Tag Archives: pasta

Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Sauce


I have had smoked salmon in a creamy pink sauce at restaurants, so I tried to recreate it at home with a base of vodka sauce. The results were a savory and welcome change from our usual red sauces (pork ragu, eggplant parmesan, linguine all’amatriciana, spaghetti and meatballs).

Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Sauce

4 oz smoked salmon fillet
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c vodka
14 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 c half-and-half
8 leaves of basil, finely chopped
1/2 lb farfalle (bowtie pasta), prepared using package directions

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute the olive and garlic until softened, seasoning with salt and red pepper flakes. Add the vodka, then simmer until half of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then stir in the half-and-half and basil.

Break the smoked salmon into small pieces, then stir into the sauce.

Toss the pasta in the sauce.


Macaroni salad


I love macaroni salad, but I consider it to be a guilty pleasure, based on the mayonnaise-heavy versions at Hawaiian barbeque restaurants and delis. By making it at home it doesn’t exactly become health food, but it certainly a lot lighter than the deli version!

Macaroni Salad
(serves 8)

3 c uncooked macaroni
1/2 c mayo
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T pickle juice
2 T sugar
1 T dijon mustard
3/4 tsp kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper
6 scallions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c bread and butter pickles, finely chopped

Prepare the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Combine the mayo, vinegar, pickle juice, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to create a dressing.

In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, scallions, bell pepper, and pickles. Add the dressing and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Sausage and Wild Mushroom Tomato Sauce


Perhaps because of my New Jersey upbringing, I love Italian-American classics like eggplant parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs. Cheese ravioli is another childhood favorite that has followed me into adulthood.

Paco and I purchased some over the weekend, and I made a lighter version of pork ragu to serve with it. The original version of the ragu is delicious, but I thought that a sauce with a higher ratio of tomatoes to meat would be great over a pasta as hearty as ravioli.  The basil added a freshness to the sauce, while the dried mushrooms gave the broth an earthiness.

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce!  It makes enough to serve six, but it will freeze well. It’s hard to make something that needs to simmer for so long in an amount appropriate for two people. Even if one of them really really likes pork.

Sausage and Wild Mushroom Tomato Sauce

2 T olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 small carrots, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c tomato paste
1/3 lb hot Italian sausage
2/3 lb ground pork
1/2 c dried mushrooms (porcini or mixed)
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt
basil, chopped for garnish

Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of warm water.

Coat the bottom of a medium-sized Dutch oven with olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt. Let the vegetables brown at the bottom of the pan, then stir and repeat 2-3 times.

While the vegetables brown, gently remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid, and chop finely. Do not discard the soaking liquid.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to coat the vegetables in tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to brown for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.

Add the sausage and ground pork. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, and brown it for 10 minutes or so.

Add the liquid that you soaked the mushrooms in, but try not to include any sediment that has sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Add the chopped mushrooms and crushed tomatoes. Fill the empty can of tomatoes halfway with water, then pour the tomato water into the pot.

Add the oregano, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir, taste, and season. Cover and simmer for two hours. Every 15 minutes, stir, taste, season, and add more water if necessary.

When the sauce is ready, serve over pasta (ravioli, in my case) with fresh basil and parmesan.

Macaroni with roasted eggplant and cherry tomato sauce


I am trying to cook meat-free meals this week, in honor of our upcoming vacation!  I know we will be eating a lot of delicious meat and seafood in Vietnam, so I thought I would try to balance everything out by eating a few vegetarian meals before we go.

Paco worked late last night, so I made a roasted vegetable pasta sauce for myself.  I have made Giada De Laurentiis’s Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree before, so this is my modified version of that.  You could incorporate whatever vegetables you have on hand, but I happened to have eggplant and cherry tomatoes, which are used in the original recipe.

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Sauce (for one!)
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1/3 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c cherry tomatoes
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt
10 leaves basil
1/4 lb of short pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the eggplant and cherry tomatoes with olive oil on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Season with red pepper flakes and kosher salt. Roast for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package. Cook until al dente, then drain, reserving a cup of the salted pasta water.

When the vegetables have been roasted, puree them in a food processor with the basil and some extra olive oil, if necessary. Taste to make sure that the sauce is adequately seasoned. (You will probably need to add additional salt.)

Add the sauce to the drained pasta. Add some of the hot pasta water, a little bit at the time, until the pasta is the right consistency. Top with grated parmesan.

Spaghetti and turkey meatballs


Paco requested spaghetti and meatballs for his first post-baseball game meal of the season. I had planned to make something lighter, so I decided to compromise with turkey meatballs. I baked them in the oven and started the sauce on the stove. Then I put both the meatballs and the sauce into the slow-cooker on high, so that they could simmer together for a few hours while I went to watch part of the game.  It was amazing to come home to the smell of meatballs that have been simmering for hours!  You could also simmer them on the stove together for 30 minutes – 2 hours.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

For the meatballs:
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 c grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 c Italian-style bread crumbs
1 T tomato paste
2 eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil

For the sauce:
2 T olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c tomato sauce
1 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
15 leaves of basil, roughly chopped

To serve:
spaghetti, prepared according to package directions
grated parmesan or parmesan or pecorino romano

To make the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil over a baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, tomato paste, parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey meat, and combine with your hands. Do not overmix.

Roll the meatballs into 1-1/2 inch balls, then place on the baking sheet 1 inch apart. After you have formed all of the meatballs, roll them around a bit in the olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.

To make the sauce:

Turn on the slow-cooker, using the High setting. In a medium-sized pot (or a large one if you are not going to use the slow-cooker), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes, then season with salt. When the onions are soft, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and oregano. Bring to a simmer.

Pour the sauce into the heated slow-cooker. When the meatballs have finished baking, add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and simmer in the slow-cooker for 3 hours. During the last 30 minutes, add the basil.

Serve over spaghetti with parmesan cheese.