Spaghetti with Summer Vegetables

Spaghetti with Summer Vegetables 2 (640x480)

I love this recipe. Not only is this dish beautiful to look at, it is delicious and healthy, as well. This dish is perfect for summer because it’s not too heavy and it is bursting with fresh flavors, but it is also good anytime of the year.  Frozen corn works perfectly well when fresh is not available.  If you are gluten free you can use the corn spaghetti (which I get at the health food store) instead of regular spaghetti. I like crumbled goat cheese over the top, but parmesan or feta is good also.

Spaghetti with Summer Vegetables (640x480)

Spaghetti with Summer Vegetables

8 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons corn oil or butter
1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 cups corn kernels, from 3 ears of corn
1 bell pepper, any color, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 ounces queso fresco, feta, goat cheese, or parmesan

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the scallions, corn, bell pepper, and chile. Saute over high heat for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, most of the cilantro, and a ladle of the pasta water. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little pepper and turn the heat to low. Drain the pasta, shaking off the excess water. Add it to the vegetables and toss well. Divide among pasta plates, crumble the cheese over the top, and add the remaining cilantro.


Cavatappi with Rapini

I bought a beautiful bunch of rapini (also known as broccoli rabe). I thought it would go really well with pasta for a quick meal suitable for my low iodine diet. I thought this dish turned out better than expected. It’s so simple and not too heavy. Once off LID, I would probably add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Cavatappi with Rapini

Cavatappi with Rapini

1 large bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe), washed, stem ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound (1/2 a box) cavatappi or other pasta (like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc…) (I used Ronzoni brand cavatappi)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of Kosher salt and the rapini. Cook until the rapini becomes bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes. Next, add the cooked and drained rapini, white wine, and chopped tomato. Bring to a boil and then add the drained pasta. Stir to combine and let cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Veggie Pasta Salad

This is an easy pasta salad that is open to interpretation. It is great for parties.  Play around with the pasta shapes and the types of veggies added.  If I don’t have Salad Supreme, I’ll add a few shakes of Mrs. Dash instead. My mother-in-law makes this pasta salad using spaghetti. It’s the best thing she makes.

Veggie Pasta Salad

1 16 oz. pkg. small shell (or fusilli or rotini) pasta – cooked, rinsed and drained
8 oz. Wishbone Italian dressing (or your favorite italian dressing)
4 T. McCormick’s Salad Supreme (this has cheese in it…so you could leave it out or use something else)
5 cups of assorted raw vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces
some veggies you can use:
cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
broccoli florets
carrots, peeled and sliced
grape tomatoes, halved
red onion , chopped
bell peppers (any color), chopped
black olives, sliced

Combine all ingredients and marinate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Anthony Bourdain’s Baked Macaroni

I have never made/baked macaroni this way. I usually make a bechemel type sauce, add shredded cheddar cheese to make a creamy cheese sauce to mix with cooked macaroni (I usually also toss in steamed broccoli or cauliflower too). I almost never bake my macaroni.  Anyway, I wanted to try this method.  I cut this recipe out of some magazine years ago and saved it because I enjoy Anthony Bourdain’s shows (A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations) and books.  The recipe was easy to put together, but I thought it turned out kinda greasy, dry, and lacking flavor.  I didn’t really care for the crunchiness of the mac either.  It just wasn’t what I am used to.  So, I will stick to my version of macaroni and cheese which always turns out creamy and excellent.

Anthony Bourdain’s Baked Macaroni

1 lb macaroni, such as elbow or penne
3/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
16 ounces (about 4 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 T. butter
1 quart (4 cups of whole milk

Cook pasta in boiling water 3 to 5 minutes less than package directs.  Drain well.

Meanwhile heat oven 400 degrees and grease a 13 X 9-inch baking dish.

