Rustic Pasta with Capers and Black Olives

Welcome back readers! I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Since it was both Derby Day and Cinco De Mayo, I think you can reach your own conclusion about how much I enjoyed my weekend! I’ve got some great recipes to share this week and a “big announcement” to make, but that will have to wait. No I’m not preggers so get your heads out of the gutter. 😉

In the meantime, here is another post for all of you Meatless Monday followers, or just plain old pasta lovers!

I like this recipe because it does not use tomato sauce which makes the dish very light and allows you to appreciate the flavors of the capers and olives without being overwhelmed with ‘tomato’. Plus, you can finish it in less than 15 minutes, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights.  Or when it’s to hot to use the oven!

While your pasta cooks, grab some capers and olives…

…. then toss them into a large saute pan with the cooked pasta and some olive oil

Notice something? The leftover roasted red pepper is making an appearance

Top the dish off with copious amounts of fresh cracked pepper and panko bread crumbs for crunch. Then devour. 😀

Rustic Pasta with Capers and Olives

Classy Italian Dinner

  • 2 servings angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 2 heaping tbl capers
  • ½ cup thinly shaved mozzarella*
  • Panko break crumbs (approx 2 tbl)
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ cup pasta water (reserve after the pasta is cooked)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according the package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a large skillet, drizzle generously with olive oil and toss in the olives,  peppers and capers. Salt and pepper generously. Continue to cook the pasta over low-med heat, tossing occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the pasta water and the mozzarella, toss and continue cook until the cheese just begin to melt. Plate the pasta and sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs just before serving (don’t skip this step, the crunch is perfect in this dish).

*Note: I had this cheese on hand and needed to use it up, but this dish works extremely well with Parmesan cheese, I recommend it!

Enjoy!

Daily Question: What regional style of Italian cooking do you prefer?

-Erin

Ultra Creamy Mac ‘n’ Cheese

What is better than a piping hot bowl of uber creamy shells and cheese?

I don’t know, maybe this:

Oberon on a sunny day is hard to beat

 

Ok but really, 😉 I know you want more mac ‘n’ cheese goodness so here we go.

This past weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday. It was a bit early because he will be on a temporary assignment abroad for the actual day. 😦 So to make this ‘early’ birthday special I wanted to make one of his favorite dinners and I knew this dish would make him happy.  This recipe is really easy, customizable and done on the stove top, so you don’t have any excuses not to try it for your next special occasion!

 

Choose your favorite pasta

 

Season the cheesy sauce well (fresh ground pepper!)

 

Combine the pasta and cheese and you are ready to eat. Seriously. Straight from the stove top to your mouth bowl. 🙂

Get in ma' BELLAY

This is so smooth and creamy and rich, it is AMAZING.

 

If you want, I couldn’t resist, sprinkle some extra cheese on top and throw in the oven to make the top bubbly and browned.

Hot and bubbly!

Please, try this recipe.  There is cheese out there in this world waiting to be eaten!

 

Ultra Creamy Stove Top Mac ‘n’ Cheese

  • 4 cups dried pasta (I used shells)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used Lactaid and it worked well)
  • 26 ounces shredded cheese* (I used colby jack)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 heaping tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper at minimum
  • Optional: Use whatever spices you like, chili powder could be good


Cook pasta according to package instructions, but reduce cooking time by about 2 minutes. You want the pasta to have some bite to it. In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. This will thicken up as you go and form the base of the cheese mixture. Next, pour in your milk and add the spices, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens more.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Temper the eggs by slowly stirring in a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Whisk the warmed eggs into the milk mixture until combined.

Now start adding in the cheese, whisking constantly until the cheese is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Contain your excitement, you’re almost done :-).  Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce, serve and devour.  OR- you can sprinkle some extra cheese on top and bake for 20 min in a 350 oven to get a yummy, bubbly brown top.

*Note, buy a 1 pound block of cheese (32 oz.) and leave off about 1/3 of it. Or use all of it, I won’t judge. 😉

Enjoy!

-Erin

Semi- Homemade Ravioli Dinner

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  You walk in the front door and hear:

“Hey (insert name of choice, wife/mom/you) what’s for dinner?”

Gosh, let me at least set down my bag.

 

Enter, the semi-homemade dinner: Ravioli with Parmesan  Cauliflower

Roast some cauliflower dressed with olive oil, parmesan cheese and ground pepper. Mmmm, fresh veggies!

Then toss with fresh ravioli and a healthy spoonful of basil-liscious pesto for the sauce.

Done. In less than 15 minutes.

Maybe right now you’re wondering why that picutre is so small. Well, pesto doesn’t look awesome when photographed (by me) up close. Let’s leave it at that.

Ravioli with Parmesan  Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1  9 ounce package of fresh ravioli (I buy one that cooks in 4 minutes)
  • ground pepper
  • parmesan cheese (from the green can of course)
  • 2 tbl pesto
  • olive oil

Heat oven to 400. Cut up the cauliflower into manageable pieces and then spread onto a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with enough olive oil to decently coat the cauliflower and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and ground pepper. Toss it well so the cauliflower is coated, roast in oven for about 15 min. Stir halfway through.  The cauliflower will get some nice crispy spots if you do this, yum. 

Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to package directions and return to pot when finished.  Stir in the pesto. When the cauliflower is done, gently fold it in with the ravioli. Enjoy!

– Erin

P.S. I’d like to send some love out to Sandra Lee, the semi-homemade pioneer,  right now.  Check her out at http://www.semihomemade.com/