Tag Archives: pasta

Hearty Chickpea Pasta

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I still remember when my dad first saw an idea for this recipe from Mario Batali on the Food Network many years ago. He always gets so excited about new recipes, especially pasta–must be where I get it from! I have been in love with this dish ever since he first made his much more exciting version of it, and have adapted it into my own over the years. It is a great comforting hearty dish for a winter day, one where you are cheating and eating pasta of course. I think this sauce could also be could with quinoa or even zucchini ‘pasta’ if you wanted to try to make a lower carb version. I had some organic rotini in the pantry so I used that, but I think the texture of the sauce goes best with mini rigatoni.

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Pasta with Chickpea Puree  (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

  • 8 oz. organic mini rigatoni or other pasta shape
  • 4 Tbsp. cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs organic celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 organic carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2-1 c. reserved pasta water or organic chicken broth
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Put a large pot of salted water up to boil. Cook pasta according to box directions, reserving one cup of cooking water (if using). When al dente, remove the pasta to a strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking process–there’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta!

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, chickpeas, and red pepper flakes and cook another 2-3 minutes.

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Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. While blender or food processor is still running, add the cooking water or chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture is smooth but still thick. Drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta and sauce to the skillet and stir until heated through, adding more pasta water or broth as needed to achieve the preferred texture. I like my sauce to be thin enough to coat the pasta, but still thick enough to be creamy and hearty. Serve with a generous heap of parmesan cheese and a light drizzle of high quality finishing olive oil (I love their McEvoy Ranch Organic Olive Oil that my brother got me at Whole Foods).

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Truffle Cheese Ravioli in Walnut Cream Sauce

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A friend of mine had been asking me to make ravioli for her, and I couldn’t stop thinking about dishes with black truffles, so I decided to create a black truffle cheese ravioli. I didn’t have time to wait for a jar of black truffles to come in the mail and couldn’t find them at any of my local gourmet food stores, so I settled for truffle cheese and black truffle salt I had in the pantry (I loved sprinkling it on popcorn with Pecorino cheese before my Primal days). The ravioli definitely had a truffle flavor, but if you’re willing to splurge and have access to black truffles, I strongly recommend including them in this recipe.

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Truffle Cheese ravioli in Walnut Cream Sauce (Difficulty-Advanced; Makes ~2 dozen large ravioli)

For the Filling:

  • 15 oz. Precious whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 c shredded Italian Truffle Cheese
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp black truffle salt

For the Pasta Dough:

  • 5 organic free range eggs, at room temp.
  • 2 1/2-3 c all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Sauce:

  • 2/3 c walnuts, toasted
  • 1 c walnuts, ground in food processor
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c reserved pasta water
  • 1 tsp black truffle salt
  • grated parmesan for serving

Make the Filling:  Saute diced mushrooms in butter, seasoning with 1/2 tsp of black truffle salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Mix ricotta, truffle cheese, parmesan, mushrooms, and remaining truffle salt. Refrigerate until needed.

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Make the ravioli: The traditional way to make pasta dough is to make a well of flour on your work surface and slowly integrate the eggs with a fork. But this process is a bit too messy for me so I cheat a little and use my food processor. Add all ingredients to food processor with a dough blade and pulse until dough is formed. Place dough on work surface and knead to combine and make the dough nice and tight, about 5-10 minutes. Using a pastry cutter, cut dough into four equal sections.

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A pasta roller would be a magical luxury in making these ravioli, but unfortunately I rolled my dough by hand. If you have access to a pasta roller, believe me, use it! Take the first section and form the dough into a nice round ball. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface and rolling pin. Roll dough into a large thin sheet.

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Place 1 Tbsp of cheese filling for each ravioli about an inch and a half apart, using as much of the pasta sheet as you can, each sheet can fit about 8-12 ravioli. Roll a second similarly-sized sheet and place on top of the filling. Using a ravioli wand or pastry roller, cut the sheets into squares with the cheese filling in the center. Use a fork to press the bottom and top sheets together to seal the ravioli. Make sure there are no air pockets inside, or the ravioli may burst when cooking. Places ravioli on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator until ready to cook.

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When ready to prepare, boil a large pot of salted water. Add ravioli, about 5-6 at a time. Cooking time varies, but the ravioli should float when they are done, about 4-8 minutes. Cook time for hand rolled pasta will be slightly longer. Be sure to set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking water to use in the sauce.

Make the Sauce: Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add the ground and whole walnuts and heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

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Pour in the heavy cream and reserved pasta water. Season with truffle salt. Cook the sauce until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add the ravioli, turning to coat with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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Turkey Bolognese with Homemade Fettucini

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I have so many recipes to share from the holidays which I thought I would be blogging over my vacation, yet I found myself busier than expected. But 2013 is here and I am back to blogging and back to eating primal! I had more than my share of Christmas cookies and pasta over the last couple weeks–it feels great to be grain free again!

Keeping the holiday spirit going, I’d like to share this recipe with you. And although I’m including the homemade pasta, this bolognese sauce goes great with roasted spaghetti squash so don’t worry–you can still keep up your New Years resolutions and enjoy a delicious Italian meal.

