Tag Archives: pasta

Reginetti with Mushrooms, Tomato and Pancetta

This rich, warming, autumnal dish is Milk Street’s version of pasta alla boscaiola, or woodsman’s pasta, which features earthy, meaty mushrooms. For varied flavor and texture, use a mix of different types of fungi, but thanks to the alliums, pancetta, cream and Parmesan that play supporting roles, the pasta is delicious even if made only with basic creminis. A little white wine is added for flavor-lifting acidity, and tomato puree to tie together all the elements .

Even though you might love them, don’t use portobello mushrooms for this recipe. Unless the gills are scraped off, their inky color will make the sauce dark and murky. Additionally, portobello caps are too large and thick for sauces like this one.

Instead of the suggested ziti or gemelli, we used a whole grain reginetti from Sfoglini—Bottom line: Sfoglini pastas are made with organic grains grown on North American farms which are always milled in the US. We also lowered the amount from one pound to 12 ounces. Finally, we increasing the pancetta from 4 ounces to almost 7 (because that is what we had on hand).

Here’s the thing about Sfoglini pasta: It combines the very best of Italian technique and American ingredients. Day in, day out, that’s the balance they strive to achieve. What does that mean? For starters, it means traditional bronze dies and plates on everything they make, which results in the beautiful, rough texture on your pasta (which makes the sauce stick!). In addition, they slow-dry every one of our pastas at a low temperature to preserve both flavor and nutrients. 

You will need to reserve one cup of the pasta water when it is done. An easy trick to help you remember is putting a measuring cup into the colander that is in the sink. As you go to pour out the pasta water, the measuring cup will remind you to reserve some before you pour it all down the drain. If that does happen however, you can immediately pour one cup of hot water back into the drained pasta, let it set for a few minutes, then pour the liquid back into a measuring cup.

Reginetti with Mushrooms, Tomato and Pancetta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Reginetti (or penne, ziti or gemelli)
  •   Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb. mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster or stemmed shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 14½-oz. can tomato puree (1½ cups)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (½ cup), plus more to serve

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, combine the oil, pancetta, onion and garlic. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is lightly browned and the onion is translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the moisture they release evaporates, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato puree and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the mushroom mixture to the pasta in the pot, along with the cream, ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and the cheese. Cook over medium, stirring, until the sauce clings to the pasta, 3 to 4 minutes; add more pasta water as needed so the sauce lightly coats the noodles.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with additional cheese.

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Original recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Tagliatelle with Artichokes and Olive Oil for Two

Jarred artichoke hearts and tagliatelle make a quick and elegant dinner. The leaves from jarred artichoke hearts need to be separated from the hearts and then given a quick soak to temper the harsh flavors they pick up from the brine. Slice the hearts in half and then dry them well so that they can be easily browned to bring out their natural nuttiness.

Anchovy gives the sauce savory depth without imparting a fishy taste—don’t omit it; and cream ties together the aromatics, wine, and artichoke flavor. A simple Parmesan bread-crumb topping gives the dish some savory crunch. Even though it adds more carbs, the crumb topping adds another dimension and necessary texture.

Jarred artichoke hearts labeled “baby” or “cocktail” that are 1 1/2 inches or shorter in length are preferred. Larger artichoke hearts tend to have fibrous leaves. But, if you must use larger hearts, trim the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the leaves. Do not use marinated or oil-packed artichoke hearts. You’ll need two 9.9-ounce jars of artichokes for this recipe—however, because we love artichokes, we added two 14-ounce jars.

This recipe can easily be doubled to feed 4 or 5 guests. Unable to source tagliatelle (who knows why, it is usually a popular pasta), we substituted fettuccini, though pappardelle would also work.

