Posts Tagged ‘pasta’
I love going out to dinner as much as the next person, but most of the time I enjoy our date nights at home over dinner out.
Since Bryan and I are both vegetarian, it can be more than a little challenge to find fun, trendy restaurant that offer more than pasta primavera for an entree. We are pretty fortunate to live in a veg-friendly city like Sacramento, but it does add some extra creativity when searching for a fun night out.
Enter date night at home. It’s a win-win for me. I get to test out new recipes while enjoying our favorite local wine & appetizers. We have an unspoken routine for the weekends: Friday night is dinner out, usually because I am too tired to cook and Saturday is date night in.
When we moved into our new place, a great location close to parks, shops & restaurant, I knew I would be sacrificing space. Sure, our 100+ year old house has character but it clearly wasn’t built with a chef in mind. I remember when BL told me that we wouldn’t be able to fit a dining room table into the eating nook.
You mean to tell me that our kitchen chairs are bar stools?
It was almost the breaking point of choosing another place, but eventually I gave in. I only hate it when I want to set a nice table, there is barely enough room to put two dinner plates and our glasses of wine!
I tried. And I think it’s nice to set the table in a way that makes you want to sit for hours, even if that’s not going to happen in our bar stools. We can move to the couch for that.
So, table set. Music on. Wine poured. Let’s get to the menu.
Yes, saffron is expensive but you only need a pinch. Plus, it’s date night so splurge a little to make an extra special meal for you and your Valentine.
Check back tomorrow for the dessert: Chocolate Orange Mousse- a decedent, dairy free perfect end to this meal!
Pappardelle in Saffron Cream Sauce
Ingredients: (for 2)
8 oz. pappardelle pasta
8 oz. green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic gloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
2 pinches saffron threads
2 cups cashew cream (recipe below)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt/pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups water at least 1 hour.
Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. This can take up to 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Add the green beans to the pot of water and cook for 3-4 minutes until al-dente. Transfer the beans to the ice water bath and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain and set the beans aside. Keep the water boiling for adding the pasta to later.
Make the sauce:
In a large saute’ pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook another 1 minute. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the wine and cook until wine evaporates, about 3-5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cashew cream and pinch of saffron. Stir often, letting the sauce cook for 10 more minutes. The sauce will become thick and reduce by almost half. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water, broth, or more wine. Add the green beans the last 5 minutes of cooking.
While you simmer the sauce. add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
To serve: remove the pasta from the water, toss with the saffron cream sauce and serve.
Enjoy your evening! Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow to see the amazing dessert to go along with this!
What are you planning on making for V’Day? Do you go out, celebrate in?
Growing up, we were allowed to pick any dish we wanted for our birthday. Being the good Italian child that I am, I usually rotated between ravioli and pasta figoli. As I got older though, this became my favorite birthday dish. Rich, creamy, decedent, penne a la vodka is still one of my favorite meals.
While it’s no where near my birthday, I decided to recreate this dish for a special night in. While this used to be a special once-a-year meal, recreating this without the excess cream, butter, and cheese allows me to enjoy it whenever I get a craving.
Whole-wheat fusilli, savory cashew cream, vodka tomato sauce. The teenager in me gets a little homesick whenever I make this dish. Since I am 3,000 miles away from most of my family, recreating it this week, being just a few days short of Thanksgiving, seemed appropriate. Food is so powerful, it’s funny how a simple meal can recreate so many wonderful memories.
Penne a la Vodka
1 large can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in 1 cup water for at least 30 minutes. Soaking allows them to blend easier.
1/2 cup water
12 oz. penne pasta
In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add onions, and garlic; cook down until soft and onions are translucent. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt. Add crushed tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Add vodka to the sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes until alcohol is cooked off.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add the soaked and drained cashews to a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup of water and blend until a smooth sauce forms, about 2 minutes depending on the power of your blender. Pour the cream into the tomato sauce, stir to mix and reduce heat to low.
Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, sauce, and reserved pasta water.
Put a big fork into the pasta and eat!
What are your favorite childhood meals?
I LOVE Halloween. Dressing up, fun parties, excuse to eat waayyy too much chocolate without second glaces from co-workers. It all adds up to one of my favorite nights of the year. We are hosting a party at our house and I spent most of the weekend cleaning, prepping and decorating with spiders, skulls, & candles. We also finally decided on our halloween costumes and will be going as my favorite Mad Men couple, Don and Megan Draper. Spending the night in a funky wig, fishnets, and 60′s dress? Don’t mind if I do!
I came up with this pasta as I was decorating the house in orange and black. I wanted my dinner to match the decor and this pasta came out perfect! I will definitely be making this again on October 31st. Doesn’t it just scream Halloween?
1 large butternut squash, cubed
1 large globe eggplant, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 lb. Penne pasta
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the cubed butternut squash and eggplant with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour entire mixture on a roasting pan and bake for 60 minutes. Vegetables should be slightly crispy/caramelized on the outside and cooked through.
While vegetables are in the oven, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne pasta until al dente, reserve 2 cups of pasta water and noodles. Set aside.
Remove vegetables from oven. Reserve 2 cups of vegetables. Place the rest of the vegetables into a blender with 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and nutritional yeast. Puree until smooth, adding enough water to make a sauce.
Pour over cooked penne noodles and reserved vegetables.
Enjoy! What are your plans for Halloween?
Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Shells
What IS it about Italian food? I really think I could eat pasta every single day and not get tired of it. It’s my go-to meal for a casual weeknight or a fancy dinner party. These vegetable stuffed shells could work for either: elegant enough to be served as a main course but easy enough to put together after a long day of work. Make the ricotta mixture ahead of time and this meal could come together in minutes. Place it in the oven, unwind and relax and dinner is ready!
PS: This tofu ricotta is a great substitute if you are trying to cut down on dairy and/or calories. Try it; I promise you and your dinner guests won’t even know it’s tofu!
1 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 package baby bella mushrooms
16 oz. package firm tofu, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. white miso
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 tsp. oregano
Package of large shells
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the shells according to package directions, under-cooking them by 3 minutes. They will finish cooking in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet, heat the EB butter and olive oil. When it starts to melt and glisten, add the shallots and quickly cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and let cook 3 minutes. You want a nice crust to form under the mushrooms. Flip them over, and cook on the other side. Same thing, you want them to be crispy. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
In a food processor, combine the ingredients for the tofu ricotta. Pulse a few times until the mixture comes together. You want it to be combined but not pureed.Add the mushroom and spinach mixture and pulse a few more times until just combined. You still want chunks of mushroom and spinach to be visible.
In a 9X13 glass dish, spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture, about 1/4-1/3 cup of filling depending on the size of your shells. Don’t get skimpy! You want them to be stuffed fully.
Place the shells, filled side up, in the glass dish. Cover with marinara sauce, about 2-3 cups depending how saucy you like your shells. In my house, there is no such thing as too much sauce…
Cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.