Turkey Bolognese (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

(Difficulty-Easy; Serves 8-10)

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cup Grated Organic Carrots
  • 1 whole Large Red Onion, Diced
  • 3 ribs Organic Celery, Diced
  • 2 lbs. Ground Organic Free-Range Turkey
  • 1/2 lb. pancetta, Chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 cup Organic Basil, Chopped
  • 1 can (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup (to 2 Cups) Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 2 cans (28 Ounce) San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

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In a medium frying pan, saute the pancetta until crispy.

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Make a well in the veggies, increase the heat to medium high, and add the ground turkey meat to brown.  Season with salt and pepper and add the fresh basil and dried oregano. Before adding to the pot rub the oregano together in the palm of your hands to loosen up the oils and release more flavor. When the turkey is cooked through, add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Make a well in the mixture, and add the red wine and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes and break down using a potato masher or wooden spoon. Lower the heat and add the milk. Cover and simmer 1 to 3 hours. This sauce is even better the next day after the flavors have had plenty of time to come together.

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Homemade Fettucini Noodles

(Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves 6-8)

6 large organic eggs

3 cups flour, plus more for rolling

Pour the flour out onto a clean dry work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs to the center and moving around the edge of flour with a fork, scoop the flour gradually into the well. Use your hands to fully combine the rest of the ingredients.

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Knead the dough until smooth and elastic-like, about 5-7 minutes. Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into quarters.

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Take the first quarter, roll it into a smooth ball and pat down on a floured working space. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a large thin square sheet. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the sheet into even strands of pasta, about 1/4 inch wide. Place the pasta on a lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.

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To cook, place in a pot of boiling salted for water for 2 to 3 minutes. The fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so be careful not to over cook. It is also richer than boxed pasta so a smaller portion goes a long way. Top with the bolognese sauce and freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

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This recipe was obviously created on one of my cheat days. My roommate introduced me to America’s Test Kitchen magazine a few months ago–I am officially obsessed. The particular issue she brought home was their 20 favorite american dishes–all the staples including my ultimate guilty pleasure, macaroni and cheese. There are infinite ways to make this favorite childhood dish, but rarely does it come out JUST RIGHT. With the whole premise of America’s Test Kitchen being that they’ve tested and tried every possible method for you and shared the best results, I just HAD to try their recipe. But I have to admit, I couldn’t even stick to their recipe as is. I have a habit of tweaking things even as I’m reading a recipe for the first time. My first issue is that they cooked the macaroni past the point of Al Dente, which I have been raised to believe is a SIN! According to the test results, they found that al dente pasta will release starch into the sauce as it continues to cook, giving the sauce a gritty texture, which makes good scientific sense. But I still couldn’t bring myself to intentionally overcook pasta. And I have to say, that my sauce was nowhere near gritty and the pasta was perfectly cooked. The verdict is still out on that one…

So after all, here is my own version loosely based on the results of their experiments. I would love to hear if anyone tries the original (found here). I will have to do that some dreary day when I am especially in need of some nostalgic comfort food.

The end result was a rich, creamy, decadent macaroni and cheese that I thoroughly enjoyed, not to mention, it was topped with bacon I just happened to have lying around. Yet I would still make some adjustments. This might be a lifelong venture for me to find a mac n cheese recipe that is just perfect. Though, I left the rest of it for my roomie to enjoy and she said it was just how she likes it! All in all, I’d say it was a success. My all-time favorite macaroni and cheese (and believe me,  I’ve tried A LOT of different versions), was at this wonderful gastropub in Cambridge, MA, Lord Hobo. I’ve come very close to replicating their heavenly cheddar, mascarpone and parmesan cheese sauce, but it still is not quite right. Don’t worry though–I will master it one day and I will of course share it with you.

Macaroni and Cheese (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

(Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes 4 servings)

  • 1/2 stick butter, plus 1 Tbsp.
  • 1/2 pound organic pasta, I used organic imported Fusilli from Trader Joes
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 ounces Havarti cheese, grated or finely chopped
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 4 ounces parmesan, grated
  • 4 slices organic applewood smoked bacon
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

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Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente; drain pasta.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in now-empty pot over medium-high heat. Add flour, mustard, and 1 teaspoon salt,  and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Off heat, slowly whisk in all but a 1/3 cup of the cheeses until completely melted. Add pasta to sauce and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

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Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet and add panko bread crumbs. Cook, stirring occasionally until the crumbs are lightly toasted, about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese and bread-crumb mixture. Broil until topping is deep golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook bacon strips in a skillet until crisp and crumble into pieces. Top macaroni with bacon crumbles. Cool casserole for 5 minutes before serving.

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Dad’s Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells with Turkey Meatballs and Vanilla Cream Cheese Cakelets with Raspberry Filling and Homemade Limoncello Ice Cream

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**Sorry for the delay on this–wanted to make sure it was just right since this is such a special family recipe. Enjoy! 😀

In our house we’ve always done two Thanksgivings- an Italian meal made by my dad because his family always celebrated with Italian food, and the traditional American Turkey dinner. I know, I’m pretty spoiled! This year Dad and I decided to make one of our favorites, stuffed shells with Spinach and four cheeses, and his staple turkey meatballs (how fitting for Turkey Day!). And everything was covered in his famous Pomodoro sauce of course.

