Category Archives: Pasta

Garden pasta

Confronted with an ever-growing pile of tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini on our kitchen counter, Andrew and I decided we had better switch gears from last night’s lentil vegetable soup and make something that would highlight our garden produce.

I began by broiling two of our sweet red peppers in the toaster oven until their skins turned black.  I covered them with a bowl to steam briefly before removing the skins.

I cut up five medium-small red tomatoes from the garden and placed them in the food processor along with the roasted red peppers.  To that I added a handful of fresh sage and basil.

In a pan, I sauteed a large yellow squash with a large clove of garlic.  I added half of the yellow squash, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper to the food processor and pulsed until the ingredients came together.

After cooking the pasta, I combined it with the rest of the sautéed yellow squash, the sauce from the food processor, a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and another handful of chiffonaded basil in a large serving bowl.

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Fresh Egg Pasta

Ingredients:
100 g all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 large egg

Use 100 grams of flour, 1 egg, and 1 pinch salt per person you are making pasta for.

Clean table or counter, and pour the flour onto the surface.  Form a well in the center of the flour.

Add the salt to the well and crack the eggs into the center.  Make sure the egg does not escape over the sides.  Sometimes I do this in a bowl, because my eggs have a tendency to spill over.

Begin gently beating the eggs with a fork and slowly incorporate some flour from the sides of the well.  Continue to slowly incorporate the flour.

Once enough flour has been incorporated that the mixture begins to get stiff, switch to working the dough with your hands.  Continue to bring in the flour from the sides and knead the dough.  Add more flour as necessary to prevent the dough from becoming too sticky.

Knead the ball for about 15 minutes to creating a uniform and smooth dough.

Cover the ball with a bowl and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

At this point I use a pasta machine to roll out pieces of the dough and cut it, but you can also roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it by hand.  The key to rolling it out by hand is to make sure you get it really thin.

Let your pasta dry and then move to a bag or container and keep in the freezer.  Even when frozen, the pasta cooks in boiling, salted water in just a few minutes.

Helpful equipment:
A pasta machine: Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Maker, Stainless Steel
This pasta machine is the one that I have, and I love it!

A pasta drying rack: Norpro Pasta Drying Rack
I chose to buy this drying rack, because it was inexpensive and functional.  Pasta drying racks come in a wide variety of forms and prices, so pick the one you like best.  You can also dry your pasta on a floured baking sheet.

Kitchen scale: Salter Digital Scale – Extra-Precise
This kitchen scale is a rather expensive one recommended by Lynne Rossetto Kasper from The Splendid Table.  Any reasonably accurate kitchen scale will do though.

Pasta with zucchini, chard, Meyer lemon and artichokes

1 lb. dried pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic
3 zucchini
1 bunch chard
Baby artichokes, cooked, marinated in extra virgin olive oil
1 Meyer lemon
1/4 cup white wine
Parmesan
Salt
Pepper

Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil.

Add a Tablespoon or two of the olive oil from the marinated artichokes to a pan and place over medium-low heat.  Peel and slice the garlic cloves and add them to the pan, cooking them slowly in the oil.  Wash the zucchini, chard, and Meyer lemon and cut into pieces.  Slice the baby artichokes into pieces, do not use any parts that are tough.

Salt the pasta water well and add the pasta.  Stir occasionally and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, add the zucchini to the pan with the garlic.  Turn to medium heat and sauté for about Four minutes.  Add the chard, Meyer lemon, artichokes, and 1/4 cup of white wine.  Stir and cover pan for two minutes, then remove lid and continue to cook.

Zucchini, chard, Meyer lemon, and artichokes

Drain the pasta when it is al dente, and add it to the pan with the vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in some parmesan and then use more to garnish.  Drizzle a small spoonful of the oil from the marinated artichokes over the top of each bowl.

Serves 4.

Cauliflower Pasta

I got the idea and basic recipe for this dish by watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals on the Food Network.  Here’s the link to the recipe by Rachael Ray: Cauliflower Sauce with Whole-Wheat Penne. The variation I made is here below.

Ingredients:
1 package rigatoni pasta (1 lb.)
1 head orange cauliflower
1 white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cup vegetable broth
Dried thyme
Dried and ground rosemary
2 Tbsp. cream
Parmigiano reggiano cheese, purchased in a block
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Put a pot of water on to boil.

Heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over low heat.  Peel and chop the garlic and add it to the pan.  Dice the onion, add it to the pan, and turn the heat to medium-low.  Cook the onion, stirring occasionally.

Wash the cauliflower.  Separate the florets and slice them and the stem.  Add them to the pan along with the 1 cup of vegetable broth.  Cover the pan.

Put 1 lb. of pasta into well-salted, boiling water and cook until al dente.

