Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto

This is not the first pesto to make an appearance on this blog and there is a reason for this. Pesto sauces are an interesting and delicious deviation from the typical tomato sauce. I love them because their use is … Continue reading

Avocado & Spinach Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

I was pretty closed-minded to the idea of using avocado in a pasta sauce. One day, on a whim, I added it to the weekly menu. This dish is memorable and has opened my mind to other, non-dip/sandwich related uses … Continue reading

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

I apologize for the hiatus. I think I am mostly apologizing to myself for forgetting the joy this hobby brings. I apologize for the excuses of being too tired, too uninspired, or too burdened from an emotional day at work. … Continue reading

Braised Chicken and Sausage Pasta

This is one of those meals. It’s one of those uncomplicated meals where time magically coaxes rich flavours from simple ingredients. No step is difficult, but patience with each one is the difference between dinner and comfort food. I love … Continue reading

Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta

IMG_4159

Can you believe that November is upon us? Tomorrow evening little kids (and more than a few young adults) will be dressing up as ghosts, goblins, princesses, and, inevitably, Miley Cirus. We’ll wake up on Friday to a sense of urgency to move on to the next holiday….boxes of mini candy bars will be on clearance and “Jingle Bells” will have us all thinking about chestnuts roasting and candy canes.

But let’s hold on to autumn for a little longer, shall we?  I don’t want to rush it. Let’s talk squash.

It had never occurred to me to puree squash and use it as a pasta sauce until I read this recipe. It made me very excited. I also feel there are certain foods that just love to be together…this includes bacon and butternut squash. The sweetness of the squash and the saltiness of the bacon is an irresistible combination.

A few notes:
1/ Boiling the squash makes this a fast and conceivable weeknight meal. If you prefer not to peel and dice the squash (hard to argue that it is a bit of a task), I think you could simply halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and roast it at 400F for 25-35 minutes.  I think I might try this method next time to see how the roasting might enhance the flavours.
2/ The author of the recipe says we must not skip the step of frying the sage. Realistically, for an everyday meal, I’m probably going to skip it next time and get the sage flavour from chopping it and stirring it in.  

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil
8 sage leaves
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 cup, or so, of broth or water
4-5 slices of bacon, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces pasta
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the squash until fork tender. The time will depend on how big you’ve cut the squash…but 12-15 minutes is a fair estimate
  2. While the squash is cooking, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet until the surface is ‘shimmering’.  Sometimes I tilt the pan so the oil forms a deeper pool. Cook the sage leaves (just a couple at a time) for about 30 seconds or less. They will appear crisp, but still bright green. Season with salt. Pour out the oil; you’ll be using this pan again.
  3. When the squash is cooked, remove the squash from the boiling water with a slotted spoon. You’ll be using this boiling squash water to cook the pasta. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, add the squash to a food processor and process until smooth. Add liquid until desired consistency.
  5. Heat that frying pan you used for the sage. Fry the bacon until desired crispiness. Remove from pan.  Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  6. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour squash into frying pan and mix with onions and garlic. Add parmesan cheese, half the bacon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Combine desired amount of sauce with your pasta. Serve, topped with fried sage leaves, remaining bacon, fresh pepper and additional parmesan cheese

IMG_4150

 Source: Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

PS.. Boo

20131029_221737

Spinach Almond Pesto

IMG_0169

When we think of pesto, our mind wanders to the traditional Genovese pesto with pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.  One of the reasons why I like pesto is because you don’t have to stick to that script. Pesto, really, just refers to the way it was originally prepared – in a mortar and pestle. I stumbled across this recipe using spinach and almonds and was instantly intrigued. It’s not always easy to produce a large yield of pesto sauce unless it is peak basil season…and have more landscaping area than a balcony can provide. Secondly, I like to save a few bucks, and pine nuts…well…they cost many bucks.

I loved this version.

Keep a jar in your fridge to add to pastas, wraps, pizzas, sandwiches, salad dressings…the list goes on, for a quick way to add flavour to your meals this summer.

IMG_0148

Served with pasta and fresh grape tomatoes

Ingredients 
1 oz parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese)
1 oz raw almonds (unsalted, unroasted)
2 oz fresh spinach (approximately 2-3 cups loosely packed)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
a pinch chili pepper (or any source of heat you like, we used hot peppers from the garden)
1 small clove of garlic
handful of fresh basil leaves
¼  to 1/3 cup olive oil
Instructions

  1. Combine parmesan and almonds in food processor and grind until fine. This will take a few minutes. Compare it to coffee grounds or bread crumbs
  2. Add spinach, basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili peppers and process until spinach is ground as well. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed
  3. With the processor running, add olive oil until desired consistency is reached. We didn’t use much more than ¼ cup

Source:
Adapted slightly from: The Italian Dish

Simple Tomato Sauce

IMG_8787

So, about this tomato sauce. It really is just 3 ingredients. You’re going to say to me “where’s the garlic?”, “where are the herbs?”, or many other questions that summarize: “That’s it?”  This is it, guys. Deal with it, and thank me after you smell your kitchen. It does take some time to simmer, but by the time you get your pasta ready and have a cup of tea – you’re in business.

Ingredients
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, and juice
(San Marzano style tomatoes, if possible. When the tomatoes are the star, they better be good ones)
1 yellow onion, quartered
5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer. Slowly simmer for 45-60 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes on the side of the pot.
  3. Remove the onion pieces as best you can. Now, throw these onions out if you must, BUT, they are delightful. We have put them on meatball sandwiches. Post on this to come.

IMG_8836

Seen above with homemade whole wheat pasta.

Source(s):
Smitten Kitchen
Annie’s Eats