Tag Archives: pasta

Asparagus & Bacon Pasta

18 Aug

This is an easily modified pasta recipe. It doesn’t use sauce, and the asparagus can be substituted for broccoli or another vegetable you have on hand.

1 lb uncooked pasta
1/4 to 1/2 lb bacon, diced (can substitute Italian sausage, pancetta or leave out meat altogether)
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 chicken broth or dry white wine
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. (Save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water when draining.)
  2. Meanwhile, add bacon to a medium saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add asparagus and onions to the pan and saute in the bacon grease for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked. Mix in garlic, red pepper, and salt and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon, and set aside with the bacon.
  3. Slowly add the chicken broth or white wine to the pan, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to deglaze. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half.
  4.  Add the pasta, asparagus, onions, bacon, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (if using) to the saute pan, and toss until combined. Gently mix in tomatoes and lemon juice and heat thoroughly. (If the pasta seems too dry, add in some of the pasta water until it reaches desired thickness.) Sprinkle pasta with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven


Macaroni & Cheese

20 Aug

4 cups Dried Macaroni (about 1 lb)
1 whole Egg, Beaten
4 Tablespoons (½ a stick)  Butter
¼ cups All-purpose Flour
3 cups Milk
1-2 teaspoons Dry Mustard
1 pound Cheese, Grated
½ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass baking dish (9×13 works well) and set aside.
  2. Following directions on package, cook macaroni until right before done. Be careful not to overcook macaroni — it should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
  3. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly (be careful not to let it burn). Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
  4. In a small bowl beat egg. Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth. Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
  5. Add cheese to milk and flour mixture, and stir to melt. Mix in salt and pepper. Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
  6. Pour noodles and cheese mixture into baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Makes 6-8 servings.

Variations & Notes:

  • The mustard flavor seemed too strong for my taste — may use closer to 1 tsp next time.
  • Saute an onion in butter before adding flour.
  • Original recipe calls for whole milk, if using nonfat, try adding extra butter.
  • Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman


Pasta Primavera

30 Aug

Pasta Primavera

This is one of those throw everything in a pot, clean out the fridge kind of meals. During the summer, it’s a great way to use up the garden fresh tomatoes and zucchini that your friends keep giving you tons of.

This pasta works with a range of vegetables and it’s pretty simple (cook vegetables, cook pasta, and then mix it all together with some sauce). That being said, the info below is not much of an exact recipe, but a general guideline of how to throw everything together.

Pasta Primavera

Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, cook about 1/2 pound Italian sausage (if using). Break into small pieces and cook until fully browned. Transfer to a small bowl when cooked.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the remaining grease and cook 1 tsp minced garlic for about 1 minute on medium heat,  Add about 6 cups of mixed vegetables to the pan.  Some good options for vegetables include:

  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Carrots, sliced in strips
  • Bell pepper (of any color), cut in thin strips
  • Eggplant, sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced

Cook vegetables for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just cooked. Add about 1 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water to the vegetables and bring mixture to a low simmer. Season sauce with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Add sausage.

While vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook 1 lb penne or rotini pasta. Cook according to directions on package.

Add sauce and vegetable mixture to cooked pasta and mix thoroughly.  Gently mix in 1-2 pints halved cherry tomatoes and some halved Kalamata olives, Add more sauce and adjust seasonings if needed. Feel free to serve pasta with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil, if you like.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Italian Meatballs

30 Jul


I’ve been a little obsessed with reading cookbooks and food magazines lately. I came a cross a cookbook/memoir called Dinner: A Love Story, in which the author Jenny Rosenstrach tells the story of how she and her husband built and sustained a family dinner routine in the midst of busy schedules. Interspersed throughout the book are various recipes that have been a hit in her home. Although the book focuses on how to create valuable family time at the dinner table, it more broadly provides tips and ideas for any busy person who is trying to find easy, hearty homemade meals that can be prepared fairly quickly in the middle of a busy week. It’s a great book.

I was intrigued by this recipe in the book because it seemed simple and used ingredients that I usually have on hand. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to make this, but I think that once you get the hang of it, it would go much faster.  Overall, I liked the recipe, but thought it could use two things: more sauce and more flavor in the meat. My recipe below, has some changes to accommodate my tastes, but fairly closely follows that original.

Italian Meatballs

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Red pepper flakes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
Small handful fresh thyme or basil, chopped

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil until shimmering and saute onion and garlic and a few red pepper flakes over medium low heat until onions are soft.
  2. Add tomato paste and sugar and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add about 1 cup of water and stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour in tomatoes, oregano, fennel, and thyme or basil, and stir. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low . Let sauce cook uncovered until thickened while making the meatballs, 15 to 30 minutes. Add more water if sauce gets too thick.

For the meatballs:
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (if using regular bread crumbs add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning or oreagano and some salt)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for frying

  1. In a large bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, fennel, salt, and pepper. Mix together with your hands until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Roll meat into balls (about the size of golf balls) and set aside on a plate.
  2. Add some olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium high. Begin browning meatballs, in batches, turning frequently. Remove when browned on all sides and place in pot with sauce. When all the meatballs are browned and added to the sauce, cover and continue cooking over low heat for at least 30 minutes. Serve over pasta, and topped with extra Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

Beef Stroganoff

11 Jul

Beef Stroganoff

This is a great way to use up leftover steak. Serve it over egg noodles with some fresh bread (I made Brown Butter Whole Wheat Soda Bread.)

Beef Stroganoff

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 pound cooked steak, cut thin into 1/2 inch wide by 1-inch long strips or ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 package (12 ounces) egg noodles


  1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil and add noodles. Cook noodles for 8-9 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet; saute onions until soft. Add sliced mushrooms to skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.  Place steak (or cooked ground beef) in skillet and  season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and tarragon and cook for a few minutes. Add beef broth; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.
  3. Add flour and cook sauce until slightly thickened (it should resemble a gravy). Mix in the sour cream and continue cooking until sauce is hot. Do not let it come to a simmer or boil or the sour cream will curdle. Stir in the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over cooked egg noodles.