Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Fresh Mozzarella

Now that it’s fall and it’s starting to get dark earlier, I am in full comfort food-craving mode. All I can think about is rich, satisfying, warm meals that make me feel cozy and smell amazing while they’re cooking. There’s something so special about eating a comforting meal with a glass of wine and your loved ones after work. Maybe even – gasp- in front of the TV, with a blanket on your lap. Heaven. Hey, we eat at the table most of the time, so a little TV time is an indulgence once in a while.

This creamy tomato pasta bake with fresh mozzarella is one of those meals that you think about all day at work before you even make it because you know it’s going to be so good. It’s rich, flavorful, and oh-so-cozy. Just writing about this meal makes me want to make it again.  

Ingredients:

1 lb. rigatoni pasta

2 c. marinara sauce

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 c. heavy whipping cream

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 c. chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place the pasta in a large baking dish. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the marinara sauce, tomato paste, and fresh tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir, and heat through quickly. 

Pour the sauce into the baking dish with the pasta and mix thoroughly so that the sauce and pasta are well combined. Top with mozzarella slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Top with fresh oregano, serve, and enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Penne alla Caprese

Pasta is always a wonderful treat and so is anything with the word “Caprese” in the title, so why not combine them to make a super-fresh, super-delicious pasta dish? This time of year, many of our gardens are full of all of the beautiful fruits of our gardening labor, especially tomatoes and mounds of fresh basil. If you don’t have a garden like this, chances are you have a friend who does and is willing to part with a little bit of their bounty. You know, because you’re such a great friend. 

This truly lip-smacking penne alla Caprese comes together in no time, is loaded with ingredients most people adore, and is even healthy. The aromatic garlic, wine, fresh tomatoes, and basil are so delicious mixed in with the toothsome pasta and the tangy fresh mozzarella. It’s simple, and just right. “Less is more” isn’t just a clever saying after all. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne pasta

2 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ c. dry white wine

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 c. cherry tomatoes, or fresh diced tomatoes

½ c. fresh basil leaves, torn

8 oz. mozzarella pearls or diced fresh mozzarella

Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. 

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and white wine and cook until they are soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Break the tomatoes up as you cook with a rubber spatula so that they become a bit more “saucy.” 

Combine the pasta and tomato sauce in a large serving bowl and toss to combine. Add the fresh basil and fresh mozzarella and combine quickly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Drizzle with additional olive oil and top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Pasta with Lemon, Fried Leeks, Peas and Goat Cheese

This light and veggie-filled pasta is bursting with all kinds of delightful springtime ingredients that will certainly make you smile when you taste them all together. This pasta with lemon, fried leeks, peas, and goat cheese boasts all of the fun flavors of delicious, carby pasta but with a much smaller calorie load. 

The surprisingly-small amount of goat cheese added into the pasta creates a creamy and satisfying taste without the guilt. The strong flavors of the leeks and onions are complemented by the sweet peas and tangy lemons. This delicious pasta dish is perfected with fresh herbs and sharp Parmesan on top. All of those ingredients work together to get you a ton of flavor bang for your taste buck. And it’s all ready in under 30 minutes. 

Ingredients:

8 oz. fettuccine or linguine

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 leeks, halved, cleaned and sliced

2 green onions, sliced

1 c. peas

Juice from ½ lemon

2 Tbsp. chives, chopped

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

2 oz. goat cheese

Salt and pepper

Parmesan,for topping

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Reserve ¼ c. pasta water.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the leeks and green onions and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Add the peas and heat through until they are bright green, about 1-2 minutes. 

Add the cooked pasta and pasta water to the skillet and toss. Add in the lemon juice and goat cheese and continue to toss until the ingredients are mixed evenly throughout the pasta. Season with salt and pepper and mix again. 

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Top with parsley, chives, and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Categories
Fish/Seafood Pasta

Smoked Salmon Carbonara with Zucchini Noodles

Often in the summer, I find myself wanting to lighten up some of my favorite meals. When I’m hot, the last thing I want is to feel overly full (although admittedly, I don’t seem to mind that feeling in the winter). I had a craving for spaghetti carbonara, but didn’t want to feel the heaviness of that meal. My garden is already proving to be extra generous this year, so I have zucchini practically coming out of my ears. 

