Category Archives: pasta

Italian Wedding Soup made with Chicken Meatballs

It is most definitely soup season again. the chill in the air makes it the most perfect time of year to start making soup for dinner again. even if you live in a warmer climate this is a most wonderful meal. Paired with a salad and some crusty bread you have a very heartwarming meal.

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes. It is a soup , which is also a full meal. It is hearty and pretty healthy.  It is one of my staples from September through April. It freezes well and you can just take it out of the freezer the night before, and you’ll have a wonderful meal the next evening. When you defrost it you will probably want to add broth/water to it. add a little at a time till you get the consisitency you like. Enjoy:)

Ingredients: chicken meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken–I prefer chicken to turkey but you can use turkey as well!

1/2 lb chicken sausage, casings removed–if you can’t find chicken sausage use pork sausage it’s delicious! 

3 slices whole wheat bread for bread crumbs ( I put into food proccesor with steel blade for crumbs) I remove crusts it should be app. 1 cup of bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 – 3 cloves)

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano ( fresh is best) but whatever you have will do

1/4 cup grated Parmesan ( again nothing beats fresh) but whatever you have will do here as well

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup Ingredients:

 

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small -medium yellow onion minced

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 )

1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine( use whatever you have open)

1 cup small pasta tubetini, ditalini, stars, elbows etc. 

5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

*fresh dill ( I love the flavor) add at your own discretion about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill.

Directions:

preheat the oven to 350 degrees  put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage,bread crumbs, garlic, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt and pepper  all in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  I use a teaspoon, and make 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. you should have about 30 to 40 small balls. bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. set them aside. (I made about 30 balls, they were a little larger this time out)

For the Soup:

 heat the olive oil over medium – low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot ( Le Creuset type pot) Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes, don’t brown. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, at this point I let soup cook a while to soften the vegetables, app. 1 hour. ( a low simmer) if you’re in a hurry you can probably do the whole soup in 1/2 hour , veggies will be soft enough to eat. if some of the liquid evaporates you can always add a little more broth.

chicken balls out of the ovenItalian Wedding Soup cooking

 Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Sometimes I just cook the pasta up in a separate little pot and pour the soup over the pasta when I plate it up, this helps with the freezing just the soup and meatballs and the pasta stays al dente. Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or so, the spinach will just wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Clams and Spaghetti–White Sauce

I made this recipe for the first time back in 2014 and highly recommend it for a quick and delicious meal.IMG_6286IMG_6287 (2)IMG_6283 (2)It is super easy and not intimidating at all. I got the recipe from Jessica’s Seinfeld’s book The Can’t Cookbook even though I know how to cook.  

Pick up Clams at your local fish store and just follow instructions for cleaning. I love Clams and Spaghetti and this is so easy to make you won’t believe it!

http://www.doitdelicious.com this is Jessica Seinfeld’s site or you can just buy the book “The Can’t Cookbook”.

Ingredients:

2 dozen littleneck clams

3 cloves garlic

app. 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc. I actually used what I had open which was a Pinot Grigio

1 box spaghetti, you can use any kind of spaghetti you like. I actually had bucatini style in the house so that’s what I used

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

*if you’d like a little heat and you should know your audience because mine didn’t so I put on table for those who wanted to add heat. If you are adding add app. 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Kosher Salt , to taste. I have to say I added almost no extra salt at all.

You’ll need a large deep pot to cook clams in. I used my Le Creuset Pot.

Directions:

I placed my clams in a colander and I put the colander in a larger bowl in the sink and I filled the bowl with cold water. I let the clams soak for a few minutes, then rubbed with my fingers to dislodge any dirt; then drained the clams. Throw away any clams that remain open or were smashed. ( my clams were pretty clean) I purchased them clean from Whole Foods. Any Fish Store will clean them for you, but always run them through this process to remove any residual sand, etc.

Smash the garlic and chop it . Chop the Parsley. Measure the Wine. Place all your ingredients near to the stove.

Cook Pasta according to directions on box.

