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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Here is another dish that I made up on my own which is simple enough to make during the work week. Fresh zucchini is available all year but local zucchini can be found later in the summer in northern regions.

The quantities in this recipe are flexible depending on the size of the zucchini and how much spaghetti you like in a serving. For me, the recipe below makes two generous servings.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick and prep may be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.IMG_0353

Oregano Chicken and Zucchini Tossed with Spaghetti – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine
  • 2 small or one large zucchini sliced into ¼ – 3/8 inch circles or semicircles (for a large piece)
  • 1 pound (or less) boneless skinless chicken breast roughly cut into ½” dice
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed or minced
  • Dried oregano (plenty – 2+ tablespoons?)
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to taste (I like a lot on this dish)

Cook:

  • Set a pot of water on the stove to come to a boil.
  • In the mean time, rinse and dry zucchini and trim off the ends. Slice up and set aside (use a plate or bowl to hold zucchini now and the cooked zucchini later).
  • Dice up the chicken breast and season with salt.
  • Peel two cloves of garlic. (mince if not using a garlic press)
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.
  • Press one garlic clove into pan and mix around with the oil.
  • Toss zucchini into the oil so all pieces are coated then try to arrange in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle zucchini with a generous amount of oregano. (see photo)IMG_0352
  • Put pasta in the water. Set timer.
  • After a 2-3 minutes turn zucchini over.
  • After 2 more minutes remove zucchini from the pan.
  • Put another tablespoon of oil into the pan.
  • Press in the 2nd garlic clove into the pan.
  • Add chicken to the pan and mix around so pieces are evenly spread.
  • Sprinkle chicken with a generous amount of oregano.
  • After a couple of minutes stir around the chicken. Continue to let chicken cook and occasionally stir the chicken around until it begins to caramelize. Stir in the zucchini; lower heat to low. At this point, the pasta should have two minutes or less remaining. (Raise heat on chicken if you need to speed the caramelization up.)
  • Drain the pasta. Pour a little olive oil into the pasta and mix it around.
  • Add to frying pan and toss everything together. Turn off heat.
  • Serve
  • Top with a generous amount of grated parmesan.

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Here is a dish that I made up on my own. Whenever I make chicken soup, depending on how generous a bunch of dill I buy, there is usually a decent quantity that does not make it into pot. Hating to waste a fresh herb, I have made up some dishes to use the dill in.IMG_0327 cropped

In looking at the ingredients in the list below, you will notice that the measurements are imprecise. How much you use depends on how many people you are serving and how much spaghetti you consider to be a normal portion size. This dish as described will serve two to three people. Personally, I use 1/3 pound of raw shrimp per person and 2.5 ounces of dry spaghetti per person. If I am serving more than 3 people, I up the other quantities as well but you should avoid that until you are comfortable making this dish.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick so I like to prep all the ingredients in advance. Some of the prep can be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.

Shrimp with Feta and Dill over Spaghetti – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 7.5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine (do not use whole wheat pasta)
  • 2/3 – 1 pound raw shrimp (whatever size you are comfortable with but not too large)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • Juice from 1.5 – 2 lemons (depends on how juicy they are)IMG_0281
  • 3 or more cloves garlic minced (not pressed)
  • ½ cup or more chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup or more crumbled feta

Cook:

  • Peel and devein shrimp; remove tails.
  • Remove dill from stems, chop up and set aside.
  • Begin to heat the pot of water for the spaghetti.
  • Mince garlic, set aside.
  • Strain the can of tomatoes and set aside to drain.
  • Juice the lemons.
  • If your pasta takes 8 minutes to cook, as the spaghetti water nears a boil, preheat olive oil in a 10 – 12 inch pan, preferably non-stick, using medium high heat. If the pasta takes 11 minutes to cook, wait until the spaghetti is in pot before preheating the skillet. You also must know your pan and your stove. If your pan heats up quickly, allow less time for this step. You do not want to burn the oil.
  • When the water boils, add the pasta and set your timer .
  • Place the shrimp evenly in the pan. Cook on one side for about 1.5 – 2 minutes depending on size. Turn and cook for another minute.
  • Add lemon juice, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir.
  • Check the pasta timer. Depending on the amount of time left, adjust heat on the shrimp pan. You want the contents of the pan to come to a simmer by the time there is one minute left on the timer. I recommend leaving the heat as is and then once you see the sauce beginning to simmer, then you can lower the heat.
  • When the timer gets below on minute left stir in the dill.
  • Drain the spaghetti when it is ready. Distribute to plates or place in a large pasta bowl if serving family style.
  • Add feta to pan. Stir. Turn off heat and spoon shrimp and sauce over the pasta.

