Tag Archives: pasta

Still Eating, If Not Writing

What’s been for dinner lately:

Sheet pan pizza with prosciutto, Parmesan, and white sauce. The crust is from America’s Test Kitchen’s “Pizza al Taglio with Arugula and Mozzarella,” but I baked it with a Parmesan/garlic white sauce, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, and prosciutto. [There’s a paywall on this site.]

Beef stir fry. This is just a version of the one I make on the grill in the summer, with more veggies. I used some steamed frozen broccoli to avoid the longer cooking that fresh broccoli requires.

Rigatoni and butternut squash casserole with pancetta and Parmesan. Just like the one I’ve made before with bacon, but I find the pancetta to be milder and less overpowering than the bacon.

Boston Cream Pie—made this for my husband’s birthday. Specifically the Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie from America’s Test Kitchen. One word of caution: The written recipe omits the most important line from the video. When making the pastry cream, you don’t stop when bubbles break the surface; you continue whisking until the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the pan, sort of like when making jam. Otherwise the pastry cream will be runny. It’s a delightful cake. [There’s a paywall on this site.]

Roasted Garden Panzanella Pasta

I tried to get the essentials into the title—roasting, garden harvest, classic panzanella, and pasta. From the garden, I’m roasting tomatoes and green beans. My husband doesn’t care for tomatoes, but he tends the garden—sometimes you have to eat what you sow. The green beans are meant to draw him into the dish. I’m going to roast the bread cubes, as well, instead of toasting the bread in a skillet. Then it’s just a matter of making the right dressing and tossing it all with pasta and cheese curds. I know mozzarella is traditional, but I’m in love with Yancey’s Fancy® Fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds, and I think they will be perfect.

I’m going to use rice vinegar in the dressing, because it’s the mildest of the vinegars. I’m also going to seed the tomatoes before roasting and add all that liquidy stuff to the dressing, straining out the tomato seeds. But olive oil will be the star. The bread cubes, green beans, and tomatoes will all be tossed with extra virgin olive oil before roasting, and then some more will be in the final dressing.

I’m roasting more ingredients than I will use, but nothing is lost. The extra roasted tomatoes, beans, and bread cubes, will probably end up in lunches or snacks.

Roasted Garden Panzanella Pasta

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 cups cubed crusty bread, such as from a batard or baguette—I toasted the whole loaf, but only used 2 cups in the dish
  • enough tomatoes to make about 1.5-2 cups—use any type of tomato; mine were Early Girls, the first to ripen here. I roasted 10 tomatoes, but used only 4 in the dish.
  • 1.5 cups fresh green beans
  • 4 oz. pasta cooked according to package directions—I used whole wheat penne
  • 6 oz. cheese curds—mine were fresh cheddar, which is much more mild than aged cheddar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for roasting vegetables
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or other mild vinegar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
  • salt & pepper


Preheat oven to 425º; line 2-3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  1. Bread: Toss bread cubes in large bowl with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil—I used 3 for the whole loaf—don’t overdo it. Spread on one of the baking sheets and toast in oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside 2 cups for the dish.
  2. Vegetables: Core and seed the tomatoes, reserving the tomato seeds and pulp for the dressing—I had about 1 cup of liquid from the tomatoes. Place the halved tomatoes, cut side up, on one of the lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the green beans with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on the second lined sheet; salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables on separate racks in the oven, about 15 minutes for the green beans and about 30 minutes for the tomatoes. I like a little caramelization on the tomatoes.
  5. Dressing: In bowl with reserved tomato seeds and pulp, add the 3/4 cup olive oil and vinegar. Whisk until combined, then pour through strainer to remove seeds—whisking helps to separate the gel from the seeds before you strain them out. Whisk in garlic. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more oil or vinegar to taste.
  6. Panzanella: In large bowl toss pasta, bread, vegetables, and cheese with dressing until well coated. Set aside and allow the dressing to be absorbed by all the ingredients. Serve at room temperature.

We also had a roasted pork tenderloin, but that was really just a bonus for the gardener, who did eat a few of the tomatoes.

Bacon, Roasted Tomato, and Avocado Pasta

Yes, you can roast your tomatoes in the grill, instead of in the oven and use them them in pasta or salsas or eat them like candy. I set up the grill for slow, long cooking with a half snake of briquettes to get me about 4 hours at about 300°-350°. The tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and thyme, sit on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. You just walk away and think of how to use them. I decided to put them in a bacon avocado sauce over pasta.

If you’ve never cooked your avocado in a sauce, try it. When cooked, it stays green even the next day in the fridge. Just a simple sauce of mashed and sauteed avocado with a little cream and Parmesan is great over pasta. I gilded the lily with bacon and the roasted tomatoes.

chunky red and green sauce

Bacon, Roasted Tomato, and Avocado Pasta

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Grilled Roasted Tomatoes

Set up the grill for indirect, long cooking, using the snake method. I used a snake that went halfway around the kettle grill and lasted 4 hours at around 300°.

