Category: Pasta/Rice

Tuna Noodle Casserole

The comfort of tuna noodle casserole. My love for it knows no bounds. This version combines all the things I love so much–pasta, tuna, mushrooms, leeks, a white cheddar sauce, greenery in the form of dill, a crunch from tortilla chip crumbles.

The casserole of my childhood was similar but different. Elbow macaroni. A lot of Velveeta. No crunch. No baking. This felt like the grown-up version and still elicited a lot of the same eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-your-head goodness. I struggled with my portions as I often do when pasta and cheese are involved.

We managed to save leftovers. I was that person who ate fish in the office. I promise I didn’t reheat it. I’m not that cruel.

Inspiration: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 12oz dried egg noodles
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
  • 10oz crimini mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine [I used vermouth because that’s all I had on hand]
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6oz white cheddar, grated
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce [I used tapatio]
  • 12oz tuna, packed in oil, drained and broken into pieces
  • 2 handfuls of tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1/2 cup dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 13×9″ baking dish.

Cook the egg noodles in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water for about 2-3 minutes. The pasta should still be very al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Melt 1/2 of the stick of butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and leek and stir often. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until they start to soften but not brown. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for another 4-6 minutes. The moisture from the mushrooms should seep out and cook off. Add the wine and continue stirring occasionally until the moisture is nearly gone. Season with salt and pepper.

In a pot, melt the remaining 1/2 stick of butter on medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the roux until it’s golden brown, about two minutes. It will be shiny and smooth. Whisk constantly and add the chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cream, cheddar and hot sauce. Stir often until the cheese is melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, mix together the mushrooms, cheese sauce, noodles, and tuna. Everything should be evenly coated. Taste for more salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the top with the chips. Bake for about 20 minutes. The casserole will be bubbly and the chips starting to brown. Remove from heat and let it sit for about five minutes. Sprinkle with dill before serving.

Pasta Bolognese

I made this entire pot of bolognese for myself. Me, myself, and I [and maybe a little bit to Roma] could be found often eating it off plates, bowls, at the kitchen counter, straight out of the pan, in sweats on the couch, or at a normal place setting. All I was missing was candlelight. It’s safe to say this stuff is delicious. Felicia turned me on to this whole “frying leftovers in butter” thing. How did I not know about this? How? I feel like I’ve really missed out on a lot of pasta leftovers.

There should be candles of the scent this makes as it’s slow cooking in your kitchen. This is not like sauce out of a jar, no sir. It’s anything but. The rough and rustic nature of it makes it easy. Chop, brown, simmer. Delicious. I almost bought bread to go with it because who doesn’t like dipping bread in bolognese, but it seemed excessive since I was pretty much guaranteed to be eating a pound of pasta by myself. No shame.

Tasting the sauce as you go is essential to getting a sauce that you’ll happily shovel into your face. Tomatoes can be fickle. Sometimes they’re sweet. Sometimes they’re acidic. Throw in a whole bunch of cabernet and it’ll release its own sweetness. I found I wanted absolutely zero sugar in this. The tomatoes were plenty sweet on their own. I think about this bolognese fondly and on most weekends. It’s easy to throw together and let it simmer away. Cue the growling stomach.

Inspiration: Love.Life.Eat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2lb ground beef [I went with 5% fat since the pork is pretty fatty at my store]
  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
  • 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups Cabernet or other red wine [sub beef stock if you don’t have/want wine]
  • 6 sprigs of oregano, leaves removed
  • sugar, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1lb dried pasta

Preparation

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the beef and pork and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Break it up and brown it.

While it browns, add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to a food processor and pulse them until they’re finely chopped and the same size. Add the wine to the pan with the meat once it’s cooked through to scrape up the tasty bits that have surely formed. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and oregano. Simmer everything together. Taste for salt and pepper before covering. Simmer for about four hours. The longer the better. Stir it once every hour or so.

Once you’re content with the sauce, make the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and reserve about a cup of the pasta water in case the sauce thickens too much [mine didn’t]. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir. Taste for more salt and pepper.

 

Italian White Bean Soup with Rice

I’m pretty sure I used the last jar of my grandma’s tomatoes. Or maybe it was salsa. She made that sometimes. Regardless, the tomato based and that’s what I was looking for. We have this habit of saying “Thanks, grandma!” out loud anytime these jars get opened. There aren’t many left.

