Spaghetti Aglio e Olio With Marinated Tomatoes

1 09 2014

This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan or romano cheese

Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.

Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.

Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.

Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.

Baked Spaghetti Pie

16 04 2014

I’ve shared the idea for turning leftover pasta into a frittata-like pie before, however this time I’ve used far less ingredients and baked it rather than frying for a much healthier option. This technique is simple, but makes your leftovers feel like a whole new meal…with a crunch!

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

  • Leftover pasta, shown here is leftover spaghetti tossed with a lite alfredo sauce, but you can used whatever you have
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Grated parmesean
  • Chopped parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat a medium oven-proof skillet sprayed liberally with non-stick spray over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the leftover pasta and flatten it out in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 5 minutes until the bottom starts to brown. Add the chicken stock, then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the pie. The trick to flipping is to place the back of a baking sheet on the top of your skillet. Brace the baking sheet with one hand while using the other hand to turn the skillet upside down (be sure to use a pot holder), so the cooked side of the pie slides out on the back of the baking sheet. Next, slide the pie back into your skillet, this time the uncooked side should be in the bottom of the skillet. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board to cut into pie pieces. Top slices with grated parmesean, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes to taste and a drizzle of oil.

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

31 01 2014

Get dinner on the table fast with this simple, fresh pasta dish. This spaghetti is bright and lemony, with a nice kick of heat. Serve it as a side along with a protein, or as a main dish like I have here with roasted asparagus. Delicious with a crisp white wine!

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp chili pepper paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425. Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, half the chopped garlic and kosher salt to taste. Roast 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and season liberally with salt. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions.

In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery, lower the heat and add the rest of the chopped garlic and chili paste, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. If you want it even spicier, add a pinch of red pepper flakes as well. Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt to taste.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then strain the cooked pasta and add it to the chili-lemon oil in the saute pan. Toss spaghetti in the sauce over low heat, adding some of the pasta water to bring the sauce together. Remove from heat and add the grated parmesan.

Divide pasta among plates and garnish with parsley and a few red pepper flakes. Top with asparagus spears and serve with more grated parmesan.

Weeknight Ragu alla Bolognese

24 04 2013

Bolognese sauce is an Italian meat-based sauce in which the meat is traditionally braised. It can take hours to develop a classically deep, rich Bolognese sauce. This is my recipe for a healthier version of this classic, that can be made quickly and even enjoyed during the week!

Weeknight Ragu alla Bolognese

Weeknight Ragu alla Bolognese

The following serves 4-6 (compliments of This Girl):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 large piece of celery, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 package of lean ground turkey
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup or more dry red wine
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta of your choice (spaghetti is pictured here)
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Fresh parsley, torn for garnish

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, a few good turns of the pan. Add chopped onions and saute until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, 1 more minute. Next add the chopped celery and season with salt and pepper. Using a hand-held grater or microplane, grate the carrot right into the skillet. Cook veggies together for 2-3 minutes.

Next add the ground turkey and brown along with the veggies – be sure to break up the turkey with a spatula. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste and mix well into the turkey and veggies, cook for another minute. Next, deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook for another minute until the wine is well incorporated. Finally, add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat, simmer sauce for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often. If the sauce starts to look dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add more red wine – 1 turn of the pan at a time.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain.

Add the drained pasta directly to the skillet with the sauce and finish cooking for a minute until the pasta is tossed well with the sauce. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve pasta with grated parmesan cheese and torn parsley, and of course, a glass of dry red wine 🙂

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto

19 02 2013

This is a great go-to meal when you need to get dinner together pronto! And better yet, it’s high in nutritional value and packed with antioxidants thanks to the fresh spinach.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto

The following serves 4 (compliments of Everyday Food):

  • 3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti or penne
  • 8 ounces trimmed spinach
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Cook spaghetti or penne to al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before straining.

To make the pesto: in a food processor, pulse spinach, walnuts, parmesan, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt to taste.

Toss the pesto with the pasta and the reserved pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dusting of grated parmesan. You could also serve with a dollop of ricotta instead.

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

7 02 2013

This rustic pasta dish is an Italian classic, found on many Italian restaurant menus. It’s fairly cheap and easy to make at home, and by switching up a few ingredients (like using whole-wheat pasta and chicken sausage) you can make it healthier too! 

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl):

  • 1 package chicken sausage (use sweet/mild, hot or a combo of both)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 small bell peppers (whatever color you like), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • Couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 box whole-wheat spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Place sausages in a medium skillet and prick each one a few times with a fork. Add water to the pan, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain water, add some olive oil (enough to coat the pan) and continue cooking sausages over medium heat until well browned all over. Be sure to watch they don’t burn. Remove sausages to a cutting board and rest a few minutes. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove to cook the pasta. When the water boils, season it liberally with salt and drop the pasta – cook to al dente.

In another large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add onion and peppers. Cook until softened and starting to brown. Season with salt and add garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and add the sausage pieces. Season sauce with salt – taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and immediately add to the large skillet with the sauce. Toss pasta well and continue to cook with the sauce for another minute or so.

Serve with parmesan cheese and a glass of red!

Sicilian Pesto With Whole Wheat Spaghetti

11 07 2012

Unlike Genovese-style pesto (traditional basil pesto), this Sicilian version has the addition of tomatoes, and uses mint and almonds rather than basil and pine nuts. This light sauce comes together quickly, is creatively delicious and is a great way to help use up the plethora of tomatoes from your garden. Toss it with cooked pasta, use it as a spread for sandwiches or a topping on crostini.

Sicilian Pesto With Whole Wheat Spaghetti

The following serves 4, makes about 3 cups worth of pesto (compliments of Cuisine at Home):

  • 4-5 yellow or red globe or Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded (I didn’t peel mine, I cut them in half, scooped out the seeds and liquid and chopped up the tomato halves in chunks to make it easier on the food processor)
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 3 Tbsp shredded pecorino or grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp of juice)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti

Pulse tomatoes, mint, almonds, cheese, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Toss pasta and pesto in the pan you used to cook the pasta; add as much pesto as you desire. I like to add a little cooking liquid to help bind everything together (1/4 cup or less, depending how thick your pesto is). I divide tossed pasta among plates and top with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of cheese and a little lemon zest.

If you have leftover pesto, store it in an airtight container for up to a week.

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole

26 09 2011

Fall is here and so are the great recipes that bring out the best flavors of the season! I snagged this recipe from Food Everyday – it’s fast and a great value too (just under $10 for 4 people)! With the touch of ricotta and a drizzle of nutty brown butter, this dinner is deliciously sweet and savory.

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole

  • Course salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I peeled and cubed the whole squash, storing half in the fridge for another recipe later this week)
  • 1 box spaghetti (about 3/4 lb)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 head escarole, leaves torn or cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 7 oz ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (see my tip below for how I used the lemon)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook squash until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. Return water to a boil. Add pasta; cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 – 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

While the pasta is cooking, finish the squash. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots and tender when pierced, about 8 minutes. Add escarole and cook, stirring until just beginning to wilt, 1 minute. Add vegetables to pot with pasta. To the skillet, add 4 Tbsp butter and cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until butter is lightly browned and has a nutty aroma – about 1 minute.  Drizzle over pasta and toss to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a light sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, top with ricotta and serve with lemon wedges (note: you mix the ricotta into the pasta as you eat).

This Girl’s tip: Rather than serving the lemon on the side, I zested half the lemon into the boiling pasta water right before I dropped the pasta. I zested the other half of the lemon into the squash while they were browning. When I tossed everything together, I used half the juice of the lemon to brighten everything up just before serving.