  They test their recipes thoroughly so there isn’t a lot of guesswork involved.  I’m also a fan of refrigerated fresh pasta.  It’s so easy to put together a fast weeknight dinner using this wonderful ingredient.  If you made your own fresh tortellini, this week’s recipe from Food and Wine would be even tastier but it’s pretty darn good just the way it is.  This is a very versatile pesto that can be used with any kind of pasta—it’s one of my favorites.

Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto

1 cup walnuts
⅓ cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley with thick stems removed
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound fresh cheese tortellini
1 tablespoon butter

In a food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, oil, salt and pepper to a coarse puree.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until just done, about 4 minutes for fresh and 12 minutes for frozen. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain the tortellini. Toss with ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, the walnut pesto and the butter. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pass more at the table. Serves 4

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The Former Vegetarian

My daughter was a strict vegetarian for about a year and a half.  Recently though, she decided that she no longer wanted to resist the temptation that a Big Tom burger presents. She even posted photos of her burger on Facebook–the event was that exciting. I really appreciated this family-friendly recipe from Cooking Light magazine before she became a vegetarian but depended upon it when she wouldn’t eat meat.  Fortunately, all of our family, with perhaps the exception of my son, likes tofu. I will often double the recipe, but not the tofu and throw in snap peas at the end. Vegetarian or not, I think you’ll enjoy this recipe!

Fettuccine and Tofu with Peanut Sauce

½ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chunky peanut butter
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 cup (2-inch) green onions, sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes, omitting salt and fat. Add tofu, onions, and carrot; drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Add peanut butter mixture; toss gently. Serves 4

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Comfort

Life is hard. Whether it’s the day to day grind or some difficulty we’re facing in our lives, sometimes we crave a little comfort.  And, of course, that’s why “comfort food” is so beloved by almost everyone.  The ultimate comfort food has to be macaroni and cheese.  We found this macaroni and cheese recipe in James Beard’s pasta book early on in our marriage and it was an instant favorite. I changed it up a bit over the years to make it a little less rich and fattening.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a light meal—but then, who expects comfort food to be light?  We used to make this with a type of pasta called “cavatelli” that we could easily find at our local grocery store and thus the name “Cavi Cheese” came into being. Alas, I can no longer find cavatelli and usually use rotini or rotelli instead. When the recipe tells you to not skimp on the Tabasco, don’t.  Add a lot and it still won’t be too spicy.  It’s also great served with green Tabasco sauce. Enjoy our family’s favorite meal!

Cavi Cheese

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
Dash of freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
¾ pound macaroni elbows or rotini
¾ pound Cheddar cheese, grated

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the flour, and stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula for around
3 minutes, until the roux is frothy and the taste of raw flour is gone.  Meanwhile, heat the milk in another pan. Add the warm milk gradually to the roux, stirring hard all the while.  Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is just at the boiling point.  Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Now add the pepper and Tabasco.  Don’t be afraid of the Tabasco: it will help bring out the taste of the cheese.

Cook and drain the pasta.

Mix three-quarters of the grated cheese into the simmering sauce.  As soon as it melts, combine it with the drained pasta, and pour it into a baking pan.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350°F oven.  Serves 4 to 6

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Home from Vacation Pasta

I’ve had a thing about pasta ever since I started to occasionally cook for myself and discovered that you could make something really tasty (albeit not very nutritious) with some spaghetti, good quality olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. This concoction was especially satisfying as a late night meal, after work.  My children apparently haven’t experienced this pasta epiphany and don’t appreciate the meal my husband and I crave when we return home from a vacation right about dinner time.  This pasta dish is my version of the Old Spaghetti Factory’s Mizithra with Browned Butter that I always ordered as a kid whenever we visited that venerable restaurant. I’m not quite sure why we always want to have it when we return home except that it’s very easy to put together and is the epitome of comfort food. We usually serve this with a tossed salad.

Spaghetti with Mizithra and Browned Butter (or Home from Vacation Pasta)

6 ounces dry spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, smashed
⅔ cup finely grated Mizithra cheese (a salted, aged and dried goat’s or sheep’s milk cheese)
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook spaghetti in salted water until just barely tender.  Meanwhile, melt butter with smashed garlic in a small skillet until butter is browned and smells nutty.  Remove from heat and discard garlic. Toss pasta in browned butter and divide cheeses evenly over pasta servings.  Grind pepper over top.  Makes 2 servings

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Birthday Dinner

My son turned 14 last Friday the 13th and instead of celebrating just on his special day, he sort of celebrated all week.  My kids have gotten it into their heads that one does not celebrate a birthday on one day but throughout the week—might be because I have the same philosophy.  The celebrating includes eating all of your favorite dinners.  On Monday night we had Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon, one of his top 5.  I’ve had this recipe for a long, long time and don’t remember where it came from but it made it into the “Perry Family Cookbook,” a compilation of recipes that my siblings and I put together for my parents’ 50th anniversary. It’s simple enough for a quick weeknight dinner and Bayview often has a sale on smoked salmon on Fridays.

Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon

1 cup kippered smoked salmon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ pound fresh snap peas, trimmed
1 cup half and half
1 pound fresh fettuccine
½ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and sauté until just beginning to turn golden.  Add the peas and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the cream and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Drain. Toss the  fettuccine with the snap pea mixture, add the smoked salmon and half the  cheese.  Sprinkle the rest of cheese over the top.

Sprinkle additional cheese over individual serving.  Serves 4

Categories: .Bayview School of Cooking!, Entrée, Fish and Seafood, Pasta | 2 Comments

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