Tag Archives: pasta

“Pasta Mondays”: Pasta Shells with Tomato and Eggplant

25 Jun

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It’s been a busy June this year. Before the month slips by, I will share a simple recipe for a pasta dinner. Shells with Tomato and Eggplant.

Pasta Mondays have been happening a lot this month. Pasta offers carb-filled comfort, and when tossed with seasonal produce, feels light and quick (I’ve been on a beans/eggs/tortillas kick, lately as well…). Just what I need to keep me pumped for the busy days ahead.

Below is a photo of whole wheat angel hair pasta with summer squash, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and Pecorino:

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I turned the leftover sautéed squash into another pasta meal, adding tomato sauce, kale, and “whipped” cottage cheese (my latest obsession, it has the consistency of ricotta but with more protein!):

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This week’s pasta dinner was inspired by an amazing eggplant-based vegan sandwich I ate over the weekend at the Smorgasburg in DUMBO. The sandwich was made by Bombay Sandwich, Co. It had roasted eggplant, onions, and tomato seasoned with cumin, carom seed, asafetida, and jaggery. The sandwich was topped with various chutneys, carrot & mustard seed pickle, fresh cut cilantro & Haldiram’s crunchy chickpea flakes, and was toasted on local seven grain bread from Orwashers Artisan Bakery.

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With eggplant on the brain, and leftover tomato sauce in my fridge, this week’s Pasta Monday was set. I recently acquired some basil plants that I potted and set on my windowsill, and nothing screams pasta and tomatoes like fresh basil! I decided to go cheese-less tonight, but I added a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a little flavor and substance.

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Shells with Tomato and Eggplant

serves 4, loosely adapted from Martha Rose Shulman 

8 oz dry shell shape pasta

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small to medium size or 1 large eggplant, cubed

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1-2 cups prepared tomato sauce (try to find a high quality brand with no added sugar, or purchase it at your farmer’s market if you can)

small handful of fresh basil, lightly chopped

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

optional: nutritional yeast…or Parmesan or ricotta…

Get your water boiling in a pot. Once boiling, salt the water and add the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it begins to ripple, add the eggplant and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the edges are nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Cover, turn the heat to medium, and continue to cook, shaking the pan often, until the eggplant is thoroughly softened, about 10 more minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, stir together, and heat through. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Drain the pasta, and toss with the tomato sauce and eggplant mixture. Top the pasta with fresh basil, salt, and fresh ground pepper. If using, sprinkle on top nutritional yeast or fresh cheese.

Peas and Shells Alfredo

9 May

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Springtime comfort food at it’s finest. Whole wheat pasta shells with spring peas, soakin’ it up in a rich, creamy sauce.

I found the finest asparagus at the farmer’s market to pair with this saucy pasta. Thin asparagus is the name of the game; if you can get your hands on some, it’s a whole new experience than the regular fatties we are so used to seeing.

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The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is packed with outstanding, fool-proof recipes that are actually quite simple and definitely doable in a small NYC kitchen. So far I’ve made her Cranberry Crumb Bars, Spatchcocked Flat-Roasted Chicken, Turkey Meatballs, and Deep-Dish Apple Pie…

This pasta is a one-pot recipe with just a few ingredients that come together quickly for a weeknight meal.

Did I mention this is HOMEMADE ALFREDO PASTA?! And heck is it better than than the Alfredo I remember as a kid (psst…for the vegans, check out this recipe for vegan fettuccine Alfredo made with a cashew cream).

While I omitted adding chopped herbs to the shells, I certainly wish I had some on hand. The one ingredient that I think is not to be skipped under any circumstances is the lemon zest. The citrus zing balances out the creamy, cheesy sauce and keeps everything nice and bright.

Peas and Shells Alfredo

recipe from Shutterbean, originally from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

1/2 lb of dried small pasta shells (I used whole wheat)

1 cup organic sweet peas (I used frozen ones…no fresh ones at the market yet…)

1 cup heavy cream

2-3 tablespoons butter (depending on how rich you want the sauce to be)

zest from 1 medium size lemon

1 cup grated Parmesan

fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last minute of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas.

Dry out the pasta pot, and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta & peas. Cook the pasta in the sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen up the sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan, a touch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon.

Rigatoni Bolognese (with ground turkey)

24 Feb

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This was my first time making bolognese at home, and dang, it made me realize that it is high time to start expanding my horizons in the kitchen. Bolognese is just too easy and too good not to have made before.

Bolognese is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. As the sauce simmers on the stove, the strong notes of red wine and tomato complement the already savory-delicious smell of meat. The ultimate meal for these dog days of winter…

I chose to follow Jackie Newgent’s recipe, which uses ground turkey instead of the traditional ground beef. She also adds in some green tea and orange juice to replace some of the traditionally heavier bolognese ingredients like cream. These help build a more complex flavor without weighing the sauce down.

Jackie Newgent is a classically trained chef, registered dietitian, cookbook author, and media personality. Her latest book is full of quick, healthy recipes that “focus on filling ingredients with a contemporary edge.” I have had the pleasure of meeting Jackie in person and corresponding with her through email and social media. She is the nicest person, who truly understands the meaning of good food.