Tagliatelle with Artichokes and Olive Oil for Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups jarred whole artichoke hearts packed in water, preferably baby or cocktail size
  • 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 ½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 6 oz. tagliatelle
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon zest

Directions

  1. Cut leaves from artichoke hearts. Cut hearts in half and dry with paper towels. Place leaves in bowl and cover with water. Let leaves stand for 15 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 7 to 10 pulses. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until crumbs begin to brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons Parmesan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until crumbs are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer crumbs to bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out skillet.
  4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add artichoke hearts and pinch salt; cook, stirring frequently, until hearts are spotty brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, anchovy, oregano, and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Stir in wine and cream and bring to simmer. Remove skillet from heat and stir in artichoke leaves. Set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1/2 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Stir in artichoke sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, 1/3 cup reserved cooking water, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, parsley, and lemon zest. Adjust consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing bread-crumb mixture and extra Parmesan separately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions

A pizza/pasta mash-up with a slight Mexican undertone served in pie-shaped wedges. Is it a dish with an identity crisis? Maybe, but it was still interesting, fun and tasty! And if you are looking for a new meatless recipe, then this puppy is worth a try.

In this warming skillet pasta bake, onions — sautéed with cumin, coriander and allspice until golden and aromatic — do double duty. They form the base of the tomato sauce that’s used to coat the pasta, and are mixed with grated Cheddar for the topping, where strands of browned onions mingle with the melted, gooey cheese. It’s satisfying and easy, with the pasta baked in the same skillet as the sauce.

We used a 13″ sauté pan (which is a little larger than instructed); upped the portion of tomatoes from a 15-ounce to a 28-ounce can; and eliminated adding a cup of water to the tomato mix; although we did reserve, and use, 1 cup of the pasta water at the end.

Since we already had a box of pasta on hand, we opted to use our cellentani, a corkscrew-shaped pasta which captured the onions and tomato bits very nicely. Word to the wise, it’s tough getting that many onions to brown in the skillet, so when it was time to remove half of them, I put one half of the onions in another pan for browning further. I had intended to try adding a pinch of baking soda as suggested by one reviewer, but totally forgot.

Serve it as a meatless main course with a crisp salad alongside, or as a rich side to a lighter chicken or fish dish.

TIP: A pinch of baking soda will speed up the browning process (the Maillard reaction.) Just a pinch, too much will be noticeable in the finished dish.

Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne, plus more to taste
  • 1¼ tsp. fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 lb. small pasta, such as rotini or shells
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley or cilantro (or use a combination of cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
  • 8 oz. shredded Cheddar
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat ¼ cup oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 12 to 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if the pan starts to scorch.) Lower heat to medium, and stir in coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook 1 more minute. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and reserve (leave the bay leaf in the skillet).
  2. Add garlic, cumin seeds, pepper and allspice to the skillet, and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Use your hands or kitchen scissors to squish or cut the tomatoes into pieces and add to pan. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and cayenne if you like. Remove bay leaf.
  3. As mixture cooks, heat oven to 400° and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta.
  4. Stir pasta, reserved pasta water, and parsley into skillet with tomato sauce. Top with reserved browned onions, Cheddar and Parmesan. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can run the pan under the broil to brown the top, or leave it as is. Let cool slightly, top with more parsley, if desired, and serve with hot sauce, if you like.

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Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark for NYTimes Cooking

Pappardelle with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

Getting the consistency of the creamy mushroom sauce right is key for this pasta recipe. You want to reduce it just until it clings to the pappardelle to create a light coating; but be careful not to reduce it too much. To that end, don’t discard the pasta water after removing the pappardelle, you may need it to thin the dish when combining everything at the end (we did).

If you buy the prepackaged prosciutto, it is very thin and almost impossible to keep in one piece as you place in into the hot oil. It doesn’t really matter because in the end it gets crunched up anyway. Our mushroom mix consisted of oyster, cremini, and shiitakes. If unable to source pappardelle, fettuccine would be a comparable substitute.

We altered the amounts of a few ingredients. Instead of 12 ounces of pasta we decreased it to 8 ounces; and increased the prosciutto from 2 ounces to 4. These changes are noted in the list of ingredients below, however, you can decide what amounts work best for you.

