48. J’s Brie-Basil Pasta

J and I went to an academic summer camp when we were both 17; I think it was the first time I felt surrounded by so many intelligent and interesting people in the same small place. J and I remained friends over the years, seeing each other when we happened to be in the same city. He came to my wedding and gave me a recipe card RSVP that only said “let’s talk about this one in person…” – eventually, he sent me the following recipe, but cautioned me to wait through the winter months before I attempted it, because fresh tomatoes and fresh basil were key to the meal.

1. 4 large ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2. I pound Brie, rind removed, broken into irregular smallish pieces

3. 1 cup fresh basil leaves rinsed, patted dry and cut into strips

4. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

5. 1 cup best quality olive oil

6. 1/2 teaspoon salt

7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8. 1 1/2 pound linguine 9or other pasta)

9. Fresh grated parmigiana-Reggiano

At least 2 hours before serving combine 1-7 in large serving bowl. I usually cover and let sit at room temperature to blend flavors. Also, I put the Brie in the freezer for about 10 minutes before trying to remove the rind. Putting in the freezer helps make it firmer and easier to remove. Otherwise you tend to lose a lot of the Brie as the rind does not come off very well.

Boil the linguine. When done, toss with the tomato mixture. Add grated cheese as desired.

I chose to make this recipe on a day when Husband and I were going to an outdoor festival and I knew we’d be hungry and ready for something savory and fresh when we got home – it helped us resist the funnel cake and fried chicken at the festival, which can’t hurt, right? After a truly spectacular breezy Sunday afternoon, we returned to the bowl of spicings and cheese and tomatoes: I’d frozen the brie for too long, so instead of breaking it into pieces I’d shaved the rind off with a knife and grated the whole thing into the bowl. We made fettuccine and the whole house filled with the pungent Brie scent and the snap of garlic. We twirled the pasta noodles and our lips got coated in cheesy sauce. I used all the fresh basil we had in our garden, which was good timing because the little bucket we’ve been growing herbs in is now swamped with water from recent rains. Hopefully it will dry out and grow back, because this might be my favorite dish yet. I didn’t get quite as much brie as he suggested (I did 8 ounces, plus a spare ounce of goat cheese I had lying around, for one pound of pasta) but I bet it would have been delightful if I had.

What is the quintessential dish of summer for you? I cannot imagine a flavor more summery than basil and tomato, cheese and garlic all rolled together and eaten with the window open and the twilight breeze blowing through the house.

31. E’s One-Pan Pasta

E and I were both a little puzzled by the lack of community when we each moved to a new town for graduate school. We lived in apartment buildings next to each other and met through school; Husband was far away and E was single so we became each other’s frequent companion for grocery trips and long walks and chats about everything new that was happening to us. We were around each other so often that one jokester in our program told me that I didn’t have a boyfriend, that I’d just given E a boy’s name in my phone and texted her constantly.

One of my cherished memories was that she and I would each struggle to cook for one; we had many favorite foods but no recipe is anything but cumbersome in single-serving quantities. Instead, we’d each make large batches that we’d eat on for days, but for a little while, we would also box up some of whatever we made and trade: she’d get some spicy peanut soup and I’d get shepherd’s pie; she’d get mushroom enchiladas and I’d get sweet potato-topped pizza.

After graduate school, E moved to the neighboring state, and came to the wedding as one of my bridesmaids. Her eye for color and style was essential as we prepped the barn and set out all the decorations. Husband’s grandmother couldn’t stop telling me how beautiful E was that evening – from her stylish glasses down to her strappy shoes, she had created a wonderful bridesmaid ensemble. All my girls picked their own dresses, just sticking with the theme of “some kind of green hue” – the result was eclectic perfection.

She sent me a simple recipe for one-pan pasta, which I’d never tried. I use two pans usually: the pot for boiling the pasta, and the frying pan for sizzling up some homemade tomato or alfredo sauce. This pasta looked so good and light that I made it as a side with a different recipe, Chicken Scampi, and it was truly a breeze: chopping the tomatoes, onion, and garlic takes a bit of time, but as long as the onion pieces aren’t thick, don’t worry about dicing them small: as they boiled, they became almost noodle-like and added to the bulk of the pasta. I didn’t have shredded parmesan, so I cut a sizeable hunk of garlic-and-herb goat cheese, maybe 1.5 ounces, and stirred it into the pot – the slight amount of remaining water swirled through the soft cheese and made a very light coating sauce. With the scampi, it was extra good, but I’d eat it by itself (as I’m sure E does; she’s a vegetarian and is always finding delicious, filling ways to avoid meat).

