Aldi’s New Fresh Pasta: Perfection!

Recently I bought some of the new Aldi’s products including fresh fettuccine. I paired it with a cremini mushroom and tomato sauce and it was just perfection. The taste and texture of the pasta was spot on and I can’t wait to use the package of linguine I also purchased. The price was about $3.45 for 8 ounces. Not a bad price for fresh pasta. It has a use by date several weeks away so I am sure I will be able to enjoy it almost as fresh as if I made it myself. Don’t have time for that right now so I am super pleased with this great addition to the Aldi gluten free line. It is everything you could want in a gf fresh pasta.

This is a riff on a mushroom sauce I often make; just more simple.

mushroom linguini

Angie’s Mushroom Red Sauce with Fettuccini (3-4 servings)

 

1 8 oz package of cremini mushrooms

2-3 Tbsp. EVOL

1 medium onion diced (optional)

1 large garlic clove

1 14.5 oz can petite cut tomatoes

2-3 Tbsp heavy cream or half and half

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 oz fresh fettuccine

1 Tbsp fresh parsley or basil

 

Directions: Slice the mushrooms which you have cleaned; I washed mine briefly to get all the dirt and dust off. My slices were thick and meaty. Heat the EVOL in a wide saucepan. I used my mini wok. When it is fairly hot add the onion and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes until both are soft and mushrooms look fairly cooked. Add the garlic clove, minced. Stir. Add the can of tomatoes, stir well. Turn down heat and cook 10 minutes. Add cream, stir. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley and then add the pasta which you have cooked according to the directions (Do not overcook pasta; always best to subtract one minute from directions to allow for a minute in sauce.) Stir well and cook one minute; top with grated cheese. Enjoy!

Tuscan Chicken Made Fast and Easy

 

Burrr…winter has us firmly in it’s icy grip and I am looking for comfort food. And easy stuff that makes me think of summer.  This recipe for chicken is my new fav. Tasty, quick to throw together, done in my Instant Pot and it does make me think of an Italian summer. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

I use chicken thighs; bone in and skin off. Use whatever cut you like.  You might go a minute less for breast meat.  If you hate artichokes; leave them out. Any pasta will do or make potatoes to serve with this entrée. I have used heavy cream, milk or half and half; all will work; less calories for milk, richer flavor for cream.

tuscan chicken

I took this picture quickly before devouring it. The chicken blends in with the sauce and pasta and this plate is totally not arranged for a photo shoot but you get the idea!

Tuscan Chicken with Pasta

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil, EV if possible

1 large onion diced

1 carrot cut up into dice and/or 1 stalk celery diced

4-8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

3-4 garlic cloves minced

1 -2 tsp. Italian seasoning; I did half and half basil and oregano

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup white wine

½ cup sundried tomatoes cut in half

1 small jar marinated artichokes, drained

1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 1/3 cup uncooked pasta

2 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water

¼ cup finely chopped parsley and/or kale (use ½ cup of that)
Directions. Heat IP on sauté feature. Add oil then onions, cook about 4-5 minutes until getting soft. Add the carrot/celery after a minute of that 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms a minute later. Add garlic in last minute of saute. Push aside; add chicken; brown on top and bottom; 3 minutes a side. Add the Italian seasoning; stir; then add wine; cook one minute; add broth and half the sun-dried tomatoes. Lock lid on and cook 8 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; cook a minute; then add the rest of the sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, kale (if used and actually I would add that first; cook it 1-2 minutes before adding the other stuff in this list) cream and pasta (which you cooked but for 1 minute less than package suggests.) I used rigatoni this last time and liked it for this recipe. Other pasta will probably be great too. Cook it on sauté for a minute; don’t let it boil. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. You can guild the lily with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese; it is a nice touch but if you want to cut calories; leave that off and use whole milk rather than cream. I have done this with kale; great with spinach. Last time I just used fresh parsley. Enjoy!

PS: I used my IP but you could simmer the dish on your stove top in a big pan; so… after the adding of the broth; maybe 25 minutes to cook the chicken. Rest of recipe stays the same.  If you use chicken breasts cook them shorter either method of cooking; they take far less time than thighs.