Place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil until it heats up and shimmers ( a few minutes) Add chopped garlic to the pot, and cook , stirring , for at least a minute, until you can actually smell the garlic breaking down. Don’t Burn!!!! Now add the wine and the clams and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and you’ll want a fairly high flame, probably medium-high . Cook clams until they open, I probably cooked for about 10 – 12 minutes. Looked so beautiful! Add the parsley and the red pepper now if you’re using. Throw away any unopened clams, they are no good.

Once pasta is al dente and drained I transferred to a large serving bowl and added 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil to pasta, top with clams. Sprinkle if you’d like a tiny bit of coarse salt now if you feel it needs it. I did not need to add any additional salt or pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Amazing!!!! and did I mention Super Easy!!!!!

Saucy Stuffed Shells – Baked and Meatless

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  I just love a baked pasta — nothing like it for good old fashioned comfort food. This recipe is delicious and perfect comfort food for those cold winter nights. I wanted a crowd pleaser that was vegetarian and something that can easily be made ahead and frozen and that would appeal to both kids and adults equally.

     I served with a salad with my Homemade Maple Syrup Salad Dressing ( see on blog) and it was really pretty awesome. Took a few hours to prepare, mostly because I made my own sauce ( Sunday night sauce) but feel free to use a jar of prepared sauce if you’d like. This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time, and just pop into oven.

*This dish will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. Assemble the shells with the cheese and cover tightly and freeze. When you’re ready to eat, you can bake from frozen but be sure to add another 30 minutes to the cooking time. You can also freeze individual sized portions of leftover shells that have already been cooked. Reheat previously baked shells in the microwave in 90 second intervals until heated through. 

Perfect for Christmas and New Years.

Of course if you love it with meat you can make a meat sauce and follow same directions.

Happy Holidays to all — and visit me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 box Jumbo Shells ( you won’t use all but a lot of them break, etc.)

1 lb. Ricotta ( I used Part Skim)

1 Egg

1 lb. Mozzarella Shredded ( I used Part Skim) if you can obtain fresh mozzarella and shred it that would make it even better! whatever works for you

1 cup grated Parmesan ( any kind you like)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*marinara sauce or any red sauce I made my own and use my own recipe. If buying sauce and there are some delicious good sauces out there, you’ll need at least 1 large jar of Sauce and my go-to if not using my own is Raos Marinara.   It’s nice to have a little extra sauce in case you need it when you re-heat the stuffed shells. 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare Pasta , cook for between 12 and 15 minutes, you’ll want them soft but not undercooked at the center. Drain pasta and cool for easy handling.

Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the Parmesan, parsley and egg in a bowl. Taste for Salt and Pepper.

When shells have cooled down, fill them with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in casserole dish. I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex and spray with cooking spray. Top Shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and grated cheese. Place shells in very hot oven . You can turn on broiler for last few minutes , it should be slightly browned and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Delicious!

Pumpkin Penne Bake

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I like to have a pasta dish every year at my Thanksgiving dinner and it’s a good one for all the vegetarians out there.  This is a delicious baked pumpkin penne. I am going to make it on the Monday before Thanksgiving and freeze it without putting the mozzarella cheese on top.  I will take it out of freezer Wednesday night and Thursday will  put cheese on top and bake till bubbly , you’ll want to make certain that it is completely defrosted and room temperature before putting it in the oven.  I will keep aluminum foil on it to re-heat and take off foil for last 20 minutes or so till it gets slightly brown.   It should start bubbling and to check for readiness put a fork right in the middle . If it needs more time and is getting too browned put foil back on and continue heating it up. You will cook it at 350 degrees as directions state.

One of the best things about baked pasta dishes is that they freeze so well. Making them some of the easiest dishes to prepare ahead. This whole thing including chopping up sage took maybe 1/2 hour to prep. My kind of dish!

As a side dish it should serve about 10-12 .

Ingredients:

1 box (1 lb.) penne pasta, cooked and drained well– cavatappi or rigatoni will work fine too.

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling

3 – 4  cups shredded mozzarella, divided , I used about 3 cups in pasta and another 1 cup on top. ( 2 packages 8 oz. shredded cheese) you’ll have a little left over

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cooked penne, pumpkin,  2  cup- 3 cups mozzarella, heavy cream, sage, salt and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste for salt.

