Tag Archives: pasta

Buckwheat Polenta + Fresh Herbed Pasta

Happy Friday! Since mid-summer I have been feeling behind on my Cook the Book Fridays cooking. With this post I am officially caught up! (with the exception of the apricot kernel ice cream, which I may or may not get to). Let’s see what delicious things I made over the last couple of weeks:

Buckwheat Polenta with Braised Greens, Sausage, and Poached Eggs


I have always liked polenta, but for some reason I don’t make it very often. This recipe gave me the excuse I needed.

There are a lot of pieces to this recipe: the polenta, the braised greens, the sausages, and the poached egg. I feel like I used every pot in the house to make it!

I made Buckwheat Polenta with Braised Greens, Sausage, and Poached Eggs on a chilly, rainy night, and it was a perfect bowl of hearty comfort. For my appetite, I don’t think it needed the sausage and the egg, but it was a delicious combination of flavors nonetheless.

Herbed Fresh Pasta


I can’t remember the last time I made fresh pasta. It’s been years since I pulled out my Kitchenaid pasta attachment. Freshly made pasta is wonderful, but time consuming to make. Not the type of thing a mother has time to make very often.

I was happy to finally have an excuse to make fresh pasta! I learned several things with this particular recipe: 1) I have never been brave enough to add in any kind of herbs or flavoring to my pasta and this recipe taught me how (I used just parsley); 2) The recipe I have used in the past has no mention of using rice flour or semolina to toss with the freshly cut pasta to keep it from sticking together. Knowing about this is very helpful!; and 3) While the recipe itself didn’t teach me this, I researched and learned how to freeze fresh pasta for later use. I figured if I am going to go to the trouble of making pasta, I should at least get several meals out of it. More about how to freeze later.


I spread the work of making this pasta throughout the day, so it didn’t really feel all that work intensive. I made the dough in the morning, cut it in the afternoon, and cooked it at dinner time.

Wow, so delicious! I served the pasta with Summer Tomato Sauce that I had in the freezer, which was made from garden tomatoes. What a treat in the middle of November!

To freeze fresh pasta: I portioned the pasta into single-serving piles that I tossed with extra semolina flour to prevent sticking. I left the pasta out and uncovered for a few hours to dry it slightly. Then, each portion of pasta went into its own freezer bag, and the smaller bags were put together in a larger freezer bag. Into the freezer it went! When it’s time to cook the pasta, don’t thaw it. Just cook it from frozen. I tried some of my frozen pasta this week and it cooked for the same amount of time as fresh. And it was just as delicious!

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, a group cooking our way through David Lebovitz’s wonderful book My Paris Kitchen. You can find today’s recipes on pages 158 and 230.

I wish all of my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving! Everyone else, have a great weekend!



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Onion “Carbonara” + Dilled Gravlax

Happy Friday!  I didn’t get a chance to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, so I thought I would take this opportunity to do a “catch up” post.  There are two recipes from December that I made on time, but didn’t quite find the time to write about.  So, here we are!

Recipe-Swap Onion “Carbonara”

Onion "Carbonara"

Recipe-Swap Onion “Carbonara” is a play on the classic pasta dish, Carbonara.  It replaces the pasta with onions and can be served as a side dish or starter.  In her Bonne Idée for this recipe, Dorie suggests that it is a wonderful topping for pasta, so that’s how I served it.

In this recipe, steamed thinly sliced onions are tossed with chopped bacon, cream, an egg yolk, butter, and grated Parmesan to make a creamy dish.

We loved the flavors of this, but felt that the fettuccine I used was too heavy for the onion sauce; it detracted from the flavors.  The next day I gently reheated the leftovers and served it on a lighter pasta and it worked much better.

Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

This one is a showstopper!  Save it for a special meal or when you want to impress!  Or, since it is so easy to make, have it whenever you feel like treating yourself to something special.

I have never made Gravlax before.  I have looked a recipes for it, but it always seemed so intimidating.  I don’t know why I was intimidated – this is so easy to make!  All you need is time and a quality piece of salmon.

To make gravlax, a fresh salmon fillet is rubbed with a mixture of white and black peppercorns, coriander seeds, sea salt, and sugar.  It is topped with plenty of fresh dill and cured for 48 – 72 hours.  Slice thinly and serve with a honey-mustard dill sauce.

Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

I absolutely loved this!  I never thought homemade gravlax could be so much better than store-bought.  I loved how the dill permeated the salmon.  It was so flavorful.  I served this as part of my Christmas appetizer spread and it was perfect for such a special occasion.

