Your Favorite Pasta Dish?
Looking to try new & different pasta dishes...My favorites are decadent Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese, seafood lasagna and a simple carbonara. Would love something elevated to serve to guests. Can be something with seasonal ingredients or suitable for year round.
Oh, and I'd love to be able to make pasta without a pasta maker (at least to start) Anyone do it by hand? All recipes, ideas and tips welcomed. Thanks!
My daughter's and my favorite pasta dish is something I cobbled together a few years ago (my husband likes it, too, but isn't as devoted to it as we are!):
Two pints grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
(I've also diced sweet heirloom tomatoes for this, but I can't always get those)
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin on a tiny mandoline slicer I bought at the Asian market
Zest and juice of two lemons
Olive oil enough to make it a little soupy
a bunch of shredded basil
Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
I mix this all together and leave it to rest while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is cooked, I drain it and toss it with the sauce and that's it. My daughter and I love to eat this as-is, but my husband likes the addition of some cooked and crumbled bacon. Yum!
A long time favourite at our house is Donna Hay's Lemon Chicken Pasta. All prep work can be done in advance and you can just throw this together in the time it takes for your noodles to cook. I prefer this w dried vs fresh pasta. Also great w (good quality) tinned tuna ipo the chx for a quick and tasty weeknight meal. Here's the link to the rec:
This is a “hybrid” recipe I’ve developed from Marc Vetri’s “Il Viaggio di Vetri” and Molly Stevens’ “All About Braising.” I think of it more as a cold-weather dish because of the braising, but it's delicious whenever you make it. I use a good imported pappardelle that I buy from a local Italian specialty shop.
Duck and Mushroom Ragu with Tagliatelle or Pappardelle
2 duck breasts (Use D’Artagnan Magret duck breast – it’s much meatier than Moulard Duck)
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 TB olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¾ cup red wine (Chianti, Zinfandel, Rioja, Barbera are all good)
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed
1 rosemary sprig
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb. assorted mushrooms, quartered, sautéed in butter and/or olive oil
2-3 TB grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 lb. Tagliatelle or Pappardelle*
1. Preheat oven to 325°
2. Score the outer skin of the duck
3. Season the duck with salt and pepper to taste
4. Heat the oil in an ovenproof saucepan or heavy braising pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the duck pieces, skin side down, and cook, turning as needed, for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. Remove most of the fat from the pan.
5. Add the carrot, onion, celery and garlic to the pan and sauté until lightly browned. Add the wine and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the fond. Simmer for two or three minutes to reduce slightly.
6. Add the tomatoes, stock and rosemary to the pan and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the duck pieces in one layer. Cover the pot, place it in the oven and cook for 1½ to 2 hours, until the duck meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove from oven, uncover and let the duck cool slightly in the braising liquid. Remove duck from liquid and set aside.
7. Skim excess fat off the surface of the liquid. Remove Rosemary stems. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables in the liquid. The mixture should be the consistency of tomato sauce. If it’s too thin, simmer it until it reduces and thickens slightly.
8. Shred the duck meat. Discard the bones and skin and return the meat to the sauce.
9. Add the sautéed mushrooms to the sauce and stir to combine. Simmer gently.
10. Prepare tagliatelle as directed on the package. When pasta is ready, drain, reserving about 1 cup of the water. Add the pasta to the ragu along with the Parmesan and toss until well combined. If the ragu is too thick, add a little of the pasta water. Add salt and pepper, if necessary before serving.
This looks fantastic; can't wait until it gets a bit cooler so I can try it--hits on so many of my favorites: duck, mushrooms, pappardelle.
I love the Stevens cookbook, and Vetri is, hands down, my favorite Italian restaurant--heck, it's one of my favorite restaurants, period. So a hybrid recipe inspired by those two really stirs my pot. But I haven't heard much talk about Marc Vetri's cookbook though it's been out a while. Do you find the recipes pretty accessible?
I've never been able to get that excited about Italian pasta, and the long discussions people have about it always leave me wondering what the hell they are talking about... isn't it just a bland starch? But there is one big exception to my indifference: tagliatelle. The big eye opener was a hand-pulled tagliatelle with braised short ribs, tossed with a bit of pan sauce and parsley. I ate all the pasta before even touching a bite of the meat. That. Never. Happens. That dish helped me understand - a little - the Italian idea of making the pasta the focus of the dish.
