The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

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Pasta with Mushrooms, Wine & Whiskey

 

I love mushrooms!! I haven’t cooked with them for years because *someone* doesn’t “dig on fungus.” But now that *someone* is working late a lot, and *someone’s* parents are in town and unable to eat anything with too much vitamin K in it (thanks, a lot, Blood Thinner!) I decided to cook them again! Why not? After all, he usually strolls in around 11PM claiming to have eaten at work anyway… This dish should be classified as an adult dinner due to the alcohol content. It may have burned off but it sure didn’t taste like it did. Or it sure did taste like it didn’t!

 

This is pretty easy – I chopped the mushrooms & onions ahead of time during someone’s (not my) nap. Let’s get started! You’ll need:

INGREDIENTS:
24 oz (weight) mushrooms, thickly sliced (I used crimini) (Baby Bellas are recommended but they were $$$ so I got crimini)
4 TBSP olive oil (2 for roasting mushrooms & 2 for sautéing onions)
1 large onion, peeled & sliced
1 c dry white wine
3/4 c whiskey (or another 3/4 c white wine if you don’t have whiskey)
1/2 c vegetable broth (I used bullion)
1 c heavy cream salt & pepper to taste
12 oz pasta, cooked al dente (I actually used the whole 16 oz bag so that I’d have extra “noonles” for the kids.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle mushrooms with olive oil, sprinkle salt & pepper on top. Roast for about 20-25 minutes. Drain & set aside.

Gorgeous, earthy little shrooms…

While they’re roasting, stand back & observe your child or pet.

If you don’t have a child or a pet, lie down on the pristine couch with Bravo TV on and be happy.

2. In a large pot, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions & saute for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.

Forgive the ugly lighting as I took it at night (I prepped the veggies during the day!) and do not have my lighting down yet:

Check on kids every once in a while.

Yes! Dinner is almost done!

3. Add wine & whiskey. I used Charles Shaw b/c we have a lot since Patsy’s visiting & Maker’s Mark (which is probably a little too “nice”) since we have loads as it’s G and his dad’s trademark father-son drink.

Ode to Patsy:

Ode to Jack:

Let this concoction bubble for a few minutes. Add the broth and let it reduce for another few minutes. (You can use vegetable or mushroom broth. I was out so I used Vegetarian Chicken Flavored Bullion added to water. It’s LOADED with sodium so I use caution and add much less than its label advises.) You are now up to 2 sets of a few minutes. About 4-5 minutes according to my calculations. Now add cream and reduce heat to low. Add mushroom, salt & pepper. Allow to simmer until it thickens.

Reserve a little of your pasta water in case sauce needs thinning after you’ve added pasta. Add cooked pasta & toss together! Season with salt & pepper to taste. Delicious & not for the Designated Driver.

Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Pasta with Mushrooms, Wine & Whiskey
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6-8
 

An easy, earthy, mushroom & pasta dish complete with your (inlaws’) favorite alcoholic beverages!
Ingredients
  • 24 oz (weight) mushrooms, thickly sliced (I used crimini) (Baby Bellas are recommended but they were $$$ so I got crimini)
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled & sliced
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • ¾ c whiskey (or another ¾ c white wine if you don’t have whiskey) I used bourbon.
  • ½ c vegetable broth (I used bullion)
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 oz pasta, cooked al dente (I actually used the whole 16 oz bag so that I’d have extra “noonles” for the kids.)

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spread mushrooms on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Set your pasta water to boil.
  3. In a large pot, heat olive oil, add onions & sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Pasta water should be boiling. If so, add pasta to it & salt.
  5. Add wine & whiskey (or all wine if you drank all your whiskey!) Let bubble for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add broth, and allow to bubble for another 2 minutes (to reduce.)
  7. Add cream & turn heat to low. (NOTE: Reserve a cup or two of your pasta water in case your mushroom/sauce needs thinning!) Add your cooked pasta to mushrooms & toss. If sauce needs thinning, add some of the pasta water that you’ve saved.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  9. YUM!

