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Earlier this week I whipped up a batch of this beautiful pasta, adding in a few of my favorite ingredients (wine & onions!), and posted a picture of the lovely results on instagram. I was so surprised and pleased when a friend from work joked about sharing the leftovers and I had plenty to share! We had a fun little lunch date in my cubicle – this recipe’s for you, Jessica!
If I make it again, I’ll think I’ll go for a home made marinara, or skip it and just use twice as many diced tomatoes. The flavors here are really well balanced and this reminded me how much I love shrimp in the right dish. I’ve been meaning to cook with more seafood for a while now!

penne rosa with shrimp

Penne Rosa with Shrimp
adapted from back to her roots

12 ounces whole wheat penne
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tspn salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups fresh spinach
10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you’re not counting calories)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente; drain and set aside.
In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the wine mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the wine is reduced and the mushrooms are just beginning to get tender. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Add the yogurt, parmesan and marinara. Mix well. Fold in the pasta and stir until sauce the pasta and veggies are well coated.
Heat until just warmed through over low heat.

While I try not to make serious resolutions, I do try to get back to eating and being a little healthier once the holidays are over. Husband made this for us last week, and it’s the perfect dish to bring us back to flavorful but healthy dishes. I’d never had delicata squash before, it’s a wonderful mild flavor, a bit like a sweet potato. I’m a big fan of winter vegetables, particularly anything that calls for kale.

roasted vegetable orzo

Roasted Vegetable Orzo
via 101 cookbooks

1 medium delicata squash, seeded & sliced 1/3-inch thick
3 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted clarified butter
fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves garlic, peel on
12 kale leaves, washed & dried well, de-stemmed & cut into 3-inch strips
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup plain yogurt
For serving: slivered scallions, fresh oregano, toasted nuts or seeds

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C with racks arranged in the top and bottom thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment. You’re going to roast the squash, shallots, and garlic on one sheet, and the kale on another. Prep the delicata squash, and toss it in a large bowl with the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets, add the garlic and place on the bottom rack, for about 30 minutes. Spin once or twice along the way to get even roasting – let it all get deeply golden.
After the squash is in the oven, use the same bowl to toss the kale with another splash of olive, and pinch of salt. Arrange the leaves on the other baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until you get a touch of browning, but the leaves are primarily still green. Set aside.
Get the pasta water boiling, salt well, and cook the orzo pasta. Drain and use quickly (warm) OR (if you won’t be serving for a while) run under cold water, and toss with a tiny splash of olive oil.
For the dressing, extract the roasted garlic from its peel, and mash it with a bit of the yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Work in the rest of the yogurt, taste, and add more salt if needed.
When you’re ready to serve, toss the orzo, and roasted vegetables with about half of the yogurt. Turn out onto a platter and sprinkle with scallions, oregano, and seeds/nuts. Serve the remaining yogurt to the side.

We had quite the holiday party last night and today I’m just feeling like a little comfort food. We hit up one of our favorite cafes for lunch, but I had this recipe on my mind all day. It’s creamy and delicious, and the texture with the cauliflower and mustard toasted breadcrumbs is amazing.

penne and cauliflower with mustard breadcrumbs

Penne and Cauliflower with Mustard Breadcrumbs
via bon appetit

8 ounces penne rigate (2 1/2 cups)
5 cups small cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs made from crustless country-style bread
3/4 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Drain pasta and cauliflower, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return the pasta and cauliflower to pot. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Add breadcrumbs. Cook until breadcrumbs are golden and crisp, stirring to break up clumps, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to medium bowl.

Add 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, cream, lemon peel, and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to pasta mixture in pot. Toss over medium heat until sauce simmers and coats pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

It’s pasta week! I guess. Haha. I just noticed that this is my third pasta post in a row this week. Whoops! I promise there will be a little more variety next week! That said, I’m a pasta gal, and I never get sick of it. That Atkins diet business would have never worked for me. I whipped this up the other week for a last minute mini dinner party with our neighbor friend. We brought the pasta, she made some lovely greens and it was all from whatever we had in our fridges. Luckily, I’d had a hankering for ricotta last week, so I was all set for this beautiful, rich and delicious simple red sauce.

the wednesday chef’s best spaghetti sauce you’ll ever have
via a cup of jo

28 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, preferably)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste (I added 2 teaspoons)
12 ounces pasta (Penne works well)
1 cup whole milk ricotta
Grated Parmigiano

Put the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add salt to taste.
Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the sides of the pan. While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Then, in a serving bowl, combine the drained pasta with the tomato sauce — but, before mixing it all together, add a big dollop of fresh ricotta (calculate a scant 1/4 cup per person). Working quickly, mix the cheese, sauce and pasta together until you have a pink sauce that’s fragrant and creamy and delicious, then serve immediately (passing grated Parmigiano at the table).

Sometimes, you just need a little comfort food. A little pasta, a little cheese, some mushrooms and wine. Wine! Sometimes, you just need a little wine. Smitten Kitchen (whose cookbook just came out, by the way! And landed on my doorstep yesterday. Yipee!) makes some of the best pasta around and definitely does some magic with mushrooms (see my other favorite recipe here).
ps. This also makes a great date night meal! Something about the flavor is terribly romantic.

Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes
via smitten kitchen

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and chopped into small bits (I used creminis)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1 tablespoon for pasta water
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 pound pasta
1/2 pound frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and one teaspoon of the salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 10 minutes (though this took me much less time). Add the marsala and continue cooking until almost all the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in remaining salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and add it into the mushrooms, marsala and onions. Add the artichoke hearts, parmesan and cream and cook until the artichokes are heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and pepper, then adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

I love a perfectly fried egg. Please ignore my horrible iPhone picture below and imagine an actually perfectly fried egg. Slightly runny yolk makes the most amazing sauce. This pasta dish is so lovely in it’s simplicity; it’s rich, delicious and buttery. The below recipe is for one, but I tripled it to feed the husband and leave a little for leftovers. This is perfect for my Mondays night dinners for one while the mr. thrashes it out on the hockey rink. Next time I promise I’ll try to take a decent photo!

Pasta with Leeks, Peas, Parmesan, and a Fried Egg
recipe for one via food52

1 handful spaghetti
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup peas
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
shaved parmesan cheese, for garnish

Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until tender, 7-9 minutes. Drain and reserve.
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and saute until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and pasta, and toss to combine. Continue to toss until the mixture is heated through. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Using a spatula or tongs, push all the pasta to one end of the pan.
Crack an egg into the empty side of the pan. Season it with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to low. Cook the egg until your desired doneness. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and finish with parmesan cheese. Top with the egg and serve.

There so many days when I crave something simple like spaghetti, but it’s so lovely to put a little twist on it. It’s a favorite of mine. I still haven’t tried my hand at a true spaghetti sauce, but the light and bright versions like this one always satisfy!

Tomato Caper Pasta
via fresh365

1 lb linguine
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons caper juice
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add linguine. Cook 8-12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and shallots, over medium heat. Cook 5-7 minutes, until light golden brown and add garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn shallots or garlic. Add tomatoes, capers, caper juice and lemon zest and juice. Cook 3-5 minutes, until tomatoes are warm, and are just beginning to break down. Stir in linguine, adding remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season generously, to taste, with salt and pepper.