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Everyone has their 4th of July traditions.  Once I left home and was on my own, I created my own traditions and this macaroni salad is one of them.  My grandmother was given this recipe by her neighbor in Valley Stream, NY, Elaine Cohen.  If any recipe shows the power and importance of sharing it might be this one as it became a family staple over the decades.  I grew up this recipe whenever my father would make it as his mother made it for him growing up.  It was always so special – I loved it.  So as an adult I decided that every 4th I would make this salad.  Whether I bring it to a cookout or eat it all on my own varies year to year.

Now to be honest, if I saw this recipe in a cookbook I might overlook it as it is quite retro.  But don’t be turned off by the olives and pimentos.  This salad has all of the right flavors to compliment hot dogs, hamburgers, anything you can throw on a grill on a summer day.  It also holds well on its own as a lunch entrée.  The one quirk of this salad is that its best to make it the day before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors to come together.

 

Macaroni Salad with Olives and Pimentos– 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (half a standard box)
  • 1 15 oz can of small black pitted olives
  • 1 15 oz can of green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • 1 small jar of pimentos
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Prep:

  1. Drain the cans of olives.  Chop the olives in half across the equator to create two short halves – one half with the top of the olive with the hole and then the bottom (not long, even halves).  Set aside.
  2. Drain the pimentos from the liquid.  Chop the pimentos into a fine dice, and set aside.
  3. Wash the carrots and grate them.  Set them aside.
  4. Wash the green pepper.  Cut out the core and discard all of the seeds.  Cut the green pepper into thin slices and then cut those slices into a small dice.  Set aside.
  5. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small bowl, removing any seeds.

Cook:

  1. Place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine the black and green olives, pimentos, carrots and green peppers.
  3. When the pasta finishes cooking, strain and run under cold water until the past feels lukewarm.  Be sure the remove any access water.
  4. Add the pasta to the bowl and stir so that all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Add the lemon juice to the pasta mixture and stir well.
  6. Add the mayonnaise to the pasta mixture and stir until it is evenly incorporated.  If you prefer more mayo in your salad, feel free to add a little more.
  7. Sprinkle the garlic powder evenly over the bowl and stir well.
  8. Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill, but preferably allow it to sit for a day.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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The other week I was responsible for bringing a pasta salad to a picnic outing.  The problem was I knew I wasn’t going to have much time to dedicate to getting groceries or cooking, so I wanted to make something relatively easy that I already had most of the ingredients for.  I then found this salad and knew I was set.  All I had to pick up was tomatoes and basil.

Make sure when preparing this salad that it has time to cool down before serving.  It is supposed to be served at room temperature, however I think it could also work cold.  But definitely be sure to give time for the dressing to soak in and for all the flavors to blend together.

 

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas – 1 Knife (Adapted from Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Orzo (about 1½ cups)
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1 pint container of grape tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 3-5 mint leaves
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

Prep:

  1. In a medium to large pot bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat.   While the broth heats up you can prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Wash the grape tomatoes.  Cut all of the tomatoes in half and set them aside.
  3. Peel the red onion and chop up the whole onion into a small dice.  Set aside with the tomatoes.
  4. Open the can of chickpeas, drain the liquid and set aside.
  5. Wash and dry the basil and mint leaves.  Cut the leaves into thin strips but cutting down the length of the leaves.  Then cut the strips into a small dice.  Set the basil and mint aside.
  6. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a small bowl.  Be sure to remove any seeds that fall into the bowl.
  7. Add to the lemon juice the vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Stir well until combined.

Cook:

  1. Once the chicken broth is boiling cook the orzo according to the directions on the package.
  2. While the orzo cooks combine in a large bowl the chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, basil and mint.  Stir to mix.
  3. Once the orzo has cooked strain it from the chicken broth, discarding leftover broth.
  4. Add the orzo to the bowl with the chickpeas and other ingredients.
  5. Immediately pour the dressing from the small bowl over the orzo.
  6. Stir the salad until all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  7. Allow it to chill in the fridge until the salad is at least room temperature, serve and enjoy!

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One of my favorite parts of Ben’s potluck dinners is trying other people’s food.  People bring family recipes or experiment wildly much as I do.  One of my favorites is my friend Becca’s macaroni and cheese.  Now I understand that the recipe came from a friend of hers, however since in my world its only ever been made by Becca, it gets named for Becca.

This mac is rich.  Becca doesn’t scrimp on the cheese, and she adds asparagus for fantastic flavor (and nutrients).  I realize that the cheeses involved can be a bit indulgent, however I recommend sticking with them as the flavor is out-of-this-world amazing.

