Showing posts with label pasta and noodles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta and noodles. Show all posts

27 January 2016

Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Let's face it, a hearty soup and crispy-yet-oozy grilled cheese is just the best winter food pairing in the world and I'd eat it every day at every meal if I thought I could get away with it. Certainly, last weekend's snow storm was the perfect excuse for getting out the grill pan and experimenting with cheeses to find the perfect combination of melty deliciousness. At the moment, that seems to be a 50/50 blend of Cabot's Colby Jack and Seriously Sharp cheddar -- it's marvelously gooey and sharp.

And what soup did I pair with all those grilled cheese sandwiches? A hearty-but-not-heavy tomato and bean soup. It went together all easy-peasy, was extremely yum, and the leftovers (little as there was) reheated really well. It's just my preference, but I mashed half the beans in this soup to thicken it up for real stick-to-your-ribs-ness. You could leave them all whole, but you'll have a thinner soup. Either way is good for dunking grilled cheese, though.


Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Yield: 4-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 32-oz carton low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni [Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Elbows with Quinoa]
  • 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • Grated parmesan, if desired

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage over medium heat in a large French/Dutch oven. Remove browned sausage from pan, draining off the oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and everything is very fragrant.
  3. Add the seasoning blend and chicken broth to the pot. Heat broth to boiling. Add the macaroni and cook for 5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Pour one can of drained beans into a bowl and smoosh with a fork or potato masher. Add to the pot along with the other can of drained beans, crushed tomatoes, and sausage. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is heated through and soup is thickened.
  5. Serve garnished with grated parmesan, if desired.

17 December 2015

Improv Challenge: Cranberry & Orange

The deli near my work occasionally sells this really yummy couscous salad that's studded with cranberries, spinach, and chunks of dried apricots. It's very flavorful and I love the texture so, when I saw December's Improv Challenge ingredients were cranberry and orange, I immediately thought about cloning that deli salad. I know a salad in December might not sound quite like the thing, but we can't live on cookies and cake all month ... can we? I kinda think, given enough cups of tea, I could live on cookies and cake?


While this recipe is good either at room temperature or chilled, I think it works best at room temperature and recommend that's what you serve it at. Obviously, we're a household of two, so there was leftovers -- the following day I just left it on the side for 15 minutes or so to warm a bit while I reheated the rest of my lunch.


I used pearl (sometimes called Israeli) couscous in this recipe, because that's what the deli uses, but you could probably use another small pasta like pastina or acini di pepe. Obviously, you'll need to ignore my preparation instructions and make it according to the packet.

Cranberry-Orange Couscous Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 1¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the spinach in a large serving bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add couscous, and return to a boil. Immediately cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all of the broth. Fluff couscous and dump over spinach so that the residual heat from the couscous wilts the spinach. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together orange juice, zest, oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey in a small bowl.
  4. Gently mix the almonds, cranberries, apricots, and spinach into the couscous. Pour dressing over couscous mixture and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately for tastiest results.





16 December 2015

Slow Cooker Tuna Casserole

This slow cooker casserole is based on a Betty Crocker's "Easy Slow-Cooker Turkey Tetrazzini" recipe, but I've adapted it to use tuna, more vegetables, less cheese, and no wine. Also, the original was pretty high in sodium, so I tried to use lower sodium ingredients where possible here (it could easily have been even lower sodium, but I couldn't be arsed running to the store "just" for low sodium soup and tuna) and omitted the salt the original recipe called for. The finished dish certainly didn't taste bland, so don't worry about missing the salt.

Just one of those easy slow cooker dishes that creates a lot of recycling :)

Slow Cooker Tuna Casserole

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 10½ oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1¼ cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 5 oz cans solid white albacore in water, drained and flaked
  • ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 4 oz jar chopped pimientos, drained
  • 6.5 oz can no-salt-added sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 6 oz uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken in half and then half again
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat slow cooker insert with cooking spray or olive oil.
  2. To insert, add soup, broth, cream, tuna, cheese, onion, pimientos, mushrooms, dried parsley, garlic powder, thyme, and pepper. Stir well.
  3. Add broken noodles and stir until just combined. Try to poke the noodles down so they're as covered in liquid as possible.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours until noodles are tender, stirring once about halfway through. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the frozen peas.

I forgot to add the parsley so I stirred it in at the halfway point.

If you're not around to stir it at the halfway point, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just be sure to give it a real good stir when you add the peas.

