Pasta

Holiday Show Time Shells

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Pasta | 1 comment

Hallmark movies are a drug; pulling me that direction commencing after Thanksgiving. Weaving in and out of  captivating character development and unpredictable romantic curves and snowstorms requires savory seasonal comfort food; fuel for focus.  Shells stuffed with creamy ricotta cheese and more cheese are a family pick—so when a browned butter pumpkin sauce delivered these darling parcels, created by Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, I was clearly in cheesy carb heaven.

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Although the recipe is simple, several steps are in order.  Create time and space to assemble the dish earlier or, yesterday so all that’s necessary is to heat them through before show time.  And, besides, what else are you going to do with that pesky half can of leftover pumpkin puree?

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I found the amount of filling called for in the original recipe wasn’t adequate to ‘stuff’ the shells fully.

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What is reflected in the recipe below is near twice the ricotta mixture.

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Begin by cooking the shells while you prepare the filling.  After eight minutes, drain the shells; reserving one cup of the pasta water.

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When the shells are cool enough to handle, fill each one with the ricotta mixture and place them in a buffet pan or baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

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Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and stir until brown flecks appear and the butter begins to foam.

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When the foam subsides, reduce the heat and add shallots. Cook one minute and stir in garlic, herbs,

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pumpkin, parmesan, yogurt (buttermilk is a good sub for yogurt), and cheese.

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Continue to cook, stirring in the pasta water until the sauce is slightly thickened.  You may not need all the water.

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Taste and adjust the seasonings and spoon the sauce over the shells.

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Finish with a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. To make ahead; cover and refrigerate; or cover and bake until heated through.

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Remove the cover and breathe deeply.  These flavorful comfy, creamy and o’so dreamy morsels are a perfect match for a holiday Hallmark devotion.

 

Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Browned Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta (26 shells)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
  • 1 extra large egg
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, minced
  • ¼ cup sage leaves, minced plus more for garnish
  • 4 cloves minced garlic, divided use
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add one tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the shells from sticking together. Add the shells and stir. Cook for eight minutes; drain, reserving one cup of the cooking water for the sauce. Set shells aside.
  2. Filling:
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, ½ cup of mozzarella, egg, basil and half the sage, two garlic cloves, salt, and a pinch of crushed pepper (to taste).
  4. When the shells are cool enough to handle, fill each one with ricotta mixture and place in a prepared buffet pan or baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray.
  5. Sauce:
  6. In a medium saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until brown flecks appear and the butter begins to foam. Continue to cook until foam subsides and butter is medium brown. Watch carefully. Reduce heat and add shallots; cook until softened, about a minute. Stir in remaining garlic, pumpkin, yogurt or buttermilk, cheese, remaining sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Begin adding pasta water a little at a time until sauce begins to thicken. You may not need all the water.
  7. Adjust seasonings and spoon the sauce over each shell. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover securely with a lid or aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and steaming.
  8. The shells may be prepared up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate; allow to come to room temperature before baking.
  9. Adapted from-- Adrianna Adarme and PBS
http://cococooks.net/holiday-show-time-shells/

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It’s in the Pocket

Posted by on Nov 13, 2015 in Pasta | 3 comments

Orecchiette can be tricky to find; since Real Simple Orecchiette with Red Onions, Almonds, and Green Olives suggested, small pasta, I leaned on penne pasta for this unusual matchup.  It was one of those “no clue what’s for dinner” sort of nights.  I was already dreading the coming day when a crew-of-dudes was coming to install thirty-six replacement windows in our home.

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The whole lot needed for the dish was hanging around; and besides, I had already focused on a few changes.  Use plenty of diced red onion.  It is the basis of the sauce when the final cup of pasta water is added.

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I also added a hefty pinch of crushed red pepper before

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tumbling the chopped olives into the mix.

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Finally, I suggest using only 8 ounces of pasta—creating an improved ratio of sauce, and dolloping on whole milk ricotta (part-skim was what I had on hand) in addition to Parmesan cheese.

