with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil
Yikes! I’m caught up a double alphabet challenge! One on facebook that is a daily A-Z health challenge … and then there’s this monthly “Eating the Alphabet” challenge that I just started last month and I really don’t want to miss out on this month since I JUST started.
The monthly “Eat your Alphabet” challenge is focused on the letters M, N, and O this month. Given that I’ve been racking my brain DAILY for “what food starts with this letter”, you think this would be easy, but I’m only on the letter K on the DAILY challenge … and this is a few days ahead of that. I don’t plan that far in advance (most of the time)! I suppose it’s good to think about it now, right? Head start on the daily thing?
So first I thought melon … hey, a watermelon margarita sounds yummy! … but then I spent a couple days gazing at gazillions of amazing photos of garlic and pasta and such, so I had NOODLES on my mind … so I decided to go with something with ONION (for the O) and NOODLES (for the N) … hey that’s a DOUBLE “eat the alphabet” win … and then I threw in another double plus: double garlic! Yeah! This is getting waaay too synergistic now … and then I threw some fresh garden tomatoes and basil on top … just for good measure.
Don’t worry too much over the amount of garlic in here: roasting the garlic makes a very mild, creamy flavor that is just wonderful in the sauce.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention! There’s a bit of zucchini in there too. Cuz, well, I’m all about zucchini lately. I still have two more from my sister to use up and I’m going to my parents’ house soon and they will give me more! We are not through with zucchini mania just quite yet … if you happen to be making this dish outside of zucchini season, I would suggest replacing the zucchini some other mashed cooked winter squash such as pumpkin or butternut.
Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles
with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil. I think this would serve about 4 people. I have had it for two meals so far and there is still plenty left. It reheats pretty nicely, by the way.
The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift given to me from Dofino cheese. It’s such a good cheese for making the sauce extra creamy because it melts really well and adds a little extra smoky flavor to the dish.
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 of an onion, sliced fine (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
- 3 paper-thin slices of prosciutto
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- about 1/4 cup white wine
- 4 teaspoons of flour
- 2 cups lowfat milk
- 1/4 cup shredded Smoked Havarti cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
- 1 – 2 cups fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
- a handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used tarragon, rosemary, thyme and basil)
- 1/2 lb. angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini pasta (whole grain or gluten free noodles are cool!)
- Garnish: Fresh, sliced basil leaves + a little freshly shredded asiago
- Cut the top off the head of garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, put in a small oven-safe bowl, cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 F. for about an hour or until the garlic is completely soft. Set aside to cool while you start the sauce, but don’t turn the oven off. We’ll be roasting the tomatoes shortly too.
- Prepare all your vegies and heat up the water boiling for the pasta.
- Spray a skillet pan with cooking spray, then drizzle with a little olive oil and add the onions. Sautee over medium heat till the onions are soft and translucent, add a little wine, cover and cook for a minute, uncover and stir till the wine has evaporated. Repeat this process till the onions are lightly brown and the wine is gone. Remove the pan from the heat just for a moment while you tend to the tomato and pasta.
- Set the chopped tomato in a small baking dish coated with cooking spray and set it in the oven to roast while you finish up the sauce. Hopefully the water is boiling by now? Start the pasta cooking. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mash it with a fork.
- Back to the skillet pan: Add the raw garlic, prosciutto and zucchini, set it back on the medium heat and sautee for about 5 minutes longer. Add the mashed garlic and stir it into the brown mess of vegies. It will all look sort of ugly at this point. Don’t despair! It will get prettier.
- Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegies in the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and add the milk. Stir until the sauce starts to thicken, then add the cheeses and cook just a few minutes longer till the cheese is melted. Stir in the herbs, reserving some basil for garnish.
- Remove the sauce from the heat. Now, the noodles should be about done by now, so drain them, then stir the noodles into the sauce. Put in a serving bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil and a little shredded asiago. Serve hot.
This post is for the Eating the Alphabet challenge
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This recipe was also shared at Tastetastic Thursday.
