Category Archives: Pasta

15 Minute Meals: Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers

This past weekend was lazy. The kind of lazy that almost makes you more tired and gets into your bones, but is sometimes exactly what you need. Reading for hours, tucking in at nine o’clock, and considering laundry a triumph was what I was all about. Duke and Lou were oh-so-pleased to oblige.

Lou is growing like a weed…weighing in at 50+ lbs at 6 months. Looks like we’re going to have ourselves a heavyweight champion. Duke remains a saint of an older brother.

Come Monday though, all that changes. The week is filled with endless tasks, to-dos, demands, and delights. There’s work, dog walks, friends, food columns, blog posts, restaurant reviews, and frantic attempts to get in some much-needed exercise to preserve both my derrière and my sanity.

Incidentally, my boxing instructor (yes, I box…it’s a riot..and I love it..and someday I will be tough… and able to do a push up) scolded me the other day, “Erina…you’re very precise. But you’re also stiff. Very stiff. You have to feel it more. You have to loosen up.”

I’m still working on that one in the ring, but in the kitchen it’s one of my favorite ways to cook. This dish is the epitome of that, bringing together great ingredients and then getting out of the way. It takes only as long to make as the pasta does to boil and can be easily altered pending your desires and your pantry. The addition of the toasted panko simulates breaded scallops without all the trouble or the calories and the fried capers give each bite that little punch of “wow” you were looking for.

What’s your favorite 15 minute meal?

Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers
Serves 2 generously

Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers

1/2 lb fettucine

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

2 TB Olive oil + a glug

1/4 cup capers, drained

1/4 lb bay scallops

2 TB Butter

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions.
  2. Meanwhile toast panko bread crumbs in a dry skillet until golden brown. Remove to bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet heat the 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat, and cook the capers until fried and crispy, occasionally tilting pan to mimic a deep-fryer, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.
  4. Once the pasta is done, drain and toss with sun-dried tomatoes and corresponding oil + a glug of olive oil if it looks like it needs it.
  5. Just as the pasta is done add the 2 TB butter to the same skillet and melt over high heat. Add the bay scallops and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 3-4 minutes, turning once.
  6. Add the scallops and any remaining melted butter to the pasta and toss.
  7. Top with fried capers and toasted bread crumbs and serve.

Rainier…the perfect accompaniment.

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19 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Pasta, Seafood, Uncategorized

Woo Woo Wonderful: Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Oddly Delicious: Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m not much of a “Woo-Woo” person. I don’t listen to Phish, I haven’t owned tye-die since 1991, I don’t believe in Dream Catchers or Fortune Tellers, and I generally find activities where you’re supposed to close your eyes and hold hands with your neighbor somewhat amusing, and very uncomfortable.

This translates itself in perfect form into the kitchen as I suspiciously flip through recipes exclaiming “Delicious Sprout Smoothies” or “Dairy Free Grilled Cheese”. If I can’t see something, and taste it, and touch it, and most importantly, make sense of it, I tend to be a bit of a skeptic. Okay…a really big, annoying skeptic.

So when my CSA box arrived boasting a Cauliflower Mac & Cheese I was immediately wary, quick to dub it as some vegetarian, hippy dish that would never be as good as the real thing. However, as I peered into my refrigerator and realized that I still had anxiety-producing amounts of vegetables left and no plan with how to tackle them I decided to hand myself over to the softer side, and give this a try.

It admittedly is not the same dish as a traditional Mac & Cheese made with a béchamel, lots of cheese, and heavy cream, but it is a lovely lighter version of the old standard, with a nice contrast between the creamy cauliflower puree, dark, leafy kale, and crispy panko bread crumbs. It also is delicious, I think maybe even better, microwaved the next day…go figure!

Enjoy this when you’re willing to put your cynic subconscious on the shelf for an evening, and see what emerges.

The treats, in order of when comments were made.

The judges preparing for their case.

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Thanks to all who entered to win tickets to the Best of Seattle Party! The honorable judges, Duke and Lou chose the winner out of a row of 11 treats. The first snarfed up was #8, Morgen Schuler of Morgen Schuler Photography. Congrats to Morgan…and lucky for us, now we know this year’s event will be shot in style!

Little Lou, a fair and unbiased judge.

Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Hand Farmed Organics – Week 5 CSA Box

2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces

16 ounces penne pasta

1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated

1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I like Chobani for cooking b/c it’s less sweet than most)

The secret ingredient…a spoonful of low-fat plain yogurt.

