Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Snow Day Lasagna Soup

December 9, 2018

It’s been too long!  I’ve done some cooking, some traveling, some eating out in the meantime.  But today is a snow day, which means kitchen time and binge-watching tv.  And, of course, taking video of the puppy’s first snow.  I love days like this!

An ad for something called “Instant Pot Lasagna Soup” came across my news feed last week.  I don’t have an Instant Pot.  I feel no need for one.  There was a link to a slow cooker version.  Getting closer.  But on a snow day, I don’t need a hands off solution.  I’m here.  I have time to stir.  And in this case, that’s the only difference between the slow cooker version and the stove top soup pot version.  The stirring.

How do you make a soup version of lasagna?  Basically, you make the goopy filling you’d make for a regular lasagna and add a bunch of liquid to it.  Soup.  The great thing about it is that the filling part can be anything you want. I used a combination of sausage, beef, and turkey in this one.  If you’d usually make a vegetarian lasagna, by all means, do that. Sub in veggie crumbles instead of the meat. This would be great with zucchini and mushrooms.  And what’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to fall apart when you cut it.  It’s supposed to be soupy!

Now, let’s talk noodles.  Lots of options here too.  What kind of noodles?  I decided to use lasagna noodles broken into pieces.  You could use rotini or radiatore or baby shells, whatever.  You can cook them in the soup.  You can cook them ahead of time and add them to the pot.  You can cook them and portion them into individual bowls.  What you need to consider is your leftovers plan.  If you’re sure you won’t have leftovers, cook the noodles in the soup.  They’ll take on the flavor of the soup.  If you’re mostly sure you won’t have leftovers, but then again maybe, cook the noodles separately and add them to the pot. They’ll take on some of the soup liquid.  Beware that the noodles in the leftovers might be a little mushy.  If you’ve planned for leftovers, cook the noodles separately and put them in individual bowls.  You can either cook all the noodles you’ll need and just store them separately or you can cook fresh ones each time you have leftovers.

This stuff looks, tastes, and smells amazing.  Coming in from playing in the snow to this aroma is a gift.  Truly.  But I noticed that I didn’t have any vegetables.  And since I’m still not convinced that lettuce won’t jump up and kill me at any moment (Google romaine and e coli if you want more info on that), I decided to add some kale to the pot.  I got some end of season lacinato kale at the farmers’ market yesterday so I chopped and added most of the bunch to the pot.  If you’re going to add a hardy green to the pot, just make sure the soup is at a solid simmer.  You want the greens to cook, not just wilt.  If you’re using a softer leaf like spinach, a wilt will do just fine.

Hey now, you’re saying, the best part of a lasagna is the cheesy goodness!  Worry not.  You have a lot of options in the cheese department too.  You can add a dollop of ricotta to the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the soup in.  You can (and should) top each bowl with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Or both!  In this case I used SausageCraft Della Nonna sausage, which has some cheese mixed right into the sausage.  Yummmm.  If you want to make it extra special, use oven safe crocks so you can brown the mozzarella in the broiler before serving!

If you don’t have a lasagna recipe that you’re already using, feel free to follow this one.  This will make 4-6 servings.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb each, italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 oz) or pint jar peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 C dry red wine (save the rest for dinner!)
  • 1-2 t dried oregano
  • 1-2 t dried basil
  • 2-3 C stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium pot, cook the pasta; set aside

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  • In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it shimmers
  • Add the onion and garlic
  • Cook until the onion is soft
  • Add the meat; cook until it’s browned

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  • Stir in the tomato paste

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  • Stir in the tomatoes, wine and spices

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At this point what you’ve got is lasagna filling.

  • Add the stock

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Now it’s soup!

  • Bring to a simmer
  • Cover the pot and cook 30-60 minutes
  • Increase the heat to achieve a low boil
  • Add the kale

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  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Add pasta to each bowl; ladle soup over the noodles
  • Add some mozzarella and parmesan

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How was it?

First, it’s exactly as advertised.  It’s lasagna in a bowl!  Nothing to complain about there.  I really like the broken lasagna noodles. My advice – leave the pieces big enough that you really notice them.  It’s much more like lasagna that way.  And as delightful as the mozzarella is, it sticks to the spoon as much as anything.  I don’t like having to scrape it off with my teeth. I might try the leftovers with just the parmesan.  Or maybe cubes of fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re going to add a kale or chard, add some extra stock or water as well. The greens soak up a lot of liquid and you still want it to be like soup.  I really liked the kale addition though.  I’d definitely do that again.