Brianne at Cupcakes & Kale Chips is a great source of food inspiration for me. When she posted a recipe for sesame noodles, I wanted them right away … it was a simple, quick recipe, so I went into the kitchen and made them straight away. I have veggies galore in my kitchen right now, so I had to throw some of those in. So I sliced up some cucumber in thin noodle-like strips and tossed in some shredded carrot and sweet onion.
I also replaced the peanut butter in the recipe with PB2 … it’s a powdered form of peanut butter that has most of the oil removed. And I left out some of the oil to cut down the amount of fat. It was still quite delicious. I looove this sauce!
You could add in cooked chicken or shrimp or scallops to dress this dish up, use other vegetables or even replace the noodles with zucchini noodles (have you seen that? zucchini cut up in long thin strips like noodles? I want to try that one of these days!) Anyway, I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles and that worked wonderfully. My cucumber strips weren’t quite straight or thin enough to really act like noodles, but they added a refreshing crunch to the dish.
Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips (who got the recipe from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman)
There is enough sauce to cover about twice this much noodles/vegies, so go ahead and make more if you have more mouths to feed. I was just cooking for me … I’m lucky, though. Making this amount means I have some of that scrumptious sauce left for another day.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A 2-inch hunk of ginger root, peeled
- 2 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce (use more or less to taste)
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used 1 Tablespoon, but I think it could use a little more)
- 4 Tablespoons PB2
- 3 Tablespoons water
Noodles and vegies:
- 4 – oz. of noodles (I used brown rice pad thai noodles, but any long skinny noodle will work …)
- 1/2 cup of cucumber, cut in long thin strips like the noodles
- 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
- Garnish: fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds (or chia seeds if you can’t find your sesame seeds … like me)
- Make the sesame sauce: whir all of the sauce ingredients in a handi chopper, food processor or a blender until smooth. Set the sauce aside.
- Prepare the noodles according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the noodle cooking water (or 1 cup if you are making a full batch), then drain the noodles.
- Add the reserved cooking water to half of the sesame sauce and blend. Place the warm drained noodles in a large bowl and toss them with the sauce and vegies until everything is coated.
- I skipped this step because I was starving but the recipe says to let the noodles cool to room temperature because they will absorb more sauce as they sit. This might be true … I have yet to try it.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and peanuts or sesame seeds and serve. Try not to inhale them like I did.
This was the salad I had in mind when I created the sundried tomato ranch dressing. A super simple, very tomato salad bursting that really focuses on the tomato. I forgot to put the feta cheese on BEFORE I took the pictures … ooops! But don’t forget to add the feta. The tangy salty feta is so good with the juicy tomatoes and ranch.
Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad
You could add other fresh vegies to this salad as well … this recipe made enough for two meals for me, but I’m not a big eater.
- 1 cup dry cellentani pasta (rotini, bowtie, or penne would work well for this too)
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
- 2 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Mixed greens
- 1/4 cup sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here)
- Several sundried tomatoes, chopped into bits
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Leftover grilled meat (optional … I tossed in some of my Spiedies) … or try some cooked chickpeas (or other beans) instead and maybe some sunflower seeds?
- For garnish: Green onion, snipped
First, make the dressing and set it aside while you create the salad.
Cook the pasta in boiling water till done, then drain. In a bowl, mix together the pasta, sweet onions, tomatoes and ranch dressing.
Cover your salad plate (or bowl) with a layer of mixed greens, then add a healthy bunch of the pasta salad mixture. Top with the chopped sundried tomatoes, chunks of meat, feta cheese crumbles and snipped green onions.
Enjoy! (I did take ONE photo after I added the feta … I had already started in on devouring the salad by then though …)
This is a post for #tomatolove.
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So of course I had to make some pasta with my new love: Asparagus White Bean Pesto! I tossed in some fresh shelf mushrooms my dad gave me, but you can use any mushrooms of your choosing. I chose Rotini because the ridges in the little swirly pasta will “catch” the pesto nicely, so it won’t all slide off of the noodles. It is a tasty, healthy meal that is fancy enough to serve to company, but quick enough to have any weeknight.
Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & ‘Shrooms
If you have the pesto pre-made, this meal takes about 15-20 minutes to put together. If you don’t, it might take another 15 minutes to make the pesto. This makes two servings.