2 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup sliced squash

Erina vs. The Veggies…my ongoing summer battle.

2 TB olive oil

1 TB Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a large glass baking dish
  2. Boil a pot of salted water.
  3. In a saucepan, warm stock and bay leaves on medium-low heat for five minutes; turn off heat
  4. Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes or until very tender. Drain out all water, and add to cauliflower the stock (discard bay leaves), cheese, yogurt, oil, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, puree until totally smooth.
  5. Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and cook the pasta, 3 minutes less than instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  6. Add the pasta to the cauliflower puree and mix well.
  7. Pour half the pasta into the prepared dish. Top with half the kale and squash. Pour the remaining in and add the kale and squash. Top with parmesan and panko bread crumbs.
  8. Bake 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are turning golden brown.
  9. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

13 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Health Conscious, Make ahead, Pasta, Vegetarian

Total Control: Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Her single command thus far….”Sit”, which she does eagerly and quite brilliantly (or so I’m told).

My life is a little nuts right now. It’s all good, and I’m very lucky, but things are a little crazy. I have my husband, my family, and my friends with whom I want to spend time. I have my job, my food blog, and my volunteer work with puppy rescue.  I have many wonderful trips to look forward to this summer including a wedding in Vermont, a clambake in Massachusetts, and girl’s wine weekend in Walla Walla. I have my meager attempts to get some sort of exercise to balance out said food blog and wine trips, not to mention my book club, my horseback riding, and my laundry. I have lots and lots of laundry lately it seems.

Happily chewing on an elk antler…and my running shoes…and my coffee table…

So it will come as no surprise that what seemed like the most logical decision, the most sensible way to go, was to get a puppy. In all honesty, I’m blaming this one squarely on Matt. He found a darling Neapolitan Mastiff puppy in Tacoma on Wednesday, emailed me in Boulder about it on Wednesday night, and by Thursday at noon she was happily chewing on Duke’s ear and quickly climbing the ladder to Number One Cute Pup In Town if you ask any non-biased person. To be fair, I didn’t exactly kick her out of bed for eating crackers either.

She is incessant in her need to be near Duke and he graciously obliges…I think he even likes it.

So this Monday night when I realized this was my only night off this week, and my fridge was exploding with goodies from our Hand Farmed Organics CSA and another box was arriving tomorrow [insert panic and self loathing at thought of throwing away organic vegetables HERE], I figured I’d better get cooking. A little quiet time in the kitchen always calms my nerves, and the self-righteousness that comes with making a delicious meal out of what’s in your fridge is hard to beat.

We try to do Meat Free Mondays, but honestly we usually don’t. Add that to the list of things that have gone to the wayside in our busyness. But tonight I succeeded, creating a sort of Vegetarian Carbonara and triumphantly using all the chard, spinach, and radishes up. It was surprisingly delicious, light and yet satisfying, and on the table in less than 30 minutes. A perfect meal when all you really want to do is play with the new puppy, and ignore the piles laundry building up in your temporarily empty guest room.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Serves 6

Carbonara is typically made with pancetta or bacon, but I didn’t have any and thought a vegetarian twist on the Italian classic might work. The radishes give it some nice bulk, and when the beaten egg is slowly added as you vigorously toss the pasta you get a rich sauce you’d swear had heavy cream in it.

1 lb pasta, whatever is in the cupboard

3 TB Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 bundle of radishes, about 6, washed and thinly sliced with a mandolin

1 bunch chard, washed and coarsely chopped

1 bag spinach, washed

1/2 cup chives, thinly sliced (this seems like a lot, but is delicious and gives it a nice kick)

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup good parmesan cheese grated, plus more to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until just beginning to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium, add the radishes and the leeks, and cook until turning translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the chard and spinach, returning heat to low, and cook until wilted and radishes and leeks fully cooked, another 5 minutes.
  5. To assemble take the warm pasta (you don’t want it too hot or the egg will scramble), and vigorously tossing with tongs slowly add the beaten egg, until it creates a rich coating.
  6. Add the chard/spinach mixture, chives, and the parmesan and continue tossing vigorously until all nicely mixed and coated.
  7. Serve with additional parmesan to taste and truffle salt.

23 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Pasta, Seasonal Cooking, Vegetarian

Crying 101: Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

A dear friend who is in quite a life transition recently confessed to me, “I’ve been crying a lot lately.”

When I didn’t respond (I was too busy thinking my own self-absorbed thoughts about my lack of crying and what that must mean about me as a person (more on that later)), she continued, “As in every day. But I think that must be good because it means I’m really feeling my feelings.”

