Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

I made up this pasta recipe when I was in college and wanted to use pantry items I already had around.  I’ve been making it for years and I thought it was too boring to post until a friend asked for the recipe recently and his family gave it rave reviews.  It can be made very simply with dry basil and parmesan from the green container, or prettied up with fresh basil and fancy grated parmesan.  I made it the original way most recently and added some beautiful sautéed shrimp.  Other fantastic additions are chopped kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes.  You could even toss some spinach with the hot pasta to make it a complete meal.  There is a lot of garlic, so be prepared.

Mary Anne Pasta

  • 1 – 13 oz package spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or angel hair pasta (I used whole grain, but the flavor is better with regular pasta)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil or about 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or a dash if serving kiddies
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, don’t forget to add salt to the cooking water.  While pasta is cooking, in a glass measuring cup, combine the olive oil, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  When the pasta is almost done microwave the olive oil mixture for 30 to 45 seconds.  Watch it closely, it needs to bubble and sizzle for a few seconds, but no longer because it will scorch.  You should be able to smell the garlic before you open the door.  Drain the pasta when done and return to empty cooking pot.  Pour the olive oil mixture over the pasta and toss well.  Add the cheese and toss until combined.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For sautéed shrimp:  Peel and devein shrimp (about 1 lb).  Toss clean shrimp in a bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning.  In a non-stick pan over medium to medium high heat melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the shrimp and saute for about 2 – 3 minutes per side until opaque.  Be careful not  to over cook the shrimp or they will get tough.  Serve with pasta.


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Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods.  Its is rich and cheesy and delicious.  It does take some time to prepare, but the preparation is relatively simple and well worth the time.  Served with a green salad or other vegetable it makes a complete meal.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded colby-jack or mozzarella cheese
  • Paprika (optional)

Cook macaroni according to package directions (be sure to add salt to water).  Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven over low heat: add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  This can take about 10 minutes.  Stir in salt and cheeses, stirring until cheese melts.

Stir cooked macaroni into sauce and pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.  Bake uncovered at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe can be halved and baked in a 2-quart or 11 x 7-inch baking dish.

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So my summer tomato craving has extended to canned tomatoes.  I use jarred pasta sauce often, but every once in a while I like to make my own sauce.  This is a 40 minute meal from start to finish.  You could cut down on the prep time by simply browning the ground beef and adding it to the sauce instead of making the meatballs.  My kids love meatballs so we almost always make them.  I used fresh basil and oregano from my yard for this recipe.

You may find it strange that I use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in my meatballs.  I wanted to use something whole grain that served the same purpose and oatmeal is great alternative.  Just be sure to use plain quick cooking oats.  Start heating your pasta cooking water after you get the meatballs in the pan so that it boils while the sauce simmers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (ground round or leaner)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking oatmeal
  • ¼ milk
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounce can peeled crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup total fresh basil and oregano leaves roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper

Mix together the meatball ingredients with a fork until well combined.  Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a 12 inch non-stick pan (I like Calphalon’s hard anodized 12 inch sauté pan).  Form 1”meatballs adding them to the pan as you form them.  Make sure to leave some room in between each one.  Brown well, about 4 minutes, flip them carefully and brown the other side.  Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Pour all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the pan and add onion and garlic.  Sauté until fragrant, about 90 seconds and add the chopped fresh herbs.  Sauté briefly then carefully pour in the canned tomatoes.  Season with about 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs back to the pan and very gently stir to submerge most of them in the sauce.  If you like your sauce thinner cover the pan and turn heat to low.  If you like a thicker sauce like me, leave the pan uncovered and the heat on medium low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes while your pasta cooks. Serve with whatever kind of pasta you like and parmesan cheese.  We like the non-fancy kind in the green can.  Serves 5.

New Camera = lots of pictures 🙂

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I have wavered back and forth on the issue of whole wheat pasta for the last 10 years or so.  You didn’t know it was an issue?  I’m making it one.  Years ago I decided I liked it because I frequently made a pasta dish with lots of olive oil, basil, crushed red pepper, and a ridiculous amount of parmesan cheese.  Sometimes I added kalamata olives.  This concoction would make sardines taste super yummy, so I can’t use this as my guide.  More recently I placed whole wheat pasta in the super gross category because Ragu didn’t cover the flavor very well and I just didn’t like the texture.  After having kids I have had to rethink yet again because my kids love pasta, and I don’t want to deprive them of pasta.  We eat everything else in its whole grain version, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, so why not whole wheat pasta?  The answer is….build up, build up….wait for it, wait for it….

its Super Gross!

Actually, I do only use whole wheat pasta.  After some experimentation and trial and error, I have decided that it can be yum.  My kids don’t seem to care, they eat it like its yum, and who am I to argue with them?

First, buy the skinny pasta, the small fat varieties makes the texture more prominent.  I only use spaghetti.  Macaroni or rotini are too fat.  Second, cook it for one minute less than the shorter cooking time listed on the box.  I cook  spaghetti for 8 minutes.  Third, drain it – do not rinse it!  Fourth, cook or heat whatever sauce you’re using in a pan large enough to accommodate all the sauce and the cooked spaghetti.  After you have drained the pasta add it to the pan with the sauce.  I learned from the Sopranos, you know the episode where Ralph explains to Rosalie the secret of cooking good “Macaroni and Gravy”, the hot pasta absorbs a little bit of the sauce adding flavor.  That is also the reason you cook it one minute less because it will be absorbing more water.  Unless you like your pasta mushy then by all means cook it longer.  Back to the point.  After you stir around the pasta and sauce for a minute or two its ready to serve and already combined!  When I was a kid my parents always plopped the plain pasta on the plate then put a spoonful of sauce on the middle of it, then all the pasta in the middle was coated and the poor noodles on the edges didn’t get enough.  I had a rough childhood.  So here is a recipe that you can try at home. If you are a vegetarian obviously omit the scallops and add, hmmmm I don’t know, chopped kalamata olives and a little parmesan.  Enjoy!

 Spaghetti with Bay Scallops, Fennel and Tomatoes (adapted from bon appetit magazine) serves 4, start to finish 30 minutes if you’re really organized) Calories 457 Fat 13g Fiber 6g

8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

3 tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, plus one tbl chopped fennel fronds

1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced

1 pound bay scallops

1 6 ounce container cherry tomatoes, halved if large (I forgot to buy them, so I used chopped romas)

1 tbl Pernod, or dry vermouth works too

4 tbl chopped fresh parsley

juice of half a lemon

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbl olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium  to medium high heat.  Add sliced fennel and onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until wilted but crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.  Using slotted spoon transfer to medium-sized bowl.

Add remaining 1 tbl of oil to skillet.  Add scallops and saute until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon transfer to bowl with fennel and onions.  Add tomatoes to skillet and saute until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Return scallops, fennel and onions to skillet.  Mix in Pernod (or vermouth).

Add drained pasta to skillet; toss to coat (use tongs), adding reserved pasta cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time if it seems dry (I added almost all of it).  Stir in parsley and fennel fronds.  Transfer to a large shallow bowl, or just leave it in the skillet if you don’t want to have to wash another large vessel.  Squeeze lemon juice all over.  Top with Parmesan if you like, the purists will never know.

a special thanks to my good friend Lindsey for declaring she hates whole wheat pasta on Facebook sometime last year, it got me thinking

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