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Spring Linguine with Basil

3 May


9 ounces uncooked fresh linguine
1 cup shelled fresh green peas
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 ounces shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add peas to pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta mixture in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup pasta liquid.
2. Heat oil and butter in pan over medium heat 1 minute or until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in pasta mixture, reserved pasta water, juice, salt, and pepper; toss well.
3. Divide pasta mixture evenly among 4 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil and about 2 tablespoons cheese. Serve immediately.

David Bonom, Cooking Light, May 2010

I simply can’t get enough of these simple pasta dishes in spring.  The heavier, slow-cooked pastas of winter can tend to conglomerate all of the individual flavors into a single other flavor altogether.  This can be a wonderful thing when you’re incorporating your 20th jar or can of stewed tomatoes for the winter and you’re looking to spice it up, but as more and better quality spring produce becomes available, I want to take each and every component.  This pasta does just that, highlighting rather than overpowering each flavor and the citrusy, floral combination of lemon and Parmesan is just perfect.

I still haven’t found any peas at the local markets and my own peas at home are only about 7 inches tall still, but for those of you in better climates, they should already be readily available.  Enjoy!

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Fusilli with Caramelized Spring Onions and White Wine

26 Apr

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups thinly sliced spring onions (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces uncooked fusilli (short twisted spaghetti)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine panko, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. Spread panko mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes or until golden brown, stirring after 3 minutes. Cool.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add onions to pan; cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and wine. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 1 minute. Add broth; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 4 minutes).

4. Cook pasta in boiling water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt according to package directions, omitting additional fat. Drain. Add pasta, remaining salt, and pepper to onion mixture; toss gently. Place about 1 cup pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls; sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons panko mixture.

Rori Trovato, Cooking Light, April 2011

I am always a sucker for a nice white wine reduction sauce and this one is no exception.  The caramelized sweet onions never overpowered, but added a little spice and a complexly sweet and hearty flavor.   I substituted veggie broth and used a basic sweet white onion.  The soft, sweet onions are complemented perfectly by the crisp, slightly salty panko crumbs on top.  I absolutely loved the simplicity.  I recommend serving with a dry white wine and a simple salad of greens with a nice vinaigrette.

I just got an awesome pear balsamic vinegar that a friend brought back from Olive & Kickin’ in Asheville, NC that I’ve been eating on all of my salads ever since.  It goes perfect with this dish!  I also tried their sweet cherry balsamic and it was delicious on both salads and as a little marinade for grilled mushrooms.  I will definitely make it a destination if I’m ever in the area and you should too.  They apparently have excellent olive oils as well.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

2 Mar

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for topping
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs oregano, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces bucatini or linguine
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until almost cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet, then add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the wine, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the parsley, pasta and shrimp to the sauce along with any collected juices from the plate and toss to combine. Stir in some of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce. Season with salt. Divide among shallow bowls and drizzle with olive oil; top with red pepper flakes, if desired.

Food Network Magazine, March, 2011

This is a quick and easy recipe, perfect for weeknight cooking but it is more than good enough to share with friends as well.  The anchovies add a nice salty flavor which balances the acidity of the tomatoes and the wine.  The parsley and basil add a nice fresh flavor as well.  I made it exactly as prescribed and would recommend it to anyone for most any kind of evening.

Spaghetti with Two Tomato Toss

5 Feb

  • 1/2 of a 7- to 8-oz. jar  oil-packed dried tomatoes
  • 4 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 pints  red and/or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 tsp.  cracked black pepper or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 14- to 16-oz. pkg.  dried corn meal, multigrain, whole wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 4 oz.  bite-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini), halved
  • 1/2 cup  chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh basil

1. For sauce, drain dried tomatoes, reserving 1 tablespoon oil. Halve large tomatoes. In 12-inch skillet cook garlic in oil from tomatoes over medium heat until tender, about 1 minute. Add cherry and oil-packed tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until fresh tomato skins blister, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper and salt.

2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, with 1 tablespoon salt added to water, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water (*Using Pasta Water, see below). Drain pasta.

3. Toss spaghetti with tomato mixture in skillet, adding enough cooking water to thin sauce. Serve immediately with fresh mozzarella balls and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Better Homes & Gardens

I have been making this at least once a month for the last two years.  It is simply a staple at our house.  I can make it in less than 20 minutes but it packs a major flavor punch.  I love that all of the ingredients taste to fresh and no single ingredient overpowers any of the rest.  The citrusy tomatoes are complemented perfectly by the sweet mozzarella.  Also, I am a major sucker for any pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes.  Doesn’t get much better.

Baked Vegetable Lasagna

31 Jan

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  cup  chopped white onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1  (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 3  cups  finely chopped red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
  • 2  medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooking spray
  • 12  cooked lasagna noodles
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add white onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute or until golden. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in basil and oregano. Cool.

3. Combine ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tofu, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process for 10 seconds or until blended. Stir in green onions. Set aside.

4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, zucchini, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 3 noodles. Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture over noodles; top with 1 cup tofu mixture and 1 cup zucchini mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Spread remaining 3/4 cup tomato mixture over top. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until bubbly; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes.