As a general rule, I’m not a crier. Some women are delicate and endearing when they cry. I am not. Snot drips, eyes become bloodshot, and my chronic hiccup syndrome kicks in with full force. As such, I’ve employed a categorical strategy of not crying. Preferably ever. But when I got off the phone…driving home from the barn…I found myself thinking panicked thoughts: “What if I’m not really feeling my feelings! What if I just think I am! What if I’m so busy going this way, and coordinating that, strategizing this, and tasking that I’m missing something important or keeping important emotions at bay?!?”

So I did what any overbearing, type-A, hideous overachiever would do. I put on some sappy Pandora station, rolled down my windows, and waited for the tidal wave to come.

I got nothing. Maybe a little bubble or welling perhaps? But if I’m being honest….Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So I did the next best thing I could think of. I came home, hosed myself off (Matt has assured me that while I enjoy the smell of horses, and barn, and sweat, and manure, he does not), and got cooking. While I never got to the cathartic cry I was perhaps seeking, I did find myself taking the first deep breath of the day, and really being.

These pictures are garbage and don’t do this dish justice, but trust me…it is freaking DELICIOUS. And an excellent way to use up all that zucchini that all your friends keep trying to offload on you because their garden is going crazy.

This is undeniably a Food & Wine recipe, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

Serves 4

1 pound small zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound spaghetti
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel–lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.

5 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Great Escape 2011: Bucatini Pasta with garlic and anchovy, tossed with radish bulbs and greens and finished with a fried egg

Picture this. Four months before you mail in a check. Soon thereafter the emails start arriving with clues such as:

  1. Over the course of the weekend we will be visiting TWO states.
  2. Frills and fancy…there’s nothing too good for my girls.
  3. At some point on the trip we may be wearing helmets.
  4. Indulge

A week before a packing list arrives and 24 hours before you get your destination, itinerary, and plane tickets. Such is “The Great Escape” a trip that I take each year with my amazing, wonderful, incredible, and yes, highly modest and dearest friends. Each year there is one planner and they are responsible for everything. Where you’re going, what you’re spending, what you’re doing, where you’re staying, and of course, what you’re eating.

This past weekend the lovely Meghan planned our trip and off we went to Blue Ridge, Georgia for a weekend of cute accents, Southern charm, and yes, the occasional confederate flag. It was a weekend of cuddling, boozing, bonding, laughing, hot-tubbing, and of course mandatory goal setting (we didn’t get the reputation for being the nerdy kids in high school for nothing.)

 

 Weekend highlights included white water rafting, a charades championship where Madeline successfully acted out Tupperware, Rachel’s declaration that we should wake up “organically” (read 11a), and lots and lots of food.  This pasta dish wasn’t actually made on the trip, but I think I talked about it enough that the girl’s probably feel as though they had it. Don’t be worried about the interesting collection of ingredients and flavors.  This recipe came about from me combining two of my favorites and I promise you…it’s more than delicious.

Make this for an oh-so-good weeknight dinner when your summer CSA box or garden is going wild. And begin the countdown for next year’s Great Escape.

Bucatini Pasta with Garlic, Anchovy, and Olive Oil tossed with Radish Bulbs and Greens sautéed with Green Garlic and Chives and finished with a Fried Egg

Bucatini Pasta (adapted from Cozy Delicious)

1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced garlic (do slice it versus crushing or mincing..it’s better this way)
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
two shakes red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the pepper flakes if using. Add in the pasta, reserved water, and cheese and toss well to combine, cooking another minute or so.

While you’re making the pasta, in a separate pan put together the radish portion of the dish.

Radish bulbs and Greens Sautéed with Green Garlic and Chives (Adapted from Hand-Farmed Organics)

2 bunches radishes
2 -3 cups ovation greens mix
1.5 Tbsp butter
1.5 Tbsp chopped green garlic
1.5 Tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper

Clean radishes and coarsely chop the greens. Trim and quarter the bulbs.  Heat the butter in a skillet, over med. Heat.  Add radishes and cook, stirring often for 2 min. 

Stir in greens mix, radish tops, chives and garlic  until wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the pasta base with the radish dish and combine well. Quickly fry up an egg and serve. So good!

4 Comments

Filed under Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly

Farm Fresh Eggs

Eggs Glorious Eggs

What is the opposite of a green thumb?

Whatever it is…I’ve got it.

A reluctant gardener at best I’ve been known to kill even the hardiest of plants. We’re talking mint…rosemary…bamboo.