Transfer mixture to a greased or well sprayed 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Since I was freezing I pulled it out after 20 minutes, cooled it down and wrapped it tightly and put in freezer.

Easy Skillet Lasagna

This was truly one of the most epic meals! The whole meal in under an hour.  While I love a real lasagna I didn’t want to put the whole thing together and deal with it. Once you have the ingredients the prep time is minimal and you aren’t using store bought sauce.  You will be making the sauce and it will all cook together in the pan .  This can be done a few different ways and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and spices to your own liking. All I can say is Wow!  Delicious! Perfect Sunday night dinner and I am planning on making this tonight again.   All in one pot is truly a great way to cook, no fuss, no muss and no having to deal with cooking lasagna noodles!!!!!! Yeah!

This can easily be made with ricotta cheese and spinach or any veggies you like. I would even try it with cut up eggplant!

*You’ll need a large oven proof skillet with lid

*perfect for freezing leftovers

Ingredients:

1 to 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil–I used 1 1/2 you can start with 1 and add more to onions if you need it

1/2 lb. ground beef ( I used 80/20)

3 Italian sausage links, casings removed ( I used Hot Italian Sausage) use what you like , you can use turkey or chicken sausage as well

1 onion, diced

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 8oz.can tomato sauce

*Italian seasonings , if you have Italian seasonings in a jar that’s great if not use a little dried oregano and dried basil. Italian Seasonings is available in the spice department of all food stores.

*1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

App. 1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt and more to taste

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

app. 10 lasagna noodles, broken into 1/4’s, if it breaks up differently don’t worry it’s a very loose recipe! 8 ounces Farfalle Pasta also works if you don’t feel like using the lasagna noodles. Un-cooked Noodles!!!!!

8 oz. mozzarella balls ( fresh) I used the small ones this time. Use whatever cheese you like but these worked out beautifully.  You can always use shredded mozzarella, or just cut a large ball of mozzarella into small pieces ( as much or as little as you’d like) if using shredded mozzarella, you’ll need about 1 cup

2 cups water

Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

*you can also use 1 cup Ricotta Cheese for a very cheesy version, I would use this if I was making it with spinach and going veggie.

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook till translucent, add garlic towards the end of onion process. Add ground beef to the onions, stirring occasionally till browned. I removed with slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. I then cooked up the sausage making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooked.  I then removed sausage to bowl with meat , onions, and garlic and drained all excess fat from pan.

Pre-heat the oven to Broil.

Return meat to pan, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spices, add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt to taste, if you need more add it. Add in the meat mixture and stir, bring to a simmer and add in broken lasagna pieces and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13- 15 minutes for al dente. I stirred it gently a few times just to make certain that the noodles cooked through and didn’t stick together.

Remove from the heat . I placed my Mozzarella on top and placed in oven under broiler for about 5 mins. Check on it because you don’t want it to blacken. All ovens are different, in mine it needed about 6 minutes to just start browning without burning, but you don’t want to burn this up so set timer and keep an eye on it!

Remove from the oven and let it sit out for a few minutes. Plate it up and let everyone add their own parmesan cheese! Enjoy! you will.

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Plated up and ready to eat

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Finished Product

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adding mozzarella before placing under broiler

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placing un-cooked noodles into sauce

This would serve 4. It’s tough to double because you would need a super large pan.

This makes for an amazing leftover!

Kasha Varnishkes–Jewish Comfort Food

This is truly traditional Jewish comfort food made with buckwheat grains and bowtie noodles. I love it and grew up eating it and  try to make it a few times a year. It is super easy and super tasty. If you’ve never made it why not start now. It’s a wonderful side dish to any meal and it can be vegetarian for all of those who need some extra vegetarian dishes on their tables just substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Kasha comes in a box. There are different types of Kasha and almost all will work. I use medium or coarse granulation.  Wolff’s brand is really wonderful so look for it and for this recipe I follow the directions on the Wolff’s box of Kasha. I actually had to order it on Amazon last year since I couldn’t find it in Colorado.