Although I've never met a pasta I didn't like, one of my new favorites is a shrimp scampi style with spaghetti or linguine... Garlic, butter and olive oild with a dash of ground pepper flakes and curry powder.
Carbonara as mentioned frequently here always get's the appetite going also.
I've been doing a lot of spaghettini with pesto, cherry tomatoes and boccinicini. Dead easy simple, fresh and tasty. Even served for company and it was a big hit.
Love not having to turn the oven on. Pretty much just cook the pasta and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Perfect summer meal.
I love to make cannelloni for a dinner party b/c I can make it ahead and pop it into the oven after the guests arrive. I've typed up my recipe for veal-mushroom cannelloni, which also contains pancetta. It's rich and delicious and definitely company-worthy. For people who don't eat veal or pork, I'll make a mushroom-chicken version that's also delicious (and it can be made vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and upping the mushrooms). I also use the mushroom-chicken recipe to make lasagna. For a big group, I'll make a dish of each type.
I love mushrooms, so i'm always on the lookout for wild/interesting ones.
Veal-Mushroom Filling for Cannelloni
Glug of olive oil
Small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/3 c. chopped pancetta
¾ c. diced fresh porcini (or other fresh mushrooms)
½ c. dried porcini, rehydrated in 2 c. very hot water and chopped, ½ c. soaking liquid reserved
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 lb. ground veal
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeeze-drained
1 lg. or 2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (canned is fine)
1 c. whole milk ricotta
1 ½ c grated parmesan, separated ¾ c + ¾ c
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pasta squares or rectangles (about 12)*
about 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, broken into small pieces
3-4 c. your favorite marinara sauce
¾ c. cream
Coat heavy-bottomed pot w/a thin layer of olive oil. Add onion, celery, carrot, and pancetta, and over med. heat, cook until pancetta crisps. Add fresh porcini; cook another 1-2 minutes. Add rehydrated porcini and garlic; cook another minute. Add mushroom soaking liquid, raise heat, and cook another 1-2 min. Add veal, breaking it up as it cooks. Once veal browns, add spinach; cook another 1-2 min. Add tomato; cook another 1-2 min. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, whisk together ricotta, egg, parmesan, salt, and pepper. When meat mixture is cool, add cheese mixture and mix until blended.
For each cannelloni tube, put a few pieces of mozzarella in a row lengthwise down the center of a pasta rectangle (or square). Spoon filling over mozzarella, leaving space on either side of pasta sheet for folding. Fold sides over, w/edges slightly overlapping, to form tubes.
Spread a layer of marinara sauce into your baking dish(es). Lay filled cannelloni, seam sides down, in dish. (At this point, for do-ahead, you can cover w/plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to bake.)
Preheat oven to 375F. Pour marinara sauce and then cream over cannelloni. Sprinkle with remaining ¾ c. parmesan and remaining bits of mozzarella, if any. Bake, covered w/foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 10-15 minutes.
*Pasta sheets: if I’m really ambitious, I make fresh pasta, b/c I think thin pasta is best for cannelloni. But often I use store-bought fresh lasagna sheets. I boil them for a minute or so to soften (so the cannelloni tubes won’t end up too firm). If I can find sheets roughly 4x8 inches, I cut them in half and have squares; if the sheets are more like 4x6, I use one sheet per tube. So sometimes I end up w/ shorter, squatter cannelloni, sometimes w/(fewer) longer tubes. Of course, you can boil regular dried lasagna noodles and cut those. You have to work w/what’s available.
Chicken-Mushroom Filling & Sauce for Cannelloni
3 T olive oil, divided (2 T + 1T)
6 T butter, divided (1 T + 5T)
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, preferably wild, but whatever’s available, cleaned and sliced
1/3 c. chopped pancetta (optional)
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig each fresh thyme and sage, if available—or just thyme
few splashes of cognac or brandy (or white wine or vermouth)
4-5 c. roughly chopped fresh arugula, loosely packed
2 c. roast chicken (without skin), shredded or cut into small pieces
2 c. whole milk
2 c. chicken stock
5 T. flour
2 c grated parmesan, divided (1 ½ c + ½ c)
salt and pepper to taste
pasta squares or rectangles (about 12)
1 c. grated fontina
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 ripe fresh roma tomato, diced (optional)
Heat 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter in lg. sauté pan over med. high heat. Add mushrooms (and pancetta, if using) and cook until they begin to give off their juices. Add shallot and garlic and herb sprigs and cook another 2 min. Add cognac; cook another 2 min. Transfer mushroom mixture to a lg. bowl. Discard herb sprigs. Add remaining 1 T. olive oil to pan. Add arugula and cook just to wilt. Transfer arugula to bowl w/mushrooms. Add chicken to bowl and toss to mix ingredients.