Pear Cranberry Rustic Tart

A friend gifted me some homegrown pears. What delish dessert to make? How about a rustic tart? I was time limited so no time for a raft of cute little tartlets that had to have their crust rolled out one at a time and fitted into the 4 tartlet pan. Good plan. Then, I added some frozen cranberries to zing it up. Plus a touch of cinnamon and allspice. And a sprinkle of glittery sugar to fancy it up.  Just delish!

I used some small Moonglow pears, another good choice would be bosc pears, just make sure they are within that narrow  ripe pear window; not under ripe and not squishy.  The holy grail of pears; that moment of ripe before they go bad.  That. They need to be peeled, cored and then chopped, in that order. Especially bosc pears; their skin is not tasty but the are great for baking with.

pear cranberry tartPear Cranberry Rustic  Tart

First, make the crust and chill it a bit while you peel, core and slice the pears

GF Pie Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg, room temperature

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a flat fat disc with your hands. Put it in a pie bag, on a large piece of sturdy plastic or on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), put another piece of wax paper on top and chill it all in your fridge 15 minutes

Filling;

3 -4 cups peeled and chopped pears

2/3 cup frozen or fresh cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. granulated tapioca

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp. allspice

a sprinkle salt

Mix dry ingredients; add to the fruit in a bowl, stir and let sit while you roll out the crust.

Directions: Roll out the somewhat  chilled crust between the two sheets of wax paper into a disc; maybe 14 inches, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! I use my pie bag as it works great. Peel off one side of paper and place on pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper or plastic.

Using a big spoon place your filling carefully on the crust but leave a 1 ½ inch border of crust untouched all around the fruit. Fold that excess crust up to make walls around the fruit filling. Sprinkle with 1-2 tsp. chunky sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes; golden brown crust and a bubbling, cooked looking filling.  Cool at least an hour before cutting. Great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

pear tart slice

Took this by candlelight outside on my back porch just before taking a bite! MMMMM

 

Mediterranean Pasta Saute

 

Summer produce is at flood stage right now. Quantities of ripe tomatoes are ridiculous and there are lots of other veggies fresh and cheap to be had.  It’s pretty darn hot; what to make that is quick and tasty and uses up some produce?  I like to make this sort of Mediterranean stir fry; you can vary the ingredients based on what is in your veggie bin or garden.  It is quick and it still tasted great the two times I enjoyed it again.

gorguta squash

Tromboni Italian squash aka gorgutza

Notes: Feel free to swap out a veggie for another if you want. Or change the basil to fresh oregano or any fresh herb you like. I love the tromboni squash as it is tender yet firm…not watery, but it can be hard to find; a substitute is summer squash of any kind. Use any melting cheese you like; I prefer either of the two I suggested. Chunks of fresh ripe tomato will work fine too. Any kind of mild pepper is a good choice.  Red onion will be great instead of regular onions.

Angie’s Mediterranean Sauté

Serves three

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. EVOL

1 med onion, cut in long strips and then cut across to shorten them in half or thirds.

1 frying pepper cut into narrow 1 to 1.5 inch long strips

2-3 cups tromboni Italian summer squash or use zucchini; cut into half moons or rounds about 1/3 inch thick max

2 garlic cloves minced

3-4 lengths of Italian sausage precooked and cut into ¼ inch wide rounds.

1 cup uncooked gf rotini pasta, cooked until one minute less than the package says to cook it

1/3 cup Mexican cheese crumbled or mozzarella cheese cut in ½ inch chunks

3-5 basil leaves chopped fine

A pint of cherry tomatoes; if they are big you could cut them in half

Directions:

Heat the olive oil until nearly smoking in a mini wok or sauté pan. Add the cut onion, the trombone squash and the pepper. If you use zucchini wait to add it for 2 or 3 minutes as it won’t take as long to cook as the tromboni squash. Stir for a minute, add the garlic, stir another minute. Add the cooked coins of sausage (I sauted them in a fry pan the day before; about 8-9 minutes), stir and cook a few minutes until the squash is nearly done. Add the cooked pasta and then the tomatoes, stir and add cheese, stir a minute until cheese is melting. Add the fresh basil leaves and maybe ½ tsp. sea salt. Toss well. Do not overcook; cheese should be just about melting and tomatoes warm and slightly soft but not burst open. Enjoy! saute on plate

 

 

Spicy Bolognese Sauce and Pappardelle Pasta

Been wanting to make an Italian bolognese sauce for a while, the real deal, slow cooked with whole milk and red wine.  Those sort of recipes take time and love.  Saturday I had the time and I was making it for a date with my guy so I went for it.  Instead of beef my protein was a mixture of ground venison and pork. Otherwise I followed the recipe I found in a cookbook by Giada for a spicy version which looked interesting.  It was supposed to be made with lamb but I had that meat in the freezer and I thought venison might be good in a spicy tomato sauce. I have a different recipe that is mild which I use with ground beef.  But goin’ spicy this time!

A bit more than two hours later the bolognese sauce was done.  While it simmered I made some homemade pappardelle pasta (shaped like wide flat ribbons) to serve it with; been a long time since I made my own gf pasta. Well over a year ago…maybe as much as two years. My pasta was tender but had a chewiness that went well with the sauce. It was a perfect match. I let the noodles cook in the sauce for a few minutes; makes for the best flavor. The bolognese sauce was somewhat spicy, slightly creamy and very flavorful.  This recipe is a keeper!

We had some delish pan roasted Brussels sprouts with a nifty horseradish sauce. I know…that sounds weird but it was really yummy. My guy took home leftovers of the sprouts and sauce…he loved it!

This makes a big pot of sauce and you can freeze some of it, share it with a friend or eat it later on in the week.  I used some fairly basic red wine we bought up in the Finger Lakes Region of NY, no Chianti in the house.  It worked just fine. Improvising is the heart of Italian cooking, at least at my house it is!

 

spicy bolognase sauce

See my cheese rind floating on top; just put it in. Now That’s Italian!

Spicy Venison Bolognese serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. butter

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 ½ lb ground meat; venison, lamb or beef

1 garlic clove minced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

¼-½ tsp. Chipotle chili pepper

2-4 Tbsp. tomato paste; Use less if you use double strength

2 cups whole milk

1 cup dry red wine; Chianti is good

1 28 oz can chunky crushed tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 3 inch pieces of Parmesan cheese rind

8 oz fresh pappardelle pasta

2/3-1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese for topping

 

Instructions: Heat a heavy bottomed large sauce pan on medium heat add the butter and oil, heat until butter melts. Add onion, carrot, celery and ½ tsp. salt.  Cook for 6 minutes, stirring often, until onion softens but isn’t browning. Add the meat; brown it for about 5 minutes; use your wooden spoon to break up the meat and turn it.  Cook until no longer pink.  Add garlic chili powder, red pepper flakes and tomato paste.  Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, bring to simmer, cook 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, milk should be mostly evaporated. Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, cheese rind and rest of salt. Bring to simmer, and cook slowly for two hours, stirring occasionally. The cheese rind will disappear.  Remove the bay leaf.

Set aside half the sauce for another day.  Cook the pasta until it is about 2 minutes from done. Add to the sauce, cook gently for 2-4 minutes until al dente. Add pasta water to thin it if necessary.  I used the pasta recipe from my favorite cookbook; by Annalise Roberts; Gluten Free Baking Classics.  I know, pasta is not baking, it is in the back section of miscellaneous stuff.  I rolled it in my machine and then folded the strips loosely before cutting into wide ribbons with a sharp knife. I cooked it about 3 minutes in boiling salted water.