Pappardelle with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices)
  • 1 lb. mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelles, maitake, oyster, cremini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 8 oz. pappardelle or fettuccine
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer in pot and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over high. Cook mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add shallots and 1 tsp. thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add stock and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer and cook until only a thin layer of stock coats bottom of pot, 5−7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  5. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Crumble half of prosciutto into pot. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute.
  6. If pasta sauce is thicker than prefered, add additional pasta water a 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition until desired consistency is achieved. Remove from heat, add butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  7. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more thyme and crumble remaining prosciutto over; season with pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Claire Saffitz for Bon Appétit

Leftover Turkey? How About with Pasta!

Besides soup and sandwiches, here’s another option for leftover turkey: Creamy Pasta with Turkey and Crispy Crumbs. This pasta recipe features an Alfredo-like sauce dressed up with leftover shredded (or cubed) turkey, crispy bread crumbs, and salty capers and is ready to eat in just over a half hour.

The original recipe, found in a past issue of Fine Cooking Magazine, used linguine as the pasta. We substituted whole wheat spaghetti since we already had it in our pantry. Any long pasta such as fettuccine, bucatini or linguine will work, just cook according to package directions for al dente.

Creamy Pasta with Turkey and Crispy Crumbs

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme and/or sage leaves
  • 8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (or other long stranded pasta)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. capers, drained

Directions

  1. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium. Add half the garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add bread crumbs and a pinch of salt. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown and aromatic. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out pan. Stir parsley into bread crumbs.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add celery and remaining garlic; cook and stir over medium 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream; simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Add turkey and thyme; cook and stir until heated through.
  5. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Stir cooking liquid into turkey mixture then toss with pasta.
  6. Stir in cheese, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Divide among 4 plates; top each with bread crumbs.

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Recipe compliments of Fine Cooking Magazine

Shrimp Pasta with Preserved Lemon

Here, preserved lemon is paired with seared shrimp in this easy weeknight pasta recipe. It also features garlic, chile flakes, plenty of Parmesan, and a touch of fresh lemon juice, bringing the full spectrum of lemon flavor to the table. Let me just put it out there, the dish was luxuriously fantastic!

It’s amazing that this silky sauce contains no cream. One of the main ingredients, preserved lemon, adds a wonderful base note and should not be omitted. Then, instead of using an entire pound of pasta, we scaled it back to half that amount for a better balance with the shrimp. Just keep in mind, it may not provide 4 entrée-sized portions (depending on hungry your diners are!).

Back to those preserved lemons. They are a versatile pantry staple with the power to level up the flavor of any dish it touches. Unlike the aggressively pungent and assertive flavor of fresh lemon rind, preserved lemons have softer, richer, and deeper flavors, mellowed by the salty bath that pickles them. While they lose some of their bracing acidity, citrusy aromas and gentle tanginess remain.

We keep a jar of preserved lemons in our auxiliary refrigerator at most times. Which BTW, take at least 3 weeks “hibernating” in a cool room, then a spin in the fridge before they are ready to use. The jar of preserved lemons, at left, was just made with kosher salt, lemons, black peppercorns and bay leaves.

TIP: If you don’t have, or can’t find preserved lemons, you can microwave four 2-inch strips lemon zest, minced, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon water, ¼ teaspoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt at 50 percent power until the liquid evaporates, about 1½ minutes, stirring and mashing the lemon with the back of a spoon every 30 seconds.

Shrimp Pasta with Preserved Lemon

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. medium tube-shaped pasta (such as rigatoni or penne)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon rinds
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. Cook 1 lb. medium tube-shaped pasta (such as rigatoni or penne) in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, pat 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, dry with paper towels; season lightly with kosher salt. Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped, ¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon, and ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until preserved lemon is softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until just opaque, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add pasta, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing vigorously, until butter is melted and sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup finely grated Parmesan; toss until melted.
  5. Add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, and ½ cup finely grated Parmesan and cook, stirring vigorously and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 1 minute. Mix in 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley.
  6. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Top with more finely grated Parmesan and finely chopped parsley.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Gurjar for Bon Appétit

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

Prepared Mediterranean-style, this nutty Toasted Orzo Pasta Recipe with Garlic, Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes will steal the show next to your favorite protein. You can even serve it as a quick and easy vegetarian meal on its own; it will feed 4 people as a vegetarian main and about 6 or so as a side dish. 