The original recipe just adds the peas in with everything else, but after four hours in the slow cooker I found they lost they're bright green color and had, unsurprisingly, gone pretty mushy. Popping them in at the end helps retain their color and body.

Because the original Betty Crocker recipe is so easy to modify, I'm kind-of tempted to try another variation with chicken, spinach instead of peas, and lots more peppers ... Hmm. There's always next week? No, that's Christmas week. The week after that? Hrm.

02 November 2015

Farfalle with Swiss Chard & Kielbasa

I was full of good intentions when I picked up a bunch of beautiful looking Swiss chard at the Newington farmers market last week ... but then days passed and the chard was still in my fridge and I knew something had to be done asap before the stuff started to compost in the crisper drawer.


I've made a dish similar to this with spinach and chicken sausage, so I knew my idea would work, but I forgot how much the red chard stems can bleed when cooking and so it's not as pretty as it could be. Maybe? I kind-of like the muddied ruby red.


Unfortunately, while I carefully wrote down all the ingredient amounts as I made this dish, I've lost my notes -- probably recycled them in a mad fit of tidying on garbage day -- so what follows is my best guess!

Farfalle with Swiss Chard & Kielbasa

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and rinsed
  • 2 smoked sausage links
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 servings mini farfalle
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shredded Parmesan, if desired

Instructions

  1. De-stem the chard. Chop the stems into very small pieces. Sliced the leaves into ribbons. Set aside.
  2. Chop the kielbasa, onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the chard stems and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the stems begin to soften. Add the chard leaves and kielbasa and cook until the sausage begins to brown and the chard leaves have wilted.
  6. Add the pasta to the chard and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with shredded Parmesan.

24 September 2015

Broccoli Mac

I'd overbought fresh broccoli and undercooked for the week, so this morning I was faced with a bag of fresh broccoli florets and a desperate need for two day's worth of work meals. I considered a broccoli pasta salad verrrry briefly, realizing the other ingredients I wanted to add to it -- artichoke hearts and sun-dried oil-packed tomatoes -- were not to be found in my kitchen. Some kind of broccoli and pasta hot dish, then? I did have surfeit of pasta, after all. Broccoli mac?! Broccoli mac!


I used my standby recipe for quick macaroni and cheese -- Campbell's Kitchen's "Fastest Homemade Mac and Cheese" -- as it was only five ingredients (if you count water as an ingredient) and the pasta cooks in the sauce. It is the fastest (nonbox) macaroni and cheese I've ever made and there's only one pan to clean up.

I steamed the bag of broccoli florets in the microwave according to the directions on its packaging, using the minimal time so the broccoli retained a little bite, and then coarsely chopped the cooked florets so they'd distribute more evenly throughout the cheesy mac when mixed in.


Because I had several open containers of pasta, I used a mix of small shells and elbows. The cooking times listed on their boxes were the same, so I knew they'd be okay together in the pot.

The cheese is a mix of leftover house brand shredded "pizza blend" and Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar. The "pizza cheese" blend melted wonderfully (as expected) and helped give the mac the delightful gooeyness I crave in macaroni and cheese, while cheddar added a sharp bite.


After I'd stirred everything together, I found the cheesy mac -- while certainly creamy and cheesy -- was still a little lacking so I added roasted garlic powder, black pepper, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Instant yum!

03 July 2015

Repurposed Picnic Leftovers or "Hide It In Salad"

Is there anything sadder looking than a picked over vegetable tray the day after a picnic? Usually, I chop up whatever remains and throw it into a "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" tossed salad for lunch, but it was still the weekend and The Husband needed feeding, too, and salad is not really his favorite kind of supper. Happily, I had a box of Betty Crocker's "Classic" Suddenly Salad and knew he'd go for that ... appropriately amended with picnic leftovers.


I prepared the salad according to the directions on the box, then stirred in leftover grilled chicken, guacamole, salsa, lime juice, cilantro, chopped peppers, grape tomatoes, and onion. When I served it, I topped each portion with shredded cheddar, crushed tortilla chips, and more salsa.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty good salad for something that started out as a box mix, but I think it could have benefited from the addition of black beans and corn.

05 June 2015

Pasta Salad Season Continues

I threw this quick pasta salad together Sunday night so we'd have something quick and cool to eat after a long, hot Monday. It's not particularly fancy -- more of a "garbage" salad than anything else -- but it came out pretty well and I'll definitely be using the mayonnaise-milk-lemon-mustard combination again.