I’m super happy with my meat choices.  The beef and turkey were very lean and the sausage added just enough fat to add amazing flavor and a silky texture to the broth.  So, not a lot of fat and I didn’t miss it.  But I think I’d be happy with a vegetarian version too.

All in all, the perfect snow day dinner!  All the food groups; warm and comfort-y;  and only a bowl to wash.  I might even have some in the morning after the snow shoveling!

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Hello Fresh “Orzotto”

November 16, 2018

This is meal 2 out of my gifted box – orzotto.  Risotto made with orzo instead of arborio rice.  Clever.

Honestly this is one of the more complicated recipes I’ve made from a Hello Fresh box.  It’s not too difficult, just a lot of cook, remove from pot, set aside.  Requires the stove top and the oven.  And they miss a little on the instructions.  Once you add the liquid (chicken stock concentrate, water and crushed tomatoes) to the orzo it says to bring it to a boil and stir occasionally.  It’s a pretty thick liquid and there’s not a ton of it.  The orzo starts to stick to the bottom of the pot pretty quickly.  I had to stir constantly and vigorously to keep it from sticking.  I also had to add about 1/2 C extra water to get the orzo to cook all the way to al dente.

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The topping is slightly strange.  Shredded mozzarella and panko.  You spread it over the top and put it under the boiler.  Because it’s bread crumbs and a fat you end up with a crust.  Lovely on casseroles, but odd on something that’s supposed to be risotto-esque.  I’d leave that off.  Maybe sprinkle the cheese on top of eat serving.  Leave the panko for another day.

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One more thing.  This is WAY more than 2 servings, as the pasta dishes often are.  To give you a sense, this is a 3 1/2 Q dutch oven.  It’s filled about 1/3 of the way, so nearly a quart of this stuff.  I’m not a small girl and portion control is one of my issues, still, I can’t imagine what Hello Fresh thinks is four servings of this!

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Overall, it’s a good dish. The italian seasoning is a little strong.  It calls for added butter  you don’t need.  What is up with these people and their extra butter?  The chicken sausage is very flavorful, which is good because grated zucchini has no taste at all.  The tomatoes have no salt.  The chicken stock must be low in salt.  Taste before you top and stir some salt in to taste.

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese

November 2, 2018

If you’re interested in authentic Italian cooking in an American kitchen look no further than Marcella Hazan.  I got the recipe from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cookbook, which I highly recommend.  The New York Times has kindly reprinted it here as it was the favorite Hazan recipe as named by NYT readers.

The first time I made this I didn’t exactly know what a proper bolognese was.  When you order a bolognese in a lot of US Italian restaurants, all they mean is a regular red sauce that has meat in it.  So, I was surprised when this came out much drier and not especially red.  But boy is it good.  And it should be.  It takes 4 hours to get this done, nose to tail.  It’s pretty active for the first hour and slightly less so for the next 3.  Definitely not a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of sauce.

If you’ve read this blog much, you’ve definitely heard me say that if the recipe is simple, the ingredients have to be the best you can find and afford.  That’s definitely true here.  I’m using Greenway Beef,  (see here to find out how I feel about that) and Homestead Creamery milk, and home canned Dodd’s Acres Farm tomatoes.

Let me pause here to note that of the three local farm providers listed above, two of them don’t exist anymore.  Farming is a hard life, especially in a country that chooses convenience over community.  If you’re lucky enough to have farms of one kind or another near you, and most of us are, please support them, directly and via farmers’ markets and via grocery stores that are smart enough to carry local items.  Mostly they treat their animals with respect and their workers and customers with kindness.  That’s something worth supporting.

Of course you should use a wine you’re delighted to drink.  You only need a cup for the recipe and you’ve got 3 hours before dinner, so enjoy!

The great thing about this recipe is that it really is easy.  If you can chop an onion, carrot and celery stalk and use a measuring cup, you’re pretty much there.  Just remember to pay attention to it.  If you don’t, all the liquid will simmer out and the rest will burn.  Set a timer if you’re planning to play piano or cycle laundry or throw the ball for the dog while you’re waiting for this to simmer. In the last 3 hours I stir about every 15 minutes.  If your stove doesn’t simmer quite as low as the recipe recommends, definitely check it more frequently.

