Category Archives: pasta

Tomato Time Pasta with Fresh Corn –Summer Pasta

I was going to make my tomato time pasta for the two of us and I was using fresh cherry tomatoes and whole wheat pasta. I had two ears of beautiful fresh corn and I figured how can that taste bad? Corn and Tomatoes are delicious and mixed in with the pasta they were just a perfect summer meal. My original Tomato Time Pasta was posted on August ’14 and that was the basis for this. This is what I did .

Ingredients:

This recipe is for 4-6 servings , I cut in 1/2 for the 2 of us.

1 lb. spaghetti, I like long ropy spaghetti for this recipe , use whatever you like. I also used whole wheat pasta last night.

4 -6 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil — start out with 4 and you might want to add a little more during the cooking process. I used 3 for 1/2 of this recipe.

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.

4 ears of fresh corn–I used 2 for 1/2 this recipe so I would double for whole recipe.

*1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper– we like it spicy but obviously you can use more or less depending on your taste or omit entirely. I used a lot.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes ( app. 3 cups fresh tomatoes) I cut the larger tomatoes in 1/2 and left the little ones whole or use any kind of fresh tomatoes you’d like you’ll need app. 3 cups. The Heirlooms are delicious!

Fresh Basil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Freshly Grated Parmesan — on the table at your own discretion

Directions:

Cook Corn in boiling water for 2 minutes –Bring water to a boil and place corn in water for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with ice water and cool corn down. When corn is cooled off –cut the corn off cob and set aside.

Cook Pasta according to the directions on the box for al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in the event you may need a little more liquid in your sauce. Add salt to the cooking water for pasta.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat — add olive oil then lower the heat and add garlic , cook until garlic is golden brown and not burned. About 2 minutes– watch the garlic –just to soften and get fragrant. Add the crushed red pepper and the tomatoes, and cook over medium low to medium heat. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at this point –and some freshly ground black pepper about 1/4 teaspoon. Stir together all ingredients for a bit, making sure garlic isn’t burning and tomatoes start to burst and deflate for about 10 minutes. I then lower the heat and let the tomatoes simmer in the pan for at least 15 minutes and last night for 1/2 hour. This is when I added the fresh corn. Let it sit together for the last 15 minutes of cooking.  I even turned off the stove and let it just sit there , i then turned heat back on just before adding the pasta. Taste for Salt and Pepper.  Remember to reserve a cup of pasta water. I added a little water at a time to the tomatoes and corn at a low flame– stirred it in–probably used about 1/2 cup . It will give the sauce some needed liquid. Just stir in slowly don’t dump the whole cup in at once. Next add the cooked pasta right into the pan and stir it all up good. Tomatoes will be smashed up and olive oil will have turned a lovely light orangey red color. Add in the Fresh Basil–I cut it up into small pieces –again this is your choice you can throw it in whole leaves as well. There you have it. Dinner in 1/2 hour.

I plated it up and fresh parmesan was on the table if anyone wanted to use it.

Yum and even more delicious the next day cold out of the fridge.

 

 

 

Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Stringbeans

IMG_1456Here is a new recipe that I tried last night for Meatless Monday. Sometimes it’s good to lighten up the menu with no meat.   I love when I try something new and it’s so delicious that I know it will stay in the rotation all summer long.This is a delightfully light pasta dish with really no sauce just some delicious fresh vegetables and some amazing fresh burrata. Of course you can leave out the burrata and sprinkle a little parmesan cheese or just leave out the cheese all together. I improvised a lot with this recipe please feel free to do the same.

The beauty of this pasta dish is that it would be delicious served hot off the stove or at room temperature. You can prepare ahead , assemble and just let it sit out while you prepare other dishes if you’re serving to a larger group as a side dish.  It was just the two of us so we ate it hot off the stove as our main meal.

We love cheese in our house so we went with delicious fresh burrata. A little sprinkle of fresh thyme at the end and I sprinkled crushed red pepper at the end because I love a spicy pasta.