Mom always served pasta salad with pickled beets ... so I do, too. Tradition!

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 6 oz whole grain elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 5 oz can albacore tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup chopped radishes
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large serving bowl, combine macaroni, tuna, onion, peas, and radishes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, mustard, dill, and black pepper.
  3. Pour mayonnaise mixture over pasta and toss to coat.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

I took the leftover pasta salad and pickled beets (not-too-rigorously drained canned beets tossed with garlic vinegar and refrigerated overnight) to work with garlic Triscuits:


27 May 2015

Pasta Salad Season Is Here, Hurrah

Sunday, I prepped a bunch of food for the week including a vegetable soup, egg salad, and this macaroni salad. Like the soup, it helps clear out the crisper of neglected vegetables. Unlike the soup, it's definitely a dish The Husband will eat. Usually I make my creamy pasta salads with light mayonnaise that has been thinned with a little milk or Italian vinaigrette, but this time I decided to be "fancy" and thin the milk the fat-free peppercorn ranch and then jazz it up with shredded parmesan.

Love this speckled lettuce -- makes every salad fancy.

I tried to dice all the vegetables small -- pea-sized, actually -- for a bite-sized delicousness. Who wants to fork up some salad, get a tiny pea and a big chunk of celery? Eh.

Very Veggie Tuna Macaroni Salad

Yield: 4 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked whole grain elbow macaroni
  • 5 oz can water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
  • ⅔ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup diced radishes
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise [Hellmann's]
  • ½ cup light peppercorn ranch dressing
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Greek seasoning blend [Penzeys]
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tuna, vegetables, and parsley in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Pour frozen peas into the bottom of a colander. Drain macaroni over peas and rinse in cold water; add to tuna mixture.
  4. Whisk together mayonnaise, dressing, cheese, and seasoning blend in a small mixing bowl. Season to taste with pepper.
  5. Pour mayonnaise mixture into pasta bowl and stir to coat. Refrigerate macaroni salad for a few hours before serving.

04 December 2014

Easy Meat Sauce With Mushrooms

I promised The Husband bolognese for supper, but came home too tired and hungry to follow through by preparing my favorite, albeit time-consuming, bolognese recipe. While the mushroom and meat sauce I ended up with is not a proper bolognese by any stretch of the imagination, it is pretty darn tasty and will certainly do it a pinch.

Most importantly, The Husband enjoyed it!


Easy Meat Sauce With Mushrooms

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 25 mins.
Cook time: 30 mins.
Total time: 55 mins.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 8 oz grass fed ground beef [Nature's Promise Organic]
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 tsp beef stock base [Penzeys]
  • ½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon [Jacob's Creek]
  • ¼ grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys]

Instructions

  1. Spray large French/Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, beef and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, beef base, Italian seasoning and cheese. Bring pan to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve over spaghetti with additional parmesan.

Obviously, use whatever red wine you enjoy cooking with! The Jacob's Creek was leftover from Thanksgiving and needed using up.

01 June 2014

Picnic Time: Pasta Salad

While trying to push beyond our comfort zone and learn to socialize like "real adults do," we recently attended a picnic thrown by one of my coworkers. Because I didn't feel comfortable showing up empty-handed, I asked if I could bring a pasta salad (it turned out everyone felt the same way, anyway, and also brought something). Since I wasn't sure how hot it would be that day or what the food storage situation would be like (didn't want to poison anyone), I made "Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables" from The Best Light Recipe by the detail-driven folk at Cook's Illustrated.


This is a flavorful mayonnaise-free pasta salad I've made several times now. Every time I make it, I mean to experiment and try one of the variations provided, but I always end up sticking with the tried-and-true. The basic version is delicious, so why mess with a sure thing?

Ingredients: penne, green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrot, red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, basil, parsley, Dijon, red pepper flakes, Parmesan, salt, black pepper.

I used Ronzoni SmartTaste penne to keep the salad looking "normal" while somewhat improving its nutritional values. Not that it's an unhealthy salad to begin with, what with all those beans and tomatoes!

26 March 2014

Delicious Leftovers

Using Up Leftover Ingredients

I had some ingredients leftover from this month's Improv Challenge and decided to make a lazy sausage parmigiana. First, I cooked the sausage patties in a skillet with a double handful of sliced mushrooms. Then I removed the sausage to a broiler-safe pan, topped them with thick slices of fresh mozzarella, and broiled them until the cheese was all melty and gorgeous.

