Category Archives: Pasta

Simple Caprese Style Pasta

Caprese Style Pasta

Caprese Style Pasta

My Caprese Pasta Salad has been pinned quite a bit on pinterest and it’s always a summertime favorite for barbeques, concert in the park picnic dinners, or just casual dinners at home. In the colder months, however, I don’t make as many cold salad dishes, but we still enjoy pasta with all of the Caprese elements. I made this for my “Caprese Pasta loving friend’s” birthday dinner. It looks great on a platter, and the colors are very festive, so it’s a great dish to serve for a holiday crowd. It’s great for entertaining because it comes together so easily. You could toss the pasta with a bit of cream sauce, but my family loves it just generously coated with olive oil, butter, salt and pepper, and, of course, Parmesan cheese. You can also toss together all of the ingredients, but I like the look of it with the pasta in the center surrounded by the other Caprese ingredients. The ingredient measurements are flexible – adjust according to your taste.  (Serves 6-8 as a side dish)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Pasta (Bowties, Ziti, Rigatoni, or your favorite pasta shape)
  • 1 – 1.5 Cups Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 1.5- 2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (can use cherry tomatoes cut in 1/2)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Lb. Fresh Mozzerella Cheese – cut into bite sized cubes
  • 4-6  TBS. Butter- melted
  • 2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta to just beyond al dente phase, but don’t allow to get too soft. While pasta cooks, you can chop ingredients. When pasta is drained, toss with melted butter, olive oil salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese until well coated. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Arrange the chopped tomatoes, basil, and cubed mozzerella around the perimeter of a large serving platter and then add the pasta to the center. Serve immediately.

Caprese pasta Ashlees bday dinner table

 

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Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

Chicken and basil cream sauce

Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

We love having Matt, our foreign exchange student from Brazil, live with us, but I must confess that he is a challenge to cook for. He does not eat a single vegetable or fruit – you should have seen the look on his face when he saw the chicken stir fry I made for my son’s birthday dinner! He literally picked the chicken out of the pan and noticed he had a “green thing” in the mix; he said “Oh no Kath, can you get it off my plate?” I just view it as a new cooking challenge; or maybe a challenge to get him to embrace some fruits or vegetables (he did eat some apple cranberry tart the other night). So, I had some leftover chicken breasts from the stir fry dinner and I know he likes cream and cheese sauces, so I threw together a revised version of my chicken in creamy pesto sauce. I did warn him that there were “green things” in the dish, but I promised they were not vegetables but herbs to add flavor. He accepted that and enjoyed the pasta- it may be baby steps, but it’s progress!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 2-3 Cups Heavy cream
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese- grated
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil – chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Lb. Cooked Linguine, Fettuccini (or other favorite pasta)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cut chicken into bite size pieces (I prefer thin slices) and season generously with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan, melt butter. Add chicken to pan and saute/brown until fully cooked.brown chicken Add cream and chopped basil to pan and simmer, stirring occasionally,  over medium until cream is reduced by about 50%. chicken basil cream reducingAdd cheese and stir until cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Serve over pasta* – garnish with additional basil if desired.

*If you prefer, add cooked pasta directly to the saute pan and toss until liberally coated with the sauce – this will help to further thicken the sauce.

Chili Mac

Chili Mac 2

Chili Mac

My mother used to make this quite a bit, and we all loved it. She called it “goop” because she said it wasn’t technically ghoulash. I call it chili mac, but it’s not technically chili because it doesn’t have all of the chili spices (or beans). As you can imagine, my kids also love it. It’s super easy to make, and, if you’re like me, you probably have many of the ingredients on hand with the exception, maybe, of the ground beef (which I usually have frozen). You could easily spice this up by adding more chili powder and/or red pepper flakes (I add a little of both, but my kids don’t like it spicy). You can also top it with cheese and finish it off in the oven so that the cheese makes a nice warm blanket for the chili mac. This is a great weeknight dinner, and it’s almost better as leftovers.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 Lbs. Ground Beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 3 Sweet Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow or Orange- chopped
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion- chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1-2 TBS.Olive Oil
  • 2  28 Oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 16 Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Lb. Macaroni (or other small shaped pasta)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1 TBS. Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend or your favorite) – Optional

Ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta to al dente (or even a little less). Drain pasta and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside. Cook ground beef in a skillet or large saute pan over medium heat. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or large, deep saute pan; add garlic and saute until just fragrant. Add onion and peppers and saute until all are softened. Saute onion and peppers until tenderUsing a slotted spoon (to drain off some of the excess fat and liquid) transfer cooked ground beef to pot with cooked peppers, onions, and garlic. Add canned tomatoes, paste, and sauce as well as Italian herbs, sugar, and season generously with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Remove bay leaf, and add macaroni to pot. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired.Chili Mac

