Tag Archives: pasta

Pistachio Pesto

Seasoned to Taste - Pistachio Pesto

What to do when you have a Costco-sized bag of toasted pistachio nuts…you sprinkle them on salads, chop to coat fish or meat, and you make pesto.

Normally, I wouldn’t consider pesto without basil. It just seems wrong, like using walnuts instead of pine nuts. But basil isn’t exactly in season during the winter, so I took a chance with what I had on hand: parsley, Parmesan, garlic and tons of pistachios. What developed was a unique combination of flavors that I can’t wait to make again.

Without something strongly floral like basil, you have to rely on the nuts to provide the bulk of the pesto, which produces a thicker sauce than you might be used to. Pistachios (the roasted kind) are also drier, less fatty, so aren’t quite as creamy when pureed.

I love the dark greenish-brownish hue the pesto takes on …

Easy Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. roasted shelled pistachio nuts (mine were salted)
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

In food processor, pulse the nuts, cheese, garlic and parsley. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil until you reach your desired consistency – probably 1/3 – 1/2 c. for me. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper. If you used salted nuts, you won’t need as much salt.

Seasoned to Taste - Pistachio Pesto

This will probably keep a couple weeks in the fridge, but I wouldn’t know because mine didn’t last that long!

I immediately used my batch with some angel hair pasta and fresh tomatoes, which was a delicious and light dinner. Later, I used the leftover pesto in many ways: stirred into couscous, spread onto a sandwich and mixed with ricotta for an upcoming lasagna this week.

Here’s a crude snapshot of my pistachio pesto pasta leftovers, ready to go to work:

Seasoned to Taste - Pistachio Pesto

Enjoy, friends!

Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Pasta

Experimenting with sweet spices is an interesting way to stretch your culinary repertoire into more exotic places. For instance, would I ever have thought of adding 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to a pasta dish? Of course not – but luckily, I subscribe to The Splendid Table’s newsletter, and this one happened along.

I changed the recipe up a bit – most notably with the pasta. I couldn’t find hollow pasta at my regular grocery store and I’m so over dealing with Whole Foods and it’s crowded parking lots and aisles. So I made due with linguine. I also didn’t break my pasta off into pieces, like pasta-roni. Instead, I left it long, so I could curl it around my fork. It’s one of my favorite things about pasta – the fork-twirling.

This truly is one of those hearty all-in-one meals – you have your vegetables, meat (chopped rotisserie chicken) and pasta all in one. The tomato sauce is spicy and enhanced with white wine and that warmth that comes from ground cinnamon. I also sprinkled feta cheese over mine, which added a nice, cold flavor contrast (but you won’t see the cheese in any of the pictures).

Very good, if you can get past the weirdness of all that cinnamon.

Greek Cinnamon-Tomato Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 tighty-packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste (put your leftover in ice cube trays to freeze and use next time – that’s what I do!)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 c. diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups diced cooked chicken (good way to use leftover chicken; optional)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese (or goat cheese)

Bring the salted water to a boil and while that works, work on the following:

Generously fill the bottom of a 12-inch sauté pan with olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, parsley, and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper. Sauté the onions to golden brown. Then stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, and pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to medium and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce for 8 minutes, or until thick. Taste for seasoning, remove the pan from the heat, and if using the chicken, stir it in.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water. Boil, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has a little bite. As the pasta cooks, reheat the sauce over medium-high heat. Once the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and add it to the sauce. Toss over the heat for a minute or more to help the sauce permeate the noodles.

To serve, pile pasta on plates with generous spoonfuls of the chicken and tomato mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese (not pictured below).

As an end to this post, here is a picture of our little bonsai tree. I can’t remember who gave it to us, but soon this baby appeared on it. I think the baby came from a Mardi Gras King’s Cake. We keep them on the kitchen window. Grant moves him around the plant as if he wants a different view every now and then…

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Spinach and Lemon Spaghetti Frittata

It must be my obsession of pasta that makes me attracted to dishes like this. Dishes that use pasta in random, unexpected ways. Although I had never made one until now, I love the idea of a pasta pie or pasta frittatas – dishes that I’m sure came out of the necessity of using leftover cooked spaghetti.