- 2 servings (about 7 oz.) rotini pasta (I recommend using whole grain or high fiber pasta of some kind … it will keep you energized longer.)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped asparagus
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 heaping cup of shrimp (I used frozen pre-cooked shrimp, but fresh is even better)
- 1/2 cup Asparagus White Bean Pesto (recipe here)
- For the top: Freshly shredded parmesan, toasted Pine nuts, and fresh basil
- Boil the water and cook the pasta. While the water is heating, chop the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic.
- When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and heat a frying pan up for sauteeing the shrimp & vegies. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and when it’s hot, put in the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic and sautee just a couple minutes, then add 1/4 cup of the wine. Cook a few minutes or until the asparagus is starting to look a little cooked (but still bright green), then add the shrimp and the rest of the wine and cook a few minutes longer or until the shrimp is cooked and the asparagus is crisp-tender. (It only takes a few minutes.)
- By now the pasta should be about done. Test it to see if it is. If it’s not, remove the shrimp/asparagus mixture from heat, and wait a minute or two. When the pasta is done, strain out the water, then return the pasta to the pan. Add the pesto and asparagus/shrimp mixture and stir until everything is mixed up well.
- Serve topped with a few toasted pine nuts, a bit of freshly shredded parmesan, and basil leaves for garnish.
This is a #pastalove post!
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in a Lowfat Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce
This is how I lighten up Fettucini Alfredo … except without the fettucini … because I just adore the swirly, curly shape of this cellentani.
This pasta dish is a delicious & elegant meal, a great way to use leftover chicken, and if you take a few minutes to get everything prepped and have the meat pre-cooked, it comes together in about 30 to 45 minutes. Just make the lowfat creamy sauce, sautee some lovely vegetables and throw it all together with the cooked shrimp and chicken.
The chicken breast was one I had marinated in a garlic-buttermilk mixture, then cooked on the grill the other night. Use any leftover chicken … or just skip the chicken and add more shrimp (or vice versa)! The shrimp were just some frozen little shrimps I had in my freezer. Bigger shrimp would of course be more fancy shmancy if you’re serving this to company.
Shrimp, Chicken & Asparagus Cellentani in a Lowfat Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce
Makes 2 to 4 servings, depending on how hefty your eaters are.
- 1 cup dry uncooked cellentani or cavatappi pasta (about 4 oz. … or use another shape … fettucine, linguini, ziti, or penne would all work too …)
- 1 1/4 cups asparagus
- 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 4 oz. shrimp, pre-cooked
- 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
- for garnish: freshly shredded parmesan, snipped chives and/or green onion and fresh basil leaves
- First, make the garlic cream sauce (see below). You can make the sauce ahead of time to save steps at dinnertime –just keep it in the fridge in a covered container till you’re ready to use it.
- Start the water boiling to cook the pasta. While it’s heating up, chop and prep the vegetables, chicken and herbs and shred the cheese.
- When the water starts to boil, add the cellantani (or whatever pasta you are using).
- Heat a sautee pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray, and add the asparagus, mushrooms, garlic and rosemary. Sautee just briefly, then add the wine. Sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning mix–or just salt and pepper.) Cook for about 5 – 7 minutes or until the liquid from the wine and mushrooms has mostly evaporated, the mushrooms are tender and the asparagus is crisp tender.
- By this point, the pasta should be almost done. When it’s done, put it in a colander to drain out the water.
- To the sautee pan, add the sauce, shrimp, chicken, basil and tomato, then pour in the creamy sauce and the pasta. (You may not need all the sauce.) Stir everything together and cook until everything is hot and bubbly.
- Serve immediately, garnished with a bit of shredded parmesan, some basil leaves and snipped green onion and/or chives (I used both). A nice salad and some garlic toast on the side would be marvelous.
Lowfat Garlic Cream Sauce (Alfredo-ish)
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup low fat or skim milk
- 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, then add the chopped garlic and sautee just for a minute or two to cook the garlic. Add the flour and stir to make a paste (or roux). Add the milk, lower the heat to medium, and whisk until the roux is dissolved in the milk and the sauce begins to thicken. Toss in the shredded parmesan, basil and nutmeg and stir, then add salt and pepper to taste.
