Category Archives: Pasta

ravioli with spinach hazelnut pesto and grilled asparagus

In the spring, it seems that my husband and I can’t get enough asparagus (the kids eat it because it’s there and they have to).  Whether in a fritatta  or simply oven roasted, we eat as much as possible until the 6 to 8 week season ends.

I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A year of Food Life.  In it, she chronicles a year during which her family only consumed food that they produced on their farm.  If they couldn’t grow or make it, they would purchase it from local farmers whenever possible.  In one of the first chapters of her book, she talks about asparagus:  how it’s grown, where it grows-basically, everything you ever wanted to know about asparagus, including fun facts like it can grow up to 10 inches in a 24 hour period!

If you were expecting me to say I made this ravioli from scratch, let me refer you to my bio…I do things simply whenever possible.  I love fresh pasta made in house at restaurants and, some day, I will purchase an attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer to make pasta from scratch.  In the meantime, Trader Joe’s makes a delicious mini cheese filled ravioli that is perfect by itself, or tossed in a pot of soup; however, any pasta will work here.

ravioli with spinach hazelnut pesto and grilled asparagus

One bunch asparagus and one pound mini cheese filled ravioli (or any pasta)

make the pesto:

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor.  Pulse until smooth, adding more olive oil one teaspoon at a time if mixture is too thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

With a sharp knife, cut tough ends off one bunch of asparagus.  Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt.  Toss to coat.

Heat grill to medium heat.  If you don’t have fine grates on your grill, you must use a mesh grill pan or grill topper  or your asparagus will fall between the grates (I use the pan that I generally use for grilling fish).  Place the asparagus on your heated grill top or pan, turning often to prevent burning.

 In the meantime, cook your pasta according to package directions.  I have a side burner on my grill and this coordinated beautifully with grilling the asparagus.  As I’ve explained previously, my husband doesn’t grill so if I’m overseeing the grill and cooking on the stove top in the house, something is bound to burn!

Remove the asparagus with it is slightly tender and has some golden grill marks.  Be careful not to overcook it.

Plate your grilled asparagus, pasta, and pesto.


2 for Tuesday

There is a radio station I listened to when I was younger that, on Tuesdays, would play two songs by an artist.  The disc jockey would announce “two songs coming up from your favorite artist.”  Even though my musical tastes have, shall we say, evolved tremendously since those days (Despite what my teenage daughter might think!), I’m offering my version of the “2fer”…acorn squash.  Roasted and prepared two ways-one sweet, one savory.

It seems that when I make the roasted squash bread, sometimes it’s more orange and has a stronger, richer squash taste.  Not sure what to attribute this to, since I’m uncertain how to judge if the squash is ripe or not.  Nevertheless, it’s still delicious every time.  The raw sugar on the top gives it a nice, sweet (but not too much) crunch.

Just as when I bake zucchini bread, I freeze individual slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet, then wrap them individually.  This makes it so easy to pop one in the toaster oven for a minute or two.  So delicious with a bit of cream cheese or apple butter.

penne with acorn squash

2 acorn squash

1/2 cup leeks, washed and sliced thinly

1 pound penne

4 teaspoons olive oil

6 ounces pancetta, diced to 1/4 inch thickness

1/2 cup chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup light cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon.  Cut each half crosswise into wedges, about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay the slices on a baking sheet and spray with organic olive oil cooking spray.  season with salt and pepper.  flip the squash and do the same to the other side.  Bake about 30 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking, until soft and slightly carmelized.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions.  Drain pasta, reserving approximately 1/2-1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Let pasta sit in colander for now.  Peel squash and cut into chunks.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat in large pot (you can use the same one you cooked the pasta in).  Saute the pancetta and leeks together until pancetta is slightly crispy and leeks are transparent and tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the chicken broth/stock and scrape up any brown bits in the pan.  Stir in the rosemary.  Add pancetta, leeks and squash to the pan.  Stir in penne.  Add cream to the mixture and stir gently to coat.  This is where you can add a bit of the reserved pasta water if it’s too dry.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve with additional parmesan on top.

roasted acorn squash bread

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 1/4 cup squash puree

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

To make squash puree:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut one large acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon.   Place each half on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake in oven approximately 50 minutes or until fork tender.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Scrape squash into bowl with spoon.

Lower oven temperature 350 degrees.  Lightly oil and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice and cloves in a medium bowl until combined.

Beat squash puree, sugar, honey and oil in a large mixing bowl with electric mixer or a stand mixer until smooth, about 1 minute.  Beat in eggs and egg whites.  Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients until combined.  Fold in chopped walnuts.

Pour into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake approximately 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at around one hour.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes after removing from oven, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool.

*What radio station did you listen to when you were younger?