Final verdict: the kids picked out & ate only the noodles. Although Maddie likes mushrooms, she likes them alone. She is definitely not French. But why would she be?

Oh, and guess who strolled in early & hungry that night? None other than *someone.* D’OH!

Baked Ziti with Eggplant Recipe

Growing up, whenever I heard we were having eggplant for dinner my mood would darken in anticipation of that tough disc of chewy-yet-slimy eggplant hidden under formerly friendly elements like tomato sauce & parmesan cheese. God bless my mom, and I sure do miss her and REALLY appreciate all she did for me (‘specially now that I have kids!) but I don’t think eggplant was her specialty. Is that wrong to say?

This recipe takes care of all the problems: the tough/chewiness, the slime & the sheer mass of the slices. It also lets the eggplant do its job: soak up all the flavors! I love this recipe! It’s basically an extra special baked ziti that’s easy to make!

Btw: it got really dark out when I was shooting my ingredients. I’m ’bout to run to OSH for a clip lamp tomorrow but since Bea’s asleep, let’s overlook the imperfections! This recipe is totally worth it.

Here’s (mostly) what you need:

You’ll notice I have only 1 eggplant in the picture – but the recipe calls for 2 LARGE eggplants and I recommend you use that amount if you can! While I was shopping for some of the ingredients, my kids were hollering for those little Horizon chocolate milks that I buy so they can take a sip or two before squeezing it up and over their hair/shirts/shoes/my purse & the shopping cart. I said no causing one of them to scream so loudly she peed her own pants IN the shopping cart. So I bought only 1 eggplant by mistake.

Use 2 large eggplants for best results! And quit blaming your kids for all your problems!

INGREDIENTS:
2 large firm eggplants (each about 1.25 lbs)
2 TBSP coarse salt (plus more for pasta & sauce) – You can really use regular salt if you don’t have coarse but you’ll need less.
6 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
(1) 35-oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, lightly crushed in their juices
1 tsp crushed hot red pepper
1 lb ziti
1 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 c fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/2 lb (1 c) ricotta cheese
8 oz Fontina cheese, sliced thin

A note before I start: this dish can be served as a hot pasta dish from a bowl OR you can go right ahead and bake it. The Fontina cheese is for the baking option. It’s delicious both ways!

First, cut the stems off the eggplants. Then peel 1″ wide strips of skin off the eggplant leaving about half the peel intact. In other words, peel 1″ then leave 1″ then peel 1″ etc. so it looks like it has stripes going down it longways.

Then dice the eggplant, toss with 2 TBSP coarse salt (or about 1 TBS regular salt) in a medium bowl (SAVE THE BOWL!! You can use it again before washing.) and drain in a colander for an hour. Rinse it under cool water & pat dry.

Preheat oven to 400. Using that same bowl you SAVED, toss the eggplant with about 3 TBS olive oil & spread on a baking sheet in an even layer.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until browned. Turn with a spatula as needed (or don’t if you forget!) When eggplant is done, just set it aside.

Next, do two things at once:

1. Set your pasta water to boil in a large pot. You’ll be combining all your ingredients in here in about 15 minutes so make sure it’s large enough. I always start the water unsalted with the lid on as it boils faster. Then I add the salt. You see, the salt slows down the boiling.
2. In a large skillet, heat your remaining 3 TBS olive oil.

Can you handle the multi-tasking?

While your water is heating up, add the garlic slices

to the olive oil for about 3 minutes, until golden. Be sure to move/stir them every so often.

 

Add the tomatoes. Note Ralphs’ moxxi re: the knock-off San Marzano tomatoes. Well done, Ralphs!

(In re-reading this, I just realized that is an inside joke between me, myself & I. You see, the original recipe advises you to use San Marzano tomatoes if possible. Well, Ralphs didn’t have them and I’m not the type of person to race off to Whole Foods or Bay Cities JUST for that!! Anyway, I laffed a little to myself when I saw this label.)

