Rotini with Eggplant Tomato Sauce

I don’t eat a lot of pasta.  But I LOVE roasting vegetables!
I also don’t cook with a lot of eggplant but I picked some up at the farmers market and this sounded excellent!
The vegetables smelled SO GOOD roasting in the oven.  I swear, I should just roast vegetables every day to make my house smell good.  Luckily I chose a cooler day so the house didn’t heat up to much.
This turned out so good!  I have a fairly small food processor so I was a bit afraid it wouldn’t all fit but it did.  It didn’t really take up too much room. 
I also chose to puree the pine nuts in the sauce rather than just sprinkle them on top. Either way works. 
The only thing I would do different would be to add a bit of onion. I just love onion and it just seemed like it needed to be there.
Rotini with Eggplant Tomato Sauce

1 medium eggplant, mine was just under 1 pound, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Pasta, I used Barilla Plus Rotini, 14.5 oz.
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves, I used less
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 
  • Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Roast in the oven at 400 until veggies are tender and eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes. 
  • While the veggies are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish.  Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables.  Roast until golden, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and reserve. 
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.  Pour pasta into a large bowl. Reserve about 1 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  • Transfer the roasted veggies to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves.  Puree the vegetables, mint leaves and pine nuts. Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl of pasta and add the parmesan.  Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta and sauce is saucy. 

Total calories = 2218 calories
6 servings = 370 calories per serving

Pasta Rotini with Eggplant Tomato Puree = 370 calorie dinner**

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Cooking the Italian Way – Penne with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce

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Summer squash is an all or nothing kind of vegetable.
You either have none.  Or you have 600.
I know this because my father keeps calling me and asking me why his zucchini won’t grow while my CSA keeps putting at least 6 pounds in my box every week. 
(Really, every fiber of my being consists of at least a hint of zucchini right now.) 
(I wish I were joking.)
So you see, this is not a “shades of gray” kind of situation.  And if you happen to be on my side of the spectrum, then you need a quick fix.  And fast.
Thankfully, Marcella Hazan provides just that with her creamy zucchini and basil sauce.  All the flavors of summer in one bowl.  Dinner just got so much better.

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Penne with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce
Serves 5, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook

1 pound penne pasta
2 pound zucchini
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
a bunch of basil, chopped finely
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Set a large pot of SALTED water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and slice zucchini in strips.  Slice into strips the length of a tootsie roll, but skinnier.
  3. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir.  Before garlic starts to brown, add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and starting to brown a bit.
  4. Add cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cook on medium-low heat until thickened a bit.  Let simmer until pasta is done.
  5. Just before mixing with the pasta, stir basil into the sauce and turn off the heat.  Toss with pasta and Parmesan cheese.
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OLD FASHIONED MACARONI and CHEESE

I’m always trying new recipes searching for THE one that most resembles my grams recipe. I don’t unfortunately have her recipe.  I think I finally found it though.

1 2/3 cups dry, small elbow or shells macaroni cooked and drained
1 large bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 + 1/2  cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Combine evaporated milk, 1% milk and butter in medium saucepan.
  • Stir in flour and pepper.
  • Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in 2 cups cheese until melted.
  • Add macaroni and onions, blending well. It will be a little soupy, but that’s okay!
  • Pour into prepared casserole dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown.
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OLD FASHIONED MACARONI & CHEESE

1 2/3 cups dry, small elbow or shells macaroni cooked and drained
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 + 1/2  cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Combine evaporated milk, 1% milk and butter in medium saucepan.
  • Stir in flour and pepper.
  • Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in 2 cups cheese until melted.
  • Add macaroni and onions, blending well.
  • Pour into prepared casserole dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown.
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Roasted Green Bean and Fennel Pasta Salad

pasta salad

I thought I was totally going to be the downer at this year’s 4th of July.

I don’t eat meat.  And I don’t eat mayo.  So basically I’ve already broken the two cardinal sins of celebrating my country’s independence.

And I am on the verge of being disowned by my family for heretical life practices.  It doesn’t help that I’m not married and have produced zero grandchildren for my mother to fawn over. 

Yikes.

Then I met this pasta salad.  It changed everything. It saved my soul.