Here’s what it looks like after the first hour of low simmering.  You can see that I’m going to have to add some water over the next two hours to keep it from turning to charcoal.  That’s as it should be.  Add 1/2 C at a time just to keep it from burning.  Just remember that all of the water has to cook out at the end.

TIP:  When I add water I turn the heat up and bring the sauce back to a simmer quickly and then turn it back to low.

Here’s what you need: see, not a lot

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  • tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  •  cup chopped celery
  •  cup chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
  •  Salt
  •  Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup whole milk
  •  Whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

Here’s what you do: it’s easy, it just takes a long time

  • Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  • Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.
  • Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface.
  • Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

At one hour: (assume this carries on for 2 more hours – add a little water, cook down, add a little water, cook down)

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It fascinates me that the carrots get super soft, but the hold their shape.  They add a beautiful sweetness to the sauce and no texture problem whatsoever.

This is what you’re looking for.  The liquid is gone and the fat is separating from the rest of the sauce.  Then you mix it all in and you end with this beautiful sauce.

You can make this ahead of time.  It keeps great in the fridge and it freezes well.  But, after you’ve spent half a day making it, you’re going to want to eat it right away.  Just so you know, the recipe recommends that you cook a pound of pasta to al dente and toss it with a tablespoon of butter before you mix in the bolognese.  And I did just that, only not a pound of pasta, just a few servings.  I’ll keep the rest for some day when I need something truly wonderful and don’t have the time or energy to create it.  Heaven in a bowl

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Dinner from the dregs: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto

October 19, 2018

Factor number one, I’m traveling (again) next week so once again there’s not much fresh food in the house.  Factor number two, tomorrow is my longest run in nearly a year – 13.1 miles.  Factor number 3, I’m way low on protein today.  Like shaky hands low.  All that adds up to pasta with a protein that had to come from the freezer.

A few things I keep in the house as staples for just such occasions of these:  pasta, frozen shrimp, frozen herb mixes and sauces.  If you make your own sauces you can freeze them in small bags or in ice cube trays.  I keep basil pesto, cilantro pesto, collard pesto, charmoula, and a few other things around to jazz up pasta, rice, chicken, seafood.  I’m out of frozen chopped vegetables, but they come in handy too.

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If you think you don’t like pesto, it might just be basil pesto that doesn’t work for you.  Experiment with other combinations and you might find something you like.  Generally speaking a pesto has an herb or leafy green, garlic, olive, a nut, Parmesan cheese.  Google has an endless number of recipes.  This might be the one I used for the Cilantro Pesto I had tonight, though with peanuts instead of almonds.

Not much else to say about this.  You can cook the shrimp in the pot with the pasta to save yourself a pan.  And them about 3 minutes before you expect the pasta to be done.

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Before you drain the pasta, dip out some of the pasta water.  That helps the pesto distribute a little more evenly.  Makes it a little saucy.   I threw a few diced onions in a pan to saute and added those at the end.   No reason except that I had them and they added a little sweetness to an otherwise salty dish.

What you see in the bowl is a solid two servings, even for me.

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Pasta Friday: Fridge Leftovers and Fettuccine in Lemon Parmesan Sauce

August 24, 2018

Half Marathon training is starting in earnest tomorrow.  5 miles.  Not long, but not throwaway either.  Time to get my pasta Fridays started.  Settle in folks, we’ll be carb-ing on Fridays until November.  Since tonight is the first pasta Friday in a while I wasn’t really prepared.  I usually have some half bags, clamshells or baggies of veggies in the fridge though, so that’s a good start.  Tonight I also had a half a lemon, 1/4 C of cream and a single chicken breast to go with some spinach, carrots and a red onion.  Dinner!

I decided to try poaching the chicken.  Let me just say this isn’t easy and I didn’t do it well.  It takes patience.  I’m not always long on patience.  Poaching chicken is not boiling chicken in fancy water.  You’re supposed to start everything cold and simmer it really low until it’s just done.  All I can say is that I started with cold chicken stock; a clove of garlic; a slice of lemon; and a chicken breast that I’d already sliced to speed things up.  Mistake one.  I should have left it whole and sliced it when it was done.  I brought it to a very low simmer.  It didn’t look like it was enough so I turned up the heat just a little.  Mistake two.  While my attention was on the rest of dinner, the stock started to boil.  So, I had boiled chicken. I turned it down immediately, but it was too late.  Not terrible, but tougher than I would have liked.