Make sure you take the time to toast the almonds; they are the star crunch factor alongside the briny olives, bright citrus, and savory cheeses.  Indeed, this simple and quick combination fills your vegetarian weeknight Pasta Pocket.

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Eat it in front of the TV;

Hallmark Channel holiday flicks are back!

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Pumpkin on Parade

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Pasta | 1 comment

 

 

I knew it. If MP saw one more pumpkin chunk his blue eyes would glaze over. But what if I deemed it-- An earthy, heartwarming medley of autumn mushrooms and, ahem, pumpkin tossed with buttered orecchiette and fresh sage?

 

 

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You see, I bought an unusually large piece (like a half pumpkin) and a box of chanterelles too. Sage is still hanging out in the garden and a turquoise box of pasta seemed to line up on a highway in my head; where there are no directions.

This is the road I traveled.

SONY DSCRoast a pound or so of pumpkin for 45 minutes (or until done) at 425 degrees with a touch of kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Cool, peel and cube the pumpkin (of course you can use acorn or butternut squash).

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Meanwhile, brush loose dirt from 1 ½ pounds chanterelle mushrooms; remove the tough part of the stem and cut into large pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a sauté pan; set 6-8 sage leaves and the mushrooms in an even layer in the skillet. While the mushrooms are browning, cook ½ pound pasta according to package directions.

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Let the mushroom cook over moderate-low heat without salt, pepper or stirring; allowing the mushrooms to give off liquid and brown (about 10 minutes or so). If you season or move them about they will steam not brown.

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Then, add half an onion, diced and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until onions are tender, about 2-3 minutes.

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If you are game; and, you should never be afraid of anchovies, slip two of the beasts and a few more sage leaves in with the onions.

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Add the pumpkin to the skillet. Drain the pasta (reserving a cup of pasta water)

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then, add it to the skillet with another tablespoon of butter. Ladle half the pasta water into the skillet, stirring until the butter is melted and a little sauce is created; use up to the whole cup if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings; the anchovies will melt into the sauce, leaving that restaurant base note you constantly wonder about!

Serve it up on a platter with a shower of Parmesan cheese and freshly grated nutmeg. Gaze over toward MP.

Here it comes—a sonata of pumpkin praise.

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”

--Red Haircrow

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Trompe-l’œil Cauliflower

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Pasta | 2 comments

 

 

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Yet another cauliflower restyle appeared as a tasty pasta sauce yesterday when dinner was postponed for two hours; which is my way of saying this simple dinner can be made ahead or at the very least put on hold.  And, because the cauliflower is the sauce in disguise, even cruciferous leery diners (like children) may lose doubt and lap up.

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Begin by steaming cauliflower florets until very soft otherwise the mixture won’t blend into a smooth sauce.

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While steaming the florets, sauté the onion and garlic in butter for a few minutes;

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then puree the vegetables with milk.

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Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings.  This step can be done in advance.  Cook and drain the pasta, saving 1/2-3/4 cup of the pasta water.

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Add the sauce and cheese; combine well.

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Slip the pasta and ½ cup the water back into the skillet with the onion mixture. Bring the pasta to a simmer and heat through, adding more pasta water if sauce seems too thick.  Serve with chopped fresh herbs and more cheese.

Next time I'll be adding a bit of heat and lemon zest...How will you make it your own?

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Silky Linguini with Thai Basil like this is a satisfying way to fill your pasta craving pocket without adding the usual heavy components. The only mistake you can make is not seasoning it well enough.

