Pasta and Noodles Inspiration
A couple of years ago, hubby had a health scare with high blood pressure and some other stuff. Since then he's been working out three days a week and it has really made a difference.
After 2 years, he tells me last week that he really enjoys pasta on the nights that he works out at the gym. Oh, really, I didn't know that!
So I've been prowling the web trying to find new ideas for pasta. Before now we really haven't been big pasta eaters. Just the occasional angel hair with meat or meatless sauce, pesto sauce, or spicy sausage with onions and peppers. Also the occasional asian noodle dish.
I'm looking for a cookbook that has some innovative and unusual noodle/pasta preparations.
What are your favorites?
On Amazon I'm considering these two so far:
The Big Book of Noodles
Easy Asian Noodles
I'm not against Italian cookbooks. I have one or two but so many are tomato or cream/cheese centered. Nothing wrong with that but we don't want tomato pasta 3 times a week. I'm open to books from any part of the world if you know of any.
This is an oddball one, and not a pasta-focused book, but I'm going to recommend "What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat" by Arthur Schwartz. Had I just seen the title, I wouldn't necessarily have looked at it, but another Chowhounder recommended it, so I got it recently, and I'm glad I did. It's basically about making simple, but many unique and interesting, dishes with things you might have in your pantry.
As I said, it's not all about pasta, but there are a lot of pasta recipes in there. Most are pretty fast and involve things you might already have. There are some standards, like carbonara, amatriciana, and aglio e olio, and also some different ones, like: almond-garlic, peas/onions/parm, orange/nuts/black pepper, Greek salad-style, Oriental lemon sauce, black olives/orange peel, onion-yogurt, Asian peanut butter sauce, and with tuna, anchovies, carrots, or cabbage. I've only tried a few recipes from the book so far, but they've all been tasty. It's only a few bucks on Amazon.
I don't have a specific book to recommend but what I DO recommend is using a variety of pastas -- flavors and shapes. I've recently been buying pasta from a company called Pappardelle's. I first found it 2 years ago at the Farmer's Market in LA, then found a small shop (actually an olive oil store) near where I live. I've bought their Italian pesto blend, lemon/garlic orzo (made it with butter and poppy seeds) and a sweet potato orzo (haven't actually used that one yet). Oh and a chocolate pasta used for dessert! I melted a pint of vanilla ice cream, macerated some strawberries and served it with whipped cream and a dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. They also have gluten-free pasta if that interests you and flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils.
The website is
Hope this helps!
Here's a recipe of my own that we enjoyed last night. For cholesterol-watching you could leave out the butter & it would be just as tasty.
Bacardi1 Spinach Pasta with Mediterranean Tuna Sauce
Two 4.5-ounce cans StarKist Solid Light Tuna Fillet in Olive Oil, undrained; or any other brand of tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
Approximately 10-12 caper berries, roughly chopped (or 2 tablespoons regular capers, left whole)
Approximately 10-12 Kalamata olives, pitted & roughly chopped
1 medium fresh tomato, chopped; or the rough equivalent of halved cherry or grape tomatoes
Two large garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
Approximately ½ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
One or two handfuls of baby arugula
Juice from ½ a lemon
Splash of dry white Italian wine (like Pinot Grigio)
Approximately one teaspoon dried oregano
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of butter (or leftover seafood butter**)
Several dashes of crushed red pepper flakes
1# of spinach fettuccine or linquini to serve.
Cook pasta according to package directions & drain.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil & add butter to melt over medium heat. Add chopped garlic & sauté lightly for just a couple of minutes. Do not allow to brown (or – heaven forbid – burn! If garlic burns, start over again).
Add tuna, capers, olives, tomato, & parsley; gently combine & cook for several more minutes. Add in lemon juice, wine, oregano, pepper flakes, & arugula; continue cooking until arugula cooks down & everything is heated through. Gently fold cooked pasta into sauce & serve.
** “Seafood Butter” is the leftover dipping butter I save when my husband & I have steamed clams or lobster, etc., etc. I save & freeze it to use in recipes such as this, as well as for butter-poaching thick fish like cod, etc. While I’d never save dipping butter that was used communally by other people, hubby & I feel that we have the same “cooties”, so this has worked out quite well – lol!!
Here's another relatively healthy one we enjoy frequently:
BACARDI1 GREEK PENNE PASTA WITH KALE AND FETA
Half to 1 pound penne pasta (Barilla is my favorite brand), cooked according to al dente package directions & drained
1 block/container of Feta cheese, or to taste, chopped/crumbled
Approx. 12-24 Kalamata olives, pitted, & roughly chopped **
Approx. 1 pound/bunch of Kale, rinsed, stems removed & discarded, & leaves roughly sliced/chopped
½ a large or 1 small red onion, peeled & chopped
A few dollops of extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
Dash or so of chicken broth or water
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
While the cooked pasta is draining in a colander, heat the olive oil in the pot the pasta was cooked in & saute the onion until softened but not brown. Add the chopped kale, stir a bit until wilted, & add a dash or 2 of chicken broth or water if necessary to prevent burning. Add chopped olives, cooked pasta, feta cheese, & crushed red pepper & stir again – gently - until pasta is heated through. Serve hot or at room temperature.
** If you can’t obtain pitted olives, pitting them is accomplished easily by simply placing your broad kitchen knife (sharp side away from you) over each olive & briskly hitting down on the knife with your hand. Olive will break open & pit will be easy to remove.