Category Archives: Noodles

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Have you made this tomato sauce?  People swear by it.  People LOVE it.  People think it’s genius.  I am completely undecided.

The sauce has only four ingredients.  One of them is butter.  The sauce was so fine-textured that it clung delicately and evenly to each individual noodle.  Its flavor was the summer flavor of the good tomatoes I used, enriched with butter and salt.

With very little effort, this recipe produced a refined and tasty dish.  Which made me notice that refined and tasty aren’t necessarily enough for me.  Continue reading

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Baked Pasta With Roasted Vegetables and Fresh Mozzarella

Someone taught my baby to say “stop it.”  Life with a seventeen-month-old is undignified enough, I feel, without irate admonitions issuing from the tiny person over every little thing.  Like when I try to change her diaper (“Stop it!”).  Like when I take a ballpoint pen away (“Stop it!).  Like when I insist that her carseat straps be buckled for travel (“No no no no STOP IT!”).

Imagine how she feels, though.  She’s the baby in a family of five.  We tell her to stop every time she innocently tries to tear a page from a book, or color on the table, or suck on the bottom of a delectable shoe.  We may both be saying the same words, but there are days when we’re not exactly speaking the same language.  Luckily, I can’t ever get down about it, because at the first sign of sadness this same baby rushes across the room, arms outstretched, yelling “Hug! Hug!”  Hopefully she learned that from us, too.

At times like these, comfort food is occasionally in order for the whole family.  And is there any comfort food that compares to baked pasta?  I guess roasted vegetables, maybe, so I’ve combined the two here to hedge my bets.  The children can pick out the cheesy pasta parts and I can console myself with all the eggplant that’s left in pan. Continue reading

15-Minute Pasta e Fagioli

I want you to know something.  Just now, at 11 pm, I got up off the couch, poured leftover soup into a bowl, and garnished it with parsley to take the photo below.  Because the photo I had planned to use was admittedly drab, and because I want you to want to make this soup.  I’ve never done that before; I usually just snap a photo as I go.  Is that too ridiculous?  Is it better or worse if I tell you?

But here’s the thing: I want to you to put this recipe in your mental recipe file.  It’s an easy fix when dinner needs to be on the table in 15 minutes, and it’s a bowlful of soup when you need it most.  (I, for one, always need soup most when I’m in such a rush that I only have 15 minutes to make dinner.)

This is peasant food, which means it’s all the best things: thrifty, filling, comforting.   The name translates to “Pasta and Beans,” and those are the only essential ingredients.  I never like to pass up the chance to add vegetables to things, though, so I included my beet greens and a couple of tomatoes.  You can certainly select your own vegetables, or skip them all together.  If you’ve already got cooked chickpeas or white beans handy, you’ll be glad; otherwise just open a can and you’re ready to go.

Continue reading

Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomatoes

I found this picture on the camera the other day:I asked J, “Why did you take this picture?”

J asked me, “Why did you put a glass of basil in the cupboard?”

Well, for about a million reasons, of course!  First, you all convinced me that I should keep my basil on the counter in a vase of water–and hey!  That really works!  Second, the counter was messy and I needed a little more space.  Third…well, ok, two reasons.

When there’s more basil than I have room for, it’s pesto time.  At this time of year, if you have a glut of basil yourself, consider making a big batch of pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays.  (Not because you’d limit yourself to one cube of pesto, of course–just because it defrosts more quickly than if you freeze it in a bigger block.)  And if you’re making pesto to freeze, it might as well double as dinner, right?This is, to me, the perfect pesto.  It’s saucy and flavorful with no one component overwhelming the others.  It tastes like summer, which we’ll appreciate with nostalgia soon.  But for the moment, why not enjoy it with whole wheat pasta and summer’s perfect Sungold tomatoes? Continue reading

Baked Whole Wheat Orzo with Late-Summer Vegetables

The lazy cook in me was intrigued by the baked pasta recipe that appeared on Smitten Kitchen today.  Because the pasta it used was orzo and (why did I never think of this before?) the orzo can be baked without pre-boiling, thereby saving you six minutes and the washing of an extra pot.  You’re welcome.Deb’s recipe, adapted from our favorite Yotam Ottolenghi, is for a cheesy (just-cheesy-enough, she says) bake with the usual Ottolenghian flourishes of lemon zest and oregano.  And it sounds lovely.  But once I started browning perfect summer vegetables–eggplant, zucchini, peppers, falling-apart fragrant tomatoes–I couldn’t bear to adulterate them much.  (If your tomatoes are less than perfect, by all means try out the original recipe’s suggestion to jazz them up with a few tablespoons of chopped oregano and the zest of a lemon; you could even add that chopped mozzarella.)  For me, whole wheat orzo, salt, and the heat of the oven were enough to make the pan of vegetables a hearty late-summer meal.  I crumbled feta on top at the end and browned it under the broiler, but it’s perfectly delicious without the cheese.  A tomato salad on the side provided a sweet little bite of acid to compliment the richness of the cooked vegetables.  (The Indigo Rose tomatoes were almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.) Continue reading

Fresh Tomato Pasta with Dill and Lemon

The tomatoes are purple, broad-bottomed, flecked with green.  These are not my backyard Sungolds.  They’re Cherokee Purple heirlooms, hefty in my hand, and they come from east of the mountains where it actually gets hot.   They’re rare visitors in my kitchen, but I know just what to do with them today. Continue reading

Israeli Couscous with Zucchini, Sungold Tomatoes, and Basil Oil

Although I couldn’t grow a beefsteak tomato in a hundred years in my Seattle backyard, the smallest varieties grow reasonably well in a warm year (read: not this year).  So I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and love cherry tomatoes of every color.  The reds are reliable, the yellow pears add variety, the purpley-blacks are tangy and sweet.  But the loveliest of them all, for both flavor and looks, is the orange-bright Sungold tomato.  Use them here if you have them.  Grow them next year if you don’t.This is my kind of pasta dish because it’s equal parts vegetables and pasta.  Continue reading