Posts Tagged pasta

White Clam Sauce

Linguine with White Clam SauceThere’s nothing like a good white clam sauce to go with your linguine (or any other kind of pasta you might choose. My favorite food store actually carries shucked fresh clams, so I generally buy  a tub of these for this recipe. However, if yours doesn’t, you can buy baby clams in a can. They work just fine. However, that’s not quite enough for me. I also buy a couple of cans of chopped clams as well. The more the merrier.

This recipe is for 1 lb. of pasta. It calls for a cup of clam juice or chicken stock. The clam juice will make the sauce stronger, while the chicken stock will make it a bit more mellow and buttery flavored. The choice is yours, or you can even use half and half if you’d like.

Ingredients

1 can (or tub) of whole baby clams

2 cans of chopped clams

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1.5 tsp. dried thyme

1 cup clam juice (or chicken stock)

1 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, zested

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Coarse ground black pepper and coarse salt

Italian bread (for mopping up extra sauce; optional)

Shaved Parmesan cheese (for serving)

1 lb. pasta, slightly undercooked

Directions

In a large, deep skillet add the olive oil and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until the oil becomes fragrant and the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and white wine. Cook for a few minutes until the concoction is slightly reduced. Add the clam juice or chicken stock (or a combination of the two). Allow it to simmer for a minute.

Stir in your clams and your lemon zest. Drain your pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss with the sauce for 2-3 minutes until it becomes al denté. Add the chives, pepper and salt to taste. Toss it a couple of times and you’re good to go!

It goes without saying that you should top this with some shaved Parmesan cheese!

 

 

 

 

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Summer Veggie Pasta Sauce

raw-zucchiniI spent my childhood eating traditional tomato-based pasta sauce. When I finally moved out of my family home and started to enjoy cooking, I decided I wanted to explore a bigger variety of sauces for my pasta. This sauce is especially nice in the summer, using zucchini, pancetta, and peas. Combine these delicious vegetables with butter, dry white wine and parmesan cheese, and it’s a real feast.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked pasta

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 oz. pancetta

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for serving (I like to use the grated in the sauce and the shaved for serving)

Directions

The first order of business is to bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, cook until al denté (most of the time this runs from 7-10 minutes after the rolling boil has started). Then drain and set aside. While this process is going on, you can work on your sauce.

Add the chopped pancetta to a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the chopped zucchini, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until it begins to soften. Add the thawed peas at the very end of this process and sauté for about 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until it turns golden and becomes fragrant. Then add the white wine, lemon juice, butter, thyme and basil. Cook for another two minutes or until the butter is completely melted.

Return the vegetables to the pan with the sauce and sauté for an additional minute or two. Then, add the pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese to heat through.

This is a good time to give it a taste test for saltiness (the pancetta is salted and the cheese will also add a bit of saltiness to the dish). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You are ready to enjoy!

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Orechiette with Peas, Garlic and Pancetta

Orechiette with Pancetta and PeasOrechiette (or pig’s ears) is undoubtedly the best pasta on the planet. They look like little space ships, for one. More importantly, they are like little “cups” that manage to hold whatever you’re combining it with. This means you miss none of the flavor of the dish.

Now, a word about Pancetta. It’s basically Italian bacon. What makes it different is that it is minus that smoky flavor, which is just perfect for several dishes, including this one. You can buy it several different ways. You can buy it as a big roll. You can have it sliced at the deli of your local grocery store, which is great when you want to put it on burgers. You can even buy it chopped, which is what I do for this particular dish.

This pasta dish is remarkably simple and comes together pretty quickly.

Ingredients

1 lb Orechiette pasta

1 cup chopped Pancetta

1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted and heated

6 tbsp olive oil

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Parmesan Reggiano (for serving)

1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes (for serving)

Directions 

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the Orechiette and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until al dente. You should check after 12 minutes.

While your pasta is cooking, add the Pancetta to a skillet and cook until just a bit crispy. You don’t need any oil for this. Remove and set aside. While this is going on, defrost and heat your peas in a microwave. Set the peas aside.

Add 6 tbsp oil to the pan you cooked the Pancetta in. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the oil is infused. Allow the garlic to cook, but do not allow the garlic to burn. Then add the Pancetta and peas to the pan with the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the black pepper and give it a stir.

Drain the Orechiette and return it to the cooking pan. Add the Pancetta, garlic, peas and oil from the pan and toss until mixed. Pour into a serving plate and top with grated Parmesan. Make sure you serve the pasta with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes on the side.

Now, all you need is a nice glass of red wine…

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Baked Rigatoni with Fresh Tomatoes, Herbs, and Parmesan

RigatoniWhen I was a kid we called this “pizza macaroni.” My sisters and I still call it that. For this dish, you’ll need a lasagna pan because it’s “layered” like lasagna. This pasta dish is great as a leftover. Like most pasta dishes, it’s better the second time around!

