Pasta is made by combining flour and a liquid, usually water or milk – all “peasant cheap” ingredients. Now you can buy specialty pastas which may have added flavorings, cheese and/or colorings. Because it’s cheap, filling and made with readily available ingredients, almost every country has its own form of pasta. Eg. Jewish cuisine has bow ties, in Germany they cook spaetzle and in Poland its pierogi.
Beyond the shapes you see in the supermarket such as spaghetti, macaroni, fusilli and lasagna sheets, there are hundreds of others. These dried pastas if made without eggs can be stored for up to two years in a cool dry cupboard. Fresh pasta which may be found in the refrigerator case, should be used quickly as it will keep only for a couple days in your refrigerator. Whether fresh or dried, pasta is generally boiled before using in recipes but fresh is cooked in much less time than dried.
Tossed with sauces, vegetables or used as a shell for tasty fillings, pasta may be served hot or cold – transforming this basic food item into delicious, appealing summer dishes.
Noodles with Roasted Butternut Squash (dairy)
1 small (1 1/2 – 2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder to sprinkle
1 (12 ounce) package medium noodles
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley sprigs, packed
1/3 cup thinly sliced black olives
grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Place the squash on the baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Spread in one layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring often, or until carmelized and soft. Set aside. While squash is cooking, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Place in a large bowl. Microwave the green onions on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until wilted. To assemble: Add the squash, green onions, parsley, olives and remaining olive oil to the noodles. Stir gently to mix. Season to taste. Turn into a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or cold with a bowl of parmesan cheese on the side.
Tortellini Primavera (pareve)
In Italian, primavera means “spring style” referring to cooked or blanched vegetables, tossed into a dish such as pasta. In a hurry? Use frozen vegetables microwaved until crisp tender.
1 pound spinach tortellini
1/2 pound broccoli, broken into florets and stems thinly sliced
1/2 pound baby carrots, quartered lengthwise
1 large sweet red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen peas, cooked
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed and shredded
Dressing: 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Set aside. Rinse the broccoli and carrots in cold water. Place in a microwave dish and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on High or until crisp tender and broccoli is bright green. Drain off and discard any liquids. Add vegetables to the tortellini. Gently stir in the peas and basil. Pour the dressing over. Stir to mix. Best served at room temperature or chill and remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
Dressing: Place all ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar with a lid. Whisk or shake until thoroughly blended. Use at room temperature.
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Salmon Bites and Mushroom Bowties (dairy)
Rich and delicious. Don’t penalize the calorie counter – just serve small portions.
Mushroom Sauce: 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4-6 white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound salmon fillet, cut in bite size pieces
8 ounces bow tie pasta, cooked and drained according to package directions
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley, packed
Prepare the sauce: In a medium, non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the garlic. Cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the cream. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 minutes or until reduced by about one third. Add the wine. Heat through and set aside.
Place the salmon on a microwave dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with wax paper. Cook on High for 3 minutes or until salmon is opaque throughout.
To assemble: Place the bow tie pasta in a large bowl. Add the salmon and pour the sauce over. Stir gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with parsley and serve.
Stove Top Lasagna (dairy)
You’ll get raves from vegetarians for this meatless dish.
1 1/2 cups low fat ricotta
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 (26 ounce) jar meatless pasta sauce
1 (12 ounce) package ground soy
6 oven-ready lasagna noodles
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, milk, lemon pepper seasoning, parmesan, about 1/2 cup mozzarella and the oregano. Set aside.
Place the zucchini and 2 cups pasta sauce in a medium skillet. Crumble in the ground soy. Stir to mix. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Top this mixture with 2 lasagna noodles. Break 2 more noodles to fill in the sides. Carefully spread the cheese mixture over. Top with the two remaining noodles. Pour the remaining pasta sauce over, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over. Cover and simmer over medium low heat until the noodles are tender, 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat, cool slightly and cut into squares to serve.
Crusty Cheese Pasta Pie (dairy)
May be mixed a day ahead, then baked about 45 minutes before serving oven to table.
8 ounces vermicelli cooked and drained according to package directions
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a deep, 10-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Place the hot, cooked vermicelli in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, oregano and Italian seasoning. Stir to mix. Add the egg and mix in briskly, then add the cottage cheese. Mix well. Season with pepper to taste. Spread in the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and crusty. To serve, cut into wedges.