Home Cooking: quick and easy pastas for spring and summer
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of joining the High Country Conservation employees and volunteers in putting the plastic roof covers over the greenhouses that will soon house the summer vegetables for the community-supported agriculture shares.
The first harvest won’t be ready until mid-to-late June, but I’m already thinking of what I want to make. Here are four quick, easy and economical pastas. Each recipe can easily be doubled to serve more friends!
Broccolini with Lemon and Garlic over Pasta
The base of this sauce is the salted water the pasta has cooked in. Butter, garlic, lemon juice and grated Parmesan combine with the starchy water to create a flavorful sauce for the broccolini and pasta.
½ pound spaghetti or linguine
1 -2 bunches broccolini (1 is fine, but use 2 if you want lots)
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 minced garlic cloves, depending on how much you love garlic
1 cup cooking water from the pasta pot
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve one cup of the cooking water. In a large frying pan, add the broccolini and the cooking water. Allow to cook until bright green. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter, the juice of the lemon and the minced garlic. Then add the pasta and the grated Parmesan cheese. Toss with the rest of the ingredients until the sauce you’ve created thickens. Add more water or butter if you need to thin or thicken the sauce.
Rustic Loaf Pan Lasagna with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
I love making lasagna in a loaf pan. It’s a manageable size for two to four people. The small size is also perfect for trying new flavor combinations. For instance, this lasagna purposely keeps the tomatoes chunky and the sausage in bite-size pieces.
3-4 oven-ready sheets of lasagna noodles
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 pound Italian sausage in their casings
Fresh basil leaves
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large pan, fry the sausage until cooked through and then cut into 1-inch pieces. Then add the broccoli rabe, allowing to cook for 3 minutes. Add the can of whole tomatoes with their liquid, gently breaking up the tomatoes. Allow everything to cook until the tomatoes reduce and the broccoli rabe is tender, about 10-15 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, combine the cottage cheese (or ricotta), egg, and one cup of the shredded cheese in a small bowl, gently mix together and season with salt and pepper.
Add one ladle of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the loaf pan. Add a lasagna sheet, one to two ladles of tomato, sausage and broccoli rabe. Add another lasagna sheet and top with the cottage cheese mixture. Add a third lasagna sheet, along with any remaining sausage and tomato mixture. Cover with foil (can be made ahead to this point) then bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and top with the remaining one cup of cheese and broil until the cheese is completely melted.
Remove from the oven, let rest for 10 minutes and then serve.
Cold Sesame Noodles with Dukkah
When I first moved to New York after college, I had little money. Luckily, I discovered $2 orders of cold sesame noodles from our local Chinese takeout, enough for dinner and lunch the next day. This recipe is the closest I’ve found to that memory.
Dukkah is a delicious Middle Eastern seasoning made with crushed nuts (almonds or hazelnuts) sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander and anise seeds. It’s a perfect topping for these noodles.
½ pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini (or use peanut butter)
1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 teaspoons chili garlic paste
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon honey
½ English cucumber, peeled and cut into thin strips
Big pinch dukkah seasoning or roasted peanuts
Cook the noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse thoroughly in cold water, then toss with a little swoosh of sesame oil.
While the noodles are cooking, combine all of the other ingredients in a measuring cup and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference. Pour the sesame sauce over the noodles and toss until combined. Top with cucumber and dukkah seasonings or roasted peanuts and serve at room temperature.
Radicchio, Pear and Blue Cheese Pasta
The bitter radicchio finds its perfect counterpart in the sweet pear and pungent Roquefort cheese.
½ pound short pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as grapeseed, walnut or canola
1 small or medium head of radicchio core removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1-2 ripe pears cut into thin slices
4 ounces Roquefort or other soft, creamy blue cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts
Cook the pasta in salted water. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water. Rinse the pasta with warm water, then drain well and place the pasta in a bowl. Meanwhile in a large frying pan, add the oil, radicchio, pear slices and walnuts. Allow to cook until the radicchio and pears are softened, and the walnuts are toasted. Then add the pasta and torn pieces of Roquefort cheese and a splash of pasta cooking water. Toss everything together in the pan allowing the cheese to melt and coat the pasta. Serve immediately at room temperature.
Suzanne lives in Breckenridge. Her two cookbooks can be found at the Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco and at the Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver.
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