A big bowl or platter of pasta brought to the supper table on a chilly evening is probably the most satisfying of offerings possible. The hearty aroma of a rustic Italian creation will bring the family to the table in a hurry - a no-fail offering.
Today’s recipes include a handful of choices from spicy heartiness to company-pleasing seafood options. Enjoy!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced (peeled if skin is tough)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 16-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crumbled
8 ounces fusilli or other short pasta, freshly cooked
1 ¼ cups packed shredded white cheese (Monterey Jack works well)
Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat; add zucchini and garlic and sauté until fragrant, only a minute or so. Add tomatoes and juices, white wine and 1 teaspoon of the thyme.
Bring to simmer, breaking up tomatoes with fork or back of spoon. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally — about 15 minutes (you can cook pasta while sauce is cooking). Add cooked pasta to sauce, mixing and tossing to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese, and top with remaining thyme. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices.
Note: I like to add whole baby button mushrooms to the sauce with the tomatoes.
Our next recipe is a double-duty delight that is delicious without the shrimp as a vegetarian dish.
Pasta with Shrimp
1 large head broccoli, stems trimmed, cut into small florets
1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 pound linguini or spaghetti
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
Cook broccoli florets and bell pepper in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. With slotted spoon transfer to bowl of ice water to cool briefly, then drain.
To boiling water remaining in pot, add pasta and cook till al dente. With ladle, remove and save ½ cup cooking liquid before draining pasta.
Add oil, garlic, rosemary and dried red pepper to same pot; stir 10 seconds over medium heat. Add shrimp, sauté, stirring until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Return broccoli and bell pepper to pot, stirring well, then pasta and reserved cooking liquid; toss all to combine, season with salt and pepper as needed, serve.
Linguini stars again in our depicted dish that will warm up the coldest winter evening.
Linguini with Clams
and Green Herbs
8 ounces (for 4) uncooked linguini
1/3 cup parsley leaves, stemmed, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fennel bulb
2 tsps. grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups thin-sliced red onion
Dash crushed red pepper
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 lbs. fresh clams in shell, scrubbed
2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Cook pasta as directed, drain well. Mix parsley, fennel and lemon rind. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat, add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper, sauté 4 minutes, stirring. Add wine and clams; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until shells open. Discard any unopened shells. Combine clam mixture, pasta, butter, salt and black pepper in a large bowl, tossing until butter melts. Sprinkle with parsley /fennel mixture toss well. Serve in bowls as shown with crusty rolls.
with Smoked Salmon
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1-2 sprigs rosemary
14 ounce can artichokes hearts (not marinated)
4 medium large tomatoes, peeled (or 1 1/2 cans diced tomatoes)
½ cup black olives, chopped
1 ¾ cup flaked or cut-up smoked salmon (lox style or fillet)
1 pound fresh or dried penne pasta
4 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Drain artichokes and dice; chop tomatoes finely, removing seeds. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into large heavy skillet and add rosemary sprigs; turn on heat to low and allow to warm slowly till rosemary scents the oil. Add tomatoes, artichokes and olives; sauté over low heat 5-6 minutes, then add crumbled salmon. Heat through, then remove pan from heat.
Meanwhile boil pasta according to package directions till al dente, drain into colander, then place in a serving bowl. Mix with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Crumble cheese over the pasta. Remove rosemary sprigs from tomato/salmon mixture and discard. Pour mixture over cheese/pasta. With pasta tongs, lift and toss gently to incorporate all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper, top with pine nuts and serve. Outstanding!
Company for dinner? Impress them with this elegant dish.
Linguini and Seared Scallops
w/Lemon Beurre Blanc
1 pkg. linguini (or thin fettucini), to be cooked, drained, tossed with a small amount of olive oil and kept warm in a covered serving pan.
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons if possible)
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
¾ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1½ pounds sea scallops
1½ teaspoons snipped fresh thyme leaves (optional)
Combine juice, wine, shallots and thyme sprigs in a small heavy saucepan over medium –high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup; remove from heat and discard thyme sprigs.
Add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking constantly, until all butter is thoroughly incorporated. Strain mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl, pressing to release all of the sauce. Discard solids. Stir in the sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat; coat lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of scallops with remaining salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook 2 minutes; turn over and cook 1 minute or till desired degree of doneness (too much will make them tough).
Toss with the sauce, add a serving ladle; remove lid from hot pasta. Place serving tongs in pan and let guests help themselves to the prepared pasta and top with the scallops in beurre blanc, ladling some of the mixture over all.
Serve with crispy baguettes and a green salad with simple vinaigrette if you wish.