The next morning I put some of the salmon on a toasted bagel with cream cheese – scrumptious!

Lox and Cream Cheese on a Bagel

Do yourself a favor, next time you want to impress (even if you are only trying to impress yourself), make Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce!

These recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table, a must-have for any cook’s library.


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Dressy Pasta “Risotto”

Dressy Pasta "Risotto"

I’m finally back with a French Fridays with Dorie post!  It feels good to be here.  I actually have two more FFWD recipes to tell you about, but I will get to those another day.  If I wait until I have time for a “3 recipe” post, then it may never happen!

This week’s recipe was called Dressy Pasta “Risotto”.  While the technique was vaguely risotto-like, it would have been better to call this “Fancy Mac & Cheese”.  The pasta is cooked in broth until the broth has mostly evaporated, then heavy cream, Parmesan, and mascarpone are mixed in.  This dish is very rich!

"Risotto" on the Plate

I served this “risotto” for a New Year’s Eve dinner with chicken roasted “lazy style” and roasted Brussels sprouts.  We all thought the pasta was delicious (especially my daughter, whose favorite meal is Mac & Cheese).  What a lovely way to end the year!


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Dinner Last Night

Remember last fall when I made and froze tomato sauce using garden tomatoes?  Well, I used it last night to make Baked Conchiglione.  It was so good!  Do yourself a favor:  next summer go to the farmer’s market and buy a bunch of tomatoes (or grow your own!) and make this sauce!


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Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that people love to hate. I used to hate them. Then I married a Brussels sprouts lover.

Unfortunately, my husband first introduced me to frozen Brussels sprouts that were simply steamed and served with butter and salt. Those soggy, bitter sprouts didn’t do anything for me (I still don’t like them that way). Then I began to experiment with different recipes, and I slowly began to appreciate them. One of the first recipes that helped me begin warming up to Brussels sprouts is a sauteed sprout recipe that my Mom makes.

But the dish that turned me from a Brussels sprouts “tolerater” to a Brussels sprouts lover is Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts. The sprouts are sliced thin and sauteed in butter and olive oil, and the pine nuts really bring out the nutty flavor. This has become one of our favorite dishes.

I have since branched out and truly enjoy other sprout recipes. I can now say that I love Brussels sprouts, with one caveat: they must be cooked properly.

This recipe is adapted from the November 2007 issue of Gourmet.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts

(click here to print)

  • 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Trim the Brussels sprouts.  Slice them in a food processor fitted with a slicing disk.  They can also be thinly sliced with a knife.

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  When the butter is melted, cook the pine nuts, stirring them until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the Brussels sprouts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Saute until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water.  Drain the pasta and then add it to the skillet, tossing to mix it all together.  Add some of the reserved water to moisten if necessary.  Adjust seasonings and serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 3 – 4


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Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is a delicious, versatile treat called Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. I made a double-batch because I wanted to try them a couple of different ways.

Cherry or grape tomatoes are cut in half and arranged on a baking sheet with optional garlic and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. The tomatoes bake at a low heat for three hours. They come out a little shriveled and dry on the outside, but juicy and flavorful on the inside. The tomato flavor is intensified.

Ready for the Oven

The night I made these I served them as a garnish alongside grilled chicken and sautéed corn. The whole family enjoyed them this way!

Served with Grilled Chicken and Corn

The rest of the tomatoes were packed in a jar and covered in olive oil. These will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

This looks just like a jar of tomatoes I almost bought at Dean and Deluca in St. Helena, CA but I didn’t because they were so expensive. Now I can make them myself!

In the jar and covered with olive oil

The next night I tossed the remaining tomatoes with hot pasta and fresh basil (I drained off and saved most of the olive oil). Each serving was topped with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. This was delicious! It would be a good way to enjoy a fresh-tasting tomato pasta dish in the middle of winter, and it was so easy to make.

Tossed with Pasta and Basil

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes were a big hit with my family and I can see myself making these often!


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Asparagus Giovanni

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the asparagus!  I love it when asparagus is in season.  We eat it often while we can!  One of my favorite ways of preparing asparagus is this quick and easy pasta dish.

“Asparagus Giovanni” can be found in The Northwest Best Places Cookbook.  The cookbook contains recipes from some of the best restaurants in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.  “Asparagus Giovanni” apparently comes from a restaurant called Giovanni’s on Pearl, located in Ellensburg, WA.  A quick Google search on the restaurant brought up no results (other than a reference to the cookbook), so I’m not sure the restaurant exists any more.