Spread about 1/3 of the pasta in the prepared dish.  Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, some pepper, and 1/3 of the cheese.  Dot with 1/2 T. butter.  Repeat layers twice, dotting the top layer with 1 T. butter.  Don’t tamp down the pasta; it will make the dish too dense.  Pour milk over top.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how crisp you like the top.

Minestrone Soup

I have been using this recipe to make minestrone soup for years.  It is just wonderful!  It’s very versatile and can be easily tweaked to use what you have on hand. Chickpeas can be added instead of kidney beans. Additional veggies, such as fennel can be added for a change. 16 ounces of tomato juice can be used instead of the tomato paste. Increase or decrease the amounts of ingredients to suit your taste. I usually add more shell macaroni (or ditalini pasta) and sometimes leave out the spinach or kale (although it’s equally as good with these ingredients). I usually add more broth than this recipe calls for….I like mine brothy. This soup freezes really well.

Minestrone Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cans (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 – 3 tsp. dried basil
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale (optional)
½  cup shell macaroni (uncooked)

Sauté onions and celery in olive oil until tender.  Add garlic, sauté 2 more minutes.  Add veggie stock, cooked kidney beans, and basil.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste and dry pasta; return to a boil.  You can add more water at this point for a brothy soup.  Lower heat and simmer 5 – 7 minutes.  Add carrots and simmer 5 more minutes.  Add zucchini and spinach or kale and cook until tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Rigatoni alla Disgraziata (Rigatoni with Eggplant & Bread Crumbs)

Rigatoni alla Disgraziata (Rigatoni with Eggplant & Bread Crumbs) (640x456)

From April 26, 2005:  This is one of my favorite eggplant dishes. The recipe originates from Sicily. Disgraziata means “a disgraced one” or “a poor wretch” and the name may derive from the fact that in impoverished Sicilian households, toasted bread crumbs were a substitute for the more expensive grated cheese.

I usually skip the salting of the eggplant part of this recipe….I think it makes the eggplant too squishy and I like to see the actual chunks of eggplant and to be able to bite into it.  I also have a hard time finding Ricotta Salata (and when I do it’s like $13 a pound!) so I usually use mozzarella…not the same, but still delicious!  You can use feta cheese or even queso fresco instead of Ricotta Salata (which IS NOT the same as ricotta cheese you get in a tub next to the sour cream at the grocery store). This recipe makes a big batch of food and luckily it freezes well.rigatoni

Rigatoni alla Disgraziata (Rigatoni with Eggplant and Bread Crumbs)

2 medium Italian eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1 ” cubes (Japanese eggplants can also be used, you’ll need about 4) – you don’t have to peel them
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 pound rigatoni
2 cups of red sauce (your favorite spaghetti sauce)
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Ricotta Salata (feta can be used as a substitution, mozzarella could also be used)

Put eggplant into a a colander, sprinkle generously with salt, then set aside to drain for 1 hour.  Rinse, then pat eggplant dry with paper towels.

Heat 2 T. of extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe out skillet, add enough olive oil to coat bottom, and heat over medium-high.  Add half of the eggplant and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes (sometimes I have to add a bit more olive oil to the pan if the eggplant is sticking to the bottom).  Transfer eggplant with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and season to taste with salt.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan and repeat process with remaining eggplant.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until just tender.  Put red sauce and red pepper flakes into a small pot ans warm over medium heat, about 5 minutes.  Drain pasta and add to bowl with eggplant.  Add warmed red sauce, Ricotta Salata, and bread crumbs and toss well.  Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus, and Walnuts

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus, and Walnuts

farfalle 3

From February 9, 2005:  I made this for dinner last night…it was delicious.  I’m not a big walnut fan and don’t usually have them in the pantry,  so I used toasted pecans (it’s a Texas thing) instead and it tasted just fine.  The Marscapone cheese is a little bland, so make sure to season well with salt and pepper.  This recipe makes A LOT!


Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus, and Walnuts

1 pound farfalle pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.   Add the farfalle and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the farfalle. Stir in the Mascarpone and nutmeg and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve.

farfalle 2

Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis,