Tag Archives: pasta recipes

When Life Gives You Artichokes, Make Pasta

Gentle Readers, here we are, springing forward.Though I love the birds chirping and the tree frogs singing, one could do without the loss of sleep. As we enter this time between seasons (is it liony outside, is it lamby, one never knows), I often crave substantial but not heavy fare.

Enter the humble pasta toss. You know it, the thing you create from whatever’s available? This is that, but guided by a desire for stronger flavor and not one more jar of red sauce. Without further ado, and certainly without enough sleep . . .

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Cannellini Beans, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients: 
2 cups dried cavatapi
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, skins on
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (I cannot lie, I use the baby carrots that are not on their first opening and looking little sad and soggy in the bag)
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning blend
1 can of artichokes (not the marinated kind, just in water), drained and roughly chopped
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons or so sun-dried tomatoes packed in seasoning and oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
juice of 1/2 lemon

Method: 

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil, add salt when the water boils, and cook the pasta per pot directions. Cook until al dente and then drain and set aside briefly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot with a good lid, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced carrots and the garlic cloves in their skin. Add some salt (I leave this to you), and the Italian seasonings. Cover with the lid and stir and check on it often while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the carrots are a bit softened and the garlic is starting to soften, add the artichokes to the pot. Keep stirring. When the garlic cloves are softened, pull them out, peel them, mash them with a fork, then add them back to the pot.
  4. Lower the heat, add the beans, cooked pasta, and sun dried tomatoes. Be sure to include some of the oil they were packed in.
  5. Add the poultry seasoning, don’t ask, just trust me, additional olive oil as needed to make it moist, and stir gently until warmed through.
  6. Bring off the heat, put in serving dish, top with lemon juice, and adjust salt and olive oil to personal taste.

Enjoy! I love the simplicity of the dish, and the savory nature without it being a complete salt lick. It’s infinitely flexible, so match it to your needs. It is a very filling dish though, so it will easily feed a family of 4.

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Filed under On the Table, Recipes

Simply Herb Pasta Recipe

Gentle Readers, sometimes the answer is pasta. For anyone going carb-less, it may be time to avert your eyes. It’s summertime, and the herbs and tomatoes are still in abundance. What better to pair them with than Parmesan and pasta? It’s fast, filling, and fun. Plus, the Practical Cooks Junior got a lesson in Herbology that even Snape would admire.

Simply Herb Pasta

Simply Herb Pasta

Simply Herb Pasta Recipe

This is more guideline than actual recipe, in great part because full credit goes to Waldorf for the idea. Thanks. Here are the basic ingredients:

garlic
olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
mixture of herbs (mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, in any combination
grape tomatoes
white wine
Parmesan
cooked pasta (this was with spaghetti, but other shapes would be nice too)

Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat with a few red pepper flakes. Meanwhile, assign kitchen helpers to identify and de-stem a variety of herbs, rendering a cup or so of them. Chop them vigorously and set aside. Add grape tomatoes sliced in half to your pan, and some white wine. (No judgment passed if you had some to the cook too.) Reduce your sauce. Taste for seasoning, add the herbs and saute till you smell them. Toss the cooked pasta in, add Parmesan. Serve.

Prep work goes fast with small chefs in training.

Prep work goes fast with small chefs in training.

What I loved about this was the complexity of each bite. Each one was different, and you had to reach for the flavors. The Jrs were able to identify the spices at a restaurant the next night. Here’s the Eldest’s picture of them.

From the kitchen of ONE restaurant, rosemary and thyme. (photo credit: The Eldest)

From the kitchen of ONE restaurant, rosemary and thyme. (photo credit: The Eldest)

Are you single herb or multiple for your pasta? Post a comment below. School is back in session soon and you will be tested.

Deep thoughts, burgers, and fries can be sent to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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This Friday: Burger Wars, Another Entry from the Field.

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Not Quite Carbonara Recipe (Vegetarians Welcome)

Gentle Readers, sometimes The Practical Cook winds up in the kitchen in less than perfect circumstances. This past week, the days were perfect, time spent on vacation in the mountains. But we had so much fun we failed to really grocery shop, and got home tired. What to do?