I have cooked on this blog with a roux before, but I wanted to do a quick refresher.  A roux is a mixture of flour and fat, in this case butter, that is used as the base for a sauce.  The trick with roux is to constantly stir it with a whisk or fork while it is forming, otherwise it can stick to the bottom of the pan.  But don’t feel intimidated by this!  No matter what happens this recipe with all of that delicious cheese will still taste fantastic.

 

Becca’s Macaroni and Cheese with Asparagus – 2 Knives

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz box of shell or spiral pasta
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup shredded jarslberg cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

Prep:

  1. Wash the asparagus and chop off the rough ends (about 2 inches from the bottom).
  2. Chop the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the asparagus and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the asparagus are tender.
  4. Once cooked strain the asparagus and set aside.
  5. While the asparagus is boiling shred the jarlsberg, gruyere and cheddar cheese.  When shredding the cheddar set 1/3 cup aside.
  6. Mix the cheeses together in a bowl and set aside, you should have 2 cups of cheese plus the additional 1/3 of cheddar.
  7. Pour the 2 cups of milk into a measuring cup and set aside.  You’ll want to be able to grab this quickly when working with the roux.

Cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.
  3. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, in a large sauté pan (one with sides at least 2 inches high), melt the butter over medium (more low than hot) heat.
  4. Once the butter is melted add the flour.  Stir the flour and butter to mix well and then continue stirring as the mixture bubbles.  Make sure to constantly move around the roux and not let it stick or cook onto the pan.
  5. Once the roux begins to brown , remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk to the pan.  Place the pan back on the heat and stir to mix the milk and the roux.
  6. Add to the mixture the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  7. Add to the milk mixture your 2 cups of shredded cheese.  Stir the mixture well so that the cheese is fully melted into the milk to create a thick, silky sauce.
  8. Once the pasta has finished cooking, strain it in a colander and then return to the pot, but not on a hot burner.
  9. Stir the asparagus into the pasta and mix.
  10. Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and stir so that the pasta is all evenly coated.
  11. Transfer the pasta into a 13×9 inch baking pan.  Cover the pasta evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheddar cheese.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, and enjoy!

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I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I love to cook up big batches of something to eat throughout the week.  Of course at some point I start to get sick of what I cook, but I try to make dishes I can happily eat for a while.  I liked making this pasta salad since it had fish (very good for you) and had a light citrusy zing.

There is one weird thing about this recipe… its based off a recipe I found on the Atkin’s website.  Now not to judge Atkin’s, or the fine folks who are on that diet, but how on earth does a pasta salad fit under that Atkin’s diet no-carb philosophy?  Just curious is all…

Now a quick tuna note.  The original recipe calls for tuna packed in oil.  I don’t buy that stuff. I like to use “Solid White Albacore in Water.”   I feel like canned tuna can be a polarizing food, and I fall strongly into the “Solid White Albacore in Water” camp.  If you fall into the packed in oil camp, go with what you like.  Besides, it’s you eating this recipe now, not me.

Pasta Salad with Tuna, Capers and Lemon – 1 Knife (Adapted from Atkin’s)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz dry bowtie pasta (measured to about 4 cups dry)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12 oz can of tuna
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 3.5 oz jar capers
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Prep:

  1. Put a large pot of water over high heat.  Once the water is boiling cook the pasta according to the directions.
  2. Once the pasta is cooked and strained in a colander run cold water over the pasta to stop it from cooking.
  3. Cut the red onion into a small dice and set aside.
  4. Open the can of tuna and strain out the water or oil and set aside the tuna.
  5. Squeeze two tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl and remove the seeds, set aside.  Do this step after step 6.  WordPress had some formatting issues and so I had to put this step first to keep things looking pretty-ish.
  6. To make the lemon zest simply rub the skin of a lemon on a plane grater and set aside.  If you do not have a grater/zester, do the following alternative:

1)      Using a paring knife carefully slice some of the yellow lemon rind off of the lemon to get about a 1 inch patch of rind.

2)      On a cutting board cut the rind into long, very thin strips, about 1-2 millimeters wide.

3)      Then cut those strips into tiny pieces by cutting down the length of the strips.

Cook:

  1. In a large bowl combine the pasta and olive oil and toss to coat.
  2. Add to the bowl the tuna, onions, the capers and their juices, the lemon juice and the lemon rind.
  3. Stir the salad until it is well mixed.
  4. Sprinkle the salt and pepper into the salad and stir again to mix, serve and enjoy!

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