If you’re looking for an easy side dish to put together now is the time to look at this great recipe. This is also our go to the night before Yom Kippur. It’s tradition and delicious and comforting all at the same time.

Ingredients:

1 package bowtie ( farfalle ) noodles (app. 3/4 lb.)

1 white/yellow onion thinly sliced or you can use chopped onions , entirely up to you.

app. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil  you may need a  little more and may want a bit more to drizzle at the end plus more — probably 1/4 cup in total

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper–to taste

*1 small box button mushrooms sliced 8 ounce box — mushrooms are totally optional but sometimes I feel like they add a little something

1 cup kasha, medium or coarse granulation– I use Wolffs Kasha and follow instructions on the box which I have written below

1 egg for kasha as per instructions on the box

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth as per box instructions

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to directions on box for al dente.

Saute’ the onions in vegetable oil , salt and pepper until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. I use a medium size frying pan large enough to add in the pasta, and make sure you have a tight fitting lid.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to soften as well, a few more minutes , set aside. Place mushrooms and onions in a bowl and you’ll use same frying pan to cook kasha.

Coat the kasha in a slightly beaten egg. You’ll just place kasha in a bowl and put beaten egg on grains. This will help the grains not to stick to themselves while you are cooking them. Make sure the grains are completely coated with egg.  Put the kasha in the same frying pan, set over a fairly high heat. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for a few minutes till toasted and the egg has dried on the kasha and kernels are brown and mostly separate. Kasha instructions for cooking are usually on the box as well. Then I pour in the broth that I am using, a little margarine/butter is OK as well ( app. 2 Tbsp) bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower flame to simmer and cook for 10 minutes till kasha is fluffy–these are the directions on the box that I follow .

Add back in the mushrooms and onions and combine with chicken broth. Cook box of Bow Tie Pasta according to directions on box al dente.

Bring to a boil and cook over low heat covered tightly. Check on it after 10 minutes or so to make sure the kernels are tender and the liquid has absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for another few minutes till all liquid is absorbed.

Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if you’d like, mix in cooked pasta, and if you’d like drizzle a little more oil on it. I like to do it all in a large enough frying pan to hold pasta . You can always mix in pasta in a large bowl separately. I like it in frying pan on stove top till I serve it. You can always make ahead and heat up in oven at 350 degrees in a pyrex dish,  you’ll most likely need to add a little oil if you do so.

*Wolff’s Kasha has directions for cooking kasha on the box. It’s pretty much the same , I just add in the mushrooms and onions for more flavor.

*should serve 8 people

Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes and Mint

IMG_7873IMG_7872 IMG_7864 IMG_7863Totally delicious and fresh tasting that’s what this is. Looking for an easy,  fresh side dish?  This could be it. It’s very easy and took about 1/2 hour to make whole recipe and I served it alongside Mustard Glazed Salmon for dinner. Mint gives this dish the most wonderful layer of flavor, don’t leave it out.  Easy, quick and packed full of flavor, you can even add crushed red pepper for a little heat if you like.

Perfection!!!!

Ingredients:

1 pound orzo pasta

1/4 cup olive oil plus 1/8 cup olive oil

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 cup or more feta cheese use as much or as little as you like but at least 1 cup for that tang and bite. I used crumbled feta which makes it a little easier to work with. Block of Feta is fine and equally delicious, you’ll just have to cut it up.

1 cup or more arugula ( I used a little more) but use at least 1 cup

1/2 cup fresh mint , chopped ( don’t omit)

3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt ( you may want to taste before adding this , I used 1 teaspoon )

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ( you may want to taste before adding this as well, this is what I did)

Directions:

Prepare orzo according to box directions for al dente and make sure you add salt to water

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and sauté until the shallots soften and the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes on a very low heat. Be careful not to burn! Add the cherry tomatoes, and then heat for another few minutes and then I put heat on the lowest setting and let tomatoes just sit on stove-top while orzo cooked. ( about 5 more minutes)

Add tomato mixture to a large bowl along with the feta, arugula, mint and balsamic vinegar.

Drain the orzo and allow to cool a little bit. Add it to the bowl, and drizzle app. 1/8 of a cup of olive oil. Toss well . Taste for Salt and Pepper, I added 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Adjust seasoning to your taste.  I put it in refrigerator till we ate dinner, it can be served cold or warm, delicious either way.

Toss and Serve.

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Time Pasta– perfect Summer Pasta made with fresh tomatoes–Meatless

photo 2 (3)photo 4 (2)photo 5 (3)Nothing but beautiful tomatoes out there begging to be eaten in a million different ways. Perfect for a “Meatless Monday” dish or any night of the week . There are tons of local tomatoes out there now. At any local farmers market you can pick up pints of these beautiful babies. This is a lovely light pasta.

I had bought 2 pints of those beautiful little cherry tomatoes and right now there are those gorgeous yellow sunburst tomatoes also available.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. They varied in size so I knew if I made a sauce some were getting cut and some would stay whole. Nothing ever sounds better than a plate of pasta to me,  nothing.   These beautiful tomatoes are only out for such a limited time you have to get them while the getting is good.  Some of the tomatoes were super small and I left them whole while I halved the larger ones. There are so many variations of this sauce and feel free to improvise. We love it this way. So simple and so delicious.

Follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 lb. spaghetti , any kind of long spaghetti is good for this — sometimes I use bucatini type and sometimes I use thin type long spaghetti– use whatever you’d like

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper* we like it spicy so if you don’t want it that spicy cut to 1/4, I actually used 1 whole teaspoon and it packed a lot of kick.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes or little plum tomatoes or you can use about 3 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes of any type. I cut the larger tomatoes in 1/2 and I left the little ones whole.

app. 20 leaves of fresh basil, I just cut them up into small slivers–this is totally optional if your kids don’t like green stuff– but it looks pretty

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste –I used app. 1 teaspoon on tomatoes and added towards the end as needed

freshly grated parmesan at your discretion

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on box for al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in the event you may need a little more liquid in your sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to cooking water for pasta. The Italians like to say that their pasta water should be like sea water good and salty. After finished cooking pasta — reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside before you drain pasta.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic, cook until garlic is golden about 2 minutes. Be careful you don’t want to burn this garlic. Add the crushed red pepper now and the tomatoes, and cook over medium heat. I also added some kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon to start, you can always add more) and a little freshly ground black pepper. Stir for a while to make sure garlic doesn’t burn and tomatoes start to burst and deflate about 5  minutes and if you think you need a little more olive oil add it now . I let the tomatoes simmer in the pan for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour for the best consistency. I smashed down stubborn little tomatoes at the end with the back of a wooden spoon. A very low simmer at the end.  Taste for Salt and Pepper. The longer the tomatoes sit in the oil and cook down on a low simmer the better the sauce will be so if you have a little time let it sit.

Once the spaghetti is cooked and you’ve drained it ( remember to reserve a cup of pasta water).  Add it to the pan with tomatoes and over medium-high heat toss the pasta with the tomatoes well. Add the basil . I let everyone add their own cheese at the table.

Remove the pan from the heat and plate it up.

Yum! and even more delicious the next day.

Summer Bolognese

I call this summer bolognese because it’s lighter than my regular bolognese recipe . It’s made with fresh tomatoes which makes all the difference. I made this sauce the other night and I have to say it was just perfect . It cooked up in no time ( about 1/2 hour) and tasted fresh and delicious. Of course if you would like it vegetarian just omit the chicken. I wanted the protein so added a pound of ground chicken you can also use turkey and if you want ground beef. This time I kept it fairly light and used ground chicken. Used a thick ropy pasta — Bucatini and it was perfection on a plate made with fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves– minced– I use a mini food processor always for mincing garlic — just makes it easy

1 lb. ground chicken, turkey or beef

Kosher Salt to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 Tbsp. tomato paste if you use double concentrate use 2

1 lb. cherry tomatoes ( which are abundant and fresh right now)

12 oz. Bucatini or any spaghtetti you like or rigatoni or penne would work here as well

about 1 cup of Pasta Water — which you may or not need

Finely Grated Parmesan for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet or pot heat oil then add garlic and cook till softened ( a few minutes) don’t brown it just soften it — sometimes you’ll need to turn off stove and let it just cook for a couple of minutes to soften.