I came close to making straight-up carbonara with zucchini noodles. Then a (possibly) strange thought entered my brain, which is totally normal for me. I was thinking about how the smokiness of bacon tastes so amazing in carbonara when I realized that hot smoked salmon has that same smoky flavor without all of the extra fat. I decided to go for it, and when I tasted this dish I wondered where it had been all of my life. It’s definitely going on rotation during high zucchini season from now on. So yummy, and about as guilt-free as carbonara gets. 

Ingredients:

3 large zucchini, spiralized 

1 Tbsp. olive oil

5 eggs

1 c. shredded Parmesan

4 oz. hot smoked salmon, crumbled

4 cloves of garlic, minced

½ c. peas, fresh or thawed

¼ c. fresh parsley, for topping

Salt and pepper

Cook zucchini noodles in a large skillet over medium high heat until they are tender. If necessary, you can add a little bit of olive oil. Make sure to let all of the liquid cook off the zucchini noodles. Remove from heat, drain if needed, and set aside. 

Separate the eggs and yolks from 4 eggs. Set aside the yolks for later. Whisk the egg whites and extra egg in a bowl. Add Parmesan and whisk until combined. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and peas and cook for one minutes.

Add the zucchini noodles to the skillet and quickly pour the egg/Parmesan mixture. Stir quickly to combine and remove from heat. 

Divide into four bowls. Top each bowl with an egg yolk and season with salt and pepper. Then, top with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Pasta alla Greca (Greek-Style Pasta)

Greek AND Italian flavors melded into one pasta dish? Yes, please! This pasta alla Greca is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like loads of robust and super amazing flavors, you should definitely move on. But if you like olive oily, garlicky, briny foods, this is the ultimate pasta dish. Eating this makes you feel like you’re dining seaside in the Greek islands, when in reality most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. 

Not only is this pasta lip-smacking good, it’s also ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. An extra bonus is that this pasta alla Greca is vegetarian and full of healthy ingredients, so I ask: what’s stopping you from making this tonight?

Ingredients:  

1 16 oz. package of pasta

1 6.5 oz jar of artichoke hearts, quartered

1 7 oz. jar of sundried tomatoes, chopped

¼ c. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 Tbsp. capers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice from 1 lemon

¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped

Handful of baby arugula (optional)

2 Tbsp. olive oil 

1 c. feta cheese

Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or  until fragrant and lightly browned. Be careful not to burn it. 

Add the garlic and the oil to the pasta. Add the artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the arugula, parsley, and feta and mix together quickly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Salads Sides Vegetarian

Spring Green Pasta Salad

This spring green pasta salad is perfect for when you’re craving a salad, but you need something a little more substantial. Not only is this bright green pasta salad gorgeous, it is so fresh tasting. All of the best spring veggies are included: baby spinach, arugula, peas, asparagus, fresh parsley and mint. The salty feta and tangy and robust shallot dressing balances out all of the tender sweetness of the veggies, resulting in a tangy-sweet and healthy meal or side dish.

Serve this salad alongside grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp for a side dish, or eat it alone as a meal. If you’d like to add protein, this salad would be great with shrimp or chicken mixed in. You can also sub out any of these ingredients with your other springtime favorites, like baby kale or chard. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta, cooled

3 c. baby spinach

1 c. baby arugula

½ c. peas

1 c. steamed asparagus, cut into pieces

¼ c. fresh parsley

¼ c. fresh mint

½ c. feta cheese

Shallot dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Prep the veggies and shallot dressing. 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing a bit at a time, mixing the salad, until your desired taste is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold.

Categories
Pasta Salads Sides

Greek Orzo Salad with Feta

This Greek orzo salad with feta just screams summer and practically forces you to invite some friends over to your place for a cookout. This salad is quick to make, full of fresh and simple ingredients, and so deliciously sunshiney. 

It’s so easy to throw this Greek orzo salad with feta together a few hours before a barbeque and have it ready to go when the other food comes off the grill. That way, you can cut down on prep time and actually enjoy your get together with friends. Pull out that bottle of crisp white wine and some appetizers and BE part of the fun instead of cooking while your friends have fun without you.

Ingredients:

Salad:

8 oz. orzo pasta

1 large cucumber, diced

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

½ c. kalamata olives

5-6 green onions, chopped

½ c. fresh parsley, chopped

½ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

⅓ c. olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and allow it to cool. 

In a large serving bowl, combine orzo, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions, parsley and feta cheese. 