Stir the cauliflower occasionally.  When it is cooked, about 15 minutes, add 1-2 ladles of the pasta water and mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.  Add a couple tablespoons of cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the cauliflower, stirring it all together.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Changes to make:
I made mine with dried herbs, because I didn’t have any fresh ones.  It would be so much better with four sprigs of fresh rosemary, as suggested in Rachael Ray’s recipe.
Also, white wine would add a nice flavor.  At the same time as the broth is added, I think you could add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.

Potato Gnocchi

500 g potatoes (I used russet)
150 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
Nutmeg, grated

Weigh uncooked potatoes to get approximately 500g.  Technically they should be boiled whole with the skin on, but I’m impatient, so I peel them and cut them up into chunks so they cook faster.  Put the potatoes in a pot, fill it with plenty of water, and bring to a boil.  Keep the potatoes at a boil until they are cooked.

While waiting for the potatoes to cook, add 150 grams of flour to a mixing bowl along with 3/4 tsp. salt and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.

Drain the potatoes and wait for them to cool some before handling them.  Remove the skins using a knife if you have boiled your potatoes whole.  A potato ricer is a very useful kitchen tool for this part of the process.  Just put pieces of potato into the ricer and squeeze them into the bowl with the flour mixture.  If you do not have a ricer, transfer the potatoes back to the now empty pot and mash them with a potato masher, as you would for making mashed potatoes.

Mix the potatoes with the flour mixture.  Bring it together and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gently knead the dough, adding a little more flour if needed.  The dough should be soft.  Separate the dough into pieces and roll them out into snakes of about 3/4 inch in width.  Flour a surface and cut the snakes into 1/2 inch pieces, pushing the pieces over onto the flour, so they don’t stick to one another.

Technically each piece should be rolled down a special board or a fork to create a ridged side and a side with an indent.  These certainly have a more pleasing texture and hold the sauce better.  There are lots of videos online to show you how to do it.  I’m lazy, as I’ve said before, so I just cook them as is.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.  You want to give the gnocchi plenty of room while cooking so they don’t stick together.  When the water comes to a boil, salt it well and add the gnocchi.  They cook in about two minutes and will float to the top.  Scoop them out and transfer them to a pan with the sauce.

Gnocchi can be eaten with most any kind of sauce.  We had them with a quick tomato sauce that I had previously prepared and topped with parmesan.  They’d probably go well with the gorgonzola cream sauce I made not too long ago.  I’d really like to try making butternut squash gnocchi in a brown butter and sage sauce.

Helpful equipment:
Potato ricer: Oxo Good Grips Potato Ricer
Gnocchi board: Calder Gnocchi Board, 8-Inch
Kitchen scale: Salter Digital Scale – Extra-Precise

There are so many versions of all of these products.  The top two are ones I found on Amazon that looked good.  This kitchen scale is a rather expensive one recommended by Lynne Rossetto Kasper from The Splendid Table.

Penne with Meyer Lemon

1/4-1/2 Meyer lemon
2 garlic cloves
Dash dry white wine
Dash hot pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons butter
Parsley
1/2 lb penne pasta

Put the pasta water on to boil and then begin making the sauce.  Once the water comes to a boil, salt it well and add the pasta.  Cook just until al dente.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat.  Slice the garlic cloves and add them to the pan along with a dash of hot pepper flakes, to taste.

Cut the end off of the Meyer lemon and cut it into small pieces, then stir it in with the garlic and hot pepper.  Slice 1/4-1/2 of a meyer lemon into thin slices and add to the pan.  Let cook over medium heat.  After a few minutes, add a dash of white wine.

Reserve a bit of the pasta water and add the drained pasta to the pan with the sauce.  Toss to coat and add some pasta water if it is too dry.  Chop up plenty of fresh parsley and add it to the pan with the pasta.  Serve immediately.  Serves two.

Note:
Taste your Meyer lemon ahead of time to see how sweet/sour it is.  Add more or less to taste.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

I found out yesterday that you’re not supposed to eat gorgonzola, as well as a bunch of other cheeses, when you’re pregnant EVEN IF they are pasteurized.  I thought you just weren’t supposed to eat unpasteurized cheeses aged under a certain amount of time, so I’ve been happily gorging myself on many of these “forbidden” cheeses.  Oh well, no listeriosis symptoms so far.  Now that I knew not to eat them, I had to figure out what to do with the delicious gorgonzola in my refrigerator.  The article http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/nutrition/foodsafety/cheeseexpert/ said these cheeses were safe as long as they were well cooked to kill any listeria.  Enter today’s blog post: Gorgonzola Cream Sauce.

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
50g gorgonzola dolce (creamy-ish, not crumbly)

Heat butter and flour over low heat and stir with a whisk until it just begins to turn golden, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming.  Return pot to heat and stir occasionally while bringing milk back to a simmer.  Cut the gorgonzola into pieces and add it to the pot.  Stir until melted and bring back to a simmer.

Serve over pasta with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

1/2 of this recipe was enough for me, but I like a lot of sauce.  Should serve 2-3 people.

If you aren’t pregnant, you can sprinkle some extra gorgonzola over the top.