While the idea of baking pasta into a frittata seems low-country, it turns out surprisingly tasty and elegant. In fact, I like the texture of this better than an all-egg frittata – it seems somehow lighter (fewer eggs used?). The pasta gets nice and toasted on the bottom, almost acting like a crust for the filling.

Finally, the flavors are superb. Fresh baby spinach, feta cheese, lemon and basil – the yellows and greens create a spring/summer-like sensation that is full of sunshine.

Adapted from In Sock Monkey Slippers.

Spinach and Lemon Spaghetti Frittata with Feta and Basil

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 c. cooked spaghetti or capellini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 T fresh basil, cut into strips

Preheat oven to 400.

Whisk together eggs, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In large oven-safe nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low and add spaghetti. Add spinach on top of pasta, in even layer. Pour egg mixture over the spinach and spaghetti and tilt pan so eggs are evenly distributed. Simmer 3-5 min, until eggs begin to firm up around the edges. Sprinkle feta evenly across the top.

Place skillet in oven and bake for 8-10 min, until center is set.

Allow to cool 5 minutes, then slide a spatula around edges and under, to move the frittata onto a cutting board or serving platter.

Mine stayed together just fine. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, pepper and fresh basil. Cut into wedges.

Can you see the little pieces of pasta peeking out from the bottom?

I love how golden and slightly crunchy the “crust” became. Just wonderful – the spinach adds body, and that feta becomes creamy and lemony all on its own – wonderful additions to eggs.
This would be a wonderful Sunday brunch entree.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Pasta all’Amatriciana

Everything is blooming. When fall finally settled upon my Southern home five months ago, I thought I had never seen such color occur in nature. As a Northwestern gal, I’m used to the rich greens and sages of ponderosa pine and juniper. I wasn’t used to the sea of foliage blazing in crimson, gold and umber.

Now, spring. I swear, every one of those trees is blooming. Every one! Not just sprouting tender new leaves; blooming. I’ve never seen anything like it, not even in Seattle or Portland, Ore. Does that mean they all are fruit-bearing trees? No…we also have Southern magnolia to complement the pear and cherry trees. I stepped out of the office one day with a colleague and a perfume of flowers met us. We sat under a full umbrella of cherry blossoms, looking through the white petals to the blue sky. Perfect weather for a light jacket.

The extended evening light makes me more willing to cook after a long day of work. Granted, this still doesn’t happen quite enough, but at least I don’t go STRAIGHT to bed anymore. Instead, I make dishes like the Italian country dish called Pasta all’Amatriciana.

This is essentially a bacon-tomato based pasta that my boyfriend said reminded him of hoppin’ john. Alls I knows is this: pancetta = bacon without the smoke. I even went to the specialty store to get authentic, 1/4-inch sliced pancetta and real Pecorino Romano cheese. You must be authentic in this regard, because any thinner pancetta will dissolve into the sauce and bad cheese is just bad, especially when eaten raw.

It was simple and elegant and satisfying even for someone who wants a heartier pasta.

Coming at you from Cook’s Illustrated…

Pasta all’Amatriciana

Ingredients:

  • 2 T evoo
  • 6 0z. 1/4-inch sliced pancetta (I used 9 oz…whoops!)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguine or bucatini
  • 1/3 c. Pecorino Romano

Bring large pot of water to boil for pasta. Drop in pasta with a handful of salt and cook according to package.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add pancetta and cook until crisp and lightly brown, about 8 min. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.

Add onion to skillet, saute over medium until softened, about 5 min. Add red pepper flakes, cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and season with salt to taste. Simmer until thickened, 10 min. Return pancetta.

When pasta is done, drain and add to tomato mixture and season with salt to taste. Toss to combine. Add cheese and toss again.

Serve with Italian parsley, more Pecorino Romano and some toasted Italian bread.

Enjoy this as you enjoy your spring, friends! xoxo

Lemony pasta with roasted shrimp

Pasta perfection

My boyfriend said this recipe was a pasta that women will love. Translation: it was light, with delicate flavors and a skinny pasta noodle. He prefers robust, puts-hair-on-your-chest pastas that are heavy and rich. But this pasta includes shrimp, and in my opinion, shrimp have a delicate flavor that is easily overwhelmed by robust flavors.

The citrus in this dish was not sour at all, and instead was more like an essence of lemon that met perfectly with the shrimp, which I roasted with garlic and olive oil.