Corrine Trang, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2010

I made this exactly as instructed except I do not have a food processor so I used a hand mixer instead.  Preparing each of the three layers takes quite a bit of time and effort so I would recommend making this dish on a night where you have a little extra time and are looking for a more involved cooking project.  Is the work worth the effort?  Yes and no.  This is not your standard lasagna which I knew going into it, but I was still disappointed.  Oddly enough, though, it was actually better leftover.  I don’t think the flavors had enough time to blend in the original cooking stages, but they really came together after a night in the fridge.  Also, if you’re a lasagna fiend looking for a healthier fix, this might be just the trick.

In case you’re weary of the tofu addition to the cheese (I was), no worries: the texture is actually incredibly similar to ricotta and, of course, it merely took on the flavor of the other cheeses in the cheese blend.

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts

21 Jan
  • 1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1/4  cup  chopped blanched hazelnuts
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 4  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3  (4-ounce) packages presliced exotic mushroom blend
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh sage
  • 2  ounces  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped chives

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid.

2. While water for pasta comes to a boil, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts to pan; sauté for 3 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add garlic and mushrooms to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Sauté mushroom mixture for 5 minutes; stir in sage. Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; toss well to combine. Remove from heat; top with cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and chives.

Cooking Light, January 2011

I made this recipe exactly as called for except I used finely chopped green onions instead of chives because that’s what I had on-hand and I used 70% portabella and 30% white button mushrooms because that’s what Trader Joes had on-hand.  I was weary of this recipe when I initially read the ingredient list, but the flavors could not complement on another better.  The mushrooms and hazelnuts give this pasta a savory, earthy flavor and the sage and Parmesan add a piney, floral finish, the combination of which reminded me of a stroll through the woods on a breezy, sunny spring day.  It is pure heaven and – I would guess – a vegetarian’s delight with its hearty, earthy flavors.

This is, however, not the pasta for those who like super saucy pasta dishes.  It is an oil-based sauce and Tom didn’t love it because he said it was too “dry”.

Just a tip – If you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, it is actually very easy to do it yourself.  Simply roast the nuts on a baking pan for about 10 minutes.  Give them a few minutes to cool and then rub several nuts at a time (yeah, yeah, that’s what she said) inside a paper towel.  The skins will fall right off.   It is important to use blanched hazelnuts rather than raw as the raw nuts will have a different flavor and texture.

Serve with additional shaved Parmesan – Perfect!

Tuna-Noodle Casserole

17 Jan

  • 8  ounces  wide egg noodles
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3  cup  chopped carrot
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4  cups  fat-free milk
  • 1/2  cup  (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 2  (5-ounce) cans albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • Cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and carrot; cook 6 minutes or until carrot is almost tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until slightly thick. Stir in cream cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in noodles, peas, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and tuna. Spoon mixture into a shallow broiler-safe 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cooking Light, January 2010

I made this over the weekend on a night where I got home a little late and didn’t have much time.  It is super fast and easy, but also incredibly satisfying.  I used whole-grain Dijon simply because my regular Dijon overpowers every dish and I actually thought the whole-grain added a nice texture.  I also added breadcrumbs on top before broiling – again for additional texture – and doubled the peas and carrots because I love them.  The flavor reminds me of a classic tuna-noodle casserole my dad always made, but just a little more grown up due to the Dijon and Parmesan.  It doesn’t knock you out of park with flavor, but it might bring you back to simpler times.   Definitely a staple dish.

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine

8 Dec

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fettuccine

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces Italian turkey sausage

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups baby arugula leaves

2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid.

2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove casings from sausage.  Break sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently to crumble.  Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; cover and cook 2 minutes.  Mash tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to break them up.  Cover pan; reduce heat to low, and cook 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Add pasta, reserved 2/3 cup cooking liquid, and arugula; toss well.  Sprinkle with pecorino Romano.

Yield: 4 servings

Cooking Light, December 2010

This recipe is incredibly quick and easy.  I made it exactly as-is, adding only a pinch of oregano and basil to the sauce.  It is simple, but tasty.  I have made several similar recipes (see Two-Tomato Toss Spaghetti), but the sausage really adds a ton of flavor.  I think you could sub spinach for arugula if you prefer and it also might be nice with a few mushrooms or olives added.  Personally, I’m just happy to have another recipe using arugula because I always get stuck with half a bag and nothing to use it for.

Romanesco Broccoli and Rigatoni

28 Nov

Salt & Pepper

1 pound rigatoni pasta

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 head romanesco broccoli or broccolini, cut into florets

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2/3 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese, plus more to pass around

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain reserving a couple ladles full of pasta cooking water.

2. While the pasta is working, in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch over, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in wine for 1 minute, then the chicken stock.  Add the broccoli, lemon peel, rosemary and crushed red pepper.  Season with black pepper.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

3. In serving bowl, toss pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cooked vegetables, cheese and nuts for a minute.  Season with salt and black pepper and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.

Everyday with Rachel Ray, December 2009

This recipe is incredibly fast and easy.  There is an interesting interaction between flavors, from the florals of the cheese to the walnuts and earthy broccoli.  That said, there are certainly more fun and flavorful pastas out there.  The sauce is either non-existent or a little watery, but the broccoli and nuts add a nice texture and the passing cheese thickens the sauce.  This is not the most exciting recipe, but it’s a nice option for a quick meal.  The ease  of preparation balances the lack of any powerful flavor.