Snooty!

 

Incidentally, it was only a 28 oz can so I had to supplement with some from another can. Don’t let these things worry you a’tall!

Add the red pepper flakes, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally. Add salt if needed – mine didn’t.

Your water should be hot now! Add the ziti, stir & add the salt of you haven’t done so already. Set timer! I like mine al dente so I set it for 1 minute under recommended cooking time.

It’s all coming together!

Drain the pasta & return it to the pot.

Pour in all but about 1/2 cup of sauce (unless you don’t plan to bake it) & toss lightly.

Yes, the original recipe asks you to save 1/4 c but I think you need a little more.

Stir in 3/4 c of the parmesan cheese.

And the basil.

Gently stir in the eggplant. (Of course I did this in the wrong order but through the magic of computers I am switching the order for your benefit.) There is a reason for the order!

Add heaping spoonfuls of the ricotta.

Stir minimally into the pasta. The point of this is to heat the ricotta, not combine it completely as you’ll want little pockets of ricotta to remain in the end product!

Now: you can serve it as is OR you can bake it. I baked it this time.

If you want to bake it, pour it into a 13×11″ baking dish.

Doesn’t this look so good?

Arrange the slices of fontina across the top.

Add the remaining tomato sauce atop the cheese slices, then sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake until the edges are bubbling and cheese is lightly browned. About 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

From Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen, by Lidia Bastianich

 

Baked Ziti with Eggplant Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Extra special ziti that can be served either as is or baked!
Ingredients
  • 2 large firm eggplants (each about 1.25 lbs)
  • 2 TBSP coarse salt (plus more for pasta & sauce) – You can really use regular salt if you don’t have coarse but you’ll need less.
  • 6 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 1) 35-oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, lightly crushed in their juices
  • 1 tsp crushed hot red pepper
  • 1 lb ziti
  • 1 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • ½ lb (1 c) ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz Fontina cheese, sliced thin

Instructions
  1. Cut end off eggplant. Peel 1″ strips about 1″ apart down the eggplant lengthwise. Dice eggplant & toss with 2 TBS coarse salt. Drain in a colander for about an hour.
  2. Set water to boil for the pasta.
  3. In a large skillet sautee garlic slices in heated olive oil for about 3 minutes, turning or stirring every so often until golden brown. Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add pasta to water. Add salt to water (if desired.) When pasta is done, drain & return to pot.
  5. Add all but ½ c of the sauce (if you plan to bake it) to pasta. Toss lightly to combine.
  6. Stir in ¾ c of the parmesan cheese and the basil. Add the eggplant. Add large spoonfuls of the ricotta, stirring just enough to distribute the ricotta evenly but not enough to combine it (in other words, you want pockets of ricotta to remain throughout the pasta.)
  7. If you plan on baking, gently pour pasta into a 13×11″ baking dish.
  8. Place the slices of Fontina across the top.
  9. Add the remaining tomatoes sauce & parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake for 20-30 minutes until sides are bubbling and cheese is lightly browned.

Notes
The prep time includes the 1 hour that the eggplant is draining! Otherwise, it’s about 30 minutes.

 

One-armed Spicy Lemon Broccoli Pasta

Garsh! I’m going crazy with the summer recipes but that’s because I wasn’t eating the healthiest last week.

I call this dish “One-armed” because I had use of only one arm whilst making most of this, what seemed a simple dish. What was my other arm doing, you ask? My other arm was both holding and struggling with/battling, and trying to keep safe a very cranky 10 month old with 4 teeth coming in all on the same day.

Hey, wouldn’t that be a fun “Top Chef” challenge?

“You have 30 minutes to make a pasta dish involving chopped vegetables with a squirming 22 lb baby in one arm. You lose if the baby burns or cuts herself!”

I think I’ll suggest it to the folks at Bravo.

