Pasta

Pasta Tips
  1. Buy good quality and you won't need to salt the water.
  2. Be adventurous and experiment with different sauces for different pasta shapes.
  3. Al dente means firm to tooth - basically, when you bit into it, there is still a texture and it's not mushy.
  4. Pasta will continue to cook when you remove it from water, so keep this in mind when cooking.
  5. Do not rinse with cool water unless absolutely, positively necessary.  This removes flavor and nutrients. 
  6. The quality you put in is what you will get back in flavor.
  7. Save some of the pasta cooking water in case you need to thin sauces. Do this before you drain or else it is too late!

White Lasagne with Mushrooms
Believe it or not, two of my Italian children aren't fond of red sauce. So, I've experimented with white sauce and white lasagne.
Ingredents:
Sauce
2/3 cup of butter

2/3 cup of flour
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups of whole cream
6 cups of skim or 2 percent milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg 

Melt butter and add garlic, saute for a few minutes, do not burn garlic. Add flour, cook until a light tan. Slowly whisk in cream and then milk. Bring to a boil and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Sauce should thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Take off of heat and set aside.

Mushrooms
1 package of Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of minced garlic
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan and add garlic. Saute and add mushrooms. I like my mushrooms browned. If you find there is a lot of water in the pan, drain and continue cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble the Lasagne
1 9 x 13 pan
1 package of Barilla Lasagne noodles (DO NOT COOK)
1 cup of grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 cup of whole milk ricotta

With a soup ladle, add enough white sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of noodles. They can overlap if needed. Add enough white sauce to cover noodles. Add dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle a layer of mushrooms. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of Parmesan Reggiano. Repeat until you are out of room in the pan. Last layer should be noodles, white sauce and Parmesan Reggiano.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 - 50 minutes.


Pasta Ala Giuliana
My daughter loves pasta with a passion. We created a dish out of a little of this and a little of that. A colorful dish, we have dubbed it as Christmas Pasta.

Ingredients:
1 pound penne
1/4 cup of butter
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups roasted broccoli w/ garlic (see recipe below)
3/4 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes quartered (cut first, then measure)
1/2 cup of blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons of minced parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste     

Cook penne according to the directions on the package. Drain and toss with butter and olive oil. Mix with roasted broccoli, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Add blue cheese, lightly toss and cover pan for approximately 5 minutes to allow tomatoes to heat up and cheese to melt. Top with parsley and serve.  I tried to take a picture, but we ate it too quickly!

Roasted broccoli 
2 to 3 cups broccoli florets (cut larger pieces in half)
Salt & Pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add all ingredents into a zip lock baggy. Toss well to make sure all pieces are coated with olive oil and seasoning.  Make sure oven is completely heated. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.  

Delish Veggie Lasagna
My kids actually beg for this dish, my one daughter loves the zucchini.  I do adapt this a little for my husband who hates zucchini. But this works out because I usually make it in 2s anyway! 

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Barilla No Cook Lasagna Noodles
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Onion
  • 1 - 2 roasted Red Peppers
  • 24 ounces White Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Yellow Zucchini Squash sliced, than quartered
  • 1/2 Green Zucchini Squash sliced, than quartered
  • 1  - 32 ounce pasta sauce (or homemade if you have it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1 pound shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Ricotta Mixture
  • 16 ounces, weight Ricotta Cheese ( I use my homemade Ricotta)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Pesto Sauce 
  • 2 cloves garlic (ONLY if not in Pesto Sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and both types of zucchini and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. In another skillet, saute mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, Pesto, salt, and pepper.  To assemble, spread a little of the tomato sauce in a lasagna pan. Layer noodles in the pan, slightly overlapping them if necessary. Spoon 1/3 of the zucchini, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on the noodles. Top the ricotta mixture with 1/3 mozzarella. Spoon a little less than 1/3 of the veggie/sauce mixture over the mozzarella.  Repeat the layering two more times, ending with a a layer of sauce and sprinkling of mozzarella.  I tweak this recipe so that I make one in a 9 by 11 pan and one in a 8 by 8 pan. In the smaller pan I do not add zucchini.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered in foil, for 25 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.


Pasta Aioli ala Pietnut
This is a recipe that we make often because it is so easy and so, so good.  

Sorry for the poor lighting!
1 pkg.(16 oz) Orechiette (little ear) dry pasta
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs (strange, but tasty)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt & Pepper to taste (I use Sea Salt)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Chopped parsley if you wish 
Grated Parmesan Reggiano to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, mince garlic and add olive oil to a sauce pan.  When you put the pasta into the boiling water, heat up olive oil with medium heat.  Add garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes. You do not want it to burn.  Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Stir and let olive oil get back up to temperature.  Add bread crumbs and "fry" them quickly.  Remove from heat and add butter, stir to combine. Drain pasta, toss with sauce, if too dry for your taste, add some of the pasta water. 

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