Category Archives: Pasta

Pasta recipes, tuts and experiments

Bowtie Ballsagna

2-3 C bowtie noodles
2-3 C fresh spinach
3 C homemade pasta sauce + 12oz of tomato puree
24-36 mini meatballs
6-8 fresh Thai basil leaves
2 C ricotta cheese with S&P to taste
2 C grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses
2 C toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Bowtime Ballsagna layering, from the bottom up:
Thin coating of pasta sauce (no meatballs)
Cooked bowtie pasta noodles
Pasta sauce with meatballs
Wilted spinach (in a thin covering)
Ricotta cheese
Cooked bowtie pasta noodles
Pasta sauce with meatballs
Wilted spinach (in a thin covering)
Ricotta cheese
Pasta sauce (no meatballs)
Mix of grated parmesan and mozzarella cheeses
Breadcrumbs (toasted, and optional)

Start by cooking your bowtie noodles in water that’s been generously salted. In a large non-stick pan, start wilting down the spinach with a small pinch of salt and a teaspoon of oil (your choice); set aside to cool when it’s all cooked down.

As you cook the pasta and wilt the spinach, reheat your prepared or jarred pasta sauce in a deep sauce pot. To this, add your freshly cooked (if you had time to make any, of course) or frozen meatballs, the tomato puree, some freshly picked and cleaned Thai hot basil (if using dry leaves, half the called for amount; whole or chiffonade) and freshly cracked black pepper. Let that cook long enough to heat the meatballs all the way through.

Note: If you don’t have fresh or dried out Thai hot basil leaves, fresh sweet basil will be fine in the sauce. We like a bit of zing in our lasagna sauce, so that’s why I grow Thai hot basil in my garden.

Scoop out a bit of the pasta sauce to spread all over the bottom of your lasagna pan thinly. Scoop out a few more spoonfuls of just the pasta sauce and set aside (this is for the topping). When your pasta is done cooking, drain it well. Layer more or less than half of the cooked pasta over the sauce in the lasagna dish. (Only use enough to cover the sauce, otherwise this lasagna will become very bulky.) Over the pasta, place a generous amount of sauce with half of the meatballs to cover the pasta noodles, but not much more.

Over the sauce and meatballs layer, lay half of your wilted spinach all over and top that with a few blobs of ricotta cheese; (I use a medium size offset spatula to) spread the ricotta over the spinach in an almost opaque layer. Top the ricotta with the second half of your pasta noodles and top them with the last of the sauce and meatballs. Top those with the last of the wilted spinach, and then top the spinach with the last few blobs of ricotta spread out and the reserved pasta sauce before finishing the lasagna with your two grated cheeses (and toasted breadcrumbs if you like).

Kitchen Sink Chicken Parm

Kitchen Sink Chicken Parm

Kitchen Sink Chicken Parm

(From the archives)

Penne pasta from the back of my cupboard, chiffon cut flat leaf parsley from my garden, leftover baked buttermilk chicken breasts (recipe from Everyday Food), homemade stale bread + seasoning breadcrumb crust on the chicken, aging mozza cheese strips, topped with jar tomato sauce with cheeses added.

Smack & Cheese

I like to make a cooking list and plan out at least three days worth of meals all over it. Sometimes I stick to that plan, most times I don’t because stuff comes up, or we were run ragged at work so we eat out, or we come home and decide something else is order for that night. (Usually dictated by aging food in our fridge. FACT.)

Two weeks ago, I promised DH that I’d make his favourite pasta dish, mac & cheese on the stove top for him, and I even scheduled it, but it never got made that week. I rolled it over to this week, and here we are at the end the week and he said to me, “Remember your cooking schedule, how it had a certain pasta dish on it you promised to make… for me?” A-yup. So, feeling like a heel, I came home and made it tonight for my patient and pasta loving husband. 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was crazy. We came home late from work and running a few errands, it was hot outside and then I started to cook over the stove and I started to overheat, and the food was served piping hot and, well… now we’re hiding in the meat locker we call our basement chilling our core body temperatures after eating dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was also amazing. I was so busy making the dish, I really didn’t have time to think about how the dish would taste. As a result, I didn’t season any of it. I forgot. Whoops! But, as it happens, I used enough ingredients that all of the seasons I would need minus a few cracks of fresh pepper. I amaze myself sometimes. Ha.