I do wish E still lived close enough for me to bring over a bowl of steaming noodles, but it’s nice that she shared the recipe with me – a long-distance form of food-sharing.

E’s One Pan Pasta

12 ounces linguine

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion (thinly sliced)

4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 cups water

 

Combine into a big pan, boil mixture, stir frequently, until water is nearly evaporated. Add shredded parmesan cheese!

Seeing the world through rose-colored pasta sauce

I wanted to bake up some tri-colored rotini with broccoli this week, but after so many weeks of coming up with savory sauces, I was about to cave and use a roasted garlic alfredo sauce out of a jar. There’s no shame, after all, in jarred pasta sauce and I love me a good, consistent alfredo – my cream sauces too often end up just outside the consistency ranges I expect, despite still tasting good.

When I thought of how I could mix it up a little, I saw half of a bowl of tomato basil soup leftover from Sunday, and was transported back to college, when so many of my meals involved a pasta with cheesy sauce and some kind of added veggies. We had a dining hall station where you could get all manner of veggies sauteed with garlic and oil, poured onto a plate of pasta and covered in alfredo. Once, my friend LJ came over to our house our senior year, after we were no longer eating on campus as much, and she brought with her fun, winter-themed shaped pasta, and more importantly, a jar of pink sauce! It was called vodka sauce, and I don’t know if there was vodka in it, but she said it was like mixing marinara and alfredo together, a little bit (refined palates, we were not, clearly). Still, the sauce was wonderful and since so many of my favorite memories of college involved me eating pasta with friends, I decided that I would combine my jarred alfredo and tomato soup into a pasta sauce runny enough that it would help my baked pasta get nice and roasted.

With a layer of mozzerella on top, I put the dish in the oven for a while; when everything was melted and bubbly, I turned on the broiler for 2 minutes, at which point the cheese got very brown and I had to hastily remove it from the oven. The result was delightful: the sauce was less one-sided because of the tomato tinge, and the crisp cheese counterbalanced the broccoli, which was limp but soaked in sauce so I didn’t care. I recommend pink sauces whenever you just cannot decide between marinara and alfredo, or when you just want something a little different that day. 🙂

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Butternut Squash and Gouda Cream Sauce!

Remember, long long ago, when my sister made me Sister’s Gouda and Butternut Squash Casserole? Well, I finally tried making something similar but with ingredients from my beloved garden and my nearly-as-beloved Aldi.

I found some “Applewood smoked” gouda at Aldi and I had the last sad little squashes left from the summer, so I thought it time to try this so that Husband could see what a delightful combo it was. I bought “herb chicken” tortellini because 1. I’m lazy and do not make my own pasta (yet?) and 2. because husband loves a little protein in his pasta dishes. I set slivers of butternut squash in the GoSun for a sunny hour in the backyard, and they emerged soft and perfect.

The sauce starts with a roux, about a tablespoon of butter and nearly two tablespoons of flour (for me – do your favorite roux!) and then a generous pour of whole milk. More traditionalists should definitely follow a recipe for bechamel, and then grate some of that gouda goodness in. The gouda thickened the sauce wonderfully; I added Italian seasoning, basil, and oregano, and then mashed the butternut squash thoroughly before adding about 1 and a half cups of it. I wanted the sauce to be heavily squash-y, so you could always use less, but I wanted to feel like a veggie.

I boiled the tortellini as instructed and poured that sauce over; leftover gouda (I had about half of the round left) went on top of salads and into a 4-cheese tomato sauce I made later for the rest of the tortellini. I would not call this a health food, but it’s a wonderful flavor combination if you are bored with traditional alfredo, and it reminded me of good times shovelling pasta into my maw with my sister this summer; now it feels more seasonal with the autumnal chill in the air!

48. J’s Brie-Basil Pasta

J and I went to an academic summer camp when we were both 17; I think it was the first time I felt surrounded by so many intelligent and interesting people in the same small place. J and I remained friends over the years, seeing each other when we happened to be in the same city. He came to my wedding and gave me a recipe card RSVP that only said “let’s talk about this one in person…” – eventually, he sent me the following recipe, but cautioned me to wait through the winter months before I attempted it, because fresh tomatoes and fresh basil were key to the meal.