You will note that I call for both olive oil and Parmesan in unspecified quantities. You’re going to have to “wing it” here! Don’t be nervous, you’ll see how easy this is once you get to the directions for this simple yet wonderful dish.

You can also use Ziti for this dish, but I prefer Rigatoni.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Rigatoni

6-8 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in thin slices

1 cup fresh basil, trimmed and cut in long strips

3/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (or spicy oregano, which is what I use)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded and grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring salted water to boil in a very large pan. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, throw in the rigatoni. Cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until it’s just partially cooked (that would be less than al denté). Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the lazagna pan, and put down your first layer of rigatoni. Don’t lay it down too thick. Just make sure the surface is covered. Add a layer of tomatoes, sprinkle on basil, oregano and grated Parmesan, then drizzle again with olive oil.  Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used. This should give you about 3 layers. On the top layer, you’ll also add some shredded Parmesan.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree for about an hour.

Serve with additional Parmesan as well as crushed red pepper.

 

 

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Baked Mac and Cheese With Chipotle Panko

Baked Mac and CheeseNo question about it. What I’m about to give you for a recipe is for adults. There’s no way kids will like Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese. In fact, my kids don’t like any breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese, unfortunately for them. So, here’s the deal: If you make this for them, leave off the breadcrumbs unless you ask them first. I make two versions. One is decidedly for adults because I add stuff in as well. The other is for the kids.

I also find that kids like milder cheeses, so I switch it up when I’m making it for kids. In other words, I put more Monterey Jack in for the kids, and less Cheddar. For adults, I’m liable to do just about anything. And I confess I’m a cheesaholic.

This is one of the greatest comfort foods on the planet. It distresses me when kids (who may be visiting) ask if it’s from the box. Ah, that would be a big, fat “No.” Not happening.

So, when you look at this recipe, pay close attention to the notes. This is one of those foods where you can think totally outside the recipe.

Ingredients

16 oz pasta (Anything goes here, except for spaghetti. I like to use Farfalle (bowties), Casserole Elbows (instead of regular elbows), Medium Shells, Rotini, or Cavatappi)

8 tbsp (one stick) butter plus an additional 4 tbsp (for the top when baking)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp Tuscan seasoning (McCormick brand; great product)

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

5 cups milk (whole or two-percent; your choice)

Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs (or regular Panko; your choice)

2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

The first thing I do is cook the pasta in a large pot until it is partially done. You’re going to bake it in the oven for at least 30 minutes, so you don’t want to cook it completely. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Another thing you can get out of the way is prepping yourself a large casserole dish by rubbing the inside thoroughly with butter. I use the tub butter for this job, specifically the light butter made with canola. It works just fine.

In a medium sized pan, heat the 4 cups of milk until just boiling. Set aside. While you’re doing that, take the same pan you cooked the pasta in and melt the 8 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in the flour and whisk continually until the mixture turns light brown. Remove from heat and whisk in the Tuscan seasoning, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Now, add the milk a little at a time. You’ll note that the mixture will be really thick in the beginning, but it will thin out. Once the milk has been incorporated, return this concoction to medium high heat and whisk until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You really don’t need to check this out. You can tell when it’s ready. Trust me. Remove from heat yet again, and add all of the cheese. Mix well until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, add the partially-cooked pasta and mix well until the pasta and cheese is thoroughly incorporated. Don’t worry if you have to add a few drops of cold milk to this. Again, think outside the recipe. Do what you have to do.

Spoon the mixture into your greased casserole dish and top with Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs. Take the additional 4 tbsp butter and cut it up so that it sits on top of the breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling freely.

Cooking Notes

There are a lot of things you can do with this dish. It’s unbelievably versatile. For kids, you may want to eliminate the Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs and replace them with regular breadcrumbs. I simply use two different casserole dishes. One with; one without. Again, that’s up to you.

But there are a number of things you can add in besides spinach:

  • Chopped and sauteed Pancetta
  • Blanched broccoli florets
  • Sauteed red, yellow and orange peppers
  • Defrosted frozen peas (one of my all-time favorites)
  • Baby Kale (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Baby Spinach (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes

All of these additional ingredients, except for the tomatoes, should be added in when you add the pasta to the cheese concoction. With the tomatoes, you can simply layer them with the pasta mixture in the casserole dish.

A Note About Cheese

Let’s talk cheese. The recipe calls for Cheddar and Monterey Jack. You can simply switch the two around and use 1 cup of cheddar and 2 of Monterey Jack for a mac and cheese with milder flavor. Keep the Parmesan as is. Other cheese that can be used in this recipe include Shredded Swiss, Edam, Fontina, or Mozarella, Six-Cheese Italian…even Four-Cheese Mexican. Hey, when it comes to cheese, anything goes.

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