  • Place halved and seeded tomatoes on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. I had 11 tomatoes of various types, mostly plum, with a few round ones.
  • Drizzle olive oil over all the tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and dried thyme.
  • Place pan on grill cooking grate and cover for about 4 hours. Tomatoes should be shriveled and browned around the edges, but still moist. The bottoms will be browned, but not burnt. Check after 2 hours to see how your grill is doing.
  • Remove tomatoes to cool, then to a bowl and set aside.

Making the Sauce

1 lb thick-sliced bacon

2 tablespoons roasted garlic or 1 tablespoon fresh grated garlic

4 ripe avocados

1/2 pint heavy cream

olive oil

roasted tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/2 lb cooked pasta—I used whole wheat chiocciole, which I think are supposed to look like snails

pasta water to thin sauce

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cook the bacon until browned and chewy. Remove to drain and cool, then cut in large chunks.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat in skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Add roasted garlic and the scooped out flesh from the avocados. Heat, mashing with a potato masher or fork until creamy, but with some chunks of avocado for texture.
  3. Stir in heavy cream and continue heating over low heat or a lower simmer.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and bacon.
  5. Stir in hot pasta water to thin sauce to a good consistency to serve with pasta. I used 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  7. Stir in cooked pasta until well coated.
  8. Serve in bowls with more cheese.

Delicata Squash and Deconstructed Pork Dumplings

The squash started it all. There was a luscious display of the delicate little things that I couldn’t resist, as I love winter squash. I’ve been looking at the one I bought for a few days and wondering what to have with it—not what to have it in. I just want the roasted squash by itself, but what to have with it was the question. I was leaning toward a rice and sausage casserole, first a country sausage came to mind, then I thought maybe a smoked sausage like kielbasa (pronounced kill bossy in these parts). But we had black beans and rice this weekend, so I wanted to steer away from rice. As soon as I started thinking noodle, it wasn’t long before I was thinking long noodle then spaghetti then angel hair, and something Asian seemed right. The original idea of a country sausage turned into more of an Asian pork meatball or dumpling filling, and as soon as I thought dumpling, I knew the sauce had to have that dipping sauce flavor. This is how the dumpling deconstructed itself.

First the side dish.

Side Dish—Roasted Delicata Squash

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

Delicata squash is one of those winter squashes with a thin enough skin that you don’t need to peel it, and if you don’t think it’s a winter squash, wait until you decide to cut it. It is hard.

1 delicata squash

Olive oil to coat

Salt and pepper

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice crosswise at 1/2 inch intervals and then cut each slice into thirds. Toss with olive oil and roast in shallow dish for about 40 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. The skin comes out a little chewy, but we like that.

Now for that undumpling.

Deconstructed Pork Dumplings

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dipping Sauce

The first thing to do to get in the mood for dumplings is to make the dipping sauce. This becomes the base for the sauce in the dish. Recipes for dumpling dipping sauce vary—some use rice vinegar, some don’t; some use sesame oil, some don’t. But they all use soy sauce. I made my dipping sauce in the same proportions as I would if using with dumplings, a small bowl of it that was about a cup or less of liquid:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce—I used low sodium sauce here so the final dish would not be too salty
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar, unsweetened and unseasoned
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • Optional: a teaspoon of hot sauce and a little water (I did not add these)

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside. This can be made ahead, but the onions will soften and absorb some of the soy color, although it doesn’t hurt the dish in the end. You could always add the onion later.

Meat Mix

Now add the same dipping sauce flavors to the pork.

  • 1 lb ground lean pork
  • 1 minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce—I used regular soy sauce here

Mix all ingredients lightly by hand, as if making a meatloaf mix. You can make this ahead as well and refrigerate until you’re ready to put it all together later in the day. By now the whole kitchen smells like dipping sauce (I think it’s the ginger-sesame oil combination).

Deconstructing the Dumpling (putting it together)

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat angel hair pasta or your favorite noodle
  • 1 lb ground pork mixture
  • 1 cup dipping sauce
  • 1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons hoisin (I did use this)
  • 1/4-1/2 head sliced Napa cabbage (you could use regular cabbage, but Napa is mild and the curly leaves are attractive in Asian-inspired dishes)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of above chicken stock

Bring water to boil for noodles and cook according to directions. Fine pasta cooks quickly, so plan to have the meat sauce done by then.

In a large sauté pan, brown the pork mixture in one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. I cooked it like any ground meat base for a sauce, but I think it would be interesting to make little meatballs of the mixture, as well. When the meat is browned, add the dipping sauce and chicken stock. Simmer covered for about ten minutes. Add the sliced cabbage and stir uncovered for a few minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened. You don’t want to overcook the cabbage or over-thicken the sauce and have a gloppy mess. Wow, the word gloppy wasn’t flagged by the spellchecker!

Pour the sauce over the drained noodles all at once or in individual bowls/plates. Yummy. Just like eating dumplings.

I really need to go to a flea market and buy some interesting dishware for shooting pics of my food, because my cupboard is full of plain yellow or gray.