Nothing mysterious about the vegetables. A little olive oil heated until it shimmered and in go the carrots and onions.  Let them saute until they start to brown.  Don’t add any salt yet.  If you add salt now you’ll pull the water out of the vegetables and they’ll steam more than saute.  After 2-3 minutes add some minced garlic.  One clove is plenty.

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Now it’s time for the sauce.  This is a super light cream sauce and you can make it in the pan with the veggies.  Bonus points for not dirtying another pan!  Just push the vegetables to the side to give yourself a little room to work.  Here’s what you need, plus some of the poaching liquid or pasta water if you didn’t poach the chicken:

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Melt the butter and stir in about 1 T of flour.  Keep stirring it so it doesn’t burn.  Then add just a little cream.  Keep stirring. It will thicken quickly and you’ll have a paste.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Stir in some poaching liquid so now you have a sauce consistency.  It will be thinner than you’ll end up with.  Add the rest of the cream and bring the sauce to bubble.  It will thicken some.  Add a little more poaching liquid.  You’ll need it to cook the spinach.

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Stir the spinach in until it wilts.  Let the sauce bubble and thicken a little more.  Stir in about 1/2 C of grated parmesan.  Add in the cooked pasta.  It works best if you use tongs to mix everything together.  Grate about 1/8 t nutmeg over the top along with freshly ground black pepper.

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Remove from the heat and squeeze half a lemon over the pan.  Add in the cooked chicken.

Enjoy!

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Goat Cheese and Fresh Tomato Pasta

August 9, 2018

International Vegetarian Week continues!  I had to take one of my precious pups to the vet for a biopsy today.  A little stressful.  Comfort food definitely on the menu tonight.  And something super easy with limited chopping and very few dishes, please.  I was worn out before I ever started tonight.

Pasta to the rescue.  At the farmers’ market last weekend I bought a lovely box of little heirloom tomatoes and some local goat cheese.  Dinner done, pretty much.  I did saute some minced garlic and sliced shallots because I had them.  A sweet or red onion would have done the trick as well.  I had some basil in my herb pot so I threw that in at the last minute.  One knife, one pot, one pan.  Beautiful.

The key to a goat cheese pasta is the pasta water.  You use some pasta water to melt the goat cheese and create the sauce.  The more starch the better in the pasta water.  So, boil your pasta in the smallest amount of water that you need to cover the pasta and make sure it has a little room to move around.  The less water, the more concentrated the starch will be.  That will help make the sauce feel like a sauce and not like watery goat cheese.  So, pour some of your pasta water in a cup before you pour it all down the drain!

Add the tomatoes at the end.  You want to toss them with the pasta long enough for them to get warm. If you add them too soon they’ll start to fall apart. The peels will separate and you’ll just have chunks of cooked tomatoes.  There are worse things, of course.  But these are such beautiful little tomatoes I want them to maintain their original form.

Did I meet the limited chopping criteria?  You be the judge.  I did quarter these tomatoes before I added them.

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Did I meet the comfort food criteria?  You bet.  Cheesy pasta always fits the bill when you need a little hug from your dinner.  And this is light enough with the fresh tomatoes that you get points for sophistication as well.  A pretty neat trick for comfort food!

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And it’s beautiful!  So that’s a bonus!

Linguine with Greens and Sausage

May 27, 2018

It’s Memorial Day Weekend!  For me, it’s the start to a whole week of staycation.  A time  for me to catch up on things, get the house in order, and exercise my creative brain – cooking, baking, gardening, sewing – heaven.  Often that means spending my evenings reading cookbooks.  Fortunately for me, more and more cookbooks these days have lovely stories as well as wonderful recipes.

I did a lot a running today:  running with dogs, running to the farmer’s market, running errands, making a grocery run.  So, I was pretty tired come dinner time.  I needed easy food.  Enter The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.  What I love about this cookbook is that it’s an introduction to ways of cooking, basic sauces, kitchen equipment, and how to put foods and flavors together.  Not fancy, but hasn’t failed me yet.