Everything in the Pan

One thing I love about this recipe is that everything (except the pasta) is thrown into the frying pan and then cooked all at once.  This makes preparation super easy!  You can really make this whole recipe in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

The end result is a delicious, satisfying vegetarian meal.

Asparagus Giovanni

Asparagus Giovanni

(click here to print)

  • 1 pound dried fettuccine or other pasta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut in to 1-inch lengths
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (about 2 ounces)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the asparagus, mushrooms, wine, olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes in a skillet and bring just to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, until the asparagus is just tender but still crisp, about 10 minutes.  Most of the liquid should have evaporated.  If the liquid evaporates before the asparagus is cooked, add a little water.  When the asparagus is cooked, stir in the basil and add salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is cooked, drain well and return it to the pot.  Add the butter to the hot pasta and coat well.  Arrange the pasta on warmed serving plates and top with the asparagus mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 4


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Beggar’s Linguine

I was happy that this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a quick and easy one because I have been feeling a bit under the weather all week.  My brain is still a bit fuzzy today so my post will probably be short and sweet.

This week’s recipe is called Beggar’s Linguine.  I was a little unsure about this one…we like pasta, but the combination of pistachios, almonds, figs and raisins was a little different.  Plus it has A LOT of butter!  Still, part of the fun of participating in FFwD is trying recipes we might not try otherwise.

Pistachios, Almonds, Figs and Raisins

Beggar’s Linguine got off to a good start with the wonderful smell as the butter browned on the stove!  The nuts and fruits are sauteed in the browning butter.  When the pasta is cooked, toss it all with a little Parmesan cheese, then garnish with orange zest and parsley.

My mother-in-law happened to be over the night I made this so I invited her to stay for dinner.  She called the pasta “superb”!  The orange zest really made the dish – it brought all the flavors together.  Everyone (including my 7 year old) had seconds.

While I enjoyed making and eating this dish, I’m not sure I’ll make it again.  It’s a little out of our “favorite flavors” range and there’s an awful lot of butter.


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Spinach and Ricotta Two Ways

Baked Conchiglione

I hate when I waste some of a specialized product just because the recipe I bought it for does not use the whole amount.  Such was almost the case with the ricotta from this pasta dish.  Luckily I happened to be looking through one of my pizza cookbooks while holding onto this recipe and found a spinach and ricotta pizza recipe.  Perfect!

Let’s start with the pasta.  It’s made from large pasta shells stuffed with a spinach-ricotta filling and baked in tomato sauce.  It comes from the book Pasta Harvest by Janet Fletcher.  The filling is so delicious!  It has equal parts mozzarella and ricotta, making it rich and creamy, with garlic and fresh basil for flavor.  It is one of the best spinach-ricotta fillings I have ever had.

The original recipe calls for this homemade tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes.  I have made it with the homemade sauce and it is fabulous!  BUT, it is really a recipe that is best made at the peak of tomato season with garden or farmer’s market tomatoes.  In the off-season, you can use store-bought tomato sauce with good results.  This time I used a traditional Marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s.

Spinach-Ricotta Pizza

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

The pizza came from my new favorite pizza cookbook by Diane Morgan and Tony Gemignani, simply called Pizza.  It had many of the same  ingredients as the pasta: olive oil, tomato sauce, spinach, garlic, and Parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.  It’s a classic combination!

Baked Conchiglione with Spinach-Ricotta Filling

Click here to print.

  • ½ pound baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ pound mozzarella cheese, whole- or skim-milk, coarsely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 20 jumbo pasta shells (it’s a good idea to cook a few extra in case of breakage)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups Marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Wash spinach in cold water.  Place the spinach in a 10-inch skillet with the rinse-water still clinging to the leaves.  Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the leaves are just wilted.  Transfer the spinach to a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool.  Drain well and squeeze dry.  Chop finely.

Cook pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Remove and drain when they are about a minute shy of being done.  They will continue to cook in the oven.  Transfer pasta to a bowl and toss with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

Meanwhile, combine the spinach, garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing well.

Put half the tomato sauce on the bottom of a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the shells in a single layer.  Fill each pasta shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling and arrange them in the baking dish.  You should have just enough stuffing to fill 20 shells (really!).  Spoon the remaining sauce over and around the shells and top with the Parmesan cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling hot, 30 – 40 minutes.  COOK’S NOTE:  When I cooked mine it definitely needed the full 40 minutes.  In fact, I thought the filling wasn’t quite hot enough so I might do 50 minutes next time.

Serves 4


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