1. 4 large ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2. I pound Brie, rind removed, broken into irregular smallish pieces

3. 1 cup fresh basil leaves rinsed, patted dry and cut into strips

4. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

5. 1 cup best quality olive oil

6. 1/2 teaspoon salt

7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8. 1 1/2 pound linguine 9or other pasta)

9. Fresh grated parmigiana-Reggiano

At least 2 hours before serving combine 1-7 in large serving bowl. I usually cover and let sit at room temperature to blend flavors. Also, I put the Brie in the freezer for about 10 minutes before trying to remove the rind. Putting in the freezer helps make it firmer and easier to remove. Otherwise you tend to lose a lot of the Brie as the rind does not come off very well.

Boil the linguine. When done, toss with the tomato mixture. Add grated cheese as desired.

I chose to make this recipe on a day when Husband and I were going to an outdoor festival and I knew we’d be hungry and ready for something savory and fresh when we got home – it helped us resist the funnel cake and fried chicken at the festival, which can’t hurt, right? After a truly spectacular breezy Sunday afternoon, we returned to the bowl of spicings and cheese and tomatoes: I’d frozen the brie for too long, so instead of breaking it into pieces I’d shaved the rind off with a knife and grated the whole thing into the bowl. We made fettuccine and the whole house filled with the pungent Brie scent and the snap of garlic. We twirled the pasta noodles and our lips got coated in cheesy sauce. I used all the fresh basil we had in our garden, which was good timing because the little bucket we’ve been growing herbs in is now swamped with water from recent rains. Hopefully it will dry out and grow back, because this might be my favorite dish yet. I didn’t get quite as much brie as he suggested (I did 8 ounces, plus a spare ounce of goat cheese I had lying around, for one pound of pasta) but I bet it would have been delightful if I had.

What is the quintessential dish of summer for you? I cannot imagine a flavor more summery than basil and tomato, cheese and garlic all rolled together and eaten with the window open and the twilight breeze blowing through the house.

31. E’s One-Pan Pasta

E and I were both a little puzzled by the lack of community when we each moved to a new town for graduate school. We lived in apartment buildings next to each other and met through school; Husband was far away and E was single so we became each other’s frequent companion for grocery trips and long walks and chats about everything new that was happening to us. We were around each other so often that one jokester in our program told me that I didn’t have a boyfriend, that I’d just given E a boy’s name in my phone and texted her constantly.

One of my cherished memories was that she and I would each struggle to cook for one; we had many favorite foods but no recipe is anything but cumbersome in single-serving quantities. Instead, we’d each make large batches that we’d eat on for days, but for a little while, we would also box up some of whatever we made and trade: she’d get some spicy peanut soup and I’d get shepherd’s pie; she’d get mushroom enchiladas and I’d get sweet potato-topped pizza.

After graduate school, E moved to the neighboring state, and came to the wedding as one of my bridesmaids. Her eye for color and style was essential as we prepped the barn and set out all the decorations. Husband’s grandmother couldn’t stop telling me how beautiful E was that evening – from her stylish glasses down to her strappy shoes, she had created a wonderful bridesmaid ensemble. All my girls picked their own dresses, just sticking with the theme of “some kind of green hue” – the result was eclectic perfection.

She sent me a simple recipe for one-pan pasta, which I’d never tried. I use two pans usually: the pot for boiling the pasta, and the frying pan for sizzling up some homemade tomato or alfredo sauce. This pasta looked so good and light that I made it as a side with a different recipe, Chicken Scampi, and it was truly a breeze: chopping the tomatoes, onion, and garlic takes a bit of time, but as long as the onion pieces aren’t thick, don’t worry about dicing them small: as they boiled, they became almost noodle-like and added to the bulk of the pasta. I didn’t have shredded parmesan, so I cut a sizeable hunk of garlic-and-herb goat cheese, maybe 1.5 ounces, and stirred it into the pot – the slight amount of remaining water swirled through the soft cheese and made a very light coating sauce. With the scampi, it was extra good, but I’d eat it by itself (as I’m sure E does; she’s a vegetarian and is always finding delicious, filling ways to avoid meat).

I do wish E still lived close enough for me to bring over a bowl of steaming noodles, but it’s nice that she shared the recipe with me – a long-distance form of food-sharing.

E’s One Pan Pasta

12 ounces linguine

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion (thinly sliced)

4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 cups water

 

Combine into a big pan, boil mixture, stir frequently, until water is nearly evaporated. Add shredded parmesan cheese!