I had some lacinato kale left in the fridge that was holding up really well for being in the drawer for a week.  I had half an onion in the fridge.  I had sausage in the freezer.  (I always have sausage in the freezer).  Simple food.  Good food.  Really good food.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 bunch of lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped (or whatever hardy green you have leftover)
  • 4 oz sausage cut into rounds, or crumbled (I used Della Nonna by Sausage Craft – it has cheese in it – yum!)
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin
  • 3-4 oz linguine (or whatever pasta you like; the recipe calls for fusili)
  • crushed red pepper

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil some water in a pasta pot; salt the water
  • Add the chopped kale, cook 6-8 minutes until the greens are tender
  • Drain into a bowl, reserving the water to cook the pasta in

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  • In a heavy bottomed pan, cook the sausage, set aside
  • Drain all but 1 t of the fat

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  • Add the onions and red pepper, cook until caramelized

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  • Deglaze the pan with a little white wine or water

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  • Simmer until slightly reduced
  • Cook the pasta in the greens water until al dente
  • Toss everything together

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Here’s how it turned out:

Food, more or less just heated up. I gave it an Intermediate rating just because it’s a bunch of cooking and setting aside and some pot swapping so not as straightforward as a lot of pasta dishes.  Tastes better than a lot of pasta dishes too!

All the pieces taste like themselves.  And together – magical.  It looks nice too.  Nothing fancy, but absolutely fit for guests, or not.  I’m looking forward to leftovers!

 

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Cacio e Pepe

April 12, 2018

Sounds fancy!  Really it’s the most grown up “macaroni” and cheese you’ll ever eat.  What do we love about it?  It has five ingredients.  And it’s so amazing that the idea of macaroni and cheese will not cross your mind once.

A couple of tips for cooking the pasta.  Once the water boils, salt it.  No, really.  SALT. IT.  This is the thing most people do wrong in cooking pasta (and potatoes and grits for that matter).  The thinking is that the sauce will have salt in it so the pasta doesn’t need to.  Not so.  In every bite what you’ll taste is yummy sauce on blah pasta.  The salt in the pasta actually brings out the flavor in the sauce.

The other tip for cooking pasta is not to use too much water.  You don’t have to fill up the pot.  Enough water that the pasta is covered and has room to move around so it doesn’t clump up.  That’s all it takes.  Why?  Because you often use the pasta water in the sauce.  The reason you do that is for the starch in the water.  Less water equals more starch, and that’s a good thing.

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Here’s what you need:

  • 6 oz  dry pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided into 2 and 1
  • 1 t coarsely ground pepper
  • 2/3 C grated parmesan
  • 1/3 C grated pecorino romano

You can grate your own or buy it already grated.  In this case the store grated is fine.  All I ask is that you don’t buy the stuff in the can.  When you only have a few ingredients the quality of the ingredients matters all the more.  Buy good cheese.

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Here’s what you do:

  • In one pot, boil water; salt it; add the pasta.  Keep an eye on it.  You want to drain it before it’s done.
  • When the pasta is still very al dente, in another pot melt 2T butter and add the pepper.
  • Drain the pasta about 2-3 minutes before it’s done, saving 1C of the pasta water.
  • Add 1/2 C of the pasta water to the butter and pepper.  Bring it to a simmer.
  • Add the pasta to the simmering pasta water and the last tablespoon of butter.  Add 2/3 C grated cheese.

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  • Stir the pasta so that the cheese melts into the water and distributes through the pasta.  Be sure you stir all the way to the bottom of the pan.  If you don’t the cheese will sink and stick to the bottom.
  • If the sauce gets too sticky add more pasta water.
  • When the pasta is done remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining cheese.

Here’s how it turned out:

What’s miraculous to me about this is that somehow this cheesy, buttery water turns into a wonderful sauce.  And this sauce coats all the pasta strands and still keeps them separated.  Even as I ate and the pasta cooled it never got gummy.  The pasta never clumped together.  It’s not fancy, but it is.  It’s perfect.

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Drunken Linguine with Spinach

March 30, 2018

It’s been a crazy week here, but One Woman’s Kitchen has an exciting addition!  I got a new stove!  I finally splurged on a 5-burner, dual-fuel, slide-in range.  I only have a 30 inch space to work with so it’s not super fancy, but I couldn’t be happier with it.  My old stove was gas, which was great, but the burners didn’t turn down nearly far enough.  I was always scorching stuff on the bottom because I couldn’t get the heat down low enough.  No more!  Check it out!

