Category Archives: Pasta

Spaghetti Ricotta Frittata

That’s a lot of Ts for one short title.

I had leftover angel hair pasta, dressed with olive oil, bacon fat, and Parmesan cheese, so I’m making a frittata. I think some whole-milk ricotta, a little more Parmesan, and some bacon will round out the flavors and creaminess. I like to pulse ricotta in the food processor until it’s very creamy and smooth, but you wouldn’t have to do that. I’m leaving out any watery vegetables, preferring to have them on the side; If you want to include them, make sure to cook them first and to choose the vegetable wisely. Sometimes we try to pile too much into a dish, when simplicity is enough. I’m only using 6 eggs, which is a little light for all the pasta I have, but I can’t justify more eggs just for myself; if you have a crowd, I suggest using 8-12 eggs with a half pound of leftover pasta.

Spaghetti Ricotta Frittata

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

1 small onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1/2 lb (more or less) leftover pasta, preferably without sauce

4-6 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and diced

6 eggs

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, pulsed until creamy in a food processor

4 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

1/4 cup whole milk

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

  1. In a 10″ or 12″ cast iron or other non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened and the onion is translucent, but not browned. Season to taste.
  2. Toss in the leftover pasta to warm, but not brown. Add more oil if necessary. My pasta already had oil on it.
  3. Toss in the chopped bacon. Turn off heat under pan.
  4. Whisk the eggs together with the ricotta,  3 tablespoons Parmesan, and milk. Pour over the pasta, vegetables, and bacon. Press down the pasta lightly. My egg mixture came just to the top of the pasta, but if you are using a larger quantity, yours may cover the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.
  5. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. If you used 8-12 eggs, bake until the edges are done and the center is still a little jiggly. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Your frittata will differ depending on the amount of pasta and eggs you use. A frittata is really a baked omelet, but the addition of pasta turns it into more of a casserole. I did not choose to use the kinds of cheeses that melt, but you might like to use a cheddar or Gruyere  for that kind of texture.

Looks like I know what my lunch will be tomorrow.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

It has started to warm up, but in that usual spring way of being 70° one day and 46° the next. Still, I can feel spring around the corner and am in the mood for a cold salad. The trick is not to make too much for the two of us, so that we don’t feel obligated to eat it for a week or throw it away. I’m only going to use 6 0z. of the pasta, but I know it will still be too much.

I’m using fresh garden peas, now that my local grocer carries them, a few jarred roasted red peppers, hard boiled eggs, and the chicken breasts of the previous post. And bacon.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 3-4 as main dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 oz pasta—I used white fiber pasta shells that have more whole grain—cooked according to package directions

2 large roasted red bell peppers, diced

8 oz fresh shelled garden peas, microwaved for 1 minute, or frozen peas, uncooked

4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

4-6 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and chopped

4 small poached chicken breasts, about 2 lbs, cut in large chunks (see previous post)

1 1/2-2 cups ranch dressing (below)

Ranch Dressing:

1/2 cup each whole buttermilk, real mayonnaise, sour cream

2 tablespoons dried chives

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

1 clove garlic, grated or minced

salt and pepper

  1. Whisk all ingredients until smooth. You can double the recipe if you think you need the larger amount, and it never hurts to have more on hand.

Combine all the salad ingredients, tossing with the ranch dressing. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The garden peas are a nice addition with that fresh pop in each bite.

Cheddar-Ricotta Mac and Cheese

I can’t believe I don’t have a mac and cheese recipe on the site. My go-to recipe is Martha Stewart’s “Macaroni and Cheese 101” from her 1999 magazine issue. I should have either the magazine or the recipe cut out somewhere. I can’t do better than her combination of white cheddar and nutty Gruyere, but today I’m doing a yellow cheddar and adding some ricotta for the second cheese just for a change. It should be a milder cheese flavor, but still have a nice creamy texture.

I see a lot of mac and cheese recipes that use the no-boil method, but I don’t like the fuss of the long cooking under foil and then the second cooking without it. Plus, some of the photos of those dishes show that the whole thing has bubbled up over the sides, because of all the extra liquid needed to cook the macaroni. I’m just going to stick with a cheese sauce made from a traditional white sauce, and boil the macaroni first. The one extra step today is pulsing the ricotta in a food processor, so it’s creamy and not gritty. I also do that when I want to add it to an Italian tomato sauce.