Make béchamel: In lg. saucepan, heat remaining 5 T butter over med. heat. Add flour, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes to make light roux. Gradually pour in milk and chicken stock, whisking constantly until blended. Lower heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until béchamel thickens, probably 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1 ½ c. parmesan. Add salt & pepper to taste (remember, parmesan will add saltiness). Take 1 c of béchamel and stir it into mushroom-chicken-arugula mixture.
Make cannelloni tubes: lay fontina in a row lengthwise down the center of a pasta rectangle (or square). Spoon some mushroom-chicken-arugula mixture over the cheese, leaving space on either side of pasta, for folding. Fold sides over, w/edges slightly overlapping, to form tubes. Spread a layer of béchamel sauce into your baking dish(es). Lay filled cannelloni, seam sides down, in dish. (For do-ahead, stop here and store until ready to bake.)
Preheat oven to 375F. Pour remaining béchamel over cannelloni. Sprinkle w/remaining ½ c. parmesan and any remaining fontina. Bake, covered w/foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle w/parsley and tomato, if using, and serve.
Oh my! This sounds fabulous...and just what I'm looking for. I'm catering a party of 30 around the holidays and am looking for something that would blow them out of the water. They're Italian so love their pasta and I think this might be it. Of course, I'll have to make it for myself for quality control, of course :) (wink)
re: c oliver
Well, it depends on the size of the pasta I'm working w/ but the recipe(s)* will fill about 12 cannelloni the size of the boxed dried manicotti. I consider two of that size a generous serving (though I know many who will eat more). Of course, sometimes my cannelloni come out short and squat, so then maybe three or four.
*I should note here that I was estimating as closely as possible the amts/measurements for the mushroom/chicken filling b/c w/that one, I'm always working w/a list of ingredients rather than a precise recipe, often making adjustments for lasagna or a vegetarian version.
Whoa. So many...
I like linguine with scallops and shrimp, with a simple pan sauce of white wine, butter, and whatever herbs I have around.
Cavatappi with mushrooms sauce (generally a mix of shrooms - shiitake, button, oyster, etc., dried porcini if I have them around).
Spaghetti with simple tomato sauce, or with ground lamb and eggplant added.
Carbonara. Peanut noodles. Fusilli with peas, shrimp, and marjoram with a bit of cream.
I could eat pasta every day, frankly. I have a hard time to keep it down to once a week....
Trying to think of one that isn't...! I do tend to prefer wide noodles; any excuse to use pappardelle is fine with me. Fettucine too - my Tennessee Straw & Hay, with country ham subbing for prosciutto in a reduced-cream sauce with peas and mushrooms, was a big hit and still is, and that same reduced-cream thing is great with mixed sautéed wild mushrooms and/or seafood and fettucine. Mac'n'cheese of any sort goes without saying, but I also adore macaroni with any kind of meat-and-tomato combination, especially those funky downhome Midwestern skillet dishes. Penne, not so much. What I do miss is the cut straight macaroni I used to be able to buy anywhere, but it seems to have disappeared.
This one, with a sage/butternut/sausage cream sauce, from back when Bitten was Bitten and not Diner's Journal. I love the dish and I love the fact that the posting included the word "deliquescence."
My husband ordered a similar dish at the Italian restaurant at the CIA in Hyde Park; they added walnuts, and sometimes I do, too. I also add tons of cheese, despite Schneider's admonition that it's not necessary (sorry, to me more Parm is always necessary!) and also often use a touch more liquid so I can finish the pasta off in the sauce.
8 slices bacon, diced
4 T. butter
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms of your choice (I recommend button or portabella)
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, processed almost to puree
1/4 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
S&P to taste
1/2 t. dried, flaked pepper of your choice
1 pound capellini cooked and drained
1. Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is almost crisp. Drain off the fat and add the butter.
