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Archive for Pasta

::too easy:: Pasta with Spinach + Beans

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There might not be anything better right now than a meal that is fast, cheap, and delicious. I would say healthy for the most part, but I decided to modify the original version of this dish and used butter instead of olive oil.

Moving to the far, far away suburbs means a much longer commute for PTB. It also means that instead of walking home from the train, I am going to pick him up. This has probably hurt our dinners more than I want to admit. Our longer dinners mean we have sometimes pushed eating to past 10pm. That just isn’t going to work. Especially when I am falling asleep by 10:30…

What You Need
Step One
6 oz fusilli pasta
Step Two
8 cups coarsely chopped spinach (approx 4-5oz)
3 Tbsp butter
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup Asiago cheese (approx 2oz)
15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (any white beans will do, I used Navy Beans)
salt
Step Three
Fresh Ground  Pepper

Really, this recipe could not be any easier. While your pasta is cooking, get together the rest of your ingredients. I tossed them all into one big bowl to have ready.

Since my bowl wasn’t quite big enough, once the pasta is cooked and drained, combine with all step two ingredients in the pot. The leftover heat from the pan will help melt the butter and wilt the spinach as well.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper.

Serves: 4   Cost: >$2/serving

::summer love:: Red Pepper Pesto for Two

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You would think in the Summertime when it is super hot out, the last thing someone would want to be doing is working in the kitchen. I don’t quite get this though.  Summer is one of the best times to be in the kitchen. Think of all the fresh produce! You have to have that oven up pretty high to bake fresh fruit pies!

It’s odd though, I do understand it when it comes to dinner.  I am willing to spend hours in the kitchen for a fresh baked pie.  Slaving away in the heat, sun shining in.  It makes that summer night so much better!  Oh!  Speaking of pies!  Cherries are a one day deal today at Whole Foods for Cherryfest!  $1.99/lb!! I am on my way there right after this is finished!  Yummm!  So yes, I will let my oven sit on for an hour to have a perfect cherry pie…. but dinner time… that’s a different story.  For some reason, by dinner time, the kitchen is the last place I want to be.  This may explain my recent Summer slump.  I need a grill slash a place to live where we can have a grill. Oh! And a nice place to eat dinner outside while we’re at it. 🙂

This meal is perfect for those nights. It only takes as long as the pasta takes to boil, and the rest of the time you are pulling ingredients out of the fridge. Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two.

What You Need
Step One
1/2lb pasta (I like using a pasta that will hold the sauce)
Step Two
3 cloves of toasted garlic, minced
2-3 large jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (stems discarded)

This is going to go really fast.  Pay attention.  Start the pasta in salted water.  Blend all step two ingredients in a small food processor until smooth.

Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Stir sauce into pasta, using cooking water to adjust consistency.

Yup.  You are already done.  Homemade sauce, in less time than the pasta took.

::quick dish:: Light Alfredo

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There are so many things I could list about why I love working at home.  So many.  One of the big ones though is having total control over my daily meals.  When I was working at the mall, lunch was convenient.  Quite expensive, but convenient.  I ate greasy food almost daily.  Blech.  Then I completely switched environments and worked in an office.  One with a “kitchen” that consisted of a microwave, toaster oven, and a sink.  I’m not crazy about microwaving food.  And I think a toaster oven meal requires a bit of planning.  Something I am not the best at.  Especially when getting up at 6am to get going in the morning.  So, once again, I didn’t have the best eating habits.  When we would have leftovers, I would try to remember to take them, but there were countless mornings I would get halfway through my hour+ commute and realize my poor little lunch was sitting all alone on the counter at home.

Now I am home.  Everyday I have complete control over my food.  It is great!  To resist the temptation, I haven’t bought any Kraft Mac & Cheese yet.  I might eat it everyday otherwise.  Guilty. Pleasure.  I do like to default to pasta dishes though.  They are easy to scale for one, I can use one pot, and there is an endless variety.  This week I have been playing with adding different things to a light alfredo sauce.  Nice and simple and cheesy.  Yum.

