To Try: Spaghetti with Zucchini

Recommended by Elena Larssen

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) olive oil
  • 5 small zucchini, sliced into very thin rounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 11 ounces (320 grams) spaghetti
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) grated Provolone del Monaco (or Parmesan)
  • 1 knob of cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  2. In a wide skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic clove and olive oil so the mixture sizzles and the oil gets infused by the garlic. When just golden, remove the garlic and add the zucchini rounds. Toss every now and then, letting the zucchini fry away until tender but not brown.
  3. In the meantime, add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water, then place spaghetti in the pot.
  4. Drain the zucchini on paper towels and season with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Keep warm. Blend together about a third of the zucchini and about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of water from the pot of pasta—I use a glass jar with a handheld blender for this. Pour this purée into a large serving bowl, where you will eventually add all the pasta.
  5. When the spaghetti is al dente (take out about 1 minute before the suggested cooking time on the packet), drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the spaghetti into the serving bowl with the purée, the grated cheese, the fried zucchini, and the cold butter. Quickly toss, using tongs or a spatula to help you. You want spaghetti to be silky and just coated with the purée, not dry but not watery either. If it’s too dry, add cooking water a little at a time. Top with the basil leaves and serve immediately.
Published in: on September 22, 2018 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Smitten Kitchen’s Brussels and Three Cheese Pasta Bake

From “Smitten Kitchen EVERY DAY”

1/2 lb. (or 225 grams) twisty pasta (such as cavatappi)
2 tbsp. butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
10 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced or shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 lemon, zested (about 3/4 tsp.) and juiced (about 2 tbsp.)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 3/4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyère
1 cup coarsely grated Fontina (or Jack)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 2-quart or 9-inch round baking dish. In a large deep skillet (or in the bottom of the pot where you just cooked the pasta), heat the oil over medium-high. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for 10 to 20 seconds, then add the Brussels sprouts.

Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until brighter green but barely wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and 2 tbsp. butter and stir until the butter melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir until blended, about 1 minute more.

Add the stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly to blend between additions. Simmer the sauce until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, then the cooked pasta; stir to coat evenly.

In a medium bowl, mix the cheeses. Stir all but 2/3 cup of the cheeses into the pasta mixture; season with salt and generously with pepper. Scrape the pasta mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 2/3 cup cheese. Bake until bubbly around the edges and browned in spots on top, 25 to 30 minutes.

Kristin: yes
Anna:  yes
Sam:  no
Sean: no

Published in: on January 4, 2018 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Broccoli

Super easy, delicious, quick, and inexpensive!  What more could you ask?

Serves 3

1/3 to 1/2 lb rigatoni or other shaped pasta
3 cups small broccoli florets
1 or 2 Italian sausage links (I like chicken sweet Italian)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Parmesan, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes, for serving

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, remove sausage from casing, and crumble into the skillet.  Brown well, stirring as needed, breaking into bite-sized pieces.  Drain any excess fat and keep warm in the skillet over low heat.


Method 1) Fill a large pot half-full of water, add a teaspoon of table salt and the pasta, set over high heat, and cover.  When the pasta is almost done, add the broccoli, and continue to cook until the broccoli is the way you like it. Drain the pasta and broccoli and finish the dish.

Method 2) If you have a pot with a pasta insert, try it this way:
Use the new method of putting the pasta in the pot, cover with 1″ of water, add salt, and set on the stove on high.  When the water has started to boil, add the pasta insert with your broccoli in it and cook until the broccoli is done to your taste.  Then remove the pasta insert and broccoli and cover the broccoli with ice cubes if you want to stop the cooking sooner than later.  When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it (not completely) and finish the dish.

To finish:

When the sausage is fully cooked, add the pasta and broccoli to the skillet , along with the garlic powder and olive oil.  Stir well until the pasta is coated with oil.  Serve with Parmesan, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.



Published in: on July 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Da’s Tuna Mac


1.5 cups elbow macaroni
2 small cans tuna
mayo to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the macaroni until as done as you like it, being careful not to overcook, because you want it to stay intact.  Rinse well under cold water and drain well.  Meanwhile drain the tuna (give the tuna water to the cats), put it in a large bowl and flake with a long-tined fork.  Mix in the mayo with the fork, adding more than you would for making tuna salad for sandwiches.  With a large rubber spatula, mix in the drained macaroni.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until serving time.

Da yes
Sam yes
Ma yes (put prefers to add celery, green onion, minced red pepper)
Anna no

Published in: on February 15, 2016 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Chow Mein

Serves 4

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced thinly across the grain
2 large baby bok choy, stems sliced 1/4″ thick, leaves in 2″ pieces (omit for Sean)
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then in 1″ pieces (cut smaller for Sean)
2 packages Yaki Soba fresh noodles, or 2/3 package dry noodles
1/2 cup Kikoman stir fry sauce (or 1/4 cup soy sauce + 3 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce + 1/4 teaspoon black pepper)
1/4 cup water

Warm the noodles according to package directions.  Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the chicken and cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove to a plate.  Add the bok choy stems and carrot and cook until softened.  Add the peas, green onions, sauce, water and noodles and cook and stir until as done as you like.  Add the chicken and warm through.  Serve immediately.

Published in: on January 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Try: Sweet Corn & Goat Cheese Fettucine

from San Jose Mercury News, 7/26/15.

Sacramento blogger Erin Alderson writes Naturally Ella (, a seasonal, whole foods and vegetarian-centric recipe site for the whole family.

Serves 2 to 3

 6 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 cups sweet corn kernels (roughly 2 ears of sweet corn)
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, plus extra for topping
Red pepper flakes, optional

1. Fill a large pot with water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, then set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then minced onion. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or just until the onion is fragrant. Stir in sweet corn; cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, just until the sweet corn has softened and has brightened in color.