It was a superb complement to our top sirloin and veggie kebabs. In fact, this orzo recipe jumped to the top of the list and one we’ll make time and again!

Leftovers? Lucky you. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat.

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup oregano, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or more to your liking

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add the orzo and cook, tossing around, until toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
  2. Add at least 7 cups of boiling water to the saucepan and season well with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente according to the package instructions (about 7 to 8 minutes).
  3. Just before the pasta is fully cooked (after about 5 minutes), remove 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside.
  4. In a large pan, warm 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and season with a pinch of kosher salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, tossing regularly, until just fragrant. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Raise the heat if needed to bring to a boil. Add the parsley and oregano.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the pan and toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Toss to combine. If needed, add a little more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Finish with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if you like.

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Adapted from a recipe for MediterraneanDish.com

Summer Solution Pasta

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.

It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.

On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.

Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.

*FOR THE SAGE PESTO:
• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
• ½ cup fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
• Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Summer Solution Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
  4. Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
  6. Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
  7. Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.

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Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Beef and Lamb Bolognese

This version of bolognese is half lamb and half ground beef, a mixture you’ll see a lot in northern Italy, and because the lamb is lean, this is a somewhat lighter sauce than all-beef or pork-based ragu.

The sauce needs a good long simmer, but it makes enough that you’ll likely get two meals. Giada claims the pasta shouldn’t be swimming in sauce; you only want it to stain the pasta, but we are “saucy” people and like to pile on a fair amount.

One of the ingredients is Calabrian chili paste, but a good substitute is Sriracha, and that’s what we used.

Beef and Lamb Bolognese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt divided
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef chuck
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp. Calabrian chili paste; or Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry red wine such as chianti
  • 1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes, (28 ounce) crushed by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece parmesan rind, (3 inch)
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. fusilli, cooked to package instructions; or polenta

Directions

  1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil and warm until the butter is melted.
  2. Add the onions, carrots, celery and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook stirring often for 6 minutes or until the vegetable are soft but have no color.
  3. Add the lamb and beef and cook breaking apart the meat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Stir the garlic, chili paste, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste into the meat mixture. Cook the tomato paste stirring often for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the milk is almost entirely evaporated.
  6. Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, parmesan rind and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low to just maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Use several folded paper towels to skim some of the oil from the surface.
  7. Discard the bay leaf and parm rind.
  8. Spoon the bolognese over fusilli or creamy polenta reserving any extra to serve on the side. Serve with additional parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

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Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.

An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.

A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.

Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup packed parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste, optional

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
  3. Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
  4. Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadheh

Orzo with Shrimp: Two Recipes

Does a Mediterranean diet appeal to you? Then these two recipes might be worth a try. The first from Cook’s Country, Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon dish will grab your attention. Cooking the orzo pilaf-style gives it extra flavor and allows you to control the slightly creamy consistency.

To keep this meatless, use seafood/shellfish stock as opposed to chicken broth. Also, if the broth you use is on the bland side, use 4 cups of the stock and omit the water. If, like our homemade shellfish stock, it is intense, dilute it with two cups of water.

Adjust the amounts of olives and feta to suit your own preferences. One version of the recipe indicated only a half cup of Kalamatas and only 2 ounces of feta, while the list below indicates double of each.

Because we cooked our meal in a 10-inch-wide nonstick pan, the shrimp took an extra two minutes to become opaque. Keep that in mind if using less than a 12-inch skillet.

