Category Archives: pasta

Mid-Week Quickie: Goat Cheese & Asparagus Mac & Cheese

This is a super fast and easy mid-week recipe with almost no cleanup.  It took about 20 minutes start to finish and used one pot and one bowl – doesn’t get much better than that.  This recipe originally came from Smitten Kitchen, but I made a few changes.  Here you go!

ingredients (serves 2)
1/2 lb whole wheat gemelli pasta
1 small lemon
1/2 lb asparagus
1/2 red bell pepper
sugar snap peas or broccoli
1 bunch spinach, rinsed
about 3 oz goat cheese (half of a 5.5 oz log)
2 tbsp olive oil

instructions

1. boil water in a big pot.  add 1/2 tsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water.

gemelli – if you haven’t had it, try it – so good for cheesy pastas!

2. prep your veggies.  snap the hard ends off the asparagus by bending the stalk and letting it break naturally.  then cut the asparagus stalks into thirds or quarters.

3. cut the bell pepper into strips, cut the stems off the spinach, and snap the hard ends off the peas.  if you’re using broccoli, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

4. when the pasta has 3 minutes left to cook, add the asparagus, red pepper, peas and broccoli.  2 minutes later add the spinach.

5. when the spinach wilts, drain the whole pot, reserving about 1/2 c. of the cooking water.

5. in a large bowl, combine the goat cheese, a splash of pasta water (about 1/4 c), olive oil, zest of the lemon, and the juice of half the lemon.

6.  with a fork, mash the goat cheese into the liquid until the mixture is smooth.

you caught me – i switched to a big bowl when i realized that trying to mix this in a little bowl was about to spell disaster.

7.  when the mixture is smooth, add the pasta and vegetables to the bowl, and toss to combine, making sure you scoop up the goat cheese sauce from the bottom to really coat the pasta.

mmm.

"Maybe next time just follow the recipe" Khao Soi Coconut Curry Noodle Soup



So I recently started subscribing to Food & Wine magazine, and last week read this article that made me really, really want a coconut curry noodle soup. I kept thinking about it, since I (thought) I had all the ingredients I needed, and finally I decided to take a break from homework and create this dish I’d been drooling over. I found a recipe for the dish on Recipezaar and set about making it, only to realize I didn’t have the requisite red curry paste. Hmm, what’s an amateur foodie to do? Naturally, I substituted extra curry powder for the curry paste, in the same quantity called for. As it turned out, this was a huge mistake. The soup was overpoweringly curry-y (yes, I just invented that word.) The delicate coconut, chicken and scallion flavors were completely overwhelmed by the massive shock of curry. So folks, do as I say and not as I do. Follow the recipe. It looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s really quite simple and fast once you gather them all from the depths of your cabinets and refrigerator drawers.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste or panang curry paste
  • 3/4 lb boneless chicken (I used tenders because it’s what I keep in the freezer, but thighs would also be delicious if you prefer dark meat), cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk. I used the Organic Light coconut milk – eliminates the guilt factor of this soup.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric or curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Assorted vegetables as desired. I used some sliced zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper from the freezer, left over from the ratatouille the week before.
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 lb noodles – I used round udon because they sold it at my local store. You could improvise as you’d like.
  • 1/3 c. coarsely chopped shallot – I omitted this, didn’t have any.
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (leave this out if you are like me and loathe cilantro)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Directions:

  1. Put water on to boil for your noodles.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and then add the garlic. Toss well and add the red curry paste, mashing and stirring to soften it in the oil, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then to brown it evenly and mix it with the curry paste.
  3. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, turmeric, soy sauce, sugar, salt and any additional vegetables you desire, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through. At this point, add the noodles to the boiling water. Make sure you set a timer to drain and rinse the noodles when their time in the bathtub is up.
  4. Stir in lime juice, remove from heat, and stir in noodles.
  5. Sprinkle each serving with shallots, scallions and cilantro if you’re into that sort of thing.
The almost-finished soup, simmering away. Deceptively pretty.

***Update: I re-made the soup using green curry paste instead of red, and the correct amount of curry powder, with tofu instead of chicken. For vegetables, I used sliced baby bella mushrooms and a few handfuls of spinach. It was MUCH improved. Make sure you taste it for seasoning before you serve it – it may need salt.

"I didn’t know I liked zucchini" Mac & Cheese

This is one of my staple summer recipes, for a quick meal when zucchini is available in abundance. While water is boiling for orzo, I shred (or chop) zucchini, and while the orzo cooks, saute the zucchini with lots of garlic and onion. By the time the pasta is ready, the veggies are too. Mix them together, add a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil and a few handfuls of shredded mozzarella, and serve. I’ve made a lot of variations on this – You can experiment with different pastas, mixing yellow summer squash with the zucchini, or adding leftover shredded chicken or crumbled bacon.

I originally got this recipe from Barbara Kingsolver’s great book, Animal Vegetable Miracle, which I recommend to anyone interested in knowing more about where their food comes from and what to do with it. You can see the recipe on her site here.