So now that Carolyn is working I’ve got to carry my own weight on the dinner front. Tonight I tried to copy my favorite thing from Noodles & Co., pasta fresca. Mine didn’t turn out quite as good as theirs, but it definitely has a lot less oil.
I found a few similar recipes on-line and mashed them together.
- 2 cups pasta (farfalle works best, but I ran out so I mixed in some angel hair)
- 3 or 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 red onion
- 3 or 4 roma tomatoes
- feta or parmesan cheese
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- To start, cook the pasta and set it aside.
- Mince garlic and red onion.
- Cube roma tomatoes.
- Once the pasta is done, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Mix in the pasta, tomatoes, garlic and onions. Cook together for about 2 minutes. Then add 4 or 5 handfuls of spinach, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cook together until the spinach just begins to wilt. Serve with parmesan or feta cheese.
It turned out reasonably well, it certainly didn’t taste just like pasta fresca, but it was pretty good. The balsamic was a bit too subtle, I think I’d probably use a couple extra tablespoons next time and a bit more olive oil as the pasta stuck to the pan a bit.
At long last… my ‘famous’ lasagna recipe! A few people have been, ahem, pestering me to post this one. It tastes better than it looks – promise!
this was originally my uncle’s recipe and i had to improvise the quantities. He is one of those cooks who magically throws ingredients together and makes it come out just right. I think this tastes a like his, but was a tad watery, probably from the frozen spinach i used.
- 1 lb ground beef (we use Laura’s 92% lean)
- 1 T evoo
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 32 oz. cans of whole tomatoes
- 1 t fennel seed
- 1 t mustard powder
- 1 t onion powder
- 2 t basil
- 1 T salt
- 2 t sugar
- 4 C spinach (i used frozen- it was all i had on hand)
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 T thyme
- 1 bag mozzarella cheese
- 1 package (no boil) lasagna noodles
- brown ground beef in a large saucepan, rinse and drain. heat oil in the saucepan and saute garlic and onion. before adding the tomatoes, slice them into chunks using a sharp knife in the can.
- Preheat oven to 450° F.
- add the tomatoes, fennel, mustard powder, onion powder, basil, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. stir in meat and continue simmer.
- mix ricotta cheese, thyme and 1/3 C of mozzarella cheese.
- layer, starting with sauce, then noodles, ricotta mixture, and spinach. Repeat, finishing with noodles, then sauce, and remaining mozzarella cheese. I like to sprinkle a little exra basil on top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: bread, chickpeas, feta, pasta, spinach, tomatoes, vegetarian
THE PASTA – is a Shape Magazine dish, which i adapted in a few ways.
- 8 oz. farfalle pasta
- 2 T evoo
- 4 C baby spinach
- 1/3 C packed golden raisins (not just for color – the flavor is better)
- 1 3/4 C chickpeas (approx. one can)
- 4 oz. feta cheese (about 1/2 C)
- 1/2 C thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes
- S + P to taste
- chopped walnuts if desired.
- cook the pasta to al dente. drain, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
- while the pasta is still hot, add spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas, and raisins. put the cover back on to help the spinach wilt a little.
- when the pasta has cooled, add the feta and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with walnuts if you like.
THE PULL APARTS – recipe was found on gourmet.com – and they were just as good as i had hoped. Joe observed that they taste a lot like cheeze-its, but have the texture of a bialy.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon mild honey
- 2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp for sprinkling
- 1 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 t salt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 T unsalted butter, cut into T pieces and softened
- 1 tablespoon water
- Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
- Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.) Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.
In my cooking experience thus far, i have made potato gnocchi (with skins was a disaster), sweet potato gnocchi, and ricotta gnocchi. the ricotta gnocchi was tasty, but so rich and heavy that i don’t think i will ever make it again. Sweet potato gnocchi is probably my favorite, but i always struggle with what SAUCE to make for it. certainly not tomato, and i have an aversion to white sauces. tonight i was cooking for four guys and myself, so this regular potato gnocchi was a simple, filling, and cheap dish to make.
- 3 lbs potatoes, peeled (i used russet because they were on sale and we bought a big bag)
- 2 1/2 C all purpose flour (i substituted 1 C with white wheat and it was still good)
- 2t salt
- 1 1/2 eggs, lightly beaten (i hate being wasteful like this…)
- steam potatoes for 26 min, or until fully soft.
- mash them while they are still warm, getting out all the lumps you can.
- mix in eggs, flour, and salt.
- roll dough out on well floured counter, with floured hands, to form a 1/2″ diameter rope. cut into 1/4-1/2″ wide pieces and press dough into shape using a long-pronged fork.
