Tag Archives: Pasta

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles.  Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking.  With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.

Dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients

The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army.  Also, it tastes really yummy.  The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad).  The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

Tomatoes ready for roasting

This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo.  The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion.  The sweet tomatoes finish it off.  So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.

Hello cilantro

Hello cilantro

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing

juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)

1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne

3 shallots, chopped

2 tbls Dijon mustard

3 cups of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

16 oz rotini or penne pasta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*

3 ripe avocados

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard.  Blend until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This can be made a day or two in advance.

Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta.  Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Serve this salad cold or room temperature.  Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while.  The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving.  This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.

* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store.  To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated.  You can do this with in-season tomatoes too.  The flavor is extra delicious.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Pasta Con Zucchini e Basil

Pasta with zucchini and basil

Pasta Con Zucchini e Basil

Clearly, it has been a while since our last post.  We apologize.  We have nothing to offer except that life has been Busy (with a capital B).  But talking about how busy things are is boring.  Let’s move on to a topic that is more interesting. 

Sliced zucchini

Sliced zucchini

Today I picked my very first sun gold cherry tomato from one of my tomato plants.  It was delicious, though a little tart.  I suspect I picked it a bit early but I don’t care.  I am just happy I got it before the darn chipmunks who have been cheekily plucking my small green tomatoes, eating half of them, and leaving the remaining half to rest forlornly on the driveway.  I am not amused.

Zucchini and onions, hanging out

Zucchini and onions, hanging out

So while it is still a little early here in New England for the late summer glut of tomatoes, we do have lots of zucchini, and lots of basil too.  This dish makes use of both, and is quick enough to make even on the busiest night.  Light and simple, this dish is best made with super fresh ingredients so the individual flavors really shine through.

Tossing the pasta, dinner time!

Tossing the pasta, dinner time!

Pasta Con Zucchini and Basil

Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients:

2 small-medium zucchini

2 tbls butter

2 tbls olive oil

1/2 medium onion, sliced into thin half rings

About 15 basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/2 pound pasta such as rigatoni or penne

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water until al dente according to package directions.  Drain, reserving a half cup or so of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise.  Cut halves crosswise into half moons.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter and oil.  Once the skillet is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft fragrant.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 10 minutes).  Chop the herbs and stir them into the zucchini and onion mixture. 

Pour the hot pasta into the skillet, top with grated parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste, and toss it all together.  Add the pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time to moisten the pasta. 

To Serve:

Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Did you make your preserved lemons yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  If you had started your preserved lemons a month or two ago, you could make this for dinner tonight!

As the weather turns nicer and the sights and smells of spring are all around, my thoughts turn to lighter fare like seafood, fresh herbs, and pasta dishes.  Don’t let the “cream” in the title fool you, this sauce is lovely and light with the salty-sour taste of preserved lemon mixing with fresh basil.  It is fast and easy to put together, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.  We used small Maine bay scallops in this recipe but it would be equally lovely with larger scallops.  Please just make sure to source your ingredients carefully.  Don’t go buying farmed seafood from Asia… there aren’t a lot of regulations and lord only knows what kind of stuff might end up in your scallops.

Seared Scallops

P.S., if you don’t have preserved lemon but want to make this anyway, use the zest of a regular lemon instead.  It won’t have quite the same flavor but is will still be fresh and tasty.

P.P.S., if you don’t have any basil laying around, you could substitute fresh thyme or dill for a different, but still lovely taste

Fresh ingredients

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained

8 oz bay scallops

4 tbls butter, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

lemon peel from 1/2 a preserved lemon, finely diced

2 tbls cornstarch

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

To Make:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the butter just begins to brown, add the scollops.  Cook for 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute.  Remove from pan and set aside.

