Seafood Spaghetti

Music: Jose Gonzalez, Veneer – His song Heartbeats is a popular one, but the rest of the album leaves you with the same feeling, a little tickle and the yearning to press “REPLAY”.
Menu: Seafood spaghetti and garlic bread


First, I apologize if you got a little preview of the pics from this meal! I unfortunately have been couch ridden with some torn muscles is my back…yea, ouch. I have been sleeping about 4 hours each night, which means early mornings spent in front of the computer and I accidentally pressed the wrong button, whoops!


But my little back injury has not prevented me from cooking 🙂 Quite the opposite, I have been in the kitchen non-stop with random yelling spurts to BJ when I can’t reach something. Funny story: the doctor told me that in order to heal, I need to keep my arms within the “beach ball zone”. So, picture that you are holding a beach ball just in front of your body…I’m not supposed to move my arms beyond this. This has lead BJ to his own yelling sprees! When he sees my reaching for something and my arms beyond the beach ball zone, he yells, “BEACH BALL!”


Anyways, this meal was great. There is definitely room for improvement and there will be a few changes next time we venture with a seafood spaghetti. But all in all it hit the spot. I crave seafood. The Florida girl stuck in the middle of the U.S…go figure. It’s difficult to find quality seafood, but I thought this would be a safe bet with shrimp and clams. The clams were okay.


The first step of cooking was homemade oven dried tomatoes. Well worth the extra step instead of using the store bought oil packed sun dried tomatoes (I can’t find the ones not packed in oil!). We had a bunch of romas and san marzanos from the garden and they were on the verge of going overboard, it was just meant to be. So, I drained the tomatoes well (salted and then pressed into paper towels for an hour or so) and threw them in a low heat oven for while. They burned a little on the edges, but had tons of flavor.

The clams and shrimp cooked in wine. This took a lot longer than I thought. The clams took over 10 minutes to open. The recipe I used said to put the shrimp and clams in at the same time, but this left the shrimp a little over cooked and me begging the clams to open…all but one did.

Tossed with whole wheat spaghetti, fresh spinach and topped with lots of parmesan and we felt like royalty eating this one…it was definitely the perfect meal for a romantic night with your honey.


On another note, I have recently been getting fresh batches of grown spinach as opposed to the baby spinach in the box from Costco and I must say we’ve been missing out. The spinach is usually pretty dirty, so washing and washing again in advance is a must. However, the final product is far better. The fresh spinach is more like thick hearty greens as opposed to the baby spinach, which is much more like lettuce.


I usually make a lot of dinner, so that we have leftovers for lunch for the week. But this time there were no leftovers…

Seafood Spaghetti
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 3 shallots, chopped (not minced, you want pieces for texture in the sauce)
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup oven dried tomatoes
  • S & P
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup dry white wine, we used a light Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails left on
  • Clams – I thought 3/person was good, but whatever you feel is best.
  • 2 cups of tightly packed spinach or arugala
  • Parmesan cheese and basil strips for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat water and salt generously. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. Heat EVOO in large pan. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, and seasonings. Cook for another minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high and add wine. Place clams in the pan and scatter shrimp. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer. Cover and let the seafood cook, until the shrimp are pick and clams open, 7 – 10 minutes.
  4. Add spaghetti and spinach to pan and stir to combine.
  5. Top with cheese and basil and serve!

PS – Garlic bread is great for soaking up the sauce 🙂


Summertime in Denver = Pasta Primavera

Menu: Crackers and cheese to munch on while cooking, and the pasta is plenty for dinner!
Music: Dave Brubeck Quartet: Live in Stockholm

The summer sun has finally arrived in Denver!! This year has brought some crazy and unusual weather. It started off with one of the mildest winters. I’m talking January 17th and 70 degree sunshine days. Then late winter and spring kicked in and winter decided to show and kill our spring…boo. I think it’s safe to say that summer is a comin’ at this point! This weekend we enjoyed lots of sun (Amanda has the burn lines to prove it!) and tons of activities. Saturday morning we did a 5K charity run for NAMI. Then we rushed home as our local neighborhood association had an awesome party at our nearby park. So, we took the dogs over and soaked up some rays with friends and food. It was a GREAT day. Naturally, I had to find a perfect meal to top of a perfect summer day…pasta primavera!