*Fresh Burrata is a delicious cheese with a creamy interior. It’s like Mozzarella on the outside.

Ingredients:

8 oz. Pasta — I used casarecce because I love that pasta when I can find it. Fusilli or Penne would work just fine — you can also use whole wheat pasta for an extra fiber boost.

8 oz. French Green Beans if you can find them if not use yellow wax beans or fresh green beans –trim them

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil — you’ll start with 2 and you may need a little more this will depend on how dry the eggplant seems while it’s cooking. I used about 2 1/2 Tbsp.

2 cups Chopped Eggplant– I used a regular eggplant and just chopped up into small pieces ( keep it uniform in size) you can use Japanese Eggplant as well. 1 average eggplant should work

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp. White wine vinegar

Kosher Salt– I sprinkled about 1/2 tsp. kosher salt on the eggplant and tomatoes but I added more at the end. Salt to taste.

1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper– again to taste

6 oz. Burrata– if you don’t want to use Burrata you can also use fresh Mozzarella just cut into bite-size pieces.

2 Tsp. chopped fresh thyme– of course this is optional but fresh herbs always add a delicious layer of flavor.

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Add green beans for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before you drain the pasta.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the cut-up eggplant and sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. kosher salt , cook, stirring occasionally until tender — about 5 minutes. Add in the fresh garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and cook until the juices from tomatoes start to release –another few minutes.

Add the wine, cook and stir often until most of the wine disappears. Add pasta and beans, toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta, cooking liquid– a little at a time– I used almost all of it. It depends on how dry the pasta is. Stir in the vinegar and taste for salt and sprinkle that 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper here.

Put Pasta in individual pasta bowls and top evenly with burrata and a sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme. I also sprinkled crushed red pepper on mine at the table.

This should serve 4 nicely even with only 8 oz. pasta as a side dish. It was just the two of us so we ate it as a main and there was left-over which will be delicious cold the next day.

 

 

Tomato Time Pasta with Fresh Corn –Summer Pasta

I was going to make my tomato time pasta for the two of us and I was using fresh cherry tomatoes and whole wheat pasta. I had two ears of beautiful fresh corn and I figured how can that taste bad? Corn and Tomatoes are delicious and mixed in with the pasta they were just a perfect summer meal. My original Tomato Time Pasta was posted on August ’14 and that was the basis for this. This is what I did .

Ingredients:

This recipe is for 4-6 servings , I cut in 1/2 for the 2 of us.

1 lb. spaghetti, I like long ropy spaghetti for this recipe , use whatever you like. I also used whole wheat pasta last night.

4 -6 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil — start out with 4 and you might want to add a little more during the cooking process. I used 3 for 1/2 of this recipe.

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.

4 ears of fresh corn–I used 2 for 1/2 this recipe so I would double for whole recipe.

*1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper– we like it spicy but obviously you can use more or less depending on your taste or omit entirely. I used a lot.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes ( app. 3 cups fresh tomatoes) I cut the larger tomatoes in 1/2 and left the little ones whole.

Fresh Basil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Freshly Grated Parmesan — on the table at your own discretion

Directions:

Cook Corn in boiling water for 2 minutes –Bring water to a boil and place corn in water for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with ice water and cool corn down. When corn is cooled off –cut the corn off cob and set aside.

Cook Pasta according to the directions on the box for al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in the event you may need a little more liquid in your sauce. Add salt to the cooking water for pasta.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat — add olive oil then lower the heat and add garlic , cook until garlic is golden brown and not burned. About 2 minutes– watch the garlic –just to soften and get fragrant. Add the crushed red pepper and the tomatoes, and cook over medium low to medium heat. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at this point –and some freshly ground black pepper about 1/4 teaspoon. Stir together all ingredients for a bit, making sure garlic isn’t burning and tomatoes start to burst and deflate for about 10 minutes. I then lower the heat and let the tomatoes simmer in the pan for at least 15 minutes and last night for 1/2 hour. This is when I added the fresh corn. Let it sit together for the last 15 minutes of cooking.  I even turned off the stove and let it just sit there , i then turned heat back on just before adding the pasta. Taste for Salt and Pepper.  Remember to reserve a cup of pasta water. I added a little water at a time to the tomatoes and corn at a low flame– stirred it in–probably used about 1/2 cup . It will give the sauce some needed liquid. Just stir in slowly don’t dump the whole cup in at once. Next add the cooked pasta right into the pan and stir it all up good. Tomatoes will be smashed up and olive oil will have turned a lovely light orangey red color. Add in the Fresh Basil–I cut it up into small pieces –again this is your choice you can throw it in whole leaves as well. There you have it. Dinner in 1/2 hour.