Meanwhile, I added some leftover bruschetta to the still-hot skillet and stirred it 'round until everything was heated through. Plated the sausage, topped it with the mushroom and bruschetta mixture, and garnished it with fresh basil. Served it with a little penne in tomato sauce and it was pretty darn good (and pretty!) for something that took less than 20 minutes to prepare!

17 February 2014

Totally Unfancy Valentine's

Valentine's Day, The Husband was too sick to go out and I was still feeling a bit blarg myself, so we scrapped our plans and stayed home, watching Major Crimes and eating what was meant to be Saturday's supper -- roasted pork tenderloin with broccoli and mac 'n' cheese. It was actually a rather nice night, but every night with my sweetie (even when we're both coughing and sniffling) is a good night.

Valentine's Day Supper

  • Campbell's Kitchen's "Fastest Homemade Mac and Cheese" made using sriracha, dehydrated chives, and shredded Italian cheese blend.
  • Roasted broccoli florets -- tossed a bag of broccoli florets with olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and Penzeys Tuscan Sunset and roasted at 425°F for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Pork tenderloin rubbed with sea salt and Penzeys Tuscan Sunset and roasted alongside the broccoli.

23 January 2014

Italian Pasta Salad

I'm not really sure that mozzarella and salami necessarily an Italian salad make, but I didn't know what else to call this dish. Everything-That-Needed-Eating-Up Salad? That would certainly be true, but also very prosaic.

"Antipasto" salad

Italian Pasta Salad
Serves 3 as lunch with fruit

Ingredients
5 oz mini farfalle pasta
4 oz baby spinach
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 small red onion, chopped small
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
6 Tbsp sun-dried tomato vinaigrette
[Organicville]
3 oz thin-sliced uncured salami, sliced into strips
5 leaves fresh basil, rolled and sliced thin
Fresh ground black pepper, as desired

Directions
Cook pasta as directed by package. Drain. Toss warm pasta with spinach so the leaves wilt a bit. Add in remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve while still warm.
Ingredients like chopped canned artichokes, chickpeas, and olives would make tasty additions to this salad.

"Antipasto" salad

20 January 2014

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup

We couldn't be bothered leaving the house on Sunday for nonsense like food when there were chunky books like The Crow Trap to be read, but it's hard to concentrate on who might be a murderer when your insides are full of rumblings and grumblings.

So, I made soup. A warming, comforting soup that was sure to quiet any body's rumblings and grumblings. And, more importantly, a fast soup that didn't take me away from Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope for too long.

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup @ Savory Tart

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb loose-pack sweet Italian pork sausage meat
1 large carrot, quartered and sliced
2 large celery ribs, halved and sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
5 oz small twist pasta
40 oz lower-sodium fat-free beef broth
8 oz chunky tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy pan like a Dutch or French oven. Add the sausage and cook, bashing about with a spoon to break up the sausage, until no pink remains.

Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined colander and let drain. If there's a lot of fat at the bottom of the pot, pour it off until only a tablespoon remains.

Add the carrot, celery, onion, peppers, and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add in the broth, tomato sauce, and pasta. Give everything a good stir and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Portion into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if desired.
You could use a a can of diced tomatoes instead of the chunky tomato sauce. I just happened to have leftover tomato sauce that needed eating up. The variety I used, Simply Enjoy (Stop & Shop's house brand), was ridiculously chunky -- more like a big jar of diced tomatoes someone had added a little puree to. It worked fine in the soup, but was too chunky for the pasta dish I'd originally meant it for and I had to smooth it out a bit with my immersion blender. The flavor was good, though. A fresh, bright tomato flavor with lots of garlic bits.

The pasta will keep absorbing liquid so, when you take any leftovers out of the fridge, you may find your soup is now a stew. Just add a little broth to the pot when reheating or, if (like me) you enjoy stewy soups, leave it as it is.

24 November 2013

Lazy Sunday Meat Sauce

Earlier this week, I thawed a packet of ground beef with the vague plan I would do something with it over the weekend, but then it was Sunday afternoon and I still had no idea. I asked The Husband what he'd like me to do with it and, no surprise, he asked for bolognese. Happily, I knew he actually meant "meat sauce with lots of mushrooms and garlic" and that's what I made.

Lazy Sunday Meat Sauce & Pasta @ Savory Tart

I used sherry in this sauce, because I happened to not have any red wine on hand that was appropriate for cooking. Shocking, I know, but I've been drinking a lot more cider and beer lately. The only time I think about red wine is when I need it for cooking! And then I reach for the sherry, because it works pretty well in place of red wine in something like a pot roast or meat sauce.

