Friday, February 26, 2010

Pasta: Two Ways, No Sauce

Rachel here: For this post, we decided to explore alternatives to the traditional pasta with tomato sauce. Now, this isn't because either one of us can't get down with some good old spaghetti. No, that's not it at all. It's just that it's nice to utilize staple ingredients in less common ways from time to time and pasta is nothing if not a staple. I vividly recall the dish my mom has posted below from growing up. It's quite tasty and this is coming from somebody who basically avoids cauliflower and broccoli like the plague. My soup recipe was the byproduct of epicurious (via the November 2004 issue of Bon Appetit) perusing and, though this was the first time I made it, it will definitely be making further appearances on the dinner table in my house. Plus, I'm thinking that this may generally be the way I make meatballs from now on since I have never had them hold up so well (and to stirring, even!) and this is a healthier approach than just cooking them in oil. Anyway, check out our recipes below and then let us know how you like your pasta. Happy eating!

Escarole Soup with Pasta and Meatballs
feeds 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter

3/4 lb. lean ground beef (according to reviews of this recipe turkey works just fine, too, for an even healthier alternative)
1 1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan (divide into 1/3 c. and 1 c. units)
1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs from crustless french bread
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tspn. salt
1/2 tspn. fresh ground pepper
7 1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth
2 T. olive oil
2 large celery stalks (including tops), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c. orzo
1 small head of escarole, coarsely torn

In a medium bowl, mix together the first seven ingredients (beef through pepper). Form this mixture into 3/4 inch balls (moisten your hands to prevent sticking to the meat). Heat 1 1/2 c. of the chicken broth with the 2 T. of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and simmer until they are firm and hold their shape (roughly 5 minutes). When the meatballs are firm, remove them back to their bowl. Boil remaining liquid until reduced to a glaze. Add onion and celery and stir until they start to soften. Add the remaining 6 c. of chicken broth, the meatballs (along with any juices) and the orzo to the pot. Simmer until pasta is soft (roughly ten minutes) and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the escarole and simmer until it wilts (roughly 5 minutes). Ladle into bowls, top with remaining parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Cauliflower Pasta
serves 6

one head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
one medium onion, choppped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of your favorite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
about 3/4 teaspoon oregano
about 3/4 teaspoon basil
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spaghetti (I prefer thin but that's just me)
grated Parmesan

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onions. Saute until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower and saute for about 5 minutes until it's just start to get tender. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Let simmer for about 15 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked the way you like (I like my vegetables crunchy).

While the cauliflower mixture is simmering, fill a pot with about 4 quarts of water and salt it. When boiling, add the pasta and cook until it's the way you like it (I prefer al dente), about 10 minutes or so.

Drain the pasta, place portions on the plate, add the cauliflower mixture, top with Parmesan and you are ready to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment