Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian pasta dish served with chicken in a lemon, butter and caper sauce. The chicken is pounded thin, lightly breaded and browned in a pan. Pounding the chicken thin is an important step because it helps cook the chicken more evenly. The drippings from the chicken are used to make the savory pan sauce which, in my opinion, is the highlight of the dish. The sauce is a simple combination of white wine, butter, lemon, and capers. Making everything only takes about half hour so this is a great meal when you’re short on time for dinner!
After making several batches of eggplant panini sandwiches I had some leftover eggplant that needed to be used up. First, I roasted the eggplant in the oven, and then cooked it in red wine with the prosciutto and tomatoes. The eggplant browned a bit in the oven and absorbed the flavors of the wine in the pan. It was pretty easy to throw together and doesn’t take long to prepare. The wine, eggplant, and prosciutto all complimented each other really well. I topped the pasta with a little fresh basil and feta cheese.
A classic way to eat gnocchi is with a brown butter and sage sauce. The sauce is really easy to make as it only involves melting some butter in a pan, letting it brown for a few minutes, and then frying fresh sage leaves in the butter. It is a perfect sauce for both pumpkin and sweet potato gnocchi. The next step is to toss the gnocchi in the sauce for a few minutes and the result is a delicious pasta with flavors of pumpkin and sage. I added a little lemon juice at the end to give the pasta a little more flavor.
Gnocchi is a flavored pasta dough and it can be mixed with sweet or russet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin. I made sweet potato gnocchi a while ago and I thought it would be fun to try it with pumpkin instead. Making gnocchi is somewhat time consuming but really isn’t too bad compared with making other pasta from scratch. All you do is mix the dough with the flavoring that you want, roll the dough into logs and cut them into small pieces. The dough is boiled and then fried. The whole process takes about 2 hours to complete but it is worth the effort as the little pillows of pumpkin practically melt in the mouth!
This mushroom ravioli is really easy to make if you don’t have time to make your own ravioli from scratch. Unfortunately I don’t have the tools (yet) to make my own pasta so hopefully I will be able to enjoy this recipe from scratch eventually. This is actually my boyfriend John’s recipe (he ate a lot of this during his bachelor pad days). He definitely did better than most bachelors with this delicious and easy to make recipe. The balsamic to butter sauce ratio is important as there needs to be enough butter to tame the bitterness of the balsamic vinegar. The sauce should be a medium brown color and not have a lot of bite to it. I let the sauce simmer on very low heat to let the balsamic vinegar caramalize a little while the pasta was cooking. The walnuts and sauce are perfect with the woodsy flavors of the mushrooms. The only thing I wish I did was get a good rind of parmigiano reggiano for this recipe.
I have a lot of preserved lemons now that they are ready to use. I thought that a nice pasta dish would taste great with those lemons and this is what I came up with. It came out pretty well and all the flavors tasted good together. The sun-dried tomatoes, lemons, olives, and capers were delicious. I was originally going to use diced tomatoes but when John suggested sun-dried tomatoes I had to try it. I didn’t add any cheese but I think this recipe would be great with a little feta or parmesan on top.
Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian peasant soup that translates to “pasta and beans.” It’s a soup that can be made with several types of pasta, usually tubettini, ditalini, or conchigliette. Prosciutto or pancetta is used for the base to give it a nice smoky flavor. I wanted to make a big batch so I used a slow cooker to cook the beans and broth. It turned out great, though I forgot to cut up the rosemary and it should really be finely chopped. Just before serving I mixed in the cooked pasta. I strained the rest of the noodles out before putting it away to prevent them from absorbing all the broth over night. The soup was great with a warm, crusty baguette and grated parmigiano reggiano.
As soon as I made my first batch of spinach pesto I threw it on penne along with some spicy grilled chicken. The paprika rubbed chicken added a nice counterpoint to the creamy pesto sauce. Even though it was a simple spice rub (paprika and olive oil) it tasted great. Before grilling, I tenderized the chicken by pounding it thin. The pasta was flavorful and the warm colors of the chicken and green pasta were very pleasing to the eye as well! I topped the pasta with a little crumbled feta and walnuts.
This dish required a technique I had never tried before–flambe. Flambeing alcohol involves setting the alcohol on fire in a saute pan until it burns out. What’s leftover is all the aroma and flavor of the vodka, without all of the alcohol. The vodka is the critical component of this dish because it reacts with the sauce and brings out the flavor of the tomatoes. I have tried this dish before without the flambe technique and I like the results of flambeing a lot better. I have also tried this dish with bacon instead of pancetta, but I have come to prefer the pancetta. Lots of vodka sauces are pale pink but I only put 1/2 cup cream in the sauce so mine was a pale brick red instead. I prefer the darker sauce–I think the cream can mask the flavor of the tomatoes. I topped the pasta with a little grated parmesan and basil.
Lasagna is a great staple dinner but I wanted to experiment a bit with the ingredients. Instead of using ricotta cheese I used a Bechamel sauce with goat cheese and feta. Bechamel is a white sauce made from milk, cheese, and butter. The goat cheese and feta added a tangy flavor that was good with the roasted red peppers. This recipe was very unique and it was a lot of fun to make and the results were great. Lasagna takes forever (about 2 1/2-3 hours) to prepare and cook so take some time to try this one out.