I purchased my ground turkey from Di Paola Turkey Farm. They have a stand at the Columbia farmer’s market (in NYC) every Sunday. I also threw in some mushrooms that I had on-hand from Madura Farms (based in Orange County, NY). Mushrooms go great with tomatoes and meat. I won’t go into detail here, but it involves glutamates and nucleotides…check out this interview with the editors of the newest Cooks Illustrated Cookbook to learn more…

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Rigatoni Bolognese (with ground turkey)

recipe adapted from 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes by Jackie Newgent, RD

**This made a LOT of sauce; but it was great for leftovers for the next few days…probably got about 8 servings worth??  

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound ground turkey

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

3 garlics cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 jar marina sauce or 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/2 cup unsweetened green tea (or water)

Add ons: fresh parsley, chopped + Parmesan + black pepper

1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, stirring until fully cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate.

2. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the onion, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the wine, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and dried oregano and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the remaining wine, scrape up any browned bits in the pan, and cook while stirring for 1 minute.

3. Return the turkey to the skillet and add the marinara, orange juice, green tea, and remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.

4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 25 minutes. While the bolognese simmers, get your rigatoni boiling.

5. Once your pasta is done cooking, spoon some bolognese over the noodles, adding fresh chopped parsley and some Parmesan cheese.

Miso Soup

7 Dec

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Miso soup goes from appetizer to dinner with the addition of noodles, larger tofu cubes, broccoli, and avocado.

The broth is made with just 2 ingredients: water and miso paste. The rest is up to you: noodles or rice, tofu, egg, seasonal vegetables, chili flakes or oil, scallions, herbs, garlic…Heidi Swanson, who inspired this soup, even suggests using tea instead of water.

I’ve gabbed about my love for miso paste before, and once you have a tub of it hanging out in the fridge, you know that you can always make some soup when you’re in a dinner pinch.

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Miso Soup

adapted from 101 cookbooks

serves 2-3

**NOTE: You may need to add some salt to the soup. Taste and add as necessary. Sometimes I like to add a splash of soy sauce for a deeper, saltier flavor, too.

3 ounces dried noodles, soba or spaghetti
2 – 4 tablespoons white miso paste (to taste)
2 – 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
2 handfuls of chopped broccoli florets (or spinach)
Additional toppings: a pinch of red pepper flakes, avocado cubes

Cook the noodles in salted water. Add the broccoli during the last minute of cooking. Drain, run cold water over the noodles/broccoli to stop them from cooking, shake off any excess water, and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and remove from heat. Put the miso paste in a small bowl and pour a bit of the hot water over the miso, whisking so it thins out a bit (this is to avoid clumping). Stir this back into the pot. Taste, and then add more (the same way) a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Add the tofu, remove from the heat, and let it sit for just a minute or so.

Split the noodles/broccoli between two (or three) bowls, and pour the miso broth and tofu over them. Add red pepper flakes to each bowl and enjoy.

Pumpkin Ravioli with a Creamy Sauce

5 Dec

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I keep bumping into an acquaintance of mine at the Sunday farmer’s market. We happen to shop there at the same time, and we give each other recommendations—which vendor are you buying your eggs from this week, check out that heaping mound of Brussels sprouts, those mushrooms look amazing, have you tried the fresh pumpkin ravioli from Knoll Krest Farms?!

Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant, says that chefs (I will extend this to the greater population of home cooks/eaters) are “curators of what’s truly delicious; we’re driven by pleasure. The sustainable food movement is about hedonism…be greedy for great food when you know that it was grown in the right way” (“Dan Barber’s Culinary Crusade,” The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2012). I get such a thrill exchanging recipe ideas and seeing what people buy at the market. This may sound silly, but even making small-talk with other shoppers and vendors makes my day brighter.

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I gave into my craving for pumpkin ravioli a la my friend’s recommendation, and tossed it with an almost vegan “cream” sauce and some spinach. Next to a pile of roasted parsnips and delicata squash, this was tonight’s idea of a perfect meal.

**Note that the ravioli is not vegan. You could substitute with another pasta type to make this dish vegan. Also, I used cow’s milk to make my creamy sauce. To make the sauce vegan, use a non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice).

Pumpkin Ravioli With A Creamy Sauce

serves 4

sauce adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen (the sauce for the “straw and hay” pasta)

2-dozen (24 pieces) fresh ravioli (I used pumpkin ravioli)

a few handfuls of spinach

1 cup milk (I used low-fat milk)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon tahini

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste

optional: roasted squash seeds

Boil water, add salt, and cook the ravioli. Add the spinach to the water after the ravioli has been cooking for about a minute. Note that fresh ravioli should only take 3-5 minutes to cook. Drain and toss with the sauce. Top with roasted seeds.

To make the sauce: Combine the milk, water, cornstarch, tahini, soy sauce, garlic, onion powder, and salt in the blender and puree until smooth. Transfer the mix to a medium saucepan and let it cook over medium heat, whisking or stirring with a rubber spatula. Stir frequently, until the sauce thickens (about 5 to 10 minutes).