In brief: I absolutely loved it! I suppose I’m always uneasy with recipes that only have five ingredients, but the balance of flavors matched perfectly and it was such an elegant dish. Really, I would make this for a first date (what are those?). It impressed me by its simplicity, yet the flavors were complex. Not bland at all.

I have made a capellini and shrimp dish before and wasn’t wowed. But I have the solution: GOOD SHRIMP! Jesse bought these fresh, wild-caught shrimp at Fresh Market (a bigger Whole Foods) because he wanted to use the shrimp de-veiner-peeler tool that he bought me for my bday. But of course you don’t need any fancy utensils. This method of cooking shrimp is easy and really enhances the flavor. I will always cook shrimp this way in the future.

Before I post the recipe, let me note: never question Ina Garten. She wrote this original recipe, and if she says 2 tsp of kosher salt, you better do exactly that. She tests her recipes a dozen times, so she knows exactly what she’s doing. Don’t believe me? Read the comments about her recipes on FoodNetwork.com. They are always rave, which is how I came upon this one. However, even perfection needs a tweak or two. I’ve changed it a bit based on my preferences (the original recipe has no garlic!).

Lemony pasta with roasted shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • EVOO
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish
  • Shaved Parm-Reg, for garnish

Method:

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss shrimp with 1 T olive oil, garlic, a little less than 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cracked pepper. Spread in an even layer on a sheet pan and roast for 6-8 min., until just pink and cooked through. You will smell it when it’s ready. Set aside.

Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for pasta. When boiling, add a handful of salt and a glug of olive oil, then the whole box of pasta. Stir and cook until al dente, about 3 min.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: heat butter and 1/4 c. olive oil in a large skillet. When all melted, add zest, juice from the lemons, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 c. of the pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the shrimp and toss together. Top with extra zest, parsley and Parmesan cheese to taste.

This dish reminds me of airy sun dresses – sweet and sunny. It is delish! As I said, trust in Ina – she knows her ingredients and her seasonings. This one will impress. Serve with toast, salad, a crusty bread and a crisp glass of white wine.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Totally easy weeknight pasta

Also totally yummy and healthy

Also totally yummy and healthy

I often crave a simple pasta dish that is light on fat but heavy on the garlic, salt and pepper flakes. This, my friends, is what I did tonight…

Boil some water for pasta. I made half a box of capellini (my fave), but any pasta would do.

In a skillet, heat two swirls of EVOO over medium. Add a ton of chopped garlic – at least five cloves (or whatever you prefer). Add two anchovy fillets or 1 T anchovy pasta. Stir to dissolve and add a few shakes of red pepper flakes (or don’t, if you can’t stand the heat). Cook out the anchovy until it melts but don’t brown the garlic (bitter bitter)!

Now, add one large chopped tomato or equivalent. I used a week-old heirloom from the farmers’ market – one of those gorgeous yellow ones with ribbons of pink throughout. Stir in the tomatoes, add salt and pepper, and cover the whole pan with a lid. This will steam the tomatoes and will thicken the sauce.

Once you drain the pasta, take the lid off the skillet and add in a large handful of parsley, chopped. The tomatoes will be soft and sweet and bubbling in the sauce. Add the pasta and stir everything to combine. Season again to taste. Top with tons of Parm-Reg.

I ate mine with a simple salad of baby lettuce and a glass of wine. Now I will drink more wine and watch “Friends” and then maybe “Sleepless in Seattle.” Because, friends, this is a good meal for single gals, or if you aren’t single, gals who are enjoying an evening alone without boys.

Enjoy! xoxo

Puttanesca

Here stands one of my favorite dishes of all times. And I swear, it brings every man to his knees.

Pasta puttanesca is a dish that allegedly originated in the brothels as a way to lure men. Well, it has lured me, too.

I love any dish with the following ingredients melted together in olive oil: garlic (6 cloves), anchovies (1 tin, drained), capers (3T), black olives (20, chopped). Throw in some red pepper flakes, 32 oz. crushed tomatoes and 14 oz. diced tomatoes and you have a delicious dish, but don’t forget the cracked pepper and parsley.

I tossed my puttanesca sauce with linguine (my favorite thick pasta), and then we shredded Parmesan cheese over the top.

Served with crusty bread and a simple bitter salad, I give you pasta puttanesca. A simple pleasure, a simple delight, a simple love.

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