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 cups seafood (or chicken) broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Mix lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and toss with lemon-salt mixture to coat; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until orzo is coated with oil and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add broth and water, bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, until orzo is al dente, about 6 minutes.
  6. Stir in olives, 1/2 cup feta, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, nestle shrimp into orzo, cover, and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup feta over top and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.

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The second recipe, Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes, is another Mediterranean-inspired shrimp dish similar to the Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon above, however this version gets started on the cooktop and then baked in the oven. It only calls for 1 pound of shrimp but we had 1 1⁄2 pounds and decided to use it all. The 12-inch skillet was brimming full. Our other change was incorporating homemade shellfish stock for the chicken broth.

To build in plenty of Mediterranean flavor, start by sautéing chopped onion and red bell pepper, to soften them before adding in minced garlic and oregano. To guarantee perfectly cooked shrimp and pasta, sauté the orzo in the aromatics to unlock its toasty notes. The crumbled saffron threads, though not traditional, introduce a sunny hue and warm, complex flavor.

Chicken (or shellfish) broth and the drained juice from a can of diced tomatoes are then stirred in; as the orzo cooks to al dente, its releases starch (similar to a risotto) creating a sauce with a subtly creamy texture. To prevent the shrimp from overcooking, stir them right into the orzo, along with the reserved tomatoes and frozen peas, and transfer the skillet to the oven to cook through gently. A sprinkling of feta before baking reinforces the dish’s Greek flavors and promises an appealing browned, cheesy crust.

Make sure that the orzo is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite; otherwise it may overcook in the oven. If using smaller or larger shrimp, the cooking times may vary accordingly. You can leave the shrimp tails on, if desired. The small amount of saffron makes a big difference to the flavor and look of the dish, so be sure to include it. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet for this recipe.

Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) orzo
  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 3 cups chicken or shellfish broth
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in orzo and saffron and cook, stirring often, until orzo is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, and peas, then sprinkle feta evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until shrimp are cooked through and feta is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Sprinkle scallions over top and serve with lemon wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe from More Mediterranean by America’s Test Kitchen

Pescatarian Pantry Pasta

For this Spaghetti al Tonno pasta dish, it uses two jars of olive oil–packed tuna and a small amount of canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand to produce small, supple pieces. Lots of garlic, some cooked in olive oil and the rest simply warmed through, contribute potent flavor to the tomato sauce, along with red pepper flakes for heat and anchovies for a briny backbone.

To ensure that the tuna stays moist and silky, stir it into slightly underdone spaghetti along with the tomato mixture off the heat and simply let it warm through. This not only gently warms the fish through so that it holds its moisture, but also hedges against mushy spaghetti.

Spaghetti or linguine are preferred for this dish (we used whole wheat pasta), but short or tubular shapes such as penne, fusilli, farfalle, ziti, or rigatoni also work. Likewise, oil-packed tuna is recommended, but if you happen to have water-packed tuna instead, don’t let that stop you. For a spicier dish, use the full ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

The tuna brand we buy is Tonnino. With rich flavor and silky, thick‑cut yellowfin fillets, it is a step above most brands. Yes, it costs a few extra dollars, but it yields pasta al tonno that’s posh enough for company, and can bring a luxurious touch to any weeknight meal. And aren’t you worth at least a few extra bucks?

*Now here’s the thing. If you are using the more expensive jarred tuna, why would you discard the oil it is packed in? Use that oil and add some EVOO if needed to make the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe.

Spaghetti al Tonno

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 5- to 7-oz. jars/cans olive oil-packed tuna, drained* (see head note)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. table salt, divided, plus salt for cooking pasta
  • ½ tsp. pepper, divided
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil*, divided, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1½ Tbsp. minced garlic, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼–½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, crushed by hand to small pieces
  • 12 oz. spaghetti
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. While water comes to boil, gently stir tuna, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until oil sizzles gently and anchovies break down, 1½ to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and bring to strong simmer. Adjust heat to maintain gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
  4. Add spaghetti and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Cook, stirring often, until barely al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Off heat, add tomato mixture, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1½ teaspoons garlic and toss until pasta is well coated. Add tuna mixture and toss gently. Cover and set aside for 3 minutes so flavors can meld and pasta can finish cooking.
  6. Adjust consistency of sauce with reserved cooking water as needed.
  7. Add ¼ cup parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons oil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Distribute among pasta bowls. Drizzle each portion with extra oil, if using. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Linguine with Artichokes, Lemon and Pancetta