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

Work with what you’ve got. In this case, we were feeding a vegetarian, and there was not a strip of bacon in sight. But there was pasta, and spinach, and eggs. Go!

Not Quite Carbonara Recipe

Please note that absolutely everything about this is an approximation. I was trying to feed people, not document each step.

olive oil
garlic (2 or 3 cloves, whole or minced)
baby leaf spinach

fresh pasta (dried will do), 1 pound will feed a crowd
3 eggs
lemon juice (depends on how potent it is, at least a teaspoon or two)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan

1. Put pasta water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic over a strong medium heat until you smell garlic. Toss in the spinach and saute quickly until leaves are coated with garlicky oil and just starting to wilt. Pull off heat.

2. Scramble the 3 eggs with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Blend thoroughly.

3. By this point the pasta water should be boiling. Make the pasta according to direction (we used fresh black pepper spaghetti, but anything will do). Cook until just al dente. Drain and toss in heatproof serving bowl with the egg mixture immediately.

4. Toss thoroughly to coat and cook the eggs a bit. Add in garlicky spinach. Toss and top with a bit of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remember, with enough garlic and Parmesan, you won’t miss the bacon. That much. 🙂 This egg sauce technique will work with many other combos. Enjoy! Special thanks to Waldorf for allowing me to co-opt the idea and technique.

S'mores solve the dinner dilemma too.

S’mores solve the dinner dilemma too.

What’s your go-to dish when things are looking bare in the cupboard? Post a comment below!

Send your pasta, wisecracks, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Summer is flying by, it’s time for Weekly Menus again this Sunday!

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Filed under Can this supper be saved?, Recipes

Pasta Toss with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus

With the weather turning a bit warmer here, at least enough to make the pollen fly, culinary thoughts turn to lighter flavors. For the Practical Cook, that often means lemon and parsley. Today’s dish features both, plus asparagus and ricotta. This dish is light, simple, and was very well-received by the whole crew.

Did I mention the whole wheat linguine? No, I did not. But seriously, try the De Cecco Whole Wheat Linguine. I’ve tried them all, and it’s the best.

Pasta Toss Ingredients

Pasta Toss Ingredients

Pasta Toss with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus Recipe

1/2 pound dry pasta, something noodley works best (spaghetti, thin spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine)
1 medium-sized container of ricotta (or cottage cheese, blended smooth), ~1 or 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 lemon, zested (with your Microplane zester!) and juiced (through a strainer please)
olive oil
8  to 10 ounces of mushrooms, sliced thin
1 large bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved for another use (like veggie stock), rinsed and patted dry, cut into thirds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring water to boil for pasta. Add salt, cook according to directions on package, reserving 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water.

Take that, pasta!

Take that, pasta!

2. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest in medium bowl, beating (by hand or with hand-held mixer) until smooth.

Mix the ricotta and lemon juice until ricotta is smooth

Mix the ricotta and lemon juice until ricotta is smooth

3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until oil shimmers but isn’t smoking. Saute mushrooms until they release their water, about 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Sizzle sizzle my little mushies

Sizzle sizzle my little mushies

4. Add a little more oil to the same saute pan and reduce heat to medium. Heat until oil shimmers. Toss asparagus pieces in and stir-fry until crisp tender, with time depending on thickness of the asparagus. Just before asparagus is done, toss in the minced garlic, leaving on heat about 30 seconds to a minute, until you smell the garlic.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Crisp tender asparagus

Crisp tender asparagus

4. Thin the ricotta mixture with the reserved pasta water, a little bit at a time, to your preferred consistency.

Thin and mix the ricotta mixture

Thin and mix the ricotta mixture

5. Toss pasta and ricotta mixture in saute pan with mushrooms and asparagus mixture, gently now. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, Parmesan, and lemon juice to taste. Finish with chopped parsley.

Linguine with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus

Linguine with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus

That’s it! Simpler than a full-fledged pasta bake, less of a calorie bomb than full-on Alfredo.

Coming up tomorrow, a St. Patrick’s Day retrospective featuring my new favorite Irish Brown Bread. So easy even I can make it, and believe you me, I’m a cook, not a baker. (There’s a difference, we will certainly have that discussion here, gentle readers.)

Until then, what’s in your pasta? practicalcook at gmail dot com

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