With pan at medium high add chicken and cook, breaking up chicken for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and fully cooked.

Add wine and reduce heat to medium low. Continue breaking up meat till it’s small pieces until wine is evaporated– another 5 minutes or so. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring till absorbed into chicken and cook for another few minutes.

Add tomatoes and let it cook down, stir to coat the tomatoes with the mixture — allow the tomatoes to cook till they are ready to burst — about 5 minutes. I used a masher ( see photo) and I smashed down on the tomatoes and burst all of them. You can leave some whole if you like but I didn’t because this is where the sauce will come from. Stir occasionally on medium low but don’t allow to burn. Allow sauce to thicken for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until very al dente ( at least that’s how we like it)

Reserve about 1 cup of cooked pasta water because you may need it if sauce is too thick.

Taste sauce for salt and add accordingly. I probably added a teaspoon of Kosher Salt — everyone’s taste is different for salt so add to your liking.

Drain pasta and I used tongs and transferred pasta to pan with sauce. Tossing it in and cooking at a low simmer the pasta and the sauce thickened and I added a little pasta water at a time till I reached a perfect consistency . I probably used about 1/2 cup of pasta water. ( which also contains salt so consider this and don’t over-salt sauce — you can always add salt but it’s tough to take away if you make it too salty. The sauce was creamy and delicious .

Remove from heat and if you’d like add fresh basil.

Transfer to pasta bowls and top with Parmesan.

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce –Perfect Summer Pasta

FullSizeRenderThis is one of my old tried and true recipes and also one of our family’s all time favorites.  Perfect for a large get together and totally tasty. There are a lot of ingredients but it is very easy to put together and it’s always a hit! I made the sauce a day ahead which I highly recommend doing, it gives flavors a chance to really come together.  I had all the ingredients in the house and day of I will cook the noodles and mix together. If making sauce ahead of time — take it out of refrigerator and let the sauce sit at room temperature before mixing with noodles. I used 1 teaspoon of cayenne, but because I wasn’t sure of everyone’s taste buds for hot and spicy I left out the chili oil. If you want it spicier you can always add some hot chili oil, or more cayenne pepper.  You can actually make the sauce a few days ahead of time. Enjoy this oldie but goodie. I have played around with the recipe a lot, and have found these ingredients work the best for me. I also like to put a little fresh cilantro on the side for those who love it ( like me) and don’t leave out the chopped peanuts they give it that extra yummy crunch. Enjoy! Excellent addition to any Father’s Day or BBQ.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

Ingredients: 

1 lb. linguine or spaghetti ( or you can use Chinese egg noodles)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

7 tablespoons Peanut Butter ( creamy ) by the way I always use the low-fat one, it’s perfectly fine

2/3 cup warm water

6 tablespoons soy sauce ( use low sodium)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to specific taste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic

3 to 4 scallions , finely chopped

*1 sliced cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned (optional) but tasty and crunchy

*fresh cilantro chopped (optional)

*sprinkle of chopped peanuts ( optional) but extra added crunch if you have them on hand

*dash of hot chili oil ( to taste) I usually just throw in a dash of this.

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, using a fork or a small wire whisk, beat the peanut butter together with the water until it is smooth. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt. Beat till smooth. If you’re adding hot chili oil this is when you would add that.

Add the chopped garlic, and stir well. Because I was using it the next day, I left out scallions till I cooked pasta .

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water, until noodles are cooled down sufficiently. Place noodles in a large bowl, drizzle with the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and toss well. Refrigerate noodles until you are ready to serve. About an hour or so before I am ready to serve, I pour sauce over noodles and mix well. Make sure sauce has been left out at room temperature for a while till it’s not too cold.  Add the scallions and cucumbers and mix well. Right before serving you can sprinkle the cilantro and chopped peanuts if you like. I pour about 2/3 of the sauce over noodles and mix well, adding more sauce as I feel necessary. I definitely didn’t use all of the sauce that I made, add slowly and taste as you go along.  Right before serving I usually add some more sauce, but leave it out at room temperature. This is a deadly go to leftover the next day.