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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Spinach Pasta With Acorn Squash

In Breads / Grains, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetables on November 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Everybody jump in the wayback machine for a post from February 2011!!!

This meal is a great carb-loader. Go run a marathon! Or around the block. Or around the room...

Welcome to the new incarnation of Kitchenella! I thank you all for waiting. I know, I’ve taken a looong break, but I’m back with more delicious stuff. The difference is, this delicious stuff won’t turn you into an enormous fattie like the other delicious stuff.

Rest assured, there will be cheat days – after all, science has proven that one day a week of diet abandonment actually does you good. Just not EVERY day. Right, self? Um, yeah…

Okay. This post is about several things:

Acorn squash – because I had never had it before, and I always like to do different things with squash. So I made a pasta sauce out of it.

My new pasta machine – this one. My grandmother sent it to me for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ll post the recipe for the spinach pasta below, and I’ll share my adventures in pasta-making.

My new KitchenAid mixer – this one. W00T! Yeah, you can go ahead and be jealous. The mister gave it to me for Christmas, and I’ve been looking for reasons to use it just about every day since. Please notice that it is the PRO model, not the piddlin’ little Artisan. Heh heh. Don’t worry – you can still make the pasta without it.

So, on to the food. Like I said, squash. Good for you, pretty to look at, sweet and nutty, but once you’ve made soup with it, what do you do? I know, I wondered the same thing. For some reason, I have a hard time eating just plain old chunks of squash like a side dish.

I ended up taking a chance – I had an idea that a squash puree might be a good ravioli stuffing, so I tried. As it turned out, I severely overestimated my skills at making non-punctured ravioli, so that is a skill to polish for another day. But I still needed to make dinner, and I had all this pasta sitting around (see below), so I turned it into a sauce.

Genius! Awesome. Even the veggie-averse Gorilla raved about it. Different at first, perhaps, but definitely a keeper (just like, incidentally, the Gorilla himself).

And get a load of the nutritional info! Chock full, it is. Oh, by the way, I’ll be putting that stuff on every post, so no fooling yourself about your diet any longer. ‘Kay?

Acorn Squash Pasta Sauce:
Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, cumin to taste
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup peas, frozen
1 teaspoon lite maple syrup
dash coriander
2 carrots, shredded
2 ounces, mozzarella cheese, crumbled

Do this ahead of time – place the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about an hour, or until the skin is dark and bubbly. Remove it from the oven and let it sit until it is completely cool.

Okay. When you start getting hungry, separate the squash from the skin – it should come right off. Throw away the seeds and stringy pulp, because it’s a weird texture and you don’t need it. You can roast the seeds, though – they make a nice snack.

Put the usable portion of the squash in a bowl and mash it until it’s smoothish. Add the spices except for the coriander – taste as you go, and add what makes you happy. I used only a dash of everything, but if you like stronger taste, go for it. Refrigerate the bowl until you are ready to use it.

Saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of canola oil until tender and translucent, and add the garlic and peas. Keep everything moving around the pan until  the peas are cooked through, about five minutes or so.

Add the squash, along with any liquid that may have separated and accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Mix everything around, and add the syrup and coriander.

If your squash didn’t release very much liquid, you can thin the sauce with chicken or vegetable broth, but not too thin. If it’s too thin for your taste, simmer on high for a couple of minutes until it reduces. Otherwise, just simmer on medium or low for a few seconds.

Serve over pasta, sprinkle with shredded carrots and crumbled mozz, and chow down!

Nutrition Info
Servings: 4
Calories: 130
Carbs: 21.9 g
Fiber: 4.4 g
Protein: 6.7 g
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Sat. Fat: 1.5 g
Sodium: 133.3 mg
Cholesterol: 8.2 mg
Vit A: 97.2%
Vit C: 36.1%
Calcium: 15%
(based on 2000 calories)

This was only the beginning...

Okay, now on to the pasta debacle. It turned out well, but I was completely unprepared for the length of the process. Did you know that pasta machines are not magic?

Anyway, I tweaked a typical pasta recipe, and was totally unaware of the sheer volume of pasta that was about to happen. It didn’t seem  like a large quantity of ingredients, and it didn’t seem to be a lot of dough. But once I began running it through the machine, I discovered I was in over my head.

I had pasta everywhere, and no choice but to continue rolling until the entire batch was done, or all that dough would go to waste. The directions said to dry the pasta on a kitchen towel, but I only own, like, five of them, and two of them were already in use. I ended up using parchment and an old ugly curtain we had bought out of desperation.

This project ended up taking over three entire counters in my kitchen, and it even spilled over onto the dining room table. Yes, two rooms. I implore you not to attempt this on a busy day. It was actually very fun, but gosh. It took a long time.

Spinach Pasta

Ingredients:

10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed

4 cups flour

4 eggs

Honestly, you can use fresh spinach if you’re a purist, but the frozen saves you the trouble of cooking and chopping it yourself. Anyway…

In a blender, puree the spinach and the eggs.

Mound the flour into a large bowl (or the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer… hee hee!), make a well in the center, and pour in the puree.

