Archive for the ‘Pasta Dishes’ Category

What’s a girl to do when she’s up to her ears in Japanese eggplants and cherry tomatoes from the garden? Make a delicious pasta dish! (Pictures on their way – camera forgotten at someone’s house, which is a real shame since this is a nice colorful dish.)

Summer Eggplant Pasta

4 Japanese eggplants, quartered lengthwise and then cut into chunks

4 cups multi colored cherry tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, chopped

4 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Red pepper flakes to taste

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 lb pasta (penne, farfalle, or fusili work best)

1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Freshly grated parmesan

  • Place olive oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat over medium to medium high heat.
  • Add garlic and eggplants and stir frequently as they brown.
  • Add cherry tomatoes, basil, and spices and cook just until warm (do not overcook).
  • Cook and drain pasta, and then stir a little bit of sauce into the pasta so it doesn’t stick.
  • Scoop servings of pasta into bowls, sprinkle some cubed mozzarella onto the pasta, and top with the sauce.
  • Sprinkle parmesan on top.
  • Toasted pine nuts would also be good sprinkled on this pasta.

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Fava beans are in season! And they are still tender enough that you don’t have to do that thing where you par-boil them and then peel them a second time. That’s tedious, and who has time for it, anyway? Also, in honor of Hannibal Lecter, since this dish has fava beans in it, I recommend having it with a nice chianti.

Farfalle with Fava Beans, Pancetta, and Mushrooms

4 oz pancetta, cubed

Olive Oil, as needed (see below)

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp sal

1.2 lb portobellos, cubed

1.5 lbs fava beans, shelled and rinsed (1.5 lbs before shelling)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Dash red pepper flakes, if desired

1/2 lb farfalle, cooked al dente in salted water

Freshly grated parmesan for the top

  • Place pancetta in large heavy sauce pan and brown slightly over medium heat.
  • Remove pancetta from pan, and set aside.
  • If you are not concerned with healthy vs unhealthy fats and would like to incorporate the deliciousness of the pancetta juices into your sauce, leave the pancetta juice in the pan and caramelize your onions in that, adding a drizzle of olive oil if you do not have enough pancetta oil in the pan to coat the onions.
  • If you ARE concerned with healthy fats and would like to forgo the deliciousness of the pancetta juices, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon, discard the juices, and drizzle some olive oil in the pan for onion caramelization.
  • When the onions are transparent, add the garlic.
  • Just as the onions begin to brown, add the pancetta back into the pot. Stir frequently as everything caramelizes.
  • Add the mushrooms, fava beans, and spices.
  • Stir, and then cover the pot.
  • Stir occasionally as the mushrooms get juicy and saucy.
  • When the mushrooms are tender and there’s liquid in the pan (from the mushrooms), keep the pot covered and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add chicken broth or water if you need extra liquid (i.e. if it evaporates). The idea is to steam the fava beans in the juices from the other ingredients, but if those juices cook off, you might need to add extra liquid.
  • Cook your pasta, drain your pasta, then put the pasta in the pot with the sauce, stir everything together, dish up, and top with parmesan.

I have a lot of this left over from the smoked ribs party we had yesterday, and I am planning on making ricotta tonight, so I’m working on a baked pasta solution that incorporates this and the fresh ricotta…I’ll let you know how it goes.

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100_11801NO! I did NOT say anything about canned cream of mushroom soup. Ew. Take a deep breath and clear your mind of that grossness.

OK, so what I’m talking about here is the Chicken Sicilian sausage from TJ’s, portobello mushrooms, onions, garlic, peas (organic, of course), and MASCARPONE. Yummy! “Where did this notion come from?” you might ask. Well, the answer is Aunt Anne + a container of mascarpone that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Aunt Anne was the genius behind pairing that sausage with peas and making it into a nice delicious hearty pasta dinner. I added the other stuff because I can never leave well enough alone, and we hit on something so delicious that the rest of the culinary geniuses in my family have also adopted this as a regularly occurring dish.

The recipe below makes enough for four normal sized adults for dinner, with a salad. If you make it ahead of time and the pasta starts getting mushy, just pour everything into a casserole dish and bake with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. This gets it nice and crunchy, which is another delicious incarnation of this dish, thought of by my own mother! That’s a good way to use leftovers of this, as well.

NOTE on the sausage: A lot of the flavor of this dish comes from the sausage. I know my poor Texas friends do not have access to Trader Joe’s, but maybe Whole Foods has something similar? You can use hot or mild (or a combination thereof) Italian sausage, but it won’t taste the same…or you can go to Whole Foods and find a similar sausage that contains Romano cheese, parsley, and tomatoes, or something along those lines.

NOTE on the pasta: Try to select a shape that is either small enough to fit more than one pasta unit into one bite with everything else (like the elbows in the picture), or something that the peas will get stuck inside of, like penne or orechietti (that one is my favorite, but it’s hard to find). Shells work great, or these Barilla Campanelle. Bow ties or wagon wheels are OK.


