Black Pasta with Seafood Medley

Made with squid or cuttlefish ink, black pasta has a slight salty taste that makes it an ideal pair with seafood. This trendy style of pasta has been popping up in restaurants and speciality grocery stores. You can also purchase squid or cuttlefish ink from specialty grocery stores or online retail sites and make homemade black pasta by adding 4 teaspoons of this specialty ink into your favorite fresh-egg pasta recipe. Top this pasta with an easy seafood sauce with fresh tomatoes and pair it with your favorite Pinot Noir.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon concentrated tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
12 ounces seafood medley, defrosted if frozen
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ ground black pepper
8 to 10 ounces black spaghetti (made with squid or cuddle fish ink)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes and cook until tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add wine, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add seafood medley. Simmer uncovered for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the pasta. Add more wine if needed.
  3. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and plate noodles, topping with seafood medley sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4

Summer Tomato and White Bean Pasta

My Pantry Pasta dish just got a summertime makeover with my new Sumer Tomato and White Bean Pasta recipe. It is still a quick meal for a busy night when you want a delicious homemade meal without spending a lengthy amount of time in the kitchen. Sweet summer tomatoes pair excellently with white beans in this hearty vegetarian pasta. Cheers to making meals that are both healthy and convenient.

Ingredients:
½ pound whole wheat or brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
¼ cup red or white wine
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes.
  3. In a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender, puree bean and tomato mixture to create a creamy sauce. Return to skillet and simmer for five more minutes.
  4. Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with basil and Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4

Pantry Pasta

We all have those busy nights when the fridge is sparse and we don’t have time to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner. My Pantry Pasta dish is the perfect meal to make during those moments. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, giving you more time to relax at the end of the day.

For a fresh version of this recipe during summer months, replace the canned tomatoes with vine-ripened tomatoes fresh from the farm or your backyard. Cheers to making meals that are both healthy and convenient.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced and no-salt-added tomatoes
¼ cup red or white wine
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ pound whole wheat spaghetti noodles

Optional Ingredients for Serving:
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add beans, tomatoes with juices, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Serve over spaghetti noodles. Top with basil and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Servings: 4

Chicken and Cheese Ravioli

Homemade pasta is one of my favorite things to eat, and it is surprisingly simple to make. Many restaurants have gotten away from the art of making dough by hand and our culture has become accustom to the taste of store-bought pasta. I savor the practice of making pasta by hand, and it has become a favorite stay-home, date night activity. The experience of making the pasta together creates much anticipation for enjoying this delicious meal, and it tastes like takeout from a family-owned Italian restaurant.

With Italian music playing in the background and glasses of our favorite Pinot Noir in hand, my husband and I begin the process of creating pasta dough. We use this recipe for Food-Processor Pasta Dough from William Sonoma, and once it’s ready we roll the dough into thin strips with an old-fashioned style pasta machine just like the one pictured in the pasta recipe photo. One of us turns the dough crank and feeds the ball through the machine, while the other catches the flat sheet of pasta from the other side. We use a ravioli mold to create our stuffed pasta, but you can also make tortellini without any equipment.

Ingredients for Pasta Filling:
1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 (15 to 16 ounce) container of ricotta cheese
⅓ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Other Ingredients:
Pasta dough
1 (26 ounce) jar of marinara
Parmesan cheese for grating

Directions:

  1. Place chicken, ricotta and Asiago cheeses, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse, until chicken is finely chopped.
  2. Follow recipe for Food-Processor Pasta Dough and roll the pasta into thin sheets as directed in the recipe, but do not cut pasta. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin.
  3. To make ravioli, place a sheet of pasta dough over a ravioli mold and gently press down to add space for the filling. Use a spoon or small scoop and place an equal amount of filling into each square. Brush the edges of the dough with a small amount of water and top ravioli with another sheet of pasta dough. Gently roll over the top sheet of dough with a rolling pin to cut and seal the ravioli.
  4. To make tortellini, cut the sheets of pasta into 3 inch by 3 inch squares. Place your filling into each square and brush the edges of the dough with water. Fold into triangles and wrap the bottom two corners together to seal tightly in a kerchief shape.
  5. Heat marinara sauce and serve ravioli or tortellini with desired amount of sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Pasta

This meal was inspired by a dish at one of my favorite Italian restaurants, where the noodles are made from scratch daily and you can taste the love and attention that went into creating the pasta from this family-owned establishment. At Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant in Wausau, WI they stuff their homemade shells with a similar combination of ingredients. While my take on their recipe is designed for a quick weeknight meal, when I have more time I switch out the store-bought noodles and make some from scratch just like they do at this charming local restaurant in Wisconsin. When preparing the meal with dry noodles, it works equally well with either large shells or manicotti. Pair this pasta well with your favorite red wine, and add some Italian music for a date night experience at home.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage
1 (10.5 ounce) package large shells or manicotti noodles
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 (26 ounce) jar marinara
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray a large rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add Italian chicken sausage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain noodles and let cool.
  4. Place the spinach in a cloth towel and squeeze to remove water. In a large bowl combine Italian chicken sausage, spinach, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Stir until well combined.
  5. If you are using manicotti noodles or shells that are more tubular, place mixture in large zip top bag. Cut a small slit in the corner of the bag. Pipe mixture into pasta and place in the baking dish. If your shells are more open, simply use a spoon to fill them before placing them in the baking dish.
  6. Cover stuffed pasta with marinara and bake for 25 minutes, until edges are brown and sauce is bubbly. Remove and top with Parmesan cheese. Continue baking for about 2 minutes, until cheese has melted.

15-Minute Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Pesto makes a great sauce for this quick vegetable “pasta” dish, topped with sautéed fragrant garlic, lean shrimp, nutritious spinach and nutty Parmesan cheese. I love big batches of homemade pesto when I have an abundance of basil in my container garden or CSA share. I freeze 1 tablespoon portions in mini-muffin tins to set and store in freezer safe containers to enjoy year round. Simply toss frozen pesto with warm spaghetti squash strands or pasta and stir as it melts and evenly coats.

Ingredients:
1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 ounces or 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a damp paper towel on the bottom of a microwavable dish and place squash cut side up. Microwave on high for 12 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute garlic until soft and fragrant, about a minute. Add shrimp and sauté for another minute, just until it they start turning pink. Add spinach, stirring to combine and continuing to cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  3. Remove from microwave and when cool enough to touch, use a fork to remove the spaghetti squash strands into the dish. Add pesto and toss to evenly coat. Plate pesto spaghetti squash and top with shrimp and spinach. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Servings: 2