We generally don’t eat dessert with our Italian Thanksgiving since there is so much delicious food, but since this was the first year I was home to spend Thanksgiving with my family in so many years I wanted to make them a special Italian treat- Limoncello Mascarpone ice cream with vanilla cakelets filled with raspberry cream. It was the perfect end to our Italian feast!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells  (Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves: 6-8)

1 lb. large organic imported pasta shells

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 lb. organic baby spinach

2 large organic eggs, room temperature and gently scrambled

8 oz. Polly-O ricotta cheese (according to Dad, it MUST be Polly-O!)

4 oz. Polly-O fresh mozarella cheese

3/4 cup, plus more for topping, pecorino romano and parmesan cheese blend from Trader Joes

1 tsp. organic lemon zest

seasoned pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Don’s Pomodoro sauce (recipe below)

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach one pound at a time until cooked. Be sure to salt and pepper the spinach as you go. Pour cooked spinach into a colander and drain ALL liquid. This is one of the most important steps so that there is no excess liquid in the stuffing mixture. Once the spinach is drained add to a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta and eggs to the spinach and mix well. Grate half of the mozarella cheese into the bowl and add the 3/4 cup of romano parmesan blend. Season with seasoned pepper, coarsely ground sea salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook shells for about 5 minutes. They will still be very firm, but they will finish cooking in the oven. Make sure not to overcook the pasta or they will fall apart when served. Drain shells and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. We even added a handful of ice cubes to the colander. Spread a few paper towels out on the counter and place each shell upside down to drain all of the liquid that has collected inside the shells.

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When the shells are dry, use a teaspoon to stuff the spinach and cheese mixture into each shell. We placed the stuffed shells in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the stuffing flavors marinate and set inside the pasta.

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When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Ladle a layer of Pomodoro sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Place the shells in the dish and cover the tops of the shells in pomodoro sauce, the remaining grated mozzarella cheese and a handful of the parmesan romano cheese blend. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Don’s Pomodoro Sauce

4 cans official San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy (Dad won’t use anything else!)

1 Maui or sweet onion, finely diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

1/2 cup fresh organic basil leaves

crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste

Prep Work: The most important step in this sauce is preparing the tomatoes. It is important to drain as many of the tomato seeds as possible so as not to add any bitterness to the sauce. The San Marzano tomatoes are deliciously sweet, but the seeds will take away from their amazing flavor. Set a large colander in the sink and use a pairing knife to slice off the tip of the each tomato and drain its seeds. Add the seedless tomatoes to a food processor with the tomato sauce from each can and pulse a few times to combine. You want the sauce to be well-incorporated but still have a nice texture from the tomatoes. Next, add the diced onion and garlic to a small bowl and pour 2 Tbsp. olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Let this marinate for up to 3-4 hours before making the sauce for the flavors to incorporate and develop.

To make the sauce, add 1/4 cup olive oil, onion and garlic mixture, and a teaspoon of coarse ground salt to a large sauce pan. Heat on medium until onions and garlic are translucent, about 6 minutes. The salt will help to release the sugar from the onions, adding to the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Add your desired amount of crushed red pepper to this- I like my tomato sauce to be a bit spicy. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the basil for a nice fresh flavor.

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Don’s Turkey Meatballs (Difficulty-Easy; Makes 12 Meatballs)

  • 2 lb. organic ground turkey
  • 1 large Maui or Spanish onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup organic fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmeggiano reggiano cheese
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a muffin pan with olive-oil based cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and form 12 large meatballs to fit into the muffin the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The meatballs should be fairly firm but should still have some give under the pressure of your finger. Serve with generous amounts of pomodoro sauce and parmeggiano reggiano cheese.

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Limoncello Mascarpone Ice Cream (slightly adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen)

(Difficulty- Intermediate; Makes about 1 quart)

  • 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello Licquer
  • juice and zest of 2 small lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a hand-held mixer, whip the Mascarpone cheese with 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth.  Add the remaining milk and the rest of the ingredients and whip until very well blended.  Taste and adjust sugar and lemon zest as desired.

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Pour into a container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, until well chilled.  After mixture has chilled, whisk it until smooth, then pour through a mesh strainer to strain out the lemon zest.  Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions of your ice cream maker.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Cakelets with Raspberry Cream Filling (adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen)

(Difficulty- Easy; Makes 8 or 9 cupcakes)

  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Penzey’s Raspberry Enlightenment
  • 1 small carton fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a cupcake pan with non-stick baking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, beat the 6 oz. cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl down a few times, until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly.  Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.  Batter will be very thick. Add batter to cupcake pan.  Bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

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Meanwhile, make the raspberry filling by mixing remaining 2 oz. cream cheese, raspberry enlightenment and confectioner’s sugar on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add to a piping bag. When cupcakes are cool use a serrated knife to cut the tops off and pipe the filling onto the surface. Replace the top half of the cake and drizzle with more raspberry enlightenement sauce. Serve with limoncello mascarpone ice cream and fresh raspberries.

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