Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

This past weekend I caught up with some friends over dinner. And before we knew it, we launched into an extensive and detailed conversation on how we believe that Pesto goes with practically anything.

Sandwiches, appetizers, crackers, pastas……….

P had even threatened to top the panna cotta I made for dessert with it but his wife quickly intervened. Okay…that may have been a bit much but I see where he was going with it.

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

I typically go on a major pesto binge when herbs are abundant at my local farmers market. It’s so easy to change things up with various herbs and whatever types of nuts you have on hand. And the awesome thing is— Pesto freezes beautifully! Just drizzle some olive oil on top before sealing the container and your fresh pesto can keep in the freezer for months! A quick and easy way to flavor dishes with yummy herbaceous notes.

 

 

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

This little number is a delicious and satisfying quick meal. PERFECT for any weeknight as you can pull it together in under 30 minutes! Easy Peasy!

And for an added spin, toss the pesto pasta with a cup of shredded cheese (of your choice) and spread into a casserole dish. Top with panko bread crumbs, more parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and you’ve got a hearty and tummy warming alternative dish!

Oh Pesto….I love you.

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Creamy Pesto Rigatoni
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Chicken Breast, skinless and boneless
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Pesto
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Pound Rigatoni Pasta

Slice chicken breast into strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fill a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to directions.

In a heavy bottom pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chicken. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of oil and cook garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes before tossing in the tomatoes and red chili flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and stir in pesto. Heat the pesto and then stir in the heavy cream. Once incorporated, toss in the pasta, chicken, parmesan cheese and coat well. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

I’m kind of in love.

With this soup, that is.

It’s warming and fulfilling with tons of veggies, beans, sausage, and pasta. I also threw in some beautiful Swiss Chard at the end for some added texture and flavor— but any type of dark, leafy green could do the trick. Extra veggies never hurt a gal, right?

Depending on how you like the consistency of your soup, you can either add or limit the amount of chicken broth. I personally like mine on the soupier side so I can dunk some crusty bread in.

But one thing is for certain. No matter how you prefer it, this Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate comfort food.

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Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 15-Ounce Can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth, or more depending on desired consistency
3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
¾- 1 Cup Macaroni Noodles, or other short pasta
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 Cups Swiss Chard, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat. Continue browning until the sausage is barely pink. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and sauté until the vegetables have softened. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes with its juices and Cannellini beans. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Partially cover and bring the pot to a boil. Remove the lid and stir in the pasta. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente—about 10-12 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the cheese and Swiss Chard. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Orecchiette Bolognese

Orecchiette Bolognese

Weekends are for slowly cooked meals.

Meals that emit utterly delicious aromas throughout your home for hours that once it’s finally finished cooking, you can barely wait to tear into it. And when you take that first bite, you just know that it was totally worth the wait.

This Bolognese fits that bill perfectly. Utterly rich, savory, and meaty.

I like serving this with Orecchiette because it’s the type of pasta that can hold up to such a hearty sauce and envelopes the meaty goodness. Yup…I said “meaty goodness” but you can use whichever type of pasta that tickles your fancy.

And although this Bolognese does take some time to make, it freezes beautifully. So make a double batch and store the extra in your freezer for a tummy warming, weekday dinner.

Now excuse me as I lick my computer screen :)

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Orecchiette Bolognese
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Ground Beef
½ Pound Ground Veal
1 Cup White Onion, finely minced
1 Cup Celery, finely minced
1 Cup Carrots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Dried Red Chili Flakes (or less depending on your heat preference)
2 Dried Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Cup Milk or Cream
1 Cup Dry Red Wine
1 28-Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Pound Orecchiette Pasta, cooked al dente
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute. Add beef, veal, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add thyme and bay leaves. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the milk has evaporated and only clear juices remain—about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the wine has evaporated—about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil, then place the heat at the lowest setting. Continue on this very low simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes until you get a rich, thick meaty sauce. Check for seasonings and add kosher salt and pepper accordingly.

Toss the cooked Orecchiette in the Bolognese sauce and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with Italian parsley and Enjoy!

Celebrating our Blogoversary with Uni (Sea Urchin) Pasta!

Uni (Sea Urchin) Pasta

I still can hardly believe it…..

Today, is our 2 year Blogoversary! And on 11.11.11 to boot!