Southwestern Pasta Salad

photo (84)It’s still summer and I am still inventing recipes which utilize leftover fresh Michigan corn. This one might be one of my new favorites (although you can never go wrong with risotto or salsa). Not only did I use leftover corn, I used my leftover chimichurri sauce. This is one of those “so easy, but such a big hit” recipes. I chose to use orzo as my pasta, but really you could use any type of pasta – whatever your favorite is or whatever you have in the cupboard. You could also mix in a variety of other vegetables, I stuck with tomatoes and corn. I also added queso fresco, but it would be great with feta cheese (that would take away a bit of the southwestern flavor, but it would sure taste good). My measurements are approximate – add or reduce as you enjoy. Keep in mind that the chimichurri sauce is loaded with garlic, so this pasta salad packs a good punch. If you’re serving this at a party and are worried about the garlic content, certainly reduce the amount used in your chimichurri sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. (1/2 a box) of Orzo Pasta (or your favorite pasta, but larger pasta will shapes will require more pasta)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Grape or Cherry Tomatoes cut in 1/2 or 1/4s)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Corn (leftover fresh or canned or frozen)
  • 1.5 Cups Queso Fresca- crumbled (or substitute your favorite cheese)
  • 1/4+ Cup Chimichurri Sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta (according to directions) to “al dente” phase. Drain pasta and run under cold water to cool completely and stop the cooking process. Combine pasta and vegetables in a large mixing bowl – adjusting vegetables and chimichurri sauce; mix and adjust ingredients to desired amount). photo (77)Add cheese and mix again until well combined. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Caprese Pasta Salad

capreses pasta saladThis is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
  • 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
  • 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
  • Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
  • Pepper- to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes,  mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Pasta with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

pasta withwildmushroom creamsauce and pork 2This is another example of a recipe that was a result of what was in the fridge. I had some leftover wild mushrooms and some heavy cream (I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been on an ice cream making kick lately). This is a really simple cream sauce, but delicious and even a little decadent. Also pictured is some sliced boneless pork- you guessed it… because I had that around too. It would be equally good with a few slices of tender chicken breast. My measurements are not quite exact, but the good news is that sauces of these type are very forgiving and can be manipulated easily (why I claim to be a better cook than a baker). I only made this to serve 2, but I’ve adapted the recipe to Serve 4.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2-3/4 Lb. Pasta (Fettucini, Linguine, or your favorite shape- I used a combination of smallershaped noodles)
  • 6TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Package(6-8 Oz.) Mushrooms (I used a combination of wild mushrooms – shitake, cremini, trumpets- but you can use regular white or button mushrooms)
  • 1.5-2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 4 TBS. Chopped Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Oregano)- or substitute 2 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Optional: Sliced Cooked Pork Loin, Chicken Breast, or other meat.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a large saute pan (large enough to hold pasta and sauce). Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add heavy cream, herbs, and salt and pepper (keep in mind that Parmesan will add a little more salt). Cook over medium until cream is reduced by about 1/2. Add Parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning (add more salt if necessary). Add creamand herbsAdd cooked pasta to saute pan with sauce and toss until well coated. Add pastaServe immediately – with slice pork (if using) on side.

Lemon Chicken with Fettuccine

Lemon Chicken cropedFettucini with Lemon Sauce and Basil

If you love lemon, you’ll enjoy this recipe. You certainly don’t have to pair the chicken with the pasta, but it just works so well and is a great way to use the “sauce” from the chicken. I made this while we were vacationing at a cottage on Lake Michigan; the kitchen was minimally equipped, the plates were all plastic, and the lighting wasn’t very good; so, my apologies for the lack of good photos. Also, I did not have a lemon zester available, so I used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest and then chopped the strips into small pieces. (Serves 4 – with leftovers)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Each butterflied and then cut into two thin pieces – optional)
  • 2/4 Cup Olive Oil
  •  6-8 Cloves Garlic- minced
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice from 2 Lemons
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra Lemons – thinly sliced (optional- for garnish)
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 LB. Fettuccine or favorite pasta
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil- chopped
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute until fragrant, but don’t allow the garlic to brown. Off the heat, add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. (Set the pan aside for later use). Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper and place them in the baking dish.Chicken ready for the oven Place the lemon slices (if using) on the pieces of chicken. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pasta according to directions for pasta. Drain pasta and set aside. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the chicken, lemon slices (if using) and a few spoonfulls of sauce to a plate and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the baking dish into the large saute pan, add two TBS. of butter and basil and heat briefly over medium heat. Add cooked pasta to pan and toss until well coated. Serve pasta alongside chicken and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Israeli Couscous and Roasted Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