Serve the pasta with the grated cheese. Or not; it is pretty good even without the topping. If you want to guild the lily, drizzle some high end ECOL on top of each serving before the cheese. Enjoy! spicy bolognase with pasta 1

 

 

Curcuzza Side Dish: Delish

A zillion years ago my best friend’s mom, Sparky, used to grow these long skinny Italian squashes on long string trellis’ in her tiny back yard.  They lived in a narrow row house in Harrisburg so space was at a premium.  Sparky was 100 percent Italian and a great cook. She used to make this simple but delish side dish of small cubes of curcuzza squash cooked in tomato sauce. I never had access to this old time variety until I saw them at my sister’s garden last summer and searched until I found seeds at superseeds.com.  They go by the name of trombolini heirloom Italian summer squash.  You can pick them from small to very large sized.  They can be allowed to harden and dry and then used like winter squash particularly as butternut squash. They grow on long vines and are really cool looking. So this summer they are growing wildly and I’m learning how to cook with these unusual squash fruits.

 

The other week I made a delightful sauté. Success led me to feel I should try the special dish Sparky made all those years ago. It was simple actually, with just a few ingredients and some loving attention.

I strongly suggest you find trombolini squash but in a pinch any other summer squash will do; just cook it for a far shorter time.

trombolini squash with sauce and sausage

Sparky’s Curcuzza in Red Sauce

2  Tbsp.  EVOL

½ cup diced yellow onion

3-4 cups cubed trombolini squash

1 large garlic clove

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce; good quality

2  Tbsp. dry red wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan, add onion, cook about 4 minutes until it starts to soften.  Add cubed squash, cook 5 minutes, add minced garlic clove, cook one minute.  Add tomato sauce. Put 2 tbsp. red wine in can to rinse it out and add to pan.  If you don’t like wine; use water.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes until squash is cooked but still holds it’s shape. Stir it a few times to make sure it is not sticking or burning. If you used zucchini your cook time will be more like ten minutes.  I add salt before the 30 minute cooking; maybe ½ tsp of it and a few grinds of my pepper grinder.

Serve over hot spaghetti pasta.  You can serve it with some Italian sausage or fried eggplant or top your plate with grated fresh Parmesan cheese if desired. My pasta was gf of course.  This can be made vegan, gf, a side to a meat entree or just a delightful snack. Manga!trombolini squash with sauce

Ravioli with Greens

After a busy day everyone wants a quick and tummy filling meal.  Mine has to be gluten free.  I was looking for a meal that would use up some plain frozen raviolis I bought at Wegmans. They are quite tasty but they needed a sauce, some veggies and a protein component.  I had some unopened flower shoots, tender stems and leaves from a second year collard plant. So I went for it.  T hen I made it another time; first with canned chopped clams added and next with freshly fried chunks of chicken breast.  Both were delicious and so simple to throw together.  I had the clam version with parmesan cheese freshly grated on top.  Perfect quick supper for one.

You could use broccoli rabe or broccolini for this recipe. I happened to have all these flower shoots on my collard plant just begging to be used in a creative and tasty way. This is a riff off my homemade gnocchi with clams and bitter greens recipe I love but heck of a lot quicker to make.

 

Angie’s Ravioli with Greens

Serves one

Ingredients

4-5 frozen cheese ravioli

A handful of broccoli rabe (1/4 to 1/3 of a pound) or collard bud stems or broccolini

1 tbsp. EVOL

1 garlic clove

½ small can chopped clams or ¼ lb chicken breast

2 tbsp rice flour if using chicken

A pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tsp. butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Directions

Put on a quart of salted water to boil. When boiling drop in the ravioli and cook them about 6 minutes; 1 minute less than the bag says is a good plan.  Drain well, set them aside to add later and try to save a ¼ cup of the liquid for later.

In a mini wok or sauté pan heat the EVOL, if you are making the chicken cut it in small chunks, dust in the flour until well coated, and fry 4-7 minutes until golden on more than one side and done.  If they are fat chunks they will take longer.  Sometimes I flatten chicken breast chunks a bit to help them fry faster.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add the minced garlic clove, stir. Add the broccoli rabe and the red pepper flakes, stir and cook about 4 minutes until well wilted. Add the drained cooked ravioli and clams or chicken chunks you cooked earlier.  Stir well, cook a minute or two.  Add the butter and toss once.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve.  Enjoy!