That’s right. For the daughter of an award-winning landscape designer, I am a total failure in the garden.

Which is why when our friend and neighbor, Casey, told us about his new CSA, Hand Farmed Organics, I immediately panicked it would sell out (we are talking about neurotic, type-a me after all), signed up for a half-share, and started pestering him about when it would start-up.

Hand Farmed Organics

The View from the Farm

Potato Planting Party

Potato Planting Party

Well…were just weeks away now from weekly deliveries of broccoli, cauliflower, and beets fresh from the ground, but what he does already have is the world’s very best eggs.

If you buy eggs at a grocery store, stop immediately. Find a farm near you and get the real thing. There is simply no comparison.

Beautifully varied, speckled white and brown shells, these eggs (whose yolks incidentally are neon orange) are the most delicious, velvety treats you’ve had in a long time.

Chicken

Hot Chick

Subsequently, I’ve been trying to think of recipes that include eggs. This carbonara topped with slow-roasted pork belly is definitely a decadent treat, but a perfect dinner for a cool spring night with friends and a good bottle of Pinot Grigio. Don’t let the Pork Belly intimidate you. Just think of it as Bacon’s wilder,  older brother.

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly
Adapted from two Food & Wine Recipes

Serves 8

Pork Belly

2 pounds boneless, skinless, meaty fresh pork belly, fat trimmed to 3/4 inch and scored
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet until hot. Add the pork, fatty side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 minutes. Scatter the garlic, onion, celery and carrots on either side of the pork belly and cook until softened slightly, 5 minutes.

Belly Braising

Add the wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, turning every thirty minutes, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Transfer the pork to a platter and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the meat into two-inch cubes and set aside.

Carbonara

12 ounces bucatini or angel hair
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
4 large egg yolks, whipped
Salt
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile heat a large skillet until hot. Add the pork belly and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered and each side boasts a nice crisp outside, 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set on paper towels to drain. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 1/2 cup of grated cheese and then slowly add the egg yolks tossing constantly so they don’t cook onto the pasta. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls, top with pork belly, and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

Carbonara Topped With Pork Belly

Carbonara Topped with Pork Belly

**All photos compliments of Hand-Farmed Organics’ Kim Sklar**

5 Comments

Filed under Comfort Foods, Pasta, Uncategorized

Day 10: World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese

World's Best Macaroni and Cheese

World's Best Macaroni and Cheese

Today was a spectacularly beautiful day in Seattle. The kind of day that makes you appreciate living in the NW and just a tad bit smug that you aren’t living in New England and bracing for the next foot of snow to drop. The sun was shining, the buds on the trees starting to awaken, and Seattle-ites out in full force enjoying every minute of it. Onca and I were no exception and enjoyed a long walk along the lake and a trip to PCC complete with Onca’s backpack so she could pull her own weight (and by own weight, I mean beer, wine, cream, and milk). It was an exhausting trip and clearly required a full nap afterward.

Such a busy day.

While Ms. Onca slept I pondered what we should have for dinner that would be worthy of this day. Having enjoyed an amazing dinner with our friends Wendy and Andy at The Walrus and the Carpenter last night I was eager to keep the creative foodie genius I’d experienced going. And clearly, nothing says creative foodie genius more than a January BBQ and Bonfire with neighborhood friends.

Matt volunteered to do burgers, and Angela claimed ribs and spinach salad, which left me with no other choice but to make a big dish of the World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese. This is based  on Beecher’s famous recipe, but with a few suggested tweaks/additions, and I would challenge you to find a recipe you like more. This is certainly a treat to make since it’s so undeniably unhealthy, but as a once-in-a-while splurge there’s really nothing better.

This serves 8, but halves beautifully, or you can also make it in two smaller dishes and freeze what you like for a quick dinner some weeknight. Also, feel free to experiment a bit with the cheeses and use whatever you have in the fridge. Goat cheese is a nice addition and doing a bit of Parmesan gives it a slightly more complex flavor.

World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb  penne pasta

Beecher’s Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)

1 ounce cheddar, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

BEECHER’S FLAGSHIP CHEESE SAUCE

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

14 ounces semihard cheese, such as Beecher’s Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)

2 ounces grated semisoft cheese, such as Beecher’s Just Jack

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

dash of hot sauce (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil or butter a 9×12 baking dish

Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder, garlic powder, mustard, and hot sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.

Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly.

Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses, chile powder, and panko. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to three days.

3 Comments

Filed under Comfort Foods, Month of Exploration, Pasta, Vegetarian