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Over the past two years, I have loved this space that has allowed me to share my voice and Foodventures with you. But above all, I am so thankful for the overwhelming encouragement and support I have received from my family, friends, and the fabulous food community. Awww shucks gang….y’all are awesome.

By the way….stay tuned next week for a pretty neato giveaway I’ll be hosting to show my appreciation :)

Uni (Sea Urchin) Pasta

In honor of our 2 year Blogoversary, I wanted to indulge and use one my favorite things in a decadent pasta—UNI!  And what better way to celebrate, right?

The super unctuous texture of the uni with its fresh sea flavor is the perfect pairing with linguine. Of course you could use any long strand pasta you choose but I like the slightly thick noodle so that it can hold more of the rich sauce. Sooo good! And you know what’s even better? This delicious pasta can be done in 15 minutes! Perfect if you need to make an impressive dish but not have a lot of time.

But be warned…this pasta is not for the faint of the heart. It’s the real–super rich–super decadent deal!

And with that Dear Friends….here’s to many, MANY more years of Foodventures together!

xoxo….

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Uni (Sea Urchin) Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¼ Pound Linguine, or pasta of your choice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
5 Ounces Fresh Uni (or one tray)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, finely diced
1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds
Seasoned Nori (seaweed), chiffonade
Kosher Salt and White Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta to al dente.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the olive oil and butter together. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add in chili flakes and heavy cream. Bring to a slight slimmer and add all but 4 pieces of the uni. Remove from heat and whisk items together until the uni has broken down into the sauce. Toss in the cooked pasta until the noodles have been evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Plate the pasta and place the remaining whole uni segments on top.  Sprinkle the tops with chives, sesame seeds, and nori. Serve immediately.

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

I was thrilled at the chance to participate in this month’s 24×24 with Foodbuzz—particularly since the theme was focused on budget friendly meals. And not only did our meal need to be budget conscience but we had to use items already found in our pantries. Sounds like the making of a good cooking show to me.

I began thinking of things that I ALWAYS have on hand either in my cupboards or fridge and came up with the following things:

  1. Dried pastas
  2. Fresh Garlic and Chili (whether chili sauce, paste, or even fresh chili peppers)
  3. Some type of protein in the freezer (usually shrimp or chicken)
  4. Canned vegetables
  5. Condiments (Remember, I’m a condiment monster.)
  6. Booze (Um……self explanatory.)

With that list, it became a no brainer for me………. I was going to make some type of pasta for this challenge.

 

 

Nini and Nina_9.24.11

I decided to make Ginger Peanut Noodles for lunch with my nieces and served it with some spicy grilled prawns. Stephanie and Nina are always such willing taste testers for my experiments. And don’t let their age fool you, they’ve got quite the refined palettes. Oh—and in case you missed the photo above, Bella was trying to squeeze in on the taste testing, too.  She heard “peanut butter” and came running.

I’ve made these Ginger Peanut Noodles on several occasions with just items pulled right out of my pantry. The type of noodle can be substituted with whatever you have on hand as I’ve used spaghetti, fettuccine, and even chow mein—anything goes! For this particular preparation we happened to have some red bell pepper which added great texture and freshness. However, thinly sliced cucumber, zucchini or even bean sprouts would be great in it, too.

Bella is still focused on the fact that I just said “peanut butter”.

 

 

Bella_9.24.11

 

 

As for the protein, I happen to prefer prawns with this but chicken, pork, or even tofu would be just as delicious. Just use the same marinade for whichever you choose.

 

 

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

This entire meal comes together in about 30 minutes and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or when you’re short on time during the weekends.

Fast? Budget friendly? Yummy?

Now that is a Trifecta of Goodness.

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Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

Prawns:
1 Pound Prawns, shelled, deveined with tails on
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Chili Sauce, or chili sauce of your choice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sesame Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Noodles:
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1½ Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1½ Tablespoons Sambal Chili Paste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
¼ – ½ Cup Hot Starchy Water (from boiling the pasta)
1 Whole Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, cut into 1 inch strips
1 Pound Linguine
*Top with ¼ Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds and ½ Cup of Crushed Roasted Peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook linguine noodles barely over al dente.

