Recipe Exchange: Pasta

With all due respect to pizza, I think we know what the true gift of Italy is. Is anyone ever not in the mood for pasta? There are almost limitless ways to prepare it, and I’m constantly finding new ingredients and tricks to incorporate.

So, now it’s your turn. Give us your best Pasta recipes! Have you ever made your own noodles? Do your recipes require a certain pasta shape, or do you just grab whatever’s handy? As always, when posting your recipe, please clearly delineate the ingredient list, the directions, and any other helpful notes you might have.

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A lot of pasta recipes are fairly simple, so I thought I’d toss in some more complex ones for you all to take a crack at. They’re definitely worth the extra time and dishes.

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cube chicken bullion
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 26-oz jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Italian seasoning & oregano

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.

2) Cut the chicken into large pieces, and put into a saucepan with enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 minutes, or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Then shred the meat.

3) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

4) While the pots are going, saute the onion and garlic (in olive oil, butter, bacon fat, etc.)

5) Dissolve the bullion in hot water. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken, onion, garlic, bullion, cream cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and a liberal amount of Italian seasoning.

5) Spread 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Cover with half of the chicken mixture. Layer three of the lasagna noodles over it. Repeat (spaghetti sauce, chicken mixture, noodles).

6) Cover the top with the remaining spaghetti sauce and 1 cup mozzarella. Sprinkle with a liberal amount of oregano.

7) Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes.

Notes

-The original recipe didn’t call for the onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, or oregano, but the recipe would be somewhat bland without them. Feel free to experiment with other additions in step #5 (peppers, other spices, scallions, capers, etc.)

-Steps #1-4 can be done in whatever order is most convenient.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients

  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups), roughly chopped dark green parts reserved (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped coarsely, and reserved; spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
  • 2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound campanelle pasta (can substitute farfalle or penne)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Salt (Kosher salt, if you wish) and ground black pepper

Directions

1) Place the dark green leek trimmings, asparagus trimmings, 1 cup peas, 2 teaspoons garlic, vegetable broth, and water into a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for about 10 minutes. While the broth simmers, combine the mint, chives, and lemon zest in a small bowl; set aside.

2) Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have 5 cups of broth – if it is below 5 cups, add water to bring it up to volume). Discard the solids and return the broth to the stockpot. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

3) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced leeks and a pinch of salt; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus pieces and cook until crisp and tender, 4-6 minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and red pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining cup peas and continue to cook for about 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to a plate or bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the Dutch oven.

4) Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the pasta, stir to coat, and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

5) When the wine is fully absorbed, add the hot broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

6) Remove the Dutch oven from heat, stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, half of the herb mixture, and the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, passing extra Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture separately.

Notes

-Set aside plenty of time to get leeks washed and chopped – that is the most time-consuming part of the process.

-Asparagus knows where it wants to snap. Just bend until it snaps naturally.

-If there is no homemade vegetable broth on hand, a box of store-bought will substitute just fine.