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My first meal done on the new stove was for my book club.  The electricians finally finished the install at 4:00 on Wednesday.  It didn’t leave me enough time to plan anything really fun and I had to make do with food I already had in the house.  And I really needed to use the half bottle of wine that was leftover from making the lamb shanks earlier in the week.  I know, leftover wine?  What’s that?  It’s rare, but when it happens this is a good way to use it!

Years ago I made a pasta dish with kale where I cooked the pasta in wine. Substitute spinach for kale and I was set to go.  Last time I remember combining the wine with water and cooking the pasta start to finish in that.  I like this way better.  You get a creamier finish.  Almost like the wine makes a sauce.

This is an easy one.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 ounces of pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
  • 1 T olive oil, plus more to finish
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 bottle of full-bodied red wine (I used Cabernet)
  • big bunch of spinach, stemmed

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil water in a large pot
  • Salt the water well
  • Add the pasta
  • Cook 2-3 minutes, until the pasta is just bendy

Meanwhile, in a large skillet

  • Heat the 1T of oil with the garlic and red pepper
  • Stir until fragrant
  • Pour in the red wine
  • Bring to a boil

Then

  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1-2 cups of the pasta liquid
  • Add the pasta to the wine mixture.  The liquid will not completely cover the pasta.
  • Stir the pasta frequently as it absorbs the wine.  If it starts to get completely dry add some of the reserved pasta water.  The starch will thicken the wine.

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  • When the pasta is al dente stir in the spinach with just a little more pasta water.
  • Salt to taste, finish with a little more olive oil to help keep the noodles separated

How was it?

Most people at book club had 2 servings!  This is a beautiful dish.  Pretty inexpensive to make.  Really easy.  Vegetarian.  Vegan even.  It would make a nice side for beef or pork as well.

I will say that the kale in the previous version held up better than the spinach here.  Maybe a heartier green is the answer.  Next time I’ll try some chard.

See how pretty it is?

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Pasta Carbonara Friday!

March 23, 2018

Yep, it’s Pasta Friday.  About 4:00 this afternoon I was combing cookbooks and websites trying to make a meal plan for the week so I could go to the grocery store.  I just couldn’t get it together.  I decided to settle for a plan for tonight.  I have no idea why I started craving carbonara.  I haven’t had this in an age, but I decided I had to have it tonight.  Off to the store I went.

Carbonara is a pretty simple dish really.  A smoky meat, onions, garlic, cheese, eggs, pepper.  That’s it really except for some pasta water.  And tonight I added some lemon. The cream is optional so feel free to leave it out.  I know some people feel uncomfortable about the fact that you don’t add the egg yolk until the end.  The key is make sure your pasta doesn’t sit long before you finish it with the egg.  You want the pasta to be really hot.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s what you need to serve 2-3:

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  • slab bacon (3 slices) or pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3-1/2 C grated parmesan / pecorino / romano cheese
  • 1/4 C cream (optional)
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 8 oz pasta

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil a pot of salted water and cook the pasta to al dente
    • NOTE:  Save 1C or more of the pasta water when you drain the pasta
  • While the pasta is cooking, brown the bacon in a heavy pan large enough to hold the pasta
  • Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft and golden

Tip  If you’re using bacon you’ll need to remove the bacon from the pan and drain most of the grease.  Have a mug nearby to drain the hot grease into.

  • Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 C of the pasta water, half of the cheese
  • Stir until the sauce coats the pasta
  • Stir in the cream if you’re using it
  • Remove the pan from the heat
  • Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring constantly
  • Stir in lemon zest, juice and more cheese
  • Add pasta water as needed to create a sauce
  • Top with freshly ground pepper

Tip  The key to this dish is making sure that the pasta is hot when you add the egg.  If your pasta has been sitting to the side for a while because it got done earlier than expected, just heat the reserved pasta water and quickly reheat the pasta in it.

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Here’s how it turned out:

I might have licked the bowl.  Ok, I did.  So good.

And tonight there’s a BONUS!  The leftovers have been transformed into breakfast for the rest of the weekend.  Pasta Carbonara Pie!

I whisked 3 whole eggs into the 2 egg whites I had left over.  Poured the leftover pasta into a small cast iron skillet and poured the eggs over the pasta.  I baked it at 350 degrees, covered in foil, for 35 minutes and uncovered for 10 more.

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