Tag Archives: pasta

January Friday Dinner

Olive Oil Braised Red Onion with Bay Leaves

For 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb red onions (about 3 medium), trimmed, halved vertically, and cut into 2/3-inch wedges
  • 3 dried bay leaves, each torn into 3 pieces
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dry white wine
  • salt

Recipe:

  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Arrange onion wedges in an half overlapping single layer in a shallow baking dish. Evenly nestle the bay leaves among the onions
  3. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, white wine, and 1.5 tbsp water in a bowl and drizzle over the onions. Then sprinkle over 1 …tsp salt
  4. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil
  5. Braise the onions in the oven until completely tender, about 45 …minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to braise until all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are darkly roasted and glossy, about 20… minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve the onions warm or at room temperature
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, bread, grilled steak/pork chop …

NOTES: Fine cooking recommended to chill and toss with arugula, toasted walnuts, and lemon vinaigrette. Or mix with olive-oil packed tuna, capers and a touch of mayonnaise. Or top goat-cheese spreader crostini, which is what I served, I thought it was sophisticated, healthy and delicious! Use to be an onion disliker, but I think it’s starting to grow on me

 

Creamed Spinach with Bacon Bits

For 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, about 2 large bunches
  • 3 strips of bacon, uncooked, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

  1. Cut off the thick stems of the cleaned spinach and discard
  2. Blanch the spinach in a pot of boiling water until the spinach is wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the spinach from cooking further. Squeeze the spinach to remove all the moisture. Chop the spinach and set aside
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium high. Add the chopped bacon and sauté until the bacon begins to render some of its fat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until sauce thickens.
  5. Combine spinach, bacon and onion mixture, and the sauce into one pan. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and serve
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: fish, chicken, steak …

NOTES: Bacon can be skipped if you prefer … Yummy source of green!!

 

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

For 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 0.5 lb sliced Applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice half inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head and smash to form  paste
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions
  4. Cook bacon completely and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool. Reserve 1 tbsp of bacon fat
  5. Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 tbsp of melted butter as topping, set aside
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Saute shallots over low heat in reserved bacon fat for 1 minute. Add remaining 6 tbsp of butter and continue to sauté shallots in butter and bacon fat until translucent
  8. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and the roasted garlic paste
  9. Cook until sauce has thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary
  10. Stir in cooked pasta and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned
  11. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, soup, southern dishes  …

NOTES: Hearty and cheesy, makes great left over meal too!! Grating all those cheese was such a pain, I wanted to quit then. If possible, store-bought grated cheese would do. As with all pasta dishes, al dente is the key. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up eating mac ‘n’ cheese like many American kids, I lack the emotional/childhood attachment to it, although it was comforting and delicious, way too much work to my liking …

 

Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta & Mascarpone Mousse 

For 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • freshly grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Recipe:

  1. Beat the cream until soft peaks form
  2. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, mascarpone, 1/2 cup  sugar, and lemon zest. Whip the mixture until thoroughly combined and smooth
  3. Slowly fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours
  4. Half an hour before serving, gently mix the remaining sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl with the quartered strawberries
  5. When ready to serve, fill a clear cup halfway with the strawberries and spoon over the ricotta-mascarpone mousse
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: berries, scones, biscuits, pancakes, crepes …

NOTES: Depending on the grade of the balsamic vinegar you have on hand, you should really taste!!! I imagine it’d be more wonderful with super aged, thick balsamic. I think mine came out a little sour because I didn’t taste and poured in too much 😛 Also, don’t let the strawberries sit in the vinegar for longer than half an hour because you wouldn’t want acidity cooked berries! Nevertheless, I loved it and the sweet cheese mousse was super good. Left over was consumed with such joy and passion the following days. Definitely would make this again!!! It would be a sweet ending to any Italian meal or summer time. 

Leave a comment

Filed under appetizer, Dessert, Main Dish, Side Dish, Vegetable

Pasta with Pancetta and Corn

For 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dried or fresh wide pasta
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, plus some to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta
  • 1/2 can of corn, drained or 2 ears of corn
  • 4 dried red chilies, finely chopped or red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiana Reggiano
  • 1/4 pound burrata

Recipe:

  1. Cook pasta in 3-4 quarts of boiling salted water until al dente (firm but not hard), stirring often. Drain (Follow instruction on package)
  2. For the breadcrumbs, place the panko, basil, and salt in a food processor and grind until small. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse until thoroughly mixed
  3. In a non-stick skillet, toast the breadcrumbs till slightly browned and dry, set aside
  4. For the sauce, heat up a large skillet and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the pancetta until slightly caramelized, roughly 2 minutes. Add corn and chilies, cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat, stir a little
  5. Turn off the heat and add pasta and cheese to the skillet. Combine well using tongs. Top with a generous dusting of breadcrumbs and several hunks of the burrata cheese
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil leaves
  7. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: wine, salad, melon  …

NOTES: I used pappardelle from Trader Joe’s which was exactly 1/2 lb, this recipe was designed for 2, but the size is truly generous, I think with a small salad, it’s plentiful for 3. With bread and other sides, it would be good for 4. Notice how much corn I had in the plate! Yes, I used one whole can of corn which is equivalent to 3-4 ears of corn. I love corn and also without a salad, I thought I’d gain some fiber from there 😉 The combination of corn, pancetta, red chilies, basil-infused panko and burrata is quite amazing, each mouthful is decisively exciting. Try it! 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Dish

Eggplant Linguine

For 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb linguine
  • 1 large or 3 small eggplants
  • 2 – 3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 dried chilies
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly grounded black pepper
  • thinly sliced sweet basil leaves
  • 10 shrimp (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Slice eggplants to about 1/2 inch thick, cook them in abundant olive oil on low heat till browned and soft on both sides. Sprinkle a little sea salt while cooking and add more oil as necessary. When finished, leave them in a plate to cool
  2. Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot, salt it when it reach rolling boil (about 4 tsp of salt for 4 quarts of water). Add in the linguine, stir a little and wait for it to reach another rolling boil, cook for additional ~ 7 minutes from there on. Add 1 cup cold water to stop the cooking process and pour into a colander to carefully drain the pasta
  3. In a lightly oiled pan, add in dried chilies and smashed garlic, cook the smashed garlic until brown then discard
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and a little salt, stir occasionally, cook until it becomes sauce-like but not dry, add in slightly cooled pasta
  5. Cut the cooled eggplants into narrow strips, bring them into the saucepan with tomatoes and pasta, add salt, freshly grinded black pepper  and basil, (shrimp, too, prepared separately) toss well
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: white wine, bread, salad …

 

NOTES: READ manufacturer’s instruction on how to cook the pasta, time might vary. I don’t know if it was the Trader Joe’s linguine, or I followed instruction this time :P, but the linguine came out just perfect, with the right amount of chewiness. Be extra careful when cooking the eggplant in hot oil, I burned one of my fingertips… 😦 If you decide to add some shrimps, stir fry them  separately with some garlic and sea salt, then mix them with the pasta at the very end. Watch out for the color of the shrimp, when it loses its transparency, turn off the heat right away, it will continue to cook a little longer in the pan, you do not want your shrimps to be overdone. It was a very good meal …. 🙂 O and yeah… I forgot to add basil leaves… after going through the trouble of getting a basil plant, next time!!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Dish