2 Tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 lb (1 package) Chicken Sicilian sausage from TJ’s (it’s the uncooked kind), casings removed

1/2 lb portobellos or crimini, cubed (or to quicken the process, just use one package of the pre-sliced kind)

1 lb frozen peas (organic, if possible)

8 oz mascarpone

red pepper flakes to taste

1/2 lb pasta, cooked and drained

  1. Prepare bunions, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize.
  2. Add sausage (removed from casings), stirring to break up the meat as it browns. Add red pepper flakes now, if desired.
  3. When sausage has cooked through, add mushrooms. Cover and stir occasionally until they have cooked through and have made a nice broth in the pot.
  4. Add the frozen peas, cover again and stir occasionally until they start to shrivel a little bit.
  5. When the peas start to get wrinkly, start your pasta water (in another pot).
  6. When you put your pasta to the boiling water, that is when you should stir the mascarpone into the pea/sausage/mushroom mixture.
  7. When all of the mascarpone has been melted/stirred into the sauce, turn off the stove.
  8. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, and then add to the pot with the sausage/pea/mushroom mixture.
  9. Stir it all together, and then dish it up.
  10. Top with freshly grated parmesan and maybe some fresh ground pepper.
  11. If you cook this in advance and the pasta starts to get mushy, pour it all into a casserole dish and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes to get everything nice and crispy. This is also great to do with leftovers of this dish.

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I had lots of kale from our CSA box, 1/2 lb of pasta left over from when I made the sausage n mushroom pasta, lemons from our tree, and an open bottle of white wine.

Sorry, I don’t have a picture because I was doing 20 things at once and slightly overcooked the kale, which made the whole dish un-picture-worthy, but it was delicious nonetheless.


1 bunch of kale

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, sliced

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 tsp pepper

dash cayenne

juice of one lemon

1 lb shrimp

1/2 lb pasta, cooked al dente

parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

  1. Place onion in pan with oil, butter, and salt over medium heat.
  2. When onion starts to soften, add garlic.
  3. Stir mixture periodically as you chop your kale (I had Red Russian, so that’s what I used, but I think pretty much any of the kales would be good in this recipe).
  4. When bunions (the base of onions and garlic – term coined by Dan) have started to brown, add peppers, wine, and lemon juice.
  5. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring periodically, until the mixture reduces to a nice creamy looking sauce.
  6. Add shrimp and cook for just a few minutes, then add kale, tossing/stirring mixture to make sure everything is nicely coated with the sauce.
  7. Serve over pasta (or rice or risotto if that is your preference), or just as is. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan.

Vegans AND Vegetarians, You’re in Luck!!

This is also delicious without the shrimp or butter. I’ve made it and I know. Trust me – you will not be disappointed. Just the kale in the sauce, with the onions and garlic – that really is a delicious meal.

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Note the bits of parmesan cheese falling magically from the sky - that was Dan's idea

Note the bits of parmesan cheese falling magically from the sky - that was Dan's idea


There was a restaurant in San Luis Obispo (I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of it) that served a dish called “Penne Pasta with Salsiccia e Funghi” or something to that effect. It was love at first bite, and unless osso bucco was on the specials menu, I would never order anything else there in all my life. Since I really couldn’t afford to eat at this restaurant on a regular basis, I had no choice but to figure out how to make this dish myself.

Words of Advice

Make sure that you use some sort of flavorful brown mushroom. Portobellos are great (or crimini, which I think are just small portobellos). Shitakes are great. Porcinis or chantrelles are delicious. A mixture of a bunch of different exotic mushrooms is even better. This recipe makes enough for 4 full-sized humans, especially if it’s served as a first course. It’s really good leftover, so if there are just two of you, then you each get lunch the next day!

Penne Pasta with Creamy Sausage-Mushroom Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 Italian sausages, casings removed

1 small can (4 oz) tomato paste

2 tbsp cream or milk

1/4 cup broth

1/2 lb penne, cooked al dente

  1. Chop onion and heat olive oil in a sauce pan or large skillet; place onion in the pan and sprinkle some salt over the top (just a light sprinkling will do). Stir occasionally.
  2. When the onion bits are translucent, add the minced garlic. Stir occasionally.
  3. When the onion and garlic are just beginning to brown, add the mushrooms.
  4. When the mushrooms have cooked, add the sausage meat (casings have been removed). If you’re using Trader Joe’s sausage or the kind from the regular grocery store, just use one package of hot sausages. I get my sausages from a local vendor and the hot ones are REALLY hot, so I use 2 hot and 2 mild.
  5. With a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the sausage meat as it cooks.
  6. When the sausage meat has all browned, add the tomato paste and stir everything thoroughly to remove any of the pasty tomato paste lumps. You may need to add the broth at this time to smooth it all out.
  7. Cook your pasta.
  8. Right after you put your pasta in the boiling water, that’s the time to add the cream to the sauce. Stir to incorporate, and then turn off the stove.
  9. Mix all of the pasta with all of the sauce, scoop into bowls, and then sprinkle some fresh parmesan on top.

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