Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

16th August
written by Steph

Linguine alle Vongole

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll say it again: yes, you can eat pasta during the hot and humid days of summer! I realize the thought of a thick, heavy dish doesn’t necessarily appeal when the weather is breaking 100º, but there are ways to lighten up your pasta dishes to make them appropriate and appealing. The big thing is cutting back on the sauce – rather than something heavy or creamy, summer is the time when I turn to “barely there” sauces that are more like a drizzle and explosion of fresh ingredients. Your tastebuds and your A/C will thank you!

This simple dish of linguine and clams will whisk you away to Italy (where I’m sure they eat pasta all year round, regardless of soaring temperatures), all from the comfort of your own home. For inspiration, I combined two recipes, one from Rasa Malaysia, and one from Mario Batalli, courtesy of Epicurious. Some of you may be a bit leery of cooking shellfish at home, but I assure you nothing could be simpler than this dish. Best of all, this dish only has about 15 minutes of active cook time, so you won’t spend your time slaving in front of a hot stove. Elegant and simple, this is summer dining at its best! Ingredients (for two)
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed (see below for info on cleaning clams)
  • 8 oz linguine… use the best you can afford
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of crush red pepper flakes (add more if you like your dishes spicier)
  • ½ cup white wine (we used Riesling, which I’m sure is a sin, but it worked for us… use whatever you like to drink)
  • 6 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped (+ 2 extra tbsp for garnish)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • salt to taste
15th May
written by Steph

Spicy Mediterranean Pasta

This week has been ridiculously long, so I sent an email out yesterday afternoon to some friends suggesting a casual get together of cocktails and a light dinner. I thought it would be nice to catch up in a low-stress setting.  Now, the weather here in Nashville has been kind of wonky – chilly and brisk one day, only to be muggy and gross the next – and yesterday was definitely a case of the latter.  So I had to come up with a dinner that would be satisfying but not heavy and overly rich.  So, I came up with this spicy pasta dish, and it wound up being a huge hit.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks quite elegant and fancy schmancy if you plate it on a platter and serve it family style, but I promise it’s super simple.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ground coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (not minced)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 small red peppers, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 16 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup of vodka
  • zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spaghetti noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
30th October
written by Steph

This dish may not look all that pretty, but I promise it tastes good!

This dish may not look all that pretty, but I promise it tastes good!

When the weather starts getting cold, I start craving comfort food – generally one pot dishes that you can fling together and let the magic happen without doing all that much to them.  The funny thing is that most of the traditional comfort foods (like mac & cheese, meatloaf, or yes, tuna noodle casserole), I never got to eat growing up!  My mom made meatloaf maybe once or twice, but the only mac and cheese I ever got was Kraft Dinner.  It was good – don’t get me wrong – but it was straight out of a box.  Don’t go thinking my mom didn’t like to cook or anything like that.  Far from it.  My mom’s a wonderful cook, but those kinds of foods just aren’t on her radar.  Growing up in Trinidad, her idea of comfort foods are things like cookup, curries, and maybe even blood sausage (but we won’t talk about that last one, that’s for sure.).  So for me, casseroles and the like are still kind of a novelty dish, as they didn’t make up the bulk of my childhood eating. Now, I don’t consider myself to be a picky eater, but one thing I really don’t like is tuna from a can.  It just really grosses me out; just thinking about its flaky texture makes me want to lie down.  I don’t think Tony’s aversion is quite as strong as mine, but he’s no fan either (isn’t it nice when your food likes and dislikes so neatly coincide with your significant other’s?), so while I can get behind the general notion of the tuna noodle casserole, I had to swap out that first ingredient with chicken breast (in theory I could have probably used that canned chicken you can buy, but when possible, I choose to not use canned meats… 😉 ).  But other than that, I stuck pretty closely to this recipe, which allowed me to circumvent using a can of condensed soup.  Don’t worry if you choose to make things easier on yourself and use this one as your basis instead – I promise not to judge! (more…)
22nd March
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
4th March
written by Steph
Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Do you want to cook a meal that’s not only good tasting but good for you as well?  Give this roasted veggie pasta a whirl!  It’s pretty easy to bang together, is teeming with lovely, rich flavors (it tastes better than it photographs... something I probably didn't help with my excessively liberal cheese sprinkling), and is pretty darn healthy, too!  We’re pretty omnivorous over here at Steph & Tony Investigate, but every so often I’m able to come up with a dish that is sufficiently hearty and satisfying that Tony doesn’t notice (or at least complain about) the absence of meat.  The sauce here is kind of a quickie, less effortful version of ratatouille (a recipe I will one day share here, but not just yet), and is really very delicious.  It takes about 40 minutes to pull this dish together, but I’d still say it’s worthy of weeknight status, as it’s not at all stressful or difficult. Ingredients
  • 1 white onion, cut into coarse eighths
  • 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks (not slivers)
  • 3  - 4 yellow summer squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 quart of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and separated into individual cloves
  • Italian seasoning (or combination of basil, thyme, oregano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Penne pasta (or other “robust” pasta of your choice… probably something like a spiral pasta or a rigatoni, stay away from the tangly pastas here, I think)
11th February
written by Steph
Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

