Archived entries for pasta

In Case You Still Have Leftovers

Hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving! I was out west with my parents, a trip more focused on spending time together and enjoying Portland’s bounty of food and drink than on Turkey Day itself. Still, we had tucked away some turkey leftovers (frozen in gravy) before the trip, and they made a perfect comfort-food dinner tonight as we both tried to catch up on work. (Gift guides already? Sheesh!) farfalle with turkey leftovers

This recipes works perfectly well with rotisserie chicken or leftover roasted chicken, so it needn’t wait if you’ve already blasted through all your turkey bits. It’s just a casserole of pasta lightly tossed with sour cream or creme fraiche, studded with broccoli for a little greenery, baked till crispy. You hardly need a recipe. Or you may have a variation that works even better. If you want to get fancy, a bechamel would be lovely.

My mother used to make a similar dish with the chicken bits that had boiled in her stockpot. They don’t have much flavor left, but tossed with a little cheese and pasta, it’s ok. You could vary the veg and add some mushrooms or leeks, too.
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Fresh pasta with lemon-ricotta-garlic sauce

I’m a big fan of a lot of things, but high on the list is a dish that can go from grand, dinner-party craziness to an easy Tuesday night treat, just by changing one component.  Extra doubleplus bonus points if the entire meal has only a handful of ingredients; even MORE bonus points if it helps feed my insane addiction to garlic.


And with that introduction, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make you aware of my new favorite pasta dish, spaghetti with lemon-ricotta-roasted garlic-sauce. It started as one of those “hey, let’s clean out the fridge” endeavors, but quickly took on a life of its own; using only those three ingredients, you can create a sauce that is so luscious, so unctuous, that you just want to eat it with a spoon. Warm it up with a little nutmeg and wake it up with a few capers, and, well, if you’re anything like me, you will be hard pressed to *avoid* eating it with a spoon. Serve it over a box of prepared spaghetti, and you have a wonderful weeknight meal.


When you have a little more time, however…I highly recommend dressing it up with homemade pasta. The difference is *incredible*. Those of you who have read this site long enough might remember tell of my struggles with homemade pasta. Well, fortunately for this recipe, those days are drawing to a close. I have found an amazing, nearly idiotproof recipe for pasta, courtesy of the brilliant Lidia Bastianich. Her no-nonsense approach to pastamaking is almost as good as learning the skill at the knee of your Italian grandmother; infinitely better for those of us whose grandmothers were decidedly NOT Italian. As an avowed pasta junkie, I will eat it in any form, but: something truly magical happens when you make it yourself.

If you’re enterprising and roast your garlic in advance, you can toss this meal together (using boxed pasta) in fifteen minutes…but you will be equally rewarded if you take the advanced class and make your own noodles. I highly recommend trying it both ways.

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A Little Zing: Creamy Lemon Spaghetti with Salmon

This dish is a little bit comfort food and a little bit for-adults-only. It’s creamy and rich but also unmistakably bright and fresh. It’s a good one to have in your back pocket for a quick weeknight dinner, especially come winter when we aren’t drowning in gorgeous produce.

I know, we’re supposed to be eating raw tomatoes out of hand, ’tis the season to be all-zucchini-all-the-time, (if you’re drowning in zukes, try this or this.) But sometimes you can’t argue with a craving.

This pasta is a spin on spaghetti al limone, zippy with lemon juice and zest, calmed with a scoop of creme fraiche (I love the Ronnybrook stuff), and elevated a bit with a few ribbons of moist, thinly-sliced smoked salmon. The salmon shouldn’t cook; just toss it in with the hot pasta to warm through. You could add some capers for a true near-bagel experience.

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A Taste of the West: Buttered Pasta with Oregon Truffles

I am from Oregon, but I am not from wild Oregon. When you get outside of Portland and its suburbs (or Eugene, Salem, Corvallis), the northwest is wild on all sides. Early in high school, I got a job working for the science museum’s summer camps and found myself headed into the green: up into Washington’s Hoh Rainforest, out to waveless Puget Sound, south to the coastal dunes and into the Redwood forests with a schoolbus full of campers. I went every summer till late in college, living in my little blue tent, hiking and tidepooling, cooking piles of pancakes and vats of chili, making sure everyone kept hydrated and wasn’t too homesick. There was usually a campfire to sing around, and every Thursday there were marshmallows to toast. Sometimes, with the sunsets, there were whales.

After too many years, I got a taste of wild Oregon again last week. My friend Hannah is from Spray (it’s past The Dalles, past Biggs, past Carlton, and Fossil, if you’re keeping track), and her parents threw her and her new husband a fantastic post-wedding party on their ranch. They built a campsite for 40 nestled into the hills, and a road to get there. They built solar showers and composting toilets and a party space with a bar and a stage for dancing. There was a solar generator to amplify the band and there was a barbecue outfit in from Bend, smoking ribs and mountains of pulled pork. There were giant bowls of onion rings. Weddings should always have giant bowls of onion rings.

There were relatives and Hannah’s elementary school teachers, and friends from Hannah and Jared’s childhood and college and graduate schools. Folks from town brought an entire table full of cookies and brownies. The sun set and the moon was full and huge. We danced to keep warm. “We seem to have scared off the coyotes,” they said.

In the morning, the wildflowers that close in the heat of day opened their bright blue faces all around our tents. We stood in Hannah’s parents’ kitchen eating leftover pulled pork with our fingers, not wanting to leave. They have a garden full of vegetables, and a stream to swim in. It’s so quiet, so far removed.

I had a few more days in Portland after: enough time to try out some new restaurants and go to the farmer’s market with my mother. The mushroom vendor had bags of Oregon truffles, five dollars apiece. She tucked an extra truffle in for me.

Heading east again always happens too soon, but a plate of this pasta is something to look forward to. Fresh pappardelle is best (make your own if you haven’t just returned from a cross-country trip), tossed with softened butter (infused with one grated truffle) and topped with a cloud of truffle shavings. It’s delicate, earthy and a little decadent. Serve it with a creamy Chardonnay or elegant California Sauvignon Blanc (and an episode of Mad Men) and settle in back home.

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Jamie Oliver’s Shell Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Sometimes I forget how few people cook. Spend enough time looking at food blogs, and you forget how many people bring home a sack of Mickey D’s for dinner (or microwave something from the freezer aisle.) When I first looked at Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, I couldn’t help but think, none of these recipes really seem that good for you. Isn’t he trying to end obesity?

But maybe he has it right. If people think cooking is too complicated and fussy and that wholesome food can’t be as comforting as greasy delivery, the first step is to invite them into a warm kitchen. It’s to show them some satisfying low-maintenance dishes—to get them buying fresh food again, and sharing meals together with their families. Then maybe, once they’re comfortable, they’ll start getting creative in their cooking. While I balked at the richness of some of the dishes in this book, I can see where he’s going with this.

So on a night when I was a little low on steam, I put away the folder full of takeout options and pulled out my review copy of Jamie’s Food Revolution. I threw together this easy pasta, not altogether healthy but at least not deep fried. And the bacon smelled good sizzling in the pan. And even frozen peas are bright green and sweet in the winter. And I listened to the wonderful new Patty Griffin album while I stirred it all together.

It was simple, but it was good. Maybe I’ll even foray into the curry chapter next.

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