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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

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This ziti is one of my favorite dinners. The layers of fresh basil, pasta, tomatoes and spicy italian sausage and three cheeses; ricotta; Parmesan; and fresh mozzarella melt together into a gooey, satisfying, compulsively edible conglomerate. Pair a dish of this creamy, tomato-ey pasta with a caesar salad, crusty bread and a glass of wine and you have the perfect comfort food dinner.

Baked Ziti

Makes two medium baking dishes or one really large baking dish, about 12 servings

1 pound ziti or penne pasta
Olive Oil
1 pound Italian sausage
4 tbsp tomato paste
Red Pepper Flakes
2 14.5-oz cans tomato sauce
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
16-oz ricotta
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
8-oz fresh mozzarella, shredded
Italian Seasoning
Fresh Basil, chiffonade(d)
Salt & Pepper

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and boil the pasta until quite al dente. We’re going to bake the pasta, so we don’t want it to be overdone. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain off fat if needed.
  4. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste. Turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  6. Mix the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and half of the Parmesan together until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To assemble the ziti, coat the bottom of your baking dishes with a scant layer of the tomato and sausage sauce. Follow up with 1/4 of the cooked pasta, then 1/4 of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 1/4 of the fresh mozzarella, and 1/4 of the basil. Repeat with another layer of tomato sauce, then the pasta, ricotta and basil. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat in the second dish.
  8. Cover the dishes, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before dishing up.

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102_0403When it comes to quick dinners, pasta is my ultimate go-to dish. The formula is simple – take a protein (or not), saute it, add some sort of vegetable, sauce it (or don’t), and toss it all together with some cooked pasta. There isn’t a recipe – it’s a method. Clean out your fridge, be creative!

This meal followed the formula exactly – I sauted chopped up bacon, then added about 2 cups of chopped kale and cooked until wilted, added 4 -5 cloves of minced garlic, then deglazed the pan with about a cup of pasta water. I added the juice of half a lemon, a couple pats of butter, some fresh ground pepper, then tossed in the cooked pasta. A generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan completed the dish – and it took about 30 minutes to throw together.

Despite the bacon and butter, this was a light, fresh, satisfying dish with bold flavors – the bitterness of the kale, the saltiness of the bacon, the sharp tang of lemon and garlic.

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I scoured the web today for ideas on how to use our CSA bounty in the most delicious & creative ways. Tonight’s dinner was quick, easy, and definitely lived up to the expectation of being delicious.

The nutty brown butter sage sauce was a perfect complement to the earthy, sharp flavor in the tatsoi greens. I overdid it with the red pepper flakes, though – I love love love spicy things, but it overwhelmed the delicate sage flavor. The fresh lemon squeeze is a must to cut the heaviness of the brown butter.

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Pasta with tatsoi greens in a sage brown butter sauce

Adapted from Appetite for China

1 package pasta
1 stick unsalted butter
1 scape, chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper
1 bunch Tatsoi greens, chopped
Fresh lemon juice, shredded parmesan for garnish

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well.
  2. When the pasta is almost done, add butter to a large skillet and let it foam and begin to brown.
  3. Add scape and sage, cook one minute.
  4. Add mushrooms, cook 30 seconds.
  5. Add thoroughly drained pasta, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and let brown, turning every few minutes to ensure even browning.
  6. Add Tatsoi greens and cook, stirring, one to two minutes or until soft and wilted.
  7. Serve hot with Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon.

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