Posts tagged ‘pasta’
Tuna noodle casserole from a box was a staple in my house as a kid. I daresay I liked it then, but as an adult it’s rare that I even think of the stuff. But when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for a re-invented homemade version at this time last year, I tore it out right away and planned to make it. Surely even this humblest of casseroles deserves a second chance, right? I mean, you’ve gotta admit that creamy sauce + noodles + anything, baked until bubbly, has potential. Anyways, after I resolved to make the stuff I promptly lost the page and forgot about it for a year, but when I found the recipe yesterday I knew we would have it for dinner. It is time, my friends, to revisit tuna noodle casserole, sans box.
We recently discovered a local farm that produces ridiculously delicious chorizo, and have been enthusiastically exploring things to do with it. First we made tacos with it, and then scrambled it with eggs. Then we made chorizo sandwiches, and sprinkled it on salads. Finally, we were thinking it might be nice to try it with pasta, imagining something reminiscent of this, when I happened upon a recipe for a spicy pasta and sausage bake from America’s Test Kitchen. With a few tweaks, the dish became an amazing way to enjoy chorizo, pasta, and all the spicy, cheesy warmth of a good casserole.
Kale is one of those kitchen firsts where I’ve eaten the stuff a thousand times, but never actually cooked it for myself. You see, I kind of always thought that I didn’t like kale, or that it was ok but not worth my time or effort to actually cook at home. But in the name of getting back on the kitchen firsts wagon before the end of the year, it seemed high time to go and get a bunch of kale, and little did we know we’d be back to the market the next day to get some more.
You see, we got a bit distracted with our first bunch of kale, but were too excited about the prospect of this pasta to wait to make it. So another bunch came home with us, and I’m so glad that it did because this pasta was a kale revelation! I was a little skeptical about it, even up to the very moment that I tossed all the parts of the dish together, because tasting the parts separately (the spicy breadcrumbs, braised kale, pasta, and parmesan) it really didn’t seem like anything to write home about. But it is way more than the sum of its parts, and I feel confident saying that this dish would appeal to kale-lovers and kale-haters alike– the kale becomes mild and tender as it braises, the cheese gives a little rich nuttiness, the lemon gives a nice lift, and the spicy, garlicky breadcrumbs provide a nice aromatic crunch. All in all, a very satisfying pasta for a late autumn dinner, and one you can feel good about eating too!
Before anyone says anything, let me just say that I do indeed get that it is autumn now. It’s October no less, and posting a recipe that relies heavily on the sweetest, freshest, juiciest tomatoes you can find might seem a tad bizarre, or even, uh, rather embarrassingly late, especially when it is following a recipe using butternut squash. And perhaps it is almost too late, but I have also noticed that many parts of the country have been enjoying a bit of an extended summer, with warm temperatures and lots of sun, and at least around these parts there are still quite a few late-late-season tomatoes to be found at markets and in gardens. I meant to make a fresh tomato sauce for pasta all summer long, and unfortunately it took the last of the summer tomatoes hanging around in October to make me remember what I almost skipped. Pasta with a fresh tomato sauce is incredibly delicious, easy, and refreshing in a way that pasta almost never is, and I’m so glad we finally made this that I’m going to share even though it is admittedly almost too late! If there are any last tomatoes left in your neck in the woods that are worth eating, go get them, and make yourself this dish.
We’ve been trying a variety of new pasta combinations lately, and this one, tossed with roasted butternut squash, wilted spinach, crumbled bacon and parmesan, really won me over. I’ve never cooked with butternut squash before, partly because they are sort of big and intimidating-looking (I didn’t realize we could use up a whole one in one dish), but also because Stephen professes to hate them, along with other orange things like sweet potatoes, yams, and all other winter squashes. It hasn’t ever bothered me that I couldn’t cook these things for Stephen, but when I saw a recipe for pasta with butternut squash that also featured bacon, parmesan, and spinach, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could convert him to embrace the squash.
Well, it’s been two weeks since the start of my preschool year, and my new routine seems to have thrown me off my blog-game just a lil bit. Please don’t check how long it’s been since my last post. The ironic thing is that we have kept up with the cooking and photographing and kitchen firsts over the last few weeks (in fact, we’ve been cooking a lot!), I’ve just let them lay dormant in the camera for far too long. But no more! With this post, I am hoping to jump back in to the swing of things. I’m positive that wrangling preschoolers, cooking, and blogging can co-exist!
Anyways, here’s a kitchen first I’ve been hanging on to for a little bit. Pastitsio turned out to be one of those multi-first meals, in that I’ve never had pastitsio before, we worked with lamb for the first time, and I grated fresh nutmeg for the first time (don’t ask me why I’ve never done this before– silly, huh?). Now that we’ve tried it, it seems to me that pastitsio is sort of like a fancy-fied, Greek-style hamburger helper (dare I call it lamb-burger helper?), but in a good way. Whatever you call it, pasta + cheese + tomatoey cream sauce + ground meat = one tasty homey meal, and all I can say is if actual hamburger helper was this satisfying I would be picking up some boxes and adding it to my dinner repertoire. This is definitely a good meal to warm you up on an autumn night.
Fennel is not something that I grew up with, and my natural reaction to it (and all the other foods in its anisey-scented family, for that matter) is love-hate. When I smell fennel cooking, I find it sort of intoxicating, like I just can’t stop smelling it, but I’m not sure if I want to scarf it up or throw it out. For this reason, and since I don’t have a lot of recipes in my repertoire that feature fennel, I have never cooked with fennel myself (although I have purchased it and then wasted it with the intention of doing a kitchen first like three times). But this time, I finally found a recipe that excited me enough to follow through. This pasta was fragrant and spicy without being too much, and it was a welcome change from all those everyday-tasting tomato based pastas I get so tired of. The fennel is braised in a flavorful broth with lemon, red pepper flakes and bacon until it’s tender and mellow, then tossed with pasta and parmesan. It was so good that I’m 100% positive I will never waste a fennel bulb again! In fact, I may go get another one tomorrow.