I’m halving my traditional recipe that uses a whole pound of macaroni, because there are just two of us, and while big dishes are lovely to look at, they are hard to consume. We’ll eat it again tomorrow or the next day, but that’s enough.

Cheddar-Ricotta Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 375°; butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, one with plenty of room to hold any bubbling sauce. You can see that mine came right up to the top.

8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions

1 1/2 cups ricotta, whole or part skim, pulsed in food processor until creamy

8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups white sauce:

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

crumb topping:

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Prepare the macaroni and the cheeses; set aside.
  2. Make white sauce: melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until the flour is completely incorporated with no lumps. Stir in milk, stirring or whisking often until sauce is thickened.
  3. Stir cheeses into white sauce, stirring until melted.
  4. Pour cheese sauce over cooked macaroni in buttered dish. Stir to cover all the macaroni.
  5. Make crumb topping: combine all three ingredients in a large bowl, stirring/tossing quickly with a fork, to coat all with the butter. Crumble over the casserole.
  6. Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes until the topping is browned.

Macaroni and cheese is a great meal by itself, but we had bacon on the side and a frozen vegetable mix.

Pasta with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Shredded Beef

I had a bunch of roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers in the freezer from the garden and friends, and I had used a few of each on hamburgers, but I was looking for something else to do with them and ended up making a big batch of pesto, using 1/2 cup for today’s dish and putting the rest in the freezer. It’s a parsley-walnut pesto base with the typical additions of Parmesan cheese and garlic and olive oil, then made richer with roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers.

The poblanos at first made me think of doing a Tex-Mex dish, like beef enchiladas or burritos, but the tomatoes and parsley had me leaning in more of a pasta direction. The Parmesan could go either way, because it’s a lot like the Mexican Cotija cheese. What finally led me in the pasta direction were those last five fresh tomatoes from the garden—well, not really the last because there’s a big flat of green ones in the garage that I’m hoping will ripen this fall. So this dish makes use of both roasted and fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is also about what else to do with a chuck roast than make pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Nothing wrong with pot roast, but a chuck roast is flavorful and can be used in many other ways. I have a small chuck roast (about 2 lbs) roasting in the oven on a bed of the fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and 1 cup of beef broth. When the beef is done and falling apart, maybe after 3 hours, there should be a nice sauce in the pan, although it may need to be reduced on the stove. Then I’ll add the pesto and some sautéed mushrooms and mix it all with the pasta, whole wheat bow ties in this case.

Pasta with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Shredded Beef

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

2 lb chuck roast

4-5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

1 cup beef broth or stock or bouillon

salt & pepper

1/2-1 cup Roasted Tomato and Poblano pesto (see below) or your favorite pesto

12 oz button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in olive oil

1/2 lb pasta, cooked according to package directions

  1. On bottom of small roasting pan, place tomatoes and beef broth.
  2. Arrange chuck roast on top of tomatoes and broth. Salt and pepper the roast.
  3. Cover and roast for about 2 1/2-3 hours, until meat is easy to pull apart.
  4. Remove roast to cutting board and pull meat into shreds, discarding fat and connective tissue.
  5. If necessary, pour tomatoes and beef broth into small saucepan, bring to boil, then simmer, uncovered until it cooks down to about 2 cups.
  6. Stir in 1/2 cup pesto and taste. I don’t add any extra salt, because I find pesto to be salty enough for the whole dish. You can add more pesto to suit your taste.
  7. Stir in sautéed mushrooms and shredded beef. Pour over cooked pasta.

Roasted Tomato and Poblano Pesto

2-3 cups flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

8-12 roasted tomato halves (roasted with salt, olive oil, and thyme)

3-4 roasted poblano peppers, peeled and seeded

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

olive oil to reach desired consistency, maybe 1/2 cup

salt & pepper to taste (I felt my tomatoes and the cheese added enough salt)

  1. Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor.
  2. Begin processing the ingredients, adding olive oil through the chute until it all comes to a fine and thick consistency.
  3. Reserve 1/2-1 cup for the pasta dish.