It’s Tuesday again (time flies in the summer), so it was concert in the park night. As has become tradition, I made a cold salad and sandwiches (pulled pork with pickled fennel). The salad was inspired by my friend Geaneen’s recent trip to her sister-in-law’s organic farm; she returned home with beautiful petite beets and some fabulous green onions. I did have to supplement with extra beets, so I added some gold beets. I tried to use some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients – including those in my beloved Greek salad. I was a little worried about how the salad would be received, not everyone is a fan of beets, but  it was an instant hit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Israeli Couscous (regular or tri-colored)
  • 4 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/4 Cups Water
  • 4-6 Medium Beets (Golden or Red)
  • 4-6 Green Onions (or 1/2 medium sweet onion)
  • 6 Oz. Feta Cheese (more or less to your liking)
  • 3/4 Cup Kalmata Olives
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Mint – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Oregano – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Basil – finely chopped

For the Vinagrette (makes extra – save and use for other salads)

  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 4-5 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2-3 TBS. Olive Brine (from Kalmata Olives)
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  • Salt to taste (will depend on your olive brine)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300 Degrees. Remove stems and any roots from beets – rub with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes. In the meantime, remove the green parts and roots from green onions (or, if using sweet onions, slice into 1/4 inch rounds) and rub with olive oil – set aside. After beets have roasted for 35-45 minutes, add onions to baking sheet and return to the oven. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes until beets are tender when a fork is inserted. Remove beets and onions from oven and set aside. Prepare the vinagrette by combining all ingredients in a jar or tupperware container with a tight fitting lid; set aside. Heat 1 TBS. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and toast, stirring frequently,  for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Through June 25 2013 078Add chicken broth, water, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low – simmer for 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. In the meantime, when beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut onions into small dice. Slice kalmata olives in half. When couscous is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly. Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the vinagrette (to taste) to the couscous. Add beets and onions. Add feta cheese and fresh herbs once couscous is completely cooled. Through June 25 2013 085Mix well, add more vinagrette if desired and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta SaladMy little city (I like to call it “Mayberry”) has free concerts in the park every Tuesday night in the summer. We often take a picnic dinner – I like to keep it simple; usually a gourmet sandwich and a side salad (often pasta salad). I can’t remember which sandwich I paired with this pasta salad, but I do remember that the pasta salad was a big success. Because this side salad includes meat and cheese, it’s particularly filling and would pair well with a light sandwich. I purchased the provolone and salami from the deli at the grocery store and just asked them for the whole piece unsliced – then cut it into bite sized chunks. Cut into cubesSalami and ProvoloneIt’s super easy to make and is even better if made a day in advance.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Tri-colored Fusili or other dried Pasta
  • 1/2 Lb. Hard Salami – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 Lb. Provolone – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 Cup Cherry/Grape Tomatoes – cut into 1/2s or 1/4s
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion – roughly chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Black Olives (I like Kalmata) pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Sweet Basil – roughly chopped
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pinot Grigio Vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – minced
  • Salt and Pepper to tasteChopped ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), drain, and run under cold water until completely cooled. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper until well combined. Pour vinagrette over cooled pasta, add remaining ingredients and toss until well-combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (the salami and provolone are quite salty).

Ready for transport

 

Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Linguine with fresh tomato and basilIt’s lacrosse season here in Michigan, so that means that most of my evenings are spent at games (both my son and daughter play). This means that the blog suffers and we eat out a lot. There are some nights that I’m able to cook dinner, but I try to keep it really simple – usually grilled chicken, fish or meat, and a simple side dish. I have a plethera of pasta combinations, but this is a favorite of ours. I almost always have cherry or grape tomatoes in the refrigerator, and I always try to keep fresh basil on hand; in a week or so I will have it fresh in the garden. This pasta side dish (or can be served as a vegetarian entree) comes together in no time – it really only takes a few minutes more than whatever the cooking time is for your pasta. This is a classic – simple and good. (Serves 4-6).

INGREDIENTS:Ingredients (2)

  • 1 Lb. of Linguine (or your favorite pasta)
  • 1 Cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes (cut into halves or quarters)
  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic- finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil – rough chopped
  • 3-4 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the pasta to the boiling water. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saute pan. Add the garlic and saute until tender. Add the tomatoes and saute until softened. When cooked to desired tenderness, drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking water. Add basil to saute pan, Add tomato and basil to pan to warmstir and then add pasta directly to the pan; add the parmesan cheese. Toss the pasta to combine and add pasta water if necessary. Add cooked pasta and tossSeason well with salt and pepper. Serve with additional grated parmesan cheese.