3. In a blender, combine the goat cheese, milk, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined. Add to the skillet with the sweet corn, along with the drained pasta and basil. Stir until well combined and serve with an extra sprinkle of basil and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Amazing Lasagna

Adapted from Really Good Lasagna from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson.

Rather a big production to make, but so good.

Serves 10

Bolognese-Style Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, cut into small dice
1 small celery stalk, cut into small dice
1 pound ground beef
8 oz mushrooms, chopped and sauteed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (optional)
1 cup whole milk
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
a little Italian seasoning, if you like

Parmesan White Sauce
2 1/2 cups (2% or whole) milk
1 cup chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 fresh lasanga sheets
16 ounces whole milk mozarella, grated
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make Bolognese sauce: Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until soft, at least 10 minutes. Add ground meat and cook, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and stirring frequently, until it loses its raw color, about 3 minutes. Drain off any fat.  Add vermouth or wine, if using, and simmer until almost evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Add milk and cook until almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes more.  Stir in tomatoes (and mushrooms and/or Italian seasoning, if using), cover with a splatter screen, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a moderately thick sauce, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

To make white sauce: Combine milk, broth, and garlic in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup or a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a small plate, and microwave until steamy hot, 8 to 10 minutes (or heat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. (If all your whisks are metal, make sure you do not use a non-stick pan for this.) When foaming subsides, whisk in flour until well blended. Pour in hot milk all at once; whisk vigorously until sauce is smooth and starts to bubble and thicken. Stir in Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place plastic wrap directly on sauce’s surface.

To assemble and bake lasagna: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425° degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cover a large plate with waxed paper.  Drop in one pasta sheet and leave it for one minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer, let the excess water drain back into the pot, and lay flat on your prepared plate.

Smear 1/4 cup white sauce over bottom of baking dish. Top with one lasagna sheet, moving it into a corner. Boil the second pasta sheet, trim of strips to fill in around the first lasagna sheet.  Top with 2/3 cup white sauce, 1 cup meat sauce, 1 cup mozarella, and 1/4 cup parmesan. Repeat 2 times.  Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover and seal the pan.  Spray the underside with olive oil cooking spray.  Cover lasagna with aluminum foil.  Set the dish on a cookie sheet to catch any spill-over.

Bake until very hot throughout, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand to set, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into portions and serve with delicious bread and a green salad.

If you have leftovers, let the lasagna cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  The next day it will have firmed up completely and you can cut it into serving-size pieces, wrap individually, and freeze.

Published in: on April 23, 2015 at 5:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup


1 cup medium egg noodles
1 Tablespoon Better than Bouillon Chicken
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached, then cut into 1/2″ cubes (or 1.5 cups cubed cooked chicken)
1/2 celery stalk, 1/3″ dice
1/2 carrot, 1/3″ dice
1/2 small yellow onion, 1/4″ dice
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter

Saute the onion, carrot and celery in the butter in a small saucepan until very soft, adding water and covering as needed.

In a 2 qt saucepan, boil 4 cups water.  Add the noodles and cook until almost done.  Add the Better than Bouillon.  When the noodles are as done as you like them, add the sauteed vegetables, chicken, and peas, and warm through.


Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Greek Pasta Salad


2 cups small shell pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed in cool water
1 cup chopped peeled, seeded, cucumber
1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes, or halved fresh cherry tomatoes, or half a can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
your favorite vinaigrette
2 diced avocados, tossed with 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients and chill until serving time.


Published in: on September 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kalamata Cavatini


This dish was inspired by Mama Ang’s Cavatini at Just a Pinch, Baked Ziti by Jeanne Lemlin and my own ideas. Scroll all the way down for a vegetarian version.  The photo is of the first time I made it, before I got the olive inspiration.

3 links sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 jar pasta sauce
1 cup elbow macaroni
1 cup penne
1 cup rigatoni
2 cups shredded Muenster
16 oz. low-fat cottage cheese (optional)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or a combo of basil and oregano)
1/2 cup quartered kalamata olives
1/4 cup Parmesan + more to pass at the table
fresh chopped basil and/or parsley for topping each serving, if you like

Oil a tall 9×12″ pan.

Fill a pasta pot 2/3 with water, add a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add pasta and cook 10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, brown meat in a large skillet, breaking into small bits.  Remove meat, set aside.  Wipe out the pan and set it back on the burner.  Add the olive oil, onion and green pepper.  Saute until soft, then add the mushrooms and saute another 3 minutes.  Stir in the olives, if everybody likes them.  If not, use them as topping on part of the dish before baking.

Combine the shredded cheese, optional cottage cheese, and Italian seasoning in a medium-sized bowl.

Put the pasta, meat, vegetables and the jar of sauce into the pasta pot and stir well.

Put half the pasta and sauce mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Top with half the cheese mixture.  Add rest of the pasta & sauce, then the rest of the cheese mixture.  Top part of the casserole with olives if not everybody likes them.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan over everything.

Oil (or spray) a piece of aluminum foil and cover.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.


Vegetarian Version 6/10/17:

2 cups each Trader Joe’s Fusilli, DeCecco Cavatappi, Trader Joe’s organic Penne cooked separately until al dente+
28 oz. Cento tomato puree (Sprouts)
1/2 lb mushrooms
1/2 green pepper, 1/2 red pepper
1/2 onion
dried basil & oregano
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinager
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper

no cottage cheese, no Italian seasoning in the cheese

kalamatas on 1/3 but should have been 2/3 because everybody liked them except the kids

could have added a can of chopped tomatoes too

sausages on the side for carnivores

Published in: on November 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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