Also, since I understand bolognese should be a smoooooth meaty sauce, I used my immersion blender to smooth out the chunks of beef and mushroom before adding the milk. This isn't a necessary step, and one I don't usually take, so I did not include it in the recipe below. (The Husband opined that, while he appreciated the even consistency of the sauce, he did not feel it was necessary).
Lazy Sunday Meat Sauce
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup grated carrots
1 small red onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
[Full Circle Grass Fed Organic]
3 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Whole Spice]
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 6.35 oz jar tomato paste [Lowell Foods]
½ cup sherry [Taylor]
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
¼ cup freeze-dried diced bell peppers
2 14.5oz cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 dipper honey (How much is that? Maybe, a tablespoon?)
½ cup whole milk
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat oil in a large French/Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and celery and cook for a few minutes. Shove everything toward the edges of the pot and add the ground beef to the cleared middle. Sprinkle with the salt-free Italian seasoning blend and parsley. Cook for a few minutes until browned, then break up and stir into the vegetable mixture.

Add tomato paste, sherry, and Worcestershire and stir. Add peppers and tomatoes and stir. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes. Drizzle in a dipper of honey. Stir in milk, cover, and let simmer 30-60 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
In a perfect world, I would serve this over tagliatelle, but since I cannot find tagliatelle locally, we ate it over impulse purchase of curlicue pasta and it was fine. (I think, at this point, I need to write up a grocery "wish list" then chuck a cooler in the car and drive around the state until I've acquired everything on the darn list).

21 October 2013

P/F/G Challenge: Lasagna

Lasagne. It seems fancy, but really it's not. Or it isn't the way I make it, which is as a vehicle for using up stuff (making it the perfect dish for the P/F/G Challenge). I use the directions on the back of the Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne noodles as my guide, substituting whatever sauces, meats, vegetables, and cheeses I have on hand.

Lasagna

This time 'round I used:
  • 32 oz container Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm lamb bolognese, thawed
  • 6 oz pureed fire-roasted diced tomatoes (leftover from making personal pizzas)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (combo of light cheddar and various cheese blends)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 12 Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne noodles
(No vegetables in this one as the barley vegetable soup I made the other week took care of all the open bags and then some).

I served the lasagne with steamed green beans and thick sliced Wave Hill Breads Caramelized Garlic Country Loaf smeared with buttered and toasted under the broiler. It was a yummy meal

And now there's room in the cheese drawer for new cheese! Quick, to the cheesemonger's!

19 September 2013

Improv Challenge: Pasta & Cheese

My participation in the 2013 Improv Challenge has, sadly, been a bit sporadic. Many of the 2013 ingredient pairings have struck me as more sweet than savory and I just haven't been in the mood for sweet. Happily, September's ingredients are "Pasta and Cheese." Other than a lokshen kugel (noodle pudding), I don't know how pasta and cheese could be anything but savory! (Prove me wrong, Improv-ers).

Because we are supposed to be eating more healthfully here at Chez Savory Tart, I did not whip up a beautiful bacon-wrapped meatloaf stuffed with macaroni and cheese, but made a pretty (and decidedly more healthful) warm pasta salad using whole wheat pasta, blue cheese, beets, arugula, and pecans.

Warm Pasta & Arugula Salad

While I recommend using a mild blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Danish Blue, feel free to substitute fresh goat cheese if even the merest thought of blue cheese gives you the horrors.

If you don't have flax seed oil, olive oil will do fine. I just find flax seed oil gives greens a lovely nuttiness.

And, yes, feel free to go Martha and roast your own beets!
Warm Pasta and Blue Cheese Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 oz whole wheat penne
3 oz fresh arugula
1 oz mild blue cheese, crumbled
[Gorgonzola or Danish blue]
Half 8 oz pkg cooked beets, drained and diced [Melissa's or Love Beets]
1 oz pecans, crushed
1 Tbsp flax seed oil [Barlean's]
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Put the arugula in a large bowl and set aside.

Cook pasta until al dente (or however you like your pasta). Drain pasta and pour, still hot, over arugula. Toss until arugula wilts a bit. (If your arugula looks like it isn't wilting, cover the bowl with a tea towel and go away for a few minutes).

Add blue cheese, beets, pecans, olive oil and balsamic, and toss again.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between two plates. Nom.