2. Add mushrooms and saute' briefly.
3. Add tomatoes, parsley, wine, S&P, and flaked pepper. Simmer 30 minutes.
4. Serve sauce with capellini and freshly grated parmesan or romano.
*Sorry, JungMann...no scrapple. ;)
I don't eat Western pastas as much as I eat oriental noodles, so if we expand a little bit, my list would be:
Chipotle macaroni cheese
Pancit palabok (corn starch noodles in shrimp sauce)
Liang pi noodles
Pastitsio and lasagna in general
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
I love carbonara -- it's a go-to on busy nights and a favorite comfort food.
For guests? Puttanesca is a nice one -- complex without being too rich, or penne with spicy sausage, caramelized onion, and roasted tomato sauce. I do orecchiette with peas in cream sauce, which is nice and simple.
The other thing I love doing for guests is just the classic mid-century Americanized spaghetti and meatballs, done with a "foodie" twist. It's such a food of childhood for so many people that I get a great reaction when it's done with really good pasta, really quality meat, really amazing homemade sauce. Elevating their childhood memories!
Puttanesca is a definite go-to for us as an impressive yet cost-effective meal for a tableful of people. We have a great store with a wide selection of fresh olives and it really makes a huge difference. If you can, I would heartily recommend fresh; the extra time to pit them is a small investment for the flavor and texture.
Also agree on a pot of good old red sauce when it's done well with quality ingredients. I like to use a fresh spicy sausage with beef/pork meatballs or some veal (anything on the bone!).
Humble can be quite impressive when done right!
I recently took a handmade pasta-making class, and it totally changed my favorite pastas. We made an oriechette carbonara that was so simple and so good ... not gloppy like many I've had. It was great for breakfast. We made ricotta cavatelli with a garlicky roasted tomato sauce. And one of the ones I was most surprised about was a buckwheat pasta (corzetti) that was tossed in a simple sauce of melted butter, marjoram and toasted pine nuts. Amazing.
Just took a look at your blog. I love it, too! We're having pasta with a creamy leek and bacon sauce for supper tonight but after reading your blog I'm planning a farmers market trip tomorrow to stock up on tomatoes. Loved reading about all of the go-to pasta dishes you described.
I'm trying to find a pasta that I don't like.
Spaghetti Carbonara (and I love the idea of adding fresh zucchini)
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine
Spaghetti with DH's "kitchen sink" marinara/meat sauce
Chicken Marsala with Penne pasta and marsala cream sause
Creamed Mushroom fettuccine
Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini
Beef Stroganoff over wide egg noodles
Cannelloni al forno
Spaghetti with clam sauce
Spaghetti with browned butter and mizithira cheese
Tuna and noodle casserole
Tuscan Chicken & pasta with sun dried tomato
Mac & Cheese
Unlimited variations of pasta in soups
Heck - I'll even throw in "Spaghetti Squash"!
I could go on! ;-)
I love spaghetti squash- not exactly the same as real spaghetti- but it's one of my favorite veggies. I like it mixed with marinara sauce and roasted eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms. Olives on top give it a nice contrast.
My favorite pasta dishes...
- pasta with swiss chard, tomatoes, olives
- cold sesame or peanut noodles (I could eat the whole serving dish)
- veggie lasagna- with spinach and tomatoes
One of my favorite simple dishes is a small pasta (like shells) tossed with a bit of pasta water, pecorino, and coarse black pepper.
I usually cook the squash and scrape out the flesh, then mix it with marinara sauce or (usually( homemade tomato sauce. I add in roasted or sauteed vegetables-- onions, garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes. At the point, you can put it in a pyrex or ceramic baking dish and either bake it or refrigerate for another night.
I bake it for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees to get the watery taste out of the sauce and spaghetti squash. Sometimes during the last ten minutes I add some shredded mozarella to the top to brown. If not, I serve parmesan cheese on the side.