I know carbonara is supposed to be made with spaghetti, but I was just dying to use my cellentani … I have to admit … I bought this pasta because I thought they were beautiful. I mean look at those wild swirls! And I loved the name. Cellantani. Isn’t that a romantic name? It makes me dream of wild, romantic nights in Italia. I wanted these gorgeous corkscrew pasta shapes on my table, and imagined what I might pair them with.
Asparagus Cellantani Carbonara
Adapted from the Foodie Physician.
Makes about 2 servings.
- 1 cup dry cellantani pasta
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh asparagus
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic + the garlic scapes, snipped
- 1/2 cup chopped cooked lean ham (or canadian bacon, something salty like bacon, but leaner)
- 1/2 of a medium tomato
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan + a little extra to sprinkle on top
- Fresh basil & oregano leaves
- Freshly ground pepper & sea salt
- Bring a pot of water to boil. While the water is heating, wash the asparagus and set it on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with Red Robin (or Red Magic) seasoning … or your favorite seasoning mix … and spray with cooking spray. Roast the asparagus in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until crisp tender. Tend to the other things, but when the asparagus is done, take it out of the oven and set it aside.
- When the water is boiling, add the pasta to cook.
- Now, while they are cooking, peel and chop the garlic, then chop the tomato and ham.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
- When the pasta is nearly done, skim off 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water. Add about a tablespoon of the hot water to the egg mixture and whisk.
- Strain the hot cooked pasta in a colander.
- Take the hot pan you cooked the pasta in and over medium high heat, add the oil, chopped garlic, and ham and sautee for just a couple minutes, then add the tomato and asparagus and sautee briefly to cook out the juices from the tomato. Add the hot cooked pasta and the egg/cheese mixture. Remove from heat and stir. The egg should finish cooking from the heat of the pasta and make a nice light creamy sauce. If the sauce needs more liquid, add a little of the hot pasta water you saved.
- Sprinkle with herbs, more parmesan and the reserved garlic scapes, season with salt & freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately.
Yes, you DO have time to cook! This is faster than fast food and WAY healthier. You can have it on the table in under 15 minutes.
The “magic” in this recipe is the Super Simple Thai Peanut Sauce. If you make some of this up and keep it in your fridge, you can have delicious meals in minutes … if you haven’t made it yet, go do it! Click the sauce picture for the recipe … the sauce itself will take you maybe five minutes to make. It’s super simple.
I don’t claim that it is truly “authentic” Thai food, but it tastes amazing … and if you are a busy working mom who’s starved for Thai food like I am, with no Thai restaurants anywhere within hundreds of miles, well, then I think it’s okay to take some shortcuts.
Okay, now that you’ve got the sauce done, all you have to do is …
1. Cook up some noodles. I used Angel hair pasta. Angel hair is beautiful and fast, and I love the delicate-ness of the noodles! You can use whatever noodles you like, though. (For SUPER expedient gourmet meals, have some noodles pre-cooked in your fridge, then just warm them up when you need a quick delicious meal.)
2. While the noodles are cooking, steam some veggies. You can use whatever vegies you think would go well with Thai peanut noodles. I used broccoli and carrots. Here’s my quickie tricky method for doing that in the microwave. Put your fresh or frozen veggies in a bowl. Add a bit of water to the bowl. Just a splash; you don’t need a lot. Sprinkle the vegies with a little salt and pepper if you want. Cover it with a plate. Stick it in the microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Take the veggies out and check them. Are they crisp tender? If not, stir, cover, and microwave a bit longer until they are crisp tender. Strain the vegies, or use a fork to remove them from the bowl.
3. Optional! Heat up (or cook up) some shrimp or leftover meat. I’ve tried this with leftover grilled chicken and also with tiny frozen (thawed) shrimp, but I also think it is just wonderful without meat at all.
4. Toss the noodles and vegies (and meat or shrimp, if you’re using them) with the noodles and about 2 tablespoons of the sauce per serving. Top with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves and serve.