It is healthy without tasting healthy and has that familiar vinegar/mustard combination that allows people to feel comforted upon tasting it, forgetting the fact that they are eating green beans and fennel and might actually be doing something good for their arteries.

Basically it’s a barbecue must.  (And it might keep my mom’s mouth stuffed for long enough that she won’t have time to berate me about the lack of babies.  We can only hope.)

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!

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Roasted Green Bean and Fennel Pasta Salad
Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side, adapted from Got No Milk 

1 lb pasta
1 lb fresh green beans, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
12 pitted kalamata olives, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Arrange the green beans, onions, and fennel on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

2. Cook pasta under al dente.  Drain and place in a large serving bowl.  Mix in tomatoes, olives, and roasted veggies.

3.  Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle over the pasta salad and toss to combine.

pasta salad 5

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APPLE RUM RAISIN NOODLE BAKE

Apple-Raisin Noodle Bake
1 pound wide egg noodles

2 teaspoons sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened + 1/3 cup butter, softened for topping
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar     
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
2 cups sour cream
6 eggs, separated
1 cup golden raisins
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons rum
11/2 cup apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
PURE
  • Set oven to 350 degrees.
  • Set shelf to lowest position.
  • In a small bowl pour the rum over the raisins.  Set aside.
  • Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with PURE.
  • Cook noodles with 2 teaspoons salt in boiling water; drain well, and toss with the 6 tablespoons of softened butter in a large bowl while still warm.
  • In a mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until light.
  • Add in the cottage cheese and sour cream; blending well.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until consistent in texture and color then add to the cream mixture with the cinnamon; blending well.
  • Pour this mixture over the egg noodles in the bowl; mix to combine.
  • Mix in the chopped apples and raisins (rum and all); blend well.
  • In a bowl beat the 6 egg whites until stiff; with a spatula, fold the egg whites into the noodle mixture.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Add a loose foil tent to prevent pasta from crisping.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.

While casserole is baking:

  • In a small bowl, mix together the 1/3 cup butter and 1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar.
  • After 45 minutes of baking, remove the casserole, and sprinkle the butter/brown sugar mix over top of casserole.
  • Return to oven and bake another 30-45 minutes.
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Pumpkin Ravioli With Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts

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Some people think of pumpkin as a seasonal ingredient.  However.  The fifteen cans of it sitting on my bookshelf keep swearing that that’s not true.

“Oh no!” they say.  “Easter is the perfect occasion to deck the halls with pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin cheesecake!”

They are so full of mixed metaphors that I just don’t know what to do with them.

Except turn them into pumpkin ravioli.  It’s the only way to shut them up.  And, coincidentally enough.  It keeps my stomach pretty happy as well.

Now, I know that homemade pasta seems intimidating.  But all you really need is a rolling pin and some biceps and you are good to go.  They don’t even need to be big biceps.  Mine are laughable sized.  They just need to exist.  Or you can use a pasta roller or a spiffy KitchenAid stand mixer attachment.  No biceps required!  Nice.

And if you really really really can’t fathom going at it yourself.  Then store-bought pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli will do just fine.  I promise.

Pumpkin Ravioli
Makes about 40 ravioli, adapted from The Babbo Cookbook

1 medium-sized pumpkin/butternut squash/acorn squash (about 2-2.5 lb)
1/2-1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 1/2-4 cups AP flour
5 large eggs
1/2 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 450.  Cut your winter squash of choice in half.  Remove the seeds and place cut side up on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until fork-tender.

2. When cooked, allow to cool enough to touch.  Scoop squash flesh into a bowl.  Mash with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and nutmeg.  Add more parmesan cheese to taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, eggs, and olive oil.  Mix using the bread hook until just combined.  Then knead with the hook for about 2 minutes.  OR if you don’t have a stand mixer, follow Batali’s instructions here.  Cover dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

4. Set up your pasta maker.  Break off a chunk of pasta dough and stretch it out to as thin a rectangle as you can.  If it is wet, as mine was, add more flour just past the point of stickiness.  Roll out the dough to the thinnest setting on your pasta machine.  Using a biscuit cutter or a water glass, cut out 2-inch circles.  Spoon approximately a tsp of filling onto the center half of the rounds and cover with a second round.  Press the edges together firmly to seal.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  You will have extra filling.  Eat it with a spoon.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts
Serves 4, adapted from Giada de Laurentis 

1/2 cup peeled hazelnuts
a few tbsp vegetable oil
pumpkin ravioli
1/2 stick salted butter
6 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 amaretti cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spread hazelnuts on a tray and toast in the oven until brown and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Put in a food processor and chop into small chunks.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add in a bit of vegetable oil so the ravioli don’t stick to each other.  Add the ravioli to the pot.  When they float, remove them using a slotted spoon to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Reserve the pasta water.