I'd like to say that my favorite pasta dish is the one I just ate, but pasta is pretty much a rarity for me for health reasons. In Italy, my two favorite were tortellini in a cream sauce and cannelini al forno. But I also like spaghetti alla carbonara and any pasta made with a quick, light marinara sauce. In Italy, of course, the sauce is only a foil to the pasta. Here it tends to be the main event. If you want to experiment a lot, take a look at Erica Mane's "Pasta Improvvisata." (In English, in spite of the Italian title.) It makes you think more like Italians or out of the box when it comes to pasta. And, as Ipsedixit points out, there are wonderful Chinese pastas. (Could she be persuaded to make a video clip of pulling noodles?) Anyhow, to get to the point of what was supposed to be a short post, the other evening I got a glimpse of a clip of the Nealy's on the Food Channel talking about a pasta jambalaya made by a Nigerian-born chef in a restaurant in Nashville or Memphis. It looked very good.
When you say "pasta" are you limiting it to Italian pasta dishes?
If so, my favorite would be a traditional carbonara.
If you'r willing to consider other types of pasta dishes, I like making a simple Chinese cold sesame noodle. Make a sauce with sesame paste (or peanut butter), minced garlic, rice wine vinegar and a touch of soy sauce, toss noodles with sauce, then garnish with julienned carrots and cucumbers, lightly blanched mung bean sprouts (ie. 豆芽), and some shredded boiled chicken thigh meat. Serve cold.
I make Chinese hand-pulled noodles all the time.
I don't have an Italian pasta maker at home, just buy from the store.
I love cold noodles..a favorite in the summer especially. I'm not limited as to what cuisine the pasta is from, as long as it's tasty. I'm with Father Kitchen below; can you make a video and show us all how to make hand pulled noodles? I'm sure there are quite a few who would be interested if you would so consider...
I think I mentioned this previously on another thread, but making Chinese hand-pulled noodles really requires hands-on demonstration and alot of practice.
My mom, to this day, still chastises me for the awkward and ungraceful way I make hand-pulled noodles and (deep down) I know she's disappointed in herself because she's the one that taught me how to do it, or at least (in her mind) "tried" to teach me how to do it.
Anyhow, gotta run and try and find a video cam ...
Not elevated but I love paglia e fieno and serve it to guests. It's simple but the presentation is pretty. You can't beat a good ragu in the winter. For the summer, oven roasted tomato sauce (and eggplant if I have some).
I've made pasta by hand but didn't have a good rolling pin at the time and it was difficult. But since you bake a lot and can probably roll dough out to uniformly thin sheets, it might be pretty easy for you. Hand crank pasta makers aren't that expensive and make it so much easier.
I love carbonara too. Now that zucchini's in season I make carbonara using penne pasta and zucchini cut to look like penne. I'll also throw in some peppery arugula at the end.
Try making your own linguni alla vongole. Amazing how much flavor comes out of littleneck clams, after they've been dumped in a pan with garlic sauteed in olive oil, and steamed with some white wine.
I know that there are many "discussions" about what does and does not constitute carbonara but zucchini seems to be going TOO far IMO :) Penne doesn't work for me either. I was going to include arugula in that but I suppose it could take the place of the parsley. Are you really just making zucchini/arugula penne with eggs, cheese and bacon?!?
re: c oliver
Eep, dare I mention I sometimes make gnocchi carbonara? :o
Seriously though I see your point but I think the heart of a carbonara is the eggs, cheese, bacon and bacon drippings, and the transformation of those ingredients into that silky sauce (with the cracked black pepper on top). Using another pasta shape or adding things like zucchini or peas just adds a new spin to the dish.
re: c oliver
I don't know about the zucchini, but penne is fair game; at a little family-run restaurant in Rome where I had an excellent carbonara, one of the regulars there asked for, and got, carbonara made with penne. They didn't bat an eye. That makes it authentic enough for me!
And I know guanciale is hard to find in a lot of areas, but if you can get it, it really makes a big difference (instead of bacon, which is admittedly what I use most of the time). Oh, and no arugula OR parsley (yes, I use green stuff sometimes, but I'm playing carbonara nazi right now).
I sometimes add peas to my carbonara cause to me it goes well with the other ingredients and personally, I like pasta shapes rather than spaghetti/fettuccini better just because it's easier to eat so penne works for me. There are other variations of carbonara than what most people think of as traditional and carbonara is eggs, cheese, bacon & pasta http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonara
re: al b. darned
Cut the zucchini in half and then quarters. Cut the white seed part out and then cut the zucchini at an angle, same size as the penne. It's not exactly the same shape as penne but it looks enough like it.
The idea's from Jaime Oliver (Jaime at Home). Here's his write-up, nice picture of the dish as well.