Warm Pasta & Arugula Salad




21 August 2013

Cheesy Chard & Pasta

Many of the chard recipes I make use only chard leaves so I usually have a bunch of stems hanging about. While they're yummy pickled or simply used as a celery substitute, there usually comes a point where I have so many stems on hand I just want to chuck them all in something and be done. So, yay for pasta! The ingredient that disguises many garden excesses.

Steak w/ pasta & chard

In an oven-safe skillet, I sautéed chopped chard stems and minced red onion in olive oil until the chard was tender, then stirred in a generous splodge of tomato paste, grated Parmesan, salt-free Italian seasoning blend, and two servings of cooked whole grain pasta. I covered it all with shredded low-fat mozzarella and broiled everything until melty.

Overall, I think this pasta bake was a good start. Next time, though, I'd add garlic and cherry tomatoes to the chard-and-onion sauté as it definitely needed a little something more.

12 August 2013

Cheesy Pasta with Summer Vegetables

This started out as a Betty Crocker recipe ("Cheesy Rigatoni with Eggplant Sauce"), but I didn't have all the right ingredients and there were other ingredients I wanted to use, because it was the weekend and time to clean out the fridge.

Pasta & Summer Vegetable Bake

My pasta dish came out much less saucy than Betty Crocker's -- probably because I used fresh tomatoes and a slightly pureed can of diced tomatoes instead of the actual tomato sauce called for in the original recipe.

Chopped Vegetables

I also peeled the eggplant, because I don't have a lot of experience cooking eggplant and most of the recipes I've seen say to peel the eggplant so I just went with majority rules. (This is my first year growing eggplant and, since my plants seem prolific, I hope/expect to be a dab hand at eggplant cuisine by the time autumn comes).

While I thought this dish was pretty delicious -- cheesy and well-seasoned with lots of yummy vegetables -- The Husband declared it merely okay (for something full of aubergines and courgettes and completely lacking in meat). So, as always, ymmv.
Cheesy Pasta with Summer Vegetables
Serves 4 generously

Ingredients
7 oz uncooked whole grain rotini
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup diced red onion
3 small eggplants (Fairy Tale Hybrid), peeled and cut into chunks
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
½ large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
14½ oz can diced tomatoes, lightly pureed
[ my immersion blender]
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1 oz grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper, as desired

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package, using minimum cook time.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep skillet (I used my chicken fryer). Cook onion, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini in oil, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in tomato sauce and pasta (this is why you want a big skillet).

Cover your skillet (foil or a lid) and bake for about 15 minutes. Uncover, top with cheese, and broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Pasta & Summer Vegetable Bake

17 March 2013

Why-Isn't-It-Spring-Yet? Comfort Food

Grey. Cold. Blah. Winter had me craving some serious comfort food last week -- braised cabbage, macaroni and cheese, roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf with brown gravy. And I fed those cravings. All of them. Took two meals, but they were satisfied.

Midweek Comfort Food

I can't think of anything I'd rather pair with macaroni and cheese than braised red cabbage. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. I used the Vegetarian Slow Cooker's recipe for "Bavarian Braised Cabbage" and it was so good! And easy! The Husband was disappointed the recipe was meatless and did not eat any ... which was fine by me. I ate the whole pot in a day.

The beautiful macaroni and cheese was by Kraft. Yes. Hearty Four Cheese Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese Dinner mostly made as the bag directed ... I couldn't read the silver lettering on the bread crumb and cheese powder packets and ended up throwing bread crumbs in when I wanted cheese. This mistake turned out pretty okay as the breadcrumbs helped thicken the sauce. I did tart the macaroni and cheese up with a thick layer of shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp before I put it in the oven and, oh my, the cheesy goodness.

Heck Yeah Meatloaf

I know, I know. Homely! But comfort doesn't need to be pretty, it just needs to be comforting. And delicious. And it was. Enough so that there wasn't any leftovers. I used Coconut & Lime's easy recipe for "Peas & Carrots Meatloaf" and I recommend you give it a try! I would stress grating the carrots finely, as the recipe directs, because I grated mine quite coarsely and they didn't blend well with the other ingredients -- which might be why the meatloaf fell apart, come to think of it.

The gravy's just a basic beef-stock-and-herbs reduction and the potatoes are instant. Yes! Cooked with chicken broth instead of water and tarted up with lashings of heavy cream and melted butter, they're nothing to sneer at.