I plated it up and fresh parmesan was on the table if anyone wanted to use it.

Yum and even more delicious the next day cold out of the fridge.

 

 

 

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce (Jewish Girls can cook Chinese Food too)

FullSizeRenderThis is one of my old tried and true recipes. Perfect for a large get together and totally tasty so if you’re in the market for a perfect side dish this Memorial Day here you go.  There are a lot of ingredients but it is very easy to put together and it’s always a hit! I make the sauce a day ahead which I highly recommend doing it gives the 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!

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.

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

Lasagna in the Slow Cooker

I have to say when I first heard about lasagna in the slow cooker I was sort of skeptical.  My friend Cathy told me about it; she said she had made it for her family and I should give it a go.   The original recipe is from Jessica Seinfeld, who sneaks vegetables and healthy stuff into her food. I did make a few changes from original recipe , I used more sauce and a little more salt , I used fresh spinach which can easily be substituted for ground turkey, sausage, or any type of meat you like.  Next time I make this recipe I will be using meat because it really was quite easy and pretty quick even by slow cooker standards. It cooked in 3 1/2 hours, looked amazing and tasted delicious. I am still a little surprised by how good it was. The spinach wilts down and almost looks like basil in there. Even if you don’t like spinach, don’t worry because even though you start out with 5 ounces (which looks like a lot),  you hardly taste it at all but for those of you who do like it, it’s an added bonus. This lasagna was moist, cheesy and hearty.   So get out your slow cookers and give it a go. This is especially great for a big crowd. It easily serves 6 people.  We of course had a chicken dish alongside, because no amount of prodding could get Joel to try the lasagna, once he saw the spinach. Oh well, what are you going to do? He doesn’t know what he’s missing.  Thanks Cathy for the great idea, and of course, Jessica Seinfeld.

Ingredients:

I used 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes (the recipe original calls for 3 14 oz. cans but I thought it needed a little more sauce and I used 2 large cans which are app. 28 oz. each . You can always use homemade sauce if you have it already made and want to use it. Just make sure you have enough.)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp. dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

*1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (use as much or as little of this, whatever you like)

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 containers (15 ounce each) ricotta (Fresh is awesome, but not always available. Use whatever you’d like. I used part- skim ricotta.)

2 cups grated mozzarella (again use whatever you’d like, package is fine. Just don’t use fat free, it doesn’t work well.)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

12 lasagna noodles (about 3/4 of a 1 lb. box) don’t cook them*see note at bottom

5 ounces (or 6 cups) of baby spinach (1 package in the produce section is 5 ounces)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt, red pepper and black pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella and Parmesan.

In the bottom of a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker (which I sprayed with Pam first), spread a thin layer of sauce. Top with 3 of the noodles (breaking to fit as necessary). Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the noodles and layer with 2 cups of the spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture. Repeat twice more with the noodles, sauce, spinach and cheese mixture. Top with the remaining 3 noodles, sauce and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.

Cook on low, covered, for 3 – 3 1/2 hours. Noodles should be tender in center by then, mine was. I then switched it to warm until we ate it. I served it from slow cooker with a big spoon, you don’t get those neat little squares but it really held together quite well,  I left some in fridge for leftovers and froze the rest for another time.

*I broke the side noodles in 1/2 and just angled them a little, keeping the center one intact. Once it’s all cooked it doesn’t matter that they were broken, it really came out perfectly.