To make the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients. 

Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine and serve.

Categories
Fish/Seafood Pasta

Pâtes de Printemps (Springtime Pasta)

If you want to actually taste springtime in the south of France, I suggest you make this delicious French Riviera-inspired pasta dish that includes the most lovely blend of lemon, shrimp, fresh spring herbs, white wine, and of course, butter. 

This version of a pâtes de printemps, or springtime pasta, makes me feel like I’m sitting by the Mediterranean Sea drinking a jewel-tone glass of rosé and eating a truly remarkable meal – all while staring at the perfectly azure water. And let’s not forget that there’s also a perfect breeze blowing through my hair, sun shining on my shoulders, and a waiter that will whisk away all of the dirty dishes. Darn it, fantasy over.

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta 

½ lb. large shrimp

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large lemons, reserved zest and juice from both separately

½ c. fresh peas, shelled

2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

3 green onions, sliced 

¾ c. dry white wine

¼ c. pasta water, reserved

3 Tbsp. butter, diced

½  c. grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. 

Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the lemon zest and tarragon (but save a little for topping before serving) and cook for one minute. Add the shrimp and cook until cooked through, or about 2-3 minutes. Remove the shrimp and place them on a plate. 

Add the wine, lemon juice, and pasta water to the skillet and stir. Allow it to cook down a bit, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pasta and peas. Then stir and remove from heat. 

Add the butter and Parmesan and mix to combine. Add the shrimp back into the warm pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with parsley, green onions, extra tarragon and lemon zest.

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Zucchini, Corn, and Feta Summer Pasta

My garden produced so much zucchini last summer that I was pretty sure I never wanted to eat it again. But here I am pre-zucchini season buying it at the farmer’s market because (dare I say?) I was missing it. Apparently I also hadn’t reached my lifetime limit of corn last summer, because I picked some of that up too. I was just feeling summer food vibes, what can I say?

I didn’t know what I was going to do with either ingredient, but when I spotted the feta in my fridge the lightbulb went off in my brain. And I sure am glad it did, because this summery pasta is absolutely amazing. I was hoping to have leftovers for lunch the next day, but the kids and I polished it off in the first round. Live and learn. Next time, I’ll make double.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. pasta

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 medium zucchini, diced

2 ears sweet corn, sliced from the cob

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice from one lemon

¾ c. feta cheese, crumbled

¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta according to package directions. 

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the zucchini and corn and cook until the zucchini is tender and the corn is lightly charred, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta and add to a large serving bowl. Add the zucchini corn mixture, lemon juice, and feta cheese. Stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Top generously with parsley and enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Creamy and Vibrant Vodka Sauce

I remember the first time I tried the pink, creamy, tomato-based deliciousness that is vodka sauce. Many moons ago, at the age of 22, I arrived in New York City with no more than a couple of suitcases to begin my internship at CBS News. My parents came with me to help me get set up and send me into the world of adulthood, and also to take me out on the town. 

On the first night in New York, they took me to the magical, but now defunct, Mangia e Bevi in the theater district. This boisterous restaurant was legendary for being insanely loud, crazy, and super fun. The wait staff encouraged dancing on tables, singing loudly, and generally allowed you to have as much fun as possible, no matter how crazy it got. If you were looking for a romantic date restaurant, this was not it. But if you wanted to have a really good time, you found your spot at Mangia e Bevi.

I remember having so much fun that I nearly forget about the food. When I finally peeked at the menu, I noticed a strange menu item: vodka sauce. At the time, it was only a well-known sauce in very Italian communities. I had never heard of it, so I took a chance. And guess what? It was one of the best pasta dishes I had ever eaten. 

Since then, I have been obsessed with vodka sauce because it’s tangy and tomato-y, but also creamy and silky. I order it in restaurants, cook it at home, dream about it. Once you try vodka sauce, it’s pretty hard not to obsess about it, so tread carefully. 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ c. vodka

¼  c. tomato paste

¾ c. heavy cream

¼ c. pasta water

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, setting aside ¼ c. pasta water for later use. 

In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook until fragrant, translucent and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the vodka, mix, and then turn down the heat to medium low. Whisk in the tomato paste until the mixture is smooth. Add the cream and pasta water, along with the basil, and whisk until smooth and cooked through. 

Season with salt and pepper. Mix the sauce and pasta together in a bowl until combined. Top with additional fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.