Shall we get down to it? I found this recipe on Vegan Yum Yum. Don’t worry if you’re biased against vegan food – this is so yummy (or should I say Yum Yum Yummy?) and simple that everyone will like it.

First, you need these things:

This recipe makes enough for 4 people. The original recipe was for 1 serving so I adjusted the amounts.
INGREDIENTS:
- dry fettucini noodles (1 box)
- 1 head broccoli OR a 12 oz bag florets
- 1 c sun dried tomatoes in oil
- crushed red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
- 1/2 of a lemon
- olive oil

Get your water boiling in a pot for the pasta.

Chop your broccoli florets pretty small. The original recipe says to chop them the size of a quarter but since they aren’t in the shape of a quarter and I am spatially challenged I just cut them “SMALL.”

Slice tomatoes unless yours are already sliced as mine were. (Thanks, Trader Joe’s!) These are oily buggers so I’m glad I didn’t have to mess with them.

Oh, by the way, I barely took any pictures b/c of the one arm thing. That and my battery keeps falling out of the camera.

Throw pasta into boiling water. Should take about 10-12 minutes. Salt the water to your liking.

When pasta has about 6 minutes remaining, heat wok or skillet to medium high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is heated, add broccoli florets. Stir constantly to coat florets with oil. Add oil if necessary. After about 2 minutes, add tomatoes and crushed red pepper to your liking. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring.

Drain pasta & add pasta to skillet/wok. Sprinkle juice from half a lemon and combine. Taste and add more crushed pepper, fresh ground black pepper or lemon juice as desired!

Baked Spaghetti

Think olive green & sunset yellow kitchen accents. Think bumpy blue water glasses. Think Betty Crocker Cookbook. Imagine all this and you can almost taste the 1950′s wholesome deliciousness. Plus, people old & new tend to like it including one of the pickiest 2 year olds you ever met.

I got this recipe from my brother-in-law, John, and I made a few changes to it mostly because I either forgot to buy an ingredient (when I went to Ralph’s ONLY to buy that ingredient), or because my husband “doesn’t eat fungus” or because I was trying to express my Santa Monica-ness by substituting wheat spaghetti for regular spaghetti. Don’t hate me for it. At least it was Ralph’s brand wheat spaghetti.

You’ll need these:

Oh yeah, and these too:

And, this (can be ground hamburger/turkey/tofu or you can omit this entirely):

Ingredients:
1 small onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 lb ground meat/tofu
1 lb spaghetti – drained (undercook slightly) **I break it in half so my toddler doesn’t have to struggle with it later & so I don’t have to clean the floors after dinner.**
1 7oz jar chopped olives – green w/pimentos (trust me on this)
2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes (I used the ones with jalapenos for a kick)
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 lb mild cheese (mozzarella or Mexican blend – really whatever is on hand!)
**If you like it spicy – add crushed red pepper!**

In a large saucepan, saute the onion & green pepper in oil.

When they are soft/translucent, add the ground meat if you go that route.

When meat is cooked through, add spices & Worcestershire sauce. Stir. Add tomatoes, paste, olives.

In a casserole/lasagna dish (large one) ladle thin layer of sauce to coat bottom. Wait, that looks like a THICK layer. Don’t do yours as thick. Do as I say, not as I do.

Spread half the cooked/drained spaghetti evenly.

Top with half the remaining sauce. Cover with half the cheese. Now spread the rest of the spaghetti evenly, topped by the rest of the sauce & the rest of the cheese on top.

Cover with aluminum foil & put in fridge over night. This has to SIT. You think I’m kidding? The first time I made this I didn’t believe it either and baked & served it the same night. It wasn’t as good. But you can make your own decision! My advice: leave it over night (is that one or two words?) – then bake at 350 for 45 mins. the next night for dinner. Remember to take the foil off after 30 mins. You can also sprinkle some fresh parmesan on at that time!

Enjoy!



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