Milk Street got the idea for this pasta dish from “Pasta Grannies” by Vicky Bennison. The unusual sauce is made by blitzing artichokes in a blender. Canned artichokes are used instead of fresh for ease, but first they are browned in a mixture of olive oil and rendered in pancetta fat to build flavor in the sauce. The crisp bits of pancetta lend texture and saltiness, lemon adds brightness and balance, and a generous amount of Parmesan ties all the elements together. Voila!

With a minimum of ingredients, this lovely pasta dish can be served as a first course or as the main entrée. Instead of canned, we used frozen artichokes—just make sure to really dry those chokes, otherwise they won’t brown. Using a wider pan would accelerate the browning process. In fact, you may want more of them for the topping!

Don’t use marinated artichokes for this recipe, as their flavor is too sharp and tangy. After draining the artichokes, make sure to pat them dry so they caramelize when added to the pot. Don’t forget to reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water before draining the noodles. You will need it for pureeing the artichokes and building the sauce. And we used every drop of those 2 cups, so perhaps save a bit more…

One other note. Instead of letting the cooked pasta sit in a colander while you make the rest of the dish, use two pots. As the linguine boils, cook the pancetta and then the artichokes in another. This way, everything comes together at one time and is guaranteed to be piping hot.

Linguine with Artichokes, Lemon and Pancetta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. linguine OR fettuccine
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry and quartered if whole
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup), plus more to serve
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley OR chives OR basil

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small plate; set aside.
  3. Add the artichokes to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer half the artichokes to a small bowl; add the remainder to a blender. Reserve the pot.
  4. To the artichokes in the blender, add ½ cup cooking water, the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; puree until smooth. In the same pot over medium, bring 1 cup of the remaining cooking water to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.
  5. Add the artichoke puree, the pasta, lemon zest, pancetta, Parmesan and parsley. Cook, tossing to combine, just until the noodles are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; add more reserved water as needed to make a silky sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the reserved artichokes, along with additional oil and Parmesan.

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Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Jalapeño-Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Intrigued with this odd combination found in a recent Fine Cooking Magazine, we were pleasantly surprised at the results. Despite two large jalapeños and some chili powder, it was only slightly spicy. Of course, if you did want to ramp up the heat, don’t discard the jalapeño seeds.

Our meatballs did stick to the foil, so we suggest using parchment or coating the baking sheet with an oil spray such as Pam. Also, to thicken the sauce, we added about 2/3 of the shredded Gouda to the cream cheese/milk mixture, then sprinkled the remainder on top.

If you have leftovers, top with some milk and/or olive oil to add moisture before popping in the microwave.

Jalapeño-Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 
  • 2 Tbsp.s olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 lbs. uncooked ground turkey breast or ground turkey
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion 
  • ¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 14-16 oz. package dried multigrain, whole wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 6 oz. packages cream cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt (optional)
  • 4 oz. Gouda cheese, shredded
  • Fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In bowl stir together egg whites, oil, milk, chili powder, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  2. In large bowl combine turkey, onion, bread crumbs, jalapeños, and chopped cilantro. Fold egg white mixture into turkey mixture; mix well. Shape turkey mixture in 1-1/2-inch balls. Place on a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until no longer pink (170 degrees F).
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, with 1 tablespoon salt added to water, according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
  4. In same pan used for pasta melt cream cheese over low heat. Add milk. Cook, stirring, until bubbly. Return spaghetti to pan; toss to coat with cream cheese mixture.
  5. Serve spaghetti with meatballs, cheese, and cilantro.

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Recipe from Fine Cooking