- bring a large pot of salted water to rapid boil. cook the gnocchi just until they bob to the top – about 2-3 minutes. scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let them drain.
i have always struggeled trying to keep gnocchi warm after cooking them, and let them drain long enough so they don’t get soggy. i just do the best that i can to shake off extra water as i scoop them from the cooking pot.
this is secret family recipe material. it is SOOO good! it is one of joe’s recipes and this is the first time i have made it. unlike boxed mac n’ cheese, it actually tastes good the next day! I used some nice sharp Cabot cheese (we usually buy store brand but it was on super sale) and i think that added a lot to it. Next time i might use a tad more Worcestershire sauce.
- 2 C elbow macaroni
- 2 C skim milk
- 2 T corn starch
- 6-8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
- S+P to taste
- cook macaroni in pot of boiling water 1 min less than indicated, then preheat oven to 350°
- in a small saucepan, whisk together milk and corn starch, turn to medium heat and continually whisk until it begins to bubble
- take milk off the heat, stir in cheese, Worcestershire, and s+p.
- mix together pasta and sauce in baking dish and cook for 12-15 min in preheated oven.
these were good and EASY! i had half a container of rocotta left over from the baked giagantoni i made last week. i also just so happened to have 12 lasagna noodles left over. we happened to have a bag of frozen spinach on hand, and in the interest of pizza night, we ALWAYS have plenty of mozzarella in our fridge.
i usually shy away from cream sauces, but i used skim milk for this and it tasted great and was an essential part of the dish.
- 1 1/4 C SKIM milk
- 4 t flour
- 2 T butter
- salt and pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- melt butter on med-low in a saucepan, add flour and whisk for 3 minutes.
- whisk in milk, and continually whisk at med-high heat until bubbling. add spices and remove from heat.
- 14 oz. part skim rocatta cheese
- 1 C parmesan cheese
- 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained (i rinsed the frozen spinach with cool water to speed up the thawing process)
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 t salt
- 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
- 2 C marinara sauce
- 1 C mozzarella
- preheat oven to 450°. bring large pot of (lightly) salted water to boil and cook 12 lasagna sheets 1-2 min less than the package suggests.
- make the sauce and pour into 13 x 9 x 3 inch baking dish
- in a med bowl, mix together egg, ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and spinach.
- spread 3 T of ricotta mixture over one lasagna noodle, curl up from the end and place seam down in the sauce.
- cover with 1 C of marinara and 1 C mozzarella, then bake covered for 20 min in preheated oven. remove foil and bake for 12-15 more min, until cheese begins to brown.
Last week Carolyn bought two bunches of asparagus, we ate one as a side with chicken but had one bunch left. We’re racing a triathlon tomorrow, so we wanted something high in carbs but we needed to use the asparagus before it went bad. This pasta was the logical choice. I’ve made it before, and it is tasty and super quick.
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 3 cloves of garlic – minced
- 1/2 box of pasta, we use angel hair
- 2 cans diced tomatoes – petite diced is the best
- olive oil
- dried basil
Get your pasta water boiling in one pot. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over med-high heat. Once hot, put the minced garlic and about a tablespoon of dried basil (fresh would be better if you have it) in the skillet. Cook the until the garlic is golden brown. Once brown, turn the heat down a bit and pour in your cans of diced tomatoes. They have a lot of juice and will taste better if you let it cook down a bit, about 10 minutes.
Once your water is boiling, put in your pasta. You want to put the asparagus in with the pasta with about 4.5 minutes to go, so watch the timer. Cook the two together until the pasta is al dente and the asparagus is done, but not mushy. Drain in a collander and the pour into the skillet with the tomatoes and garlic. Mix well and serve with grated parmesean.
this was originally intended to be an omnivorous dish, with pepperoni, but i left think it was very tasty without. The way i made the recipe it should yield 1 (big) dinner and two lunches for two active people. It took a little while to cook, but there is so little prep time that i got in 20 miles on the trainer while making dinner!
- 1/2 package of gigantoni (or ziti)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 24 oz. jar pasta sauce
- 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- dash of red pepper (probably 1 t)
- 18 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 C mozzarella cheese
- combine sauce, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic and pepper in medium saucepan and simmer for 1 hour.
- cook pasta al dente according to directions, drain, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
- preheat oven to 350° and combine cooked pasta with ricotta cheese, 1/2 C mozzarella, and 1/2 of sauce in a baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- bake for 30 min. and let cool for 10 (perfect time to make side salad).
i have been so lazy in the photograph department lately. it takes a lot of will power sometimes to grab the camera instead of my fork. i wish i had a more descriptive photo of the pasta. it is true that it isn’t much to look at… it tastes 100 x as good as it looks.
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 small onion, cut into large wedges
- 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, whole
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds*
- 1 pound whole wheat pasta
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
*cheaper substitute for pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine the eggplant, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.
- While the vegetables are roasting, place the sunflower seeds in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve (at least) 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the tomato and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.
- Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy, as well as a glug of vinegar (optional). Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top and serve.