This came about in a fit of “I don’t know what I want to eat, but I don’t want to go get anything.” I manage to surprise myself with whatever I have in the pantry. It never feels like much until I start digging into it. This is perfectly acceptable peasant food, and for some reason it has me thinking of An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. It’s still sitting on one of my grandma’s bookshelves. I should get that back one of these days.

I thought about going the pasta route, but I need to really be in the mood for pasta and beans. It feels like too much a lot of the time. I went the canned route, even though I did finally make a batch of beans from scratch for the first time at Christmas. What a difference. That would be exceptional here, but canned work. I’m not going to pretend I’m going to go all-homemade-everything around here. That’s a resolution I’m just not making [as I have my first batch of homemade almond milk in the fridge…]. Speaking of resolutions, these cooking resolutions are inspiring. I’ve already got my eye on this pot roast and to freeze some leftovers. That kind of meal planning is unheard of in our house. The fact that I even remembered to take the last of the steaks out of the freezer is worthy of a pat on the back.

Inspiration: Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of cannellini white beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preparation

Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and celery, cooking it until soft. It should take about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for 30-seconds. Add the stock, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Bring the mixture to a boil before stirring in the beans and reducing everything to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice before serving. Top with grated Parmesan.

Cacio e Pepe Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

I’m really, really falling for Cyril’s @ Clay Pigeon Winery lately. They have three of my favorite things — wine, cheese, and charcuterie. They have a lovely space. They have a cheese club that I haven’t brought myself to participate in but follow it with rapt attention. They hosted an urban winery event recently with more of my three favorite things. Fourteen wineries were in attendance. Nonperishables for charity were contributed. It was a great time. Wineries now on my radar that weren’t before — Fausse Piste and Jasper Sisco.

Cacio e Pepe. Cheese and pepper. Two of my favorite things. What don’t they make better? I like to eat vegetables, but I definitely don’t eat as many as I should. I could blame it on a variety of reasons, but I’ll just own it. I did eat a jar of canned beets standing over the sink the other day. That’s the kind of classy vegetable lover I am.

The article from Bon Appetit that spawned this whole thing said a lot of what I feel. It spoke to me. Sometimes I want a certain level of vegetable matter in my dish because a salad just feels silly. Roasting a ton of vegetables, covering them in a buttery cheese sauce and a ton of pepper really makes all of this worthwhile. The pasta is just a filler. I could have easily doubled the vegetables and eaten them as is. I went with sweet potato to finally kill that craving from months ago and some Brussels because it’s the season. The world is your oyster. Just make sure they’re evenly sized pieces so you can let them roast together.

Inspiration: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 5-7 Brussels sprouts — halved or quartered to get them the same size as the sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2lb pasta of choice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Pecorino cheese

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a pan with parchment or a Silpat. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato cubes and brussels sprouts with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on the pan in an even layer. Roast them for about 45 minutes or until soft and browning on the edges.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve a cup of pasta water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and add a ton of black pepper. Add a ladleful of the pasta water and bring the mixture to a boil. Toss the cooked pasta in the mixture. Make sure it’s well coated before adding the vegetables. Grate a ton of Pecorino cheese over everything. It should melt into the hot ingredients and turn glossy. Taste for more salt, pepper, and cheese.

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Work and rain. Work and rain. That’s this week in a nutshell.

I don’t have much to add to this one other than the fact that those pretty little basil leaves are from my own plant! It’s still growing. I’m harvesting leaves regularly and freezing them. I’m like a proud mother with this thing. Who doesn’t love pasta, sausage, broccoli and cheese?

broccoli-and-sausage-pasta

Inspiration: Food52

  • 1lb chicken sausage
  • 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 12oz pasta
  • 2 small heads of broccoli [whatever gets you to 4-5 cups]
  • salt and pepper
  • grated parmesan
  • basil

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red chili flakes and garlic. Stir often for about 30 seconds until everything is fragrant. Add the chicken sausage. Don’t break up too much. You want large chunks. Once it’s cooked through, remove the pan from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, but substitute in the cup of broth for one of the cups of water. When there are about 5 minutes left on the cooking time, add the broccoli. Before draining, reserve a cup of the pasta water. Stir the pasta and broccoli in with the chicken sausage. Add some of the pasta water to loosen everything up. Season with salt, pepper, grated parmesan, and basil before serving.