What I Used
Step One

~1/4 lb whole wheat linguini pasta
1 tsp salt
Step Two
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp heavy cream
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan
2 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
a bit of fresh chopped basil

In salted water, boil pasta according to package directions.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of your cooking water.  Return pasta to pan and over low heat, toss with step two ingredients.   Use reserve cooking water to adjust sauce consistency.  Enjoy  🙂

::summer love:: Garden Pasta

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After a quick glance at my fridge contents, I started coming up with my plan for dinner.  Since it had been a bad day for PTB, I decided to change my original planned meal to something including pasta.  What can I say?  I definitely found my match.  Noodles fix everything.

Unfortunately, the contents of my fridge did not include a couple zucchini as thought.  It included cucumbers!  Oops.  So, I made dinner work with what I had.  The moral of this story is – this sauce is beyond versatile.  Just include whatever vegetables you want.  It’s a good thing I did not go with my original plan since that definitely relied on zucchini.  Oops.

What I Used
Step One

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive Oil
Step Two
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or grated
small-medium onion, sliced thin
red bell pepper, 1/4″ pieces
Step Three
3 oz tomato paste
5 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Step Four
1 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Step Five
1/2 lb curly pasta such as fusilli
fresh chopped basil
grated parmesan

**Since the sauce takes about 30 minutes total, I started my pasta once the tomatoes were done in step one.  Since the sauce will go straight from the pan to the paste, it is ok if the noodles are done a bit before your sauce.

In a 10″ skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add tomatoes and cook until wilted (~5 min.).  Remove from pan, add a bit more oil and add all step two vegetables.  Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook until they begin to soften.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.

Add tomato paste, and mix in, allowing to cook until it begins to brown.  Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook for another minute.  Lastly, add broth to pan and allow to thicken.  Along with set-aside tomatoes mix about half the sauce into the pasta and top with basil and parmesan.

We had this pasta with some parmesan crusted chicken breasts and topped the pasta and chicken with some of the extra sauce.  It was amazing 🙂  If you want just a vegetarian meal, you could easily just split the pasta between two for a hearty dish.

Serves: 4 (as a side)  Cost: $2/serving

::savory supper:: Caramelized Onions & Red Peppers on Pasta

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This was so yummy!  So yummy, but by the time I loaded the images on the computer, I completely forgot what recipe I followed to make it.  I was super excited when I was paging through my Cooking for Two and realized what it was.  If you haven’t caught on yet, we love pasta, and mostly stick with chicken as our meat.  Sorry to the readers who wished we went outside this, but at least we change up how we eat those staples 🙂

This dish was no different.  An easy weeknight pasta dish without having the same old red sauce. To make it go even quicker, I highly recommend having all your ingredients ready to go before starting to cook.

What Your Need
Step One

4 Tbsp Butter (divided)
1 chicken breast, sliced thin
Step Two
large onion, sliced thin
1/8 tsp salt
red bell pepper, 1/4″ strips
Step Three
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp flour
1/8 tsp pepper flakes
Step Four
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Step Five
1/2 lb rigatoni (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup grated asiago

*tip* to easily slice the chicken nice and thin, I cut it while it is only about half defrosted.

Ok!  Time to get started!  In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of butter over high heat until it begins to brown.  Add the chicken and cook until it is almost cooked through.  Set aside, covered, and melt another Tbsp of butter, reducing the heat to medium.

Once the butter is melted, add the onion and salt to the pan and cook until softened and well browned.  You can mix them occasionally, but keep in mind the key to caramelizing onions is patience 🙂  It will probably take about ten minutes.  Once they are on the verge of perfection, add the pepper to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes or so, perfecting the caramelly goodness of the onions and softening the peppers just a bit.  Transfer to the same bowl as the chicken.

Add another Tbsp of butter to the pan.  Once melted, add all of your step three ingredients.  Allow them to cook for about 30 seconds and then add the broth and wine.  Start your water for the pasta around now too! The broth and wine need to cook down until about 2/3 of a cup, cover and simmer once this is done.  When the pasta water it boiling, add the pasta, as well as a Tbsp of butter, and a Tbsp of salt to the water.

Once the pasta is done, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Add the chicken/veggie mixture back to the sauce with the last Tbsp of butter and the cheese (I had a bit set aside for the top).  Continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Toss with the pasta, using the some reserved cooking water to adjust consistency and help the sauce bind with the pasta.  If you set some cheese aside, sprinkle it on top.  It would have been great to sprinkle some shredded basil on top of this as well, but I had none 🙁

Serves: 2  Cost: $2.50/serving