Chicken and Rigatoni in One Pot–One Pot Pasta

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 (2) photo 5 (2) photo photo 2 (2) photo 1I must say that the first time I saw this recipe for one-pot pasta I was hesitant. I read up on it and found out that the actual recipe for this one-pot pasta hailed from Puglia. So for all of those “haters” out there I am just saying that I did do my homework here and found out that yes they do this in Italy and original recipe was from there. OK that’s enough of that. It doesn’t really matter where it’s from now does it? I have made 2 versions of this type of pasta and all I can say is yum. I will also add that you need to be a little bit more attentive during the cooking but the result was fabulous. We loved the creaminess and the pasta came out perfectly al dente.  You just don’t want to overcook it, taste for doneness and sit down and eat. It was delicious the next day cold out of fridge as well. Give this one a try you won’t be sorry. Joel was very happy with the clean-up detail as well because it was one pot! Whole thing took under an hour from start to finish. One pan, people!!! dry noodles, sauce ingredients, water, wine a few good things and you’ve got a delicious impressive dinner.

*I used my large Le Creuset pot. A large skillet would work fine here as well.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

app. 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken breast, cut into small chunks. Just buy a regular package of chicken breasts and cut them up as I did ( see photos)

2 large roasted red peppers, sliced into thin slices ( straight out of the jar) see photos

6 cherry peppers, chopped and de-seeded , you can use hot if you like it spicy or just mild cherry peppers which is what I used (straight out of the jar) see photos

1 cup water, you will probably add about 1/2 cup more but you should start out with a cup

1 lb. rigatoni, I like the way the rigatoni works of course penne or another type of macaroni will work just fine

1 cup white wine, use what you have open as long as it’s not a sweet wine

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1 cup Parmesan Cheese grated, more for serving

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons fresh basil torn, you’ll want to add a little more at the end of cooking as well.

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

Crushed red pepper flakes, optional. If you like the heat add a little bit during cooking and you can always add more at end. 1/4 teaspoon to start is good.

Directions:

In a large skillet type of pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the garlic and chicken . Saute the chicken until it is just browned on the outside but not cooked through.

Stir in the roasted red peppers and cherry peppers, and sauté for another minute or so. Add in the crushed tomatoes and wine. Add in the water and the raw pasta and bring to a low boil. If you need more water you’ll know at this point , add a bit more water (a little at a time) Continue to cook, stirring very often, until the pasta has cooked to al dente , it will take anywhere from 15- 20 minutes. Taste pasta and judge how much longer it needs.

When pasta is done to your liking, reduce heat to low and add in the butter, basil and salt. When the butter is completely melted into the past, add in the cream and the cheese. Let simmer on low for another ten minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Top with additional cheese, basil and red pepper flakes if you like.

Serve warm.

Pasta Alla Norma

 

 

This past October we spent time in Sicily biking through various regions. The food in Sicily was definitely some of the best Italian Food I have ever had including mainland Italy. One of the mainstays was eggplant and I totally love eggplant and will eat it almost every which way it was prepared. This particular dish was always a favorite of mine and I decided to try to make it without frying the eggplant. It came out delicious and this is what I did. Of course if you’d like you can always fry up the eggplant and then add it to your sauce. This worked out very well.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant or 2 small ones

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil– divided

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/2 sweet onion–thinly sliced

3-4 garlic cloves

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes–I love the heat but you can always let people add this at the table if you prefer

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 box –1 lb. bite size dry pasta, I love Rigatoni here but Penne works well as well as any small bite size macaroni

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1″ cubes — First cut into thick slices and then cut into 4 pieces –you can achieve this quickly by cutting 3 slices and then with a sharp knife cut slices into 4 pieces — Put cubes into a bowl and sprinkle with 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil some red pepper and Kosher Salt and Pepper mix up and spread on a sprayed baking sheet and place in oven at preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. You’ll want the eggplant softened but not mushy.