Mix until smooth. If you have a KitchenAid, you can actually walk away for a bit at this point…  hah!

The dough should be moist but not sticky. When it’s finally reached the point where it is cool, smooth and solid-feeling, pick the ball up between your hands and mash it around a little.

Now, either run it through your pasta machine or knead it by hand until you can roll it extremely thin without it breaking. It may take some trial and error.

I sent most of mine through the kneading process only once, and it came out great. But then I had to send a ball through a second time, and it definitely did come out more homogenized and together-like, so use your judgement.

Once the dough is kneaded, just send it through the portion of your pasta maker that cuts the shape you want, or roll it out and cut it by hand. I got a little creative, and tried some giant bowties in addition to my fettucine. Meh. Kinda sloppy. You can’t properly pinch pasta with long nails.

Once the pasta is whatever shape you want it, lay it on towels or parchment or something to let it air dry. I left mine out overnight, and it came out beautifully. If you made long, skinny pasta, you can dry it in little piles – it will separate when you cook it. If you make ravioli, though, you should freeze them right away so the filling doesn’t go bad.

Nutrition Info
Servings: 8 (generous)
Calories: 337
Carbs: 60.4 g
Fiber: 4.7 g
Protein: 13.8 g
Total Fat: 4.5 g
Sat. Fat: 1.6 g
Sodium: 117.5 mg
Cholesterol: 119.4 mg
Vit A: 94.6%
Vit C: 23.7%
Folate: 45%
Iron: 24.6%
(based on 2000 calories)

Sooo… okay! That’s it! It’s been awhile since my last post, but I sure made up for it, didn’t I?  🙂

Pasta and Bean Casserole

In Pasta, Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm
pasta and bean casserole

So rich and hearty, even the kids will eat their beans!

I know, I know. It’s too hot for a casserole. So crank the air down to sixty, ’cause you’re gonna want to try this! It’s actually a vegetarian dish, although not vegan because of the cheese. The beans make it high in protein, so you can feel good about eating it even though it tastes really fattening. It’s not, though! Well, the cheese is, but there’s not much of it.

I wasn’t sure about this dish at first. When you’re just reading the recipe, it doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it is! The cheese forms the perfect little crust, and when it come s steaming out of the oven, your salivary glands will start reacting like garden sprinklers. It’s also a great make-ahead dish, and it freezes well. This recipe fed the Gorilla and I, and we have enough for another dinner in the freezer.

Pasta and Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup split red lentils

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 cups water

1/2 pound rotini, dry

1 pear, chopped

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 ounces mozzarella, shredded

3 slices of toast

salt, pepper, coriander, turmeric to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Liberally butter a glass baking dish and set aside.

In a large pot, saute to onion in the oil until tender.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, beans, lentils, pear, and water, and bring to a boil.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until everything is tender.

Add the rotini, ketchup, and parsley, and let simmer another 10 minutes, or until rotini is cooked.

If the mixture is beginning to dry out, add a little more water. It won’t hurt anything.

Stir in the seasonings and spices, and the lemon juice. Stir very, very well.

Pour it into your baking dish and top with the cheese.

Run the toast through the food processor until you get breadcrumbs (see how I tricked you into that again?), and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the dish.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

A word of advice – this stuff holds heat like a neutron star, so let it cool for awhile before you dig in. Example – my last bite was still steaming when  I put it in my mouth. Have fun!

Fettuccine San Remo

In Pasta, Seafood, Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm
fettuccine san remo

This is an awesome end to a hot day.

So, my cousin got married in New Orleans awhile back, and I couldn’t make it because of stupid school. I could never go anywhere because of stupid school, and now that I’m out of stupid school, I can never go anywhere because of stupid work. I’ve had exactly one vacation since I was twelve, and that was two years ago.  Somehow I have managed to keep from slitting my wrists.

Anyway, my mom brought me back a souvenir – guess. A cookbook! Yeah! It’s great. It has recipes for shrimp creole, gumbo, beignets, oysters Rockafeller, and all the awesome dishes New Orleans is known for. When I came across the one for Fettuccine San Remo, I had to wipe my drool from the page, so I made it.

Unlike many of the recipes in this cookbook, this one does not have twelve thousand ingredients, it does not need to simmer for six days, nor does it involve buying sixteen pounds of crawfish. It does, however, involve shrimp, scallops, and garlic, which are some of my favorite things. It’s a light, refreshing dish, yet still flavorful. It’s also very quick and easy to make, which is great for when it’s too hot to stand over a stove.

Fettuccine San Remo

(from “Cookin’ in the Big Easy” from the Keepsake Cuisine Series)

Ingredients:

1 pound fettuccine, cooked and drained

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined

1/2 pound sea scallops

1 can chopped clams, drained

2 ounces fresh basil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups fish stock or clam juice (I used chicken broth and it came out fine. My idiot grocery store has NOTHIN!)

parsley

pine nuts (I used pecans because pine nuts are $7/oz. around here)

Directions:

Saute garlic in oil for one minute.

Add the shrimp and scallops, and cook for about 4 minutes.

Add clams, herbs and stock, and maybe a bit of salt and pepper if you’d like.

Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Serve over pasta and top with nuts.

See how easy that was? Do your self a favor and serve it with a nice, crusty loaf of bread to sop up the broth. It is considered undignified to lick your plate.

Mom’s Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

In Pasta on March 10, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Please don't lick the screen!

Okay guys, this is it – the definitive spaghetti sauce recipe. The traditional recipe made by the women in my family since they came here from Naples in 1904. This is not marinara sauce, it’s spaghetti sauce. This is not Italian, it’s Italian-American. It is the best sauce ever. I sometimes eat it like soup. There’s no sugar in it, yet it doesn’t taste acidic. It’s chunky enough to stand up to a bulky pasta. It clings to the pasta instead of pooling on the plate. It is not greasy, not runny, not bland.

We use canned tomatoes instead of fresh for several reasons. The original reason being, of course, that fresh tomatoes were expensive to a poor immigrant in 1904, unless she grew them herself. If she was lucky enough to have a garden, she got loads of tomatoes for a month or two in the summer, which she quickly canned for use during the rest of the year. If she didn’t have a garden, canned tomatoes were available at the store, and were much cheaper than fresh. When you’re feeding a family of nine on the paycheck of a laborer, budget is a big concern.

The other reason is really just a back-up. My great-great-grandmother had no idea, but canned tomatoes actually have more lycopene than fresh ones. Something about the canning process, I think. And besides, the best sauce only comes from San Marzano tomatoes, and who has a steady supply of those? And if you did, would you really want to hand-chop a few dozen of them?

The recipe itself is quite simple. The secret lies in the simmering. Traditionally, you would get the sauce on the stove early in the morning and let it simmer all day until dinnertime – this way the flavors marry and blend and you end up with tomato perfection. If you are unable to do this, try to simmer at least an hour. If you don’t, you’ll lose out on a whole lotta richness and complexity.

Simmer all day, you say? You mean stand over the stove and stir all day? No. Here’s what you do (I learned this from my mom) – when you start the simmering process, place a big loaf of crusty bread on the counter next to the stove. Inform everyone in the house that the price of a dip is a stir. Within twenty minutes, the irresistible fragrance will be wafting from your kitchen, and you’ll have no shortage of assistants!

Mom’s Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup finely chopped onion

6 ounces tomato paste

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

28 ounces diced tomatoes

salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley to taste

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and onion until tender.

Stir in tomato paste.

Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes.

Bring to a boil. Watch out – the sauce is too thick to boil properly – it will just pop and splatter. There will be clean up. But really, don’t wait for a rolling boil, because it just won’t happen.

Season to taste. Only use a bit of parsley – too much, and it will taste grassy. Easy on the oregano too, because it’s a very strong flavor. Go crazy with the basil, though, because we all know how basil and tomato are in love.

Reduce heat, and simmer (uncovered) until sauce has reduced by about 2 inches. This usually takes about 30 minutes.

If you really want to, you can stop here. For the full authentic flavor, cover and simmer up to 10 hours. Obviously, the longer you’re going to simmer, the lower your heat needs to be. Simmering for an hour needs heat closer to medium than low, while simmering all day uses very low heat.

If you’ve learned one thing here today, it should be this : SIMMER! Please do it, for as long as you can. You’ll notice the difference in taste, I promise. And your house will smell very, very good, too.

Sausage and Rigatoni Toss

In Pasta, Pork on March 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Sausage and Peppers with a twist!

Mr. Gorilla LOVES the sausage. I however, have a difficult time biting into anything with a noticable skin, so I have to be very careful about how I cook it. Add to that the fact that his beloved Sausage and Peppers will completely screw up his digestive system for days, and you have quite a conundrum. I have long held the position that if you love a food, you should eat it. If it’s fattening, just eat a little. If your intestines hate it, find another way to cook it. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself when a little creativity and self-restraint can fix the problem.

So what I did was make a dish that evokes the mooood of sausage and peppers, without all of that grease and bad stuff. Know what? We both loved it. Mr. Gorilla even went back for seconds (and his first helping wasn’t paltry, let me assure you). Know what else? I ate the leftovers for lunch today. That’s weird, because I generally don’t eat lunch. That means that this dish will not only soothe the Sausage and Peppers cravings of those who are slaves to their bowels, but it will also romance those who don’t generally like foods with skin. You have my word.

Sausage and Rigatoni Toss

Ingredients:

1 pound rigatoni, cooked

6 Italian sausage links

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

handful grape tomatoes

2 cups tomato sauce

parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place sausage in a large skillet, and add about an inch of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove sausage from pan, and empty the pan – but do NOT wipe it out. We want to keep whatever sausagey flavor is in there, in there.

Using a sharp knife (a tomato knife works well for this), slice the sausages on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices, set aside.

In this same pan, saute the onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, just to get them started.

Now add the sausage slices and all of the seasonings, and saute until the sausage is no longer pink in the middle.

Remove from heat, add the tomato sauce, and stir to combine.

Toss with rigatoni and serve!

The mister kept hinting that this dish would have been even better with bread, which sadly, I did not have. So you might want to run to the store, because I suspect he was right.