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Cauliflower with Tagliatelle and Parsley

Dig-In

 

Cauliflower Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound linguini, spaghetti or tagliatelle pasta
  • Fresh parsley, basil or sage

Instructions

  1. Chop the cauliflower into chunks, and steam until very soft, up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute; season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the cauliflower and the milk in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Return the cauliflower mixture to the skillet with the onion mixture; add the cheese and stir until combined. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and add pasta to the skillet with ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally (add more pasta water if sauce seems too thick). Serve garnished with fresh herbs and more cheese.
  2. --adapted from pastabarona.it/en/
http://cococooks.net/trompe-loeil-cauliflower/

 

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Pasta Debate

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Pasta | 1 comment

Some of my friends, like me, are snobbish in regard to sourcing butter, coffee, fresh fish, and dry pasta.  Brands of pasta really do make a difference.  De Cecco is preeminent with Barilla being my backup selection.  Supermarket brands and bulk buys can have an off taste with a gummy consistency.  Recently, Baronia, organic durum wheat semolina pasta arrived on shelves at Trader Joe’s.

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Skeptical, but eager to gild strands with a robust sauce of creamy cauliflower, I cooked up Baronia linguini.

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First, chunk up a head of cauliflower and steam (or microwave) it until it is very soft.

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Blend it with milk until smooth.

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Saute onion in butter; add garlic and season with salt and pepper.

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Stir in cauliflower mixture simmering while the pasta cooks.  Add the cheese and some reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce. Adjust the seasonings.

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Toss drained linguini with the sauce,

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adding more water as necessary. Serve with extra cheese and fresh parsley.

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Springy and firm noodles with a coat of hearty veg and cheese are my way of saying, well done, I mean, *al dente* T.J.!

(And, forgive me for the debate.  I am sensitive there are hungry people).

Creamy Cauliflower Linguini

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower cut in evenly sized florets
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound linguini pasta
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Chop the cauliflower into chunks and steam until very soft. Combine the cauliflower and milk in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and once it has melted, add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Season with salt and pepper, and then add the cauliflower puree and half the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (add more pasta water if sauce seems too thick). Remove from heat, and add the cheese to the sauce, and stir until combined. Adjust seasonings. Combine the sauce and the linguini and serve garnished with extra cheese and freshly chopped parsley.
  4. --adapted from Clinton Kelly
http://cococooks.net/pasta-debate/

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English Pea Pesto and Linguine

Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 in Pasta | 0 comments

Have you been daydreaming about lush greens and the foggy azure blue patchwork of springtime in Ireland?  Me too…  Ancient dappled-gray rock fences holding strong against the weather; cathedrals, castles, Irish wool, sentimental singsong music, endless curving roads, and deep hues of green grass soaring over seascapes fill my imagination.

The Luck of the Irish

Photo Source: Corey Amaro, http://www.willows95988.typepad.com.

Something pale bottle green for dinner will have to do—not Irish—but lush, rich and oh so quick.

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In the time, it takes to boil water (as is said so often) you will be twirling your fancy fork around creamy emerald strands.

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Load the processor with peas, garlic, Parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice and toasted pine nuts.  While the pasta is boiling, give the peas a whirl drizzling in fresh and fruity extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; then drape the pesto over a half pound of linguine.

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This week MP brought home fragile strips of sole filet which I lightly breaded with super fine flour and browned in ghee with Meyer lemon.

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We topped the platter with delicate fish fillets and lemon zest.  “Pass the Parmesan”, he says.

Thank you, Trader Joe’s for shelling all those peas for me!

English Pea Pesto and Linguine

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces shelled fresh peas, about 2 cups
  • 3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin fruity olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • ½ pound linguine, cooked al dente

Instructions

  1. While the pasta cooks, prepare the pesto. In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, peas, and Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice. With the machine running, add olive oil and process until a thick paste forms; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Drain the pasta reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Toss the hot pasta with the pesto adding hot water to loosen. Top with lemon zest and pass extra Parmesan to serve.
  3. Serves 4
  4. © Copyright 2015 Peggy Barrett Lunde
  5. All Rights Reserved
  6. http://cococooks.net/
http://cococooks.net/english-pea-pesto-and-linguine/

 

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