To prepare the preserved lemon, remove it from the jar and rinse well.  Scrape out the pulp and white pith and discard.  Finely chop the peel and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the scallops in.  Using that pan, melt remaining two tbls butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sautee until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add the half-and-half, chicken stock, and preserved lemon.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch.  Pour into the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Add the scallops and cooked and drained spaghetti.  Add a small amount of pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.  Stir in the basil just prior to serving.  Top with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Recipes

Baked Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac & Cheese

How do you like your maccaroni and cheese?  Do you like it baked with a crunchy bread crumb layer and stiff enough to slice?  How about from the stove top with a creamy cheese sauce?  Or even (gasp) from the box?  Regardless of how you like it, I highly recommend you give this version a try. 

Spices and onions

This mac and cheese is extra cheesy and has a crunchy panko bread crumb topping.  Whole wheat elbows adds a light nutty flavor (and some extra fiber).  This is the ultimate in comfort food and is ripe for modifications.  I could see additions of bacon or some wilted spinach.  Alternatively, you could throw in some blue or goat cheese for an interesting flavor option.

Making the cheese sauce

This is great right out of the oven or eaten cold out of the fridge the next day.  The perfect dinner for a cold winter Sunday night.

30 minutes to heaven

Baked Mac & Cheese

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking 

Ingredients:

8 oz whole wheat elbow pasta

5 oz mild cheddar, shredded

4 oz Monterey jack, shredded

1 small onion, diced

3 tbls tablespoons butter, divided

2 tbls flour

1 1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp paprika

1 bay leaf

 2 cups milk (2%)

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

To Make:

Shred the cheeses and set aside. 

Fill a large stock pot with water and cook the pasta until just tender, according to the packaged instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.

Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, over medium heat, melt 2 tbls of butter.  Add the diced onion and cook until softened and translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add in the flour, dry mustard, and paprika and whisk to combine.  Cook for 2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out.  Slowly stream the milk into the pot, whisking constantly to incorporate.  Add the bay leaf.  Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.

Remove the cheese sauce from the heat and stir in about two-thirds of the shredded cheese until melted.  Stir in the maccaroni.  Empty about half of the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Layer with half of the remaining cheese.  Empty the rest of the mac into the baking dish. 

In a small skillet, melt 1 tbls of butter.  Add the bread crumbs and stir until lightly browned.  Top the mac and cheese with the remaining cheese and finally the toasted bread crumbs. 

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

To Serve:

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetarian

Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula

Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula

Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula

When we conceived of this recipe, we initially intended to toss the gnocchi with tomatoes and basil and douse the whole thing in a goat cheese sauce.  Unfortunately, when we got our CSA veggie box today, there were no tomatoes to be had.  Alas, the recent spate of cold weather has kept the tomatoes from ripening.  We did, however get the most funky little vegetable I have ever seen… Brazilian eggplant. 

Cutest little eggplants ever

Cutest little eggplants ever

You can cook and eat these little guys just like regular eggplant.  They are more fun though because even the largest one was smaller than an egg, and who doesn’t love tiny vegetables?

Given what we had available, we decided to modify our original plan to include the eggplants.  Of course, we kept the goat cheese sauce.  I think this recipe would work well pretty much any vegetable including tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, spinach, etc. 

Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula

Ingredients

1 package gnocchi (we used Trader Joe’s brand)

1 tbls olive oil

1 bunch Brazilian eggplants or 1 small traditional eggplant

1 small bunch of arugula, washed and ends trimmed

salt and pepper

Basil leaves and parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

For the sauce

2 tbls butter

2 tbls flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

3 ounces fresh goat cheese, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

To cook

Set a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  In the meantime, chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the eggplant and saute until tender.  Add the arugula and saute briefly until wilted.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.  Once water is boiling, add gnocchi and cook according to package directions.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once it is melted, add the flour, whisking to combine.  Cook the butter and flour for a few minutes to get the raw flour taste out.  Add the garlic cloves and slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture is thickened.  Take off the heat and add the goat cheese, whisking until the sauce is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed, use a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce.

To serve

Toss the cooked gnocchi with the sauce and veggies, top with torn fresh basil and some grated parmesan cheese (if desired).  Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Pasta, Recipes, Vegetarian