3. In a small saute pan, melt the butter.  When butter is sizzling and starts to brown, tear sage leaves into the pan and fry for about 20 seconds.  Stir in a ladle of pasta water.  Stir in nutmeg and parmesan cheese.  Pour sauce over the ravioli and sprinkle with hazelnuts and grated amaretti.

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Turkey or Chicken Primavera

I made a turkey a few weeks ago.  I like to shred the leftovers into 10 oz. portions (about 2 cups) and keep them in the freezer.  Then they are ready for a quick dinner if needed.  This of course could be done with chicken as well.
This is kinda my clean out the refrigerator meal.  I like to throw in as many veggies as possible!  You can custom make this with whatever veggies you like.  I sometimes will add garlic to the sauce as well as I like it garlicky!
Turkey Primavera

1/2 box Rotini or Penne pasta, Barilla Plus (7 ounces)

10 ounces turkey or chicken, diced or shredded
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini squash, cut into circles
1 medium yellow squash, cut into circles
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 head broccoli, cut into florets (1/2 lb)
2 carrot sticks, peeled and chopped
3 small tomatoes, seeded and diced (plum tomatoes)
2 garlic cloves, crushed

For White Sauce:
3 tablespoons I can’t believe it’s not butter, light
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, 1 %
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper and garlic powder

  1. In medium saucepan, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add to large serving bowl. 
  2. If chicken or turkey is not cooked, place in large skillet, saute diced chicken in olive oil and salt and pepper for 6-8 minutes, stirring often. Once chicken has cooked through, transfer to plate, cool and dice.
  3. Add onion and red pepper to a skillet and saute in cooking spray for about 4 – 5 minues. 
  4. Add zucchini and broccoli to skillet and steam/saute for 3-4 minutes with 1/4 cup of water. Add the tomatoes during the last minute. 
  5. Make white sauce in small sauce pan. Add all the ingredients and stir continually until thickened. Do not boil.
  6. Toss pasta, cooked chicken or turkey, sauteed veggies with parmesan sauce. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  I like lots of garlic powder!
Total calories = 2050
5 huge servings = 410 calories
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CHICKEN STROGANOFF ~ CLASSIC GOOD EATS

CHICKEN STROGANOFF
2-3 slices bacon, diced
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3+ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon flour
egg noodles

  • In a large skillet brown bacon.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  • Add onions and garlic, saute for a few minutes.
  • Add Chicken pieces.
  • Saute’ 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add spices and blend well.
  • Add chicken broth and bring JUST to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes JUST until liquid is absorbed.  Boil your noodles at this point.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream and flour.
  • Add sour cream mixture to chicken mixture along with the bacon pieces. Blend well and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until heated through.  Sauce will become creamier and thicken at this time.
  • Serve over hot noodles.
To make this meal quicker for a weeknight you can use rotisserie chicken and save time.
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LIGHT Fettucine Alfredo ~ Healthy Meals

I love Alfredo sauce!

Alfredo sauce loves my belly and hips!

So… I found a recipe for Alfredo Light at Allrecipes.com.

It wasn’t quite as tasty as traditional Alfredo sauce, but it soothed my taste buds and was much healthier for me.

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups skim milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces dry fettuccine pasta
1 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden brown.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir together milk, chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper over low heat until smooth and thick. Stir into onion mixture. Continue to cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water. Add broccoli to the pasta for the last several minutes of cooking. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta and vegetables, and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with sauce.  I grilled some chicken to eat with it, and my family enjoyed it.
Prep. time – 20 minutes. Cook time – 20 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.
Each serving has 270 calories, 2.7 grams of fat, and 1 gram of cholesterol.
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