Combine the prawns with all of its marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

In a blender, combine the first 10 ingredients of the noodles together. Blend until smooth. Add the starchy liquid from the pasta water until you reach the desired consistency—about ¼ – ½ Cup. Set aside.

Bring a grill pan or a large skillet to medium high heat. Lightly cover with cooking spray and cook prawns for 1-2 minutes on each side until they are opaque and golden. Remove to a clean plate and cover.

When then noodles have cooked, drain well and return to the hot pot. Ladle in a few spoonfuls of the peanut sauce at a time until the noodles have been thoroughly coated. Toss in the scallions and bell pepper slices. Plate with a mound of the peanut noodles, prawns, and sprinkle the tops of each plate with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts.

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Pesto is one of those things that is so versatile and can be made a gazillion different ways.

By switching up the types of nuts used or greens/herbs, you can alter the flavor of the pesto—giving your old favorites a new makeover.

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

I happened to be strolling through my local farmers market the other week when one of the produce stands was getting ready to close up shop for the night. The vendor was selling the remainder of his produce for a ridiculously cheap price and I somehow managed to walk away with two HUGE bags of fresh arugula for only a dollar. A DOLLAR!!!!!

The arugula was so fresh and delicious but I couldn’t finish it all. Not wanting my arugula to go bad before I could use it up, I decided to throw some of it in to make a version of pesto for some pasta. DEE-LISH.

The arugula offered an additional peppery flavor to the dish— not to mention the extra Vitamin C and potassium I was getting by enjoying the dark leafy green.

In addition to using it in pastas, this pesto would be wonderful over grilled proteins, mixed in with hummus, or even over pizza.

Speaking of pizza and pesto— Watch out for my next post where I share another variation of pesto to make a delicious pizza!

Have a great week, Friends!

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Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken
Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 Grilled Chicken Breast
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
¼ Cup Shallots, sliced
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
1 Cup Arugula Pesto
1 Pound Farfalle Pasta, cooked al dente, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Arugula Pesto:
2 Packed Cups Fresh Arugula Leaves
1/2 Cup Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and pine nuts. Add arugula, basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

In a large and heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute mushrooms, garlic, and shallots until tender. Add chili flakes. Add the freshly boiled pasta to the pan and toss. Add pesto and toss to coat all items thoroughly. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” sauce consistency (optional). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate pasta and top with sliced chicken breast. Optional: Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Chili Flakes.

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

A few years ago, I felt like every other word being thrown around in food world was “umami“.

From food critics, to journals, burger spots and heck—even soy sauce commercials. And it made me wonder, how the heck did we used to describe foods of similar taste profiles before?

Now, I highly doubt you’ll ever catch me using this phrase to describe foods, mostly because I don’t want to sound like a poser. But that’s not to say, I don’t love ingredients that are supposed to epitomize “umami“…..like mushrooms. Because y’all know, I am a mushroom fanatic.

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

This little number is ALL about mushrooms and its earthy flavors. I used a mix of criminis, shitakes, oysters, and porcinis and then slowly cooked them down to create a rich ragoût. And holy SHITAKE—-it’s makes this mushroom-lovin’-gal HAPPY!

Ah heck…….it’s freaking deliciously umami!

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Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate
Serves 4

1 Pound Fresh Sliced Mushrooms (crimini, portobello, trumpet, oyster, etc.)
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Cup Hot Water
½ Cup Red Wine
2 Cups Stock (vegetable, mushroom, beef, chicken, etc.), warmed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Cup Shallots, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Flour
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
¼ Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
½ Pound Fettucine, cooked according to directions
Kosher salt and Black Pepper

In a bowl, add the dried porcini to the hot water. Allow to reconstitute for at least 20 minutes.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add garlic and red chili flakes and sauté for an addition 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until softened—about 10 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in water, saving the liquid. Mix and sauté for an additional minute. Add in red wine and cook until the wine has nearly evaporated.

Pour in the liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in––be careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Cook until the liquid has reduced to half. In a small bowl, mash the butter and flour together with a fork. Add in the butter/flour mixture to the mushrooms, stirring it in well to combine and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the stock and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened to desired consistency. Add in basil and season with salt and pepper.  Remove 1/3 of the mushrooms and toss in the hot fettucine noodles to the pan, tossing it in the ragoût evenly to coat the noodles. Plate the pasta and top with a spoonful of the remaining mushroom ragoût.