And this, my friends, is my husband’s favourite: Smack & Cheese. I call it that in jest, but when you get this dish just right, you can’t stop eating it and you then find yourself in a fantastically horrible addiction situation at the dinner table. Believe me. LOL

Very basic ingredients were used, starting with the bacon, pasta, onions in butter to start the roux, diced red peppers (to use them up), milk, and grated cheddar cheese. Half the bacon went into the creamy roux sauce when the red peppers did as the milk was thickening, and it was all blended with the cheese in a bowl off the heat before serving. That’s it! No magic involved, but it tasted like there was.

The main thrust of this dish is the bechemel sauce with cheddar cheese added at the very end over pasta. That’s it. Very simple, but very tasty when all is said and done.

Note: Let’s talk salt! I don’t use much in the way of seasoning for this dish. I let all of the salt that is already present in the cheese, butter and pasta do all the work while leaving freshly cracked pepper to those who want to add it at the table. I also use fresh herbs to give this dish a bit of al fresco. It’s lovely. Try it.

Makes 4.

1. 2C rotini or any other similar shaped pasta like penne, etc. cooked in very salted boiling water.

2. 3 strips of bacon, cut into manageable chunks. Chop coarsely after it cooks and cools off into two piles.

3. Cook down 1/2C of diced white onions in 2 tbsps salted butter in a saucepan about five minutes. Add to that 2 tbsp of flour and stir in well till the butter and onions clump up and the colour starts to turn brown somewhat. At that point, add one pile of bacon bits and 1/2 of diced red or green peppers (or both) along with 1 1/2C of milk. Continue to stir so the milk doesn’t get scalded.

4. Scoop the pasta out of the water when about 1 minute away from the al dente stage and place in a bowl on top of cutting board or drain out the pasta water and leave the rotini in the same pot but off the stove (use the cutting board).

5.Grate your cheese over a flexible material that will aid in moving it from the counter to the bowl. I use wax paper. Works like a charm.

6. As the milk thickens from the flour roux, and it coats the back of your spoon or spatula, pour it into the bowl over top of the waiting pasta noodles.

7. Dump the cheese in over the pasta and bechemel sauce, and stir hard till the cheddar is fully melted and the pasta is fully coated in a lovely amber cheese sauce colour.

8. Plate your pasta into serving dishes and top with the second pile of bacon bits and some freshly washed and chopped herb of your choice. I love fresh basil or cilantro over my pasta, but go nuts. DH loves to add a few cracks of pepper over his pasta as well.

The beauty of this dish is its versatility. Also its quick ease in which it came be made after a hectic day.


Sweet Potato Minestrone Soup

Sweet Potato Minestrone Soup

Sweet Potato Minestrone Soup

First batch of the year. Made with leftover sweet potato cubes, white onion, diced tomato, chicken stock, olive oil, S&P and homemade pasta. Made my rice cooker at work. Very tasty.

Cook pasta in pot with chicken stock. Remove pasta after it’s almost al dente, leaving the water in the pot to be the base of the brado (broth). Add vegetables and cook at a rolling boil till all are soft and tender then drop the temperature down and add the almost cooked pasta and seasoning. Let this cook gently for 10 minutes on the warm setting to heat the pasta through and to give it time to finish cooking to al dente.

Serve with crusty bread with butter on the side. Feel free to change up your vegetables with whatever you have on hand. I’m a bit sad I didn’t have anything green to add to this batch like beans or celery. Either would have been a lovely addition. Next batch, I guess. 🙂