In a large saute pan heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over medium heat and saute the sliced onion until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. You can sprinkle onion with a little kosher salt here as well.

Stir in the 28 oz of crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add a little red pepper here, oregano and season with salt and pepper to your liking. It will take about 30 minutes for sauce to really develop and I then thinned it down by adding a little water . Add 1/2 cup at a time– I added a few times during the cooking process — just don’t add too much water at any given time. You can also throw in a little red wine to thin out which I’ve been known to do.

While the sauce is cooking I cooked my pasta al dente. I used some of the pasta water to thin out sauce at the end.

When eggplant is finished cooking add to the sauce, toss well to coat the eggplant and allow it to sit in sauce for a little bit ( app. 10 minutes or more )

I plated up my pasta and added sauce to each individual bowl and served with grated Parmesan Cheese. Also would be delicious with Ricotta Salata sprinkled on top of Pasta in place of Parmesan Cheese.

*you can add pasta to your pan if your pan is large enough to hold it all.

Should serve 4 very nicely

Fusilli and Roasted Cauliflower

 

We are out here in Colorado for the winter and we got our first real snowfall since we’re here. After driving in a snowstorm to get home I wasn’t stopping to pick up anything for dinner, I just wanted to get home. I had a head of cauliflower in the house, some capers , garlic, pasta and parmesan cheese. All the ingredients for this delicious pasta dish. It would have been delicious with some added pignoli nuts but I didn’t have any. Next time I’ll be better prepared. In any event this is what I did and while it’s not the most low in calories it’s high in flavor! Just delicious and the really good news is that Joel now loves cauliflower which is nothing short of a miracle . He ate this pasta with gusto and gave it a big thumbs up!

Perfect meatless meal for those of you who are vegetarians.

*this was for the 2 of us– feel free to double up on it

Ingredients:

1/2 head of cauliflower –cut into small bite-sized florets

3 Tablespoons drained-capers

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra virgin Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more as needed– I didn’t need extra

Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

2 medium garlic cloves, grated or minced well

Finely grated lemon zest of 1 lemon

Fresh Lemon Juice of the 1 lemon you just zested

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter softened at room temperature

3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese plus more if you’d like at the table

8 oz. Fusilli Pasta or any other macaroni that you’d like to use–I just like Fusilli because it grabs on to the sauce well

*1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in oven for about 3-4 minutes –I didn’t have in the house but this would add a delicious layer of crunch

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

In a bowl, toss the cauliflower and 2 Tablespoons of the drained capers with the 1/4 cup of olive oil , 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast it, tossing it occasionally, until golden brown — app. 30 minutes.

Mince the remaining 1 Tablespoon of drained capers and add to minced garlic in a large bowl and add the lemon zest, butter, remaining 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil and I added the 3 Tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese. I mashed it all up together.

Cook Pasta according to directions for al-dente and drain

When the Pasta is cooked and drained add to the bowl along with the roasted cauliflower and pine nuts with the mashed caper mixture. I squeezed in 1/2 the lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper but I didn’t think it needed more because it tasted salty enough for us. Toss well and serve!

Add additional parmesan cheese at the table if you’d like.

Saucy Stuffed Shells – Baked and Meatless

Shells 004Shells 007Shells 009Shells 010OK you must be thinking is she kidding Stuffed Shells? gotta be the most fattening food to eat , and it probably is outside of lasagna, baked ziti and the like. Super delicious and sometimes you just hafta roll with it. I wanted a crowd pleaser, vegetarian and something that can easily be made ahead and frozen.  My mind wanders to yummy, gooey food with a lot of cheese because who doesn’t love a lot of cheese. Ah , yes Stuffed Shells.  I wouldn’t cook like this all the time, but once every blue moon no one is getting hurt, right? I served with a salad , no need for bread and butter here. 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 must. This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time, and just pop into oven.

This would make a perfect dish for Christmas alongside any meat or fish entree.

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

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 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 jar and maybe a 1 1/2 jars. I make a big batch of sauce and freeze the remainder. 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 450 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. 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!