OK, here’s the thing: my friend Taryn has two Jamie O. pasta dishes that feature pretty prominently in her “cooking for company” repertoire.  The thing is, I think that over the years, I’ve slowly begun to amalgamate these two dishes, so that I’m no longer sure which ingredients belong in each dish independently.  Instead, I just chuck a bunch of things into a pan and call it a night.  A delicious night, but one that might differ significantly from what you’d get if Taryn were cooking.  So really, I guess this is Steph’s Take on Taryn’s Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta… But fear not!  Taryn is likely to comment on this post and point out all the ways in which I’m steering you wrong.  For what it’s worth, however, the way I made this dish was perfectly delicious so you could follow my directions and still be successful! So, parsnips in pasta.  You’ve probably never thought to do that, right?  Well, you really should try it because it’s really quite yummy.  Also, as is my M.O. when it comes to cooking, this recipe comes together really quickly, and is perfect for a weeknight meal. Ingredients (for 2 generous portions) •    2 – 3 Italian sausages, casings removed •    1 – 2 parsnips, peeled and thinly shaved •    6+ mushrooms, thinly sliced •    1 tbsp olive oil •    2 tbsp butter •    salt & pepper •    good quality flat “tangly” pasta (e.g., fettuccine or tagliatelle) •    grated parmesan or romano cheese, for garnish •    sprigs of parsley, for garnish (optional) (more…)
3rd February
written by Steph
Fantastic Fish Lasagna... So says Jaime, so say I!

Fantastic Fish Lasagna... So says Jamie, so say I!

For Christmas, my good friend Taryn gave me a copy of Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook Cook With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook.  It’s a gorgeous book, and each recipe is devoted a full-page picture.  Jamie also covers a bunch of techniques (such as cutting veggies, keeping knives sharp, various popular herbs & their uses, etc.,), and provides recipes for each major course. I first amused myself by flipping through the book, just looking at the pictures to get some ideas for dishes I might make.  One thing I noted was that several of the dishes seemed to be geared to a more European market, because many of the ingredients were not ones you’d find in your average grocery store (whereas I know they’re readily available in standard UK supermarkets).  Also, Jamie has the tendency to use weights for ingredients rather than our traditional measurements of cups, which was also interesting.  Certain recipes in this book I’m sure I’ll never make (sorry, but I doubt I’ll be making my own pasta anytime soon, no matter how good it looks!), but many recipes did catch my eye.  One I couldn’t get out of my mind, so I decided that I would give his Fantastic Fish Lasagna a go.  Some of you might be shocked to read this, because generally I’m not one to go for a fish dish.  Still, it looked mighty good (and called for mild, white fish), so I decided to make this dish in order to break in Taryn’s cookbook.  I think she’d be proud of me (plus, it’s not gnocchi, so she really can’t complain!). Below is my translation of the ingredients used, as well as my own personal method for making this dish.  Elements of Jamie’s method were difficult to follow (e.g., the final dish clearly has shrimp in it, but he never actually mentions when you’re supposed to add anything other than the shrimp heads… which he then throws away.), so I assumed certain things and hoped for the best.  It wound up turning out well, so I think if you follow my notes, you should be fine if you attempt this dish.  I think when Jamie says he will make you a better cook, he is assuming you are already a pretty decent one to begin with!  I will not make such an assumption! 😉 (more…)
30th January
written by Steph
Minty Pea Pasta... with Shrimp!

Minty Pea Pasta... with Shrimp!

If you’ve been following the recipes I’ve been posting here, you may have noticed that a few have them have called for (or suggested the use of) fresh mint.  Luckily there are a few good Asian markets here in town that let us by certain fresh herbs for mega cheap, and mint happens to be one of them.  Of course, for about $1.50, we wind up with way more mint than we can reasonably use, but it seems a shame to let it go to waste.  Ergo, this weekend, I concocted a pasta dish from scratch, inspired by the Brits’ love for buttery peas garnished with mint.  The mint flavor is very mild and subtle in this dish, so if you think this sounds like a weird combination, I urge you to give it a try.  This meal was so simple to make, and came together in about 15 minutes (max). Ingredients (makes two generous portions) •    1/3 cup frozen peas •    1/4 red onion, finely diced •    8 large shrimp, peeled & deveined & thawed •    olive oil •    2 tablespoons of butter •    2 servings worth of spaghetti, linguine, or another tangly pasta •    1/3 cup fresh mint leaves •    juice of 1/2 lemon •    thinly shaved romano or parmesan for garnish (more…)