Tag Archives: Pasta

Vegetarian Friday: Pasta e lenticche

Despite growing up in a town full of Italians, I had never heard of pasta e lenticche until a friend of mine posted this recipe for it on Facebook a few months ago.

I took a Crock-Pot shortcut with the lentils and riffed on it just a little, ending up with what has become one of my favorite vegetarian meals. It’s easily veganized if you skip the milk, which I personally don’t think adds much.

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
Small onion, chopped
Two small carrots, chopped (I used a couple of colorful ones from the farmers’ market)
Clove of garlic, minced
1 c. brown lentils
1 T. tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. Italian seasoning mix of your choice
Water
8 oz. ziti or mostaccioli
1/3 c. milk
Parmesan
Hot sauce
Salt

auté the onion and carrots in olive oil about 5 minutes until the carrots soften. I started the carrots first, then added the onion a couple of minutes in. The original recipe says not to brown the onions, but I ignored that because caramelized onions always taste better. When vegetables are soft, add garlic and cook about a minute.

Put onion mixture, lentils, tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaves, red pepper and seasoning in Crock-Pot, cover with about a quart of water, and let simmer overnight.

Just before you’re ready to serve, dump the contents of the Crock-Pot into a deep saucepan, add another cup of water and the milk, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and simmer 10-12 minutes until pasta is al dente and liquid has thickened and reduced a bit.

Serve in bowls with Parmesan, salt, and — if you’re me — plenty of hot sauce. (Note that I never add salt to dishes while I’m cooking them. Good chefs disapprove of this approach, but whenever I salt food as it’s cooking, the heat seems to break down the flavor so much that I end up having to add more at the table. Knowing how terrible excess sodium is for my body, I just can’t see salting my food twice to taste it once, so I just cut out the middleman and salt everything when it hits my plate. YMMV; plan accordingly.)

Serves four. I like this recipe because it tastes rich and hearty but contains very little fat and gives you a big nutritional bang for your calorie buck.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Mushroom-asparagus pasta

My mother-in-law makes a terrific pasta dish with mushrooms and asparagus. Her version contains ham and is a bit more labor-intensive than this vegetarian variant I pulled together one night while trying to use up some asparagus I picked up at the farmer’s market.

Ingredients
1/2 box linguine
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 stick butter, cut into pats
1/4 c. heavy cream
Half a cup or so of grated Parmesan

Prepare linguine according to package instructions, drain and toss with butter to keep the noodles from sticking together. While pasta cooks, put asparagus and about a tablespoon of water in a casserole dish, cover and nuke for five minutes or so. Ideally, you’ll end up with asparagus that’s bright green, crisp-tender, and not shriveled up. If you don’t live on my in-laws’ farm, you’ll probably have to use some tired old asparagus that’s been sitting around the grocery store for a few days, as I obviously did — hence the slight shriveling you see in the picture. It still tastes OK, but the fresher asparagus is, the better.

Saute mushrooms in olive oil and toss pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, cream and Parmesan.

Makes four reasonable or two ginormous servings.

Emily

P.S.: Here are days 8 through 10 of my Lent project:

Theoretically a space-saving way to burn calories without leaving the house or spending a lot of money on a stationary bike. In practice, this doesn't work well on hardwood floors, so we ended up buying a real exercise bike and assembling it in the basement -- but this might be just what someone living in a carpeted apartment needs. Onto the giveaway pile it goes.
Day 8: Theoretically a space-saving way to burn calories without leaving the house or spending a lot of money on a stationary bike. In practice, this doesn’t work well on hardwood floors, so we ended up buying a real exercise bike and assembling it in the basement — but this might be just what someone living in a carpeted apartment needs. Onto the giveaway pile it goes.
I think the author of this book wants to be Jenny Lawson when she grows up. I don't think she's going to succeed. Maybe somebody else will think she's funny.
Day 9: I think the author of this book wants to be Jenny Lawson when she grows up. I don’t think she’s going to succeed. Maybe somebody else will think she’s funny.
I really like this fruit basket and its built-in hook for keeping bananas unblemished, but it took up a lot of real estate on my counter, so I replaced it with a set of hanging baskets a couple of weeks ago. It'll look great on somebody's kitchen island, though.
Day 10: I really like this fruit basket and its built-in hook for keeping bananas unblemished, but it took up a lot of real estate on my counter, so I replaced it with a set of hanging baskets a couple of weeks ago. It’ll look great on somebody’s kitchen island, though.

Vegetarian Friday: Pesto pasta

From the “faster and better than McDonald’s” files: I swiped this idea from the late, great Piatto in Tulsa.

This isn’t as nice as Piatto’s version, because they made their pesto from scratch, but as usual, I’m giving you the 15-minute version. If somebody will remind me in June, when I’ve got fresh basil taking over the garden, I’ll make a batch of homemade pesto and post the recipe. In the meantime, the kind you buy in little jars at the grocery store will work just fine for a quick dinner that still tastes better and costs less than whatever you were going to buy from a drive-through.

Ingredients
Box of linguine
Small jar of pesto
Carton of gorgonzola or bleu cheese crumbles

Cook linguine according to package instructions. The big challenge with linguine is to stop cooking it before it turns to mush. I find al dente linguine a bit tricky, as it tends to cook very slowly compared to other pastas, but the line between “not done” and “overcooked” comes down to a matter of seconds, and there’s so much variance from one brand to the next, you really have to start tasting it about 8 minutes in and keep tasting every 30 to 60 seconds until it’s done. (I’ll own the possibility that this is simply lack of experience on my part; if I made linguine as often as I make capellini, I’d probably find it as easy to work with.)

Drain pasta, toss with pesto immediately, divide into bowls and top with cheese. Makes four hefty servings.

In unrelated news, here’s Day 3 of my giving-things-up-for-Lent project:

lent3

I love the Blue Swallow. And I love most of my Blue Swallow-themed merchandise. But this particular shirt — which I got several years ago — doesn’t fit quite right, so into the giveaway bin it goes. (I’m always happy to release Swallow merchandise into the world so other people can see it and find out about the coolest motel on Route 66.)

Emily