The recipe is a bit complicated. It’s from Cook’s Illustrated and if you are familar with the publication, their recipes can be a bit complicated as they find the absolute most perfect way to prepare the meal (regardless of how many pans you use or how much time it takes). I actually followed the recipe to try it their way. And while it was FABULOUS, I think there is definitely room for improvement, especially in the massive amounts of dishes I (by I, I really mean BJ) had afterwards. Oh well, I guess I am ust forced to make this one again and find a better way, darn. Hope you enjoy this recipe on a beautiful summer day, as we did 🙂

Pasta Primavera
from Cook’s Illustrated (The New Best Recipe Book)

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 6 ounces of green beans, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 12 medium asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into half moon shapes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 6 TB unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces of white mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, cored and chopped (I used 2 large off the vine tomatoes, I had them on hand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (use to your liking)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • 1 lb. fettuccine (I did homemade whole wheat fettuccine)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • S & P
  • Parmesan for topping

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot for the pasta. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan for the vegetables; adding 1 TB salt to each. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
  2. Add the green beans to boiling water; cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the asparagus; cook for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini; cook for 30 seconds. Add the peas; cook for 30 seconds. Drain the veggies and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Let them chill for about 3 minutes, drain well and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 TB butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned and they have released their juices, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, reduce heat to medium and summer until the tomatoes begin to break down and lose shape, about 7 minutes.
  5. Add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Cover pan to keep warm and set aside.
  6. Add pasta to pot and cook until al dente.
  7. Heat 2 TB butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the blanched veggies and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  8. Bring the mushroom and tomato mixture back to a simmer.
  9. Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour mushroom tomato and veggie mixture over pasta. Add lemon juice, basil, S&P and toss well to coat pasta.
  10. Serve with parmesan on top (and extra red pepper if you’re like us!)


Homemade pasta

Menu: After your first time, you need a quick and simple sauce, try this puttanesca. And if you’re like me, you will also need wine in order to accomplish making homemade pasta, so wine and lots of it!
Music: Norah Jones, my current fave song of hers is Sunrise on the album Feels Like Home

So, homemade pasta, I say? Sounds like a pain and not worth the time when pasta is so cheap at the market, right? WRONG! Homemade pasta is worth it when ya got the time. For me, when I have a rough day at the office, my hands yearn to knead me some dough. But the best part about homemade pasta: the light fluffy texture. Say goodbye to heavy, tummy-filling, over stuffing, chewy pasta. Once you have made a batch and reaped the benefits you will be making it over and over again 🙂

Rolling the pasta out!

Homemade Pasta
Amanda


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour (I usually make whole wheat pasta, which is a 2:1 ration of whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tspn. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tspn. EVOO
  • extra flour for dusting, and some water handy

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour(s) and salt. Pour onto large surface (with enough room for kneading) and gather into a large mound.
  2. Make a hollow in the center, and pour in the EVOO. Break eggs into the hole one at a time, while mixing quickly with a fork until the dough is wet enough to come together. (This can become extremely messy, so don’t give up! I have been making pasta dough for years and my neat little pile falls apart half the time. I just mix it the best I can and keep going. It eventually comes together and you have a nice little ball to knead!)
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until the dough is stiff and elastic, usually for a good 5 minutes. You might need to add more water if the dough is too hard to knead; or more flour is it is too wet. Cover, and let stand for 30 minutes to relax.
  4. Cut the dough ball into quarters, flour what was the inside of the dough ball and flatten the section. Dust the pasta machine with flour as well. Start with the largest setting (7 on my machine) and begin to roll. I usually roll it a couple times in the largest setting and then move down by twos. Each section will roll into a long sheet. (Roll to lowest setting for angel hair, second lowest for spaghetti, and so on).
  5. Place rolled pasta sheets on towels until all pasta has reached desired thickness.
  6. Next, cut the pasta to desired shape (use maching for angel hair, spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc. or hand cut into parpadelle).
  7. Place the cut pasta on a floured platter and add flour each layer to prevent the pieces from sticking together (see photo from above).
  8. Have a salted pot of water boiling and add pasta as soon as you’re done. The pasta will only take 3 – 4 minutes. (Seriously, it seems to cook almost instantly so pay attention!) Remove from pot and serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Pasta Puttanesca

This is a go to meal for us. It comes from Ellie Krieger and the only exception that I have made to it is fresh pasta. It makes the meal just perfect! You could of course use store bought pasta, but I would recommend sticking with the whole wheat on this one. The sauce is super easy and quick – a perfect meal for a quick weeknight dinner. It can also be spruced up with a fancy appetizer for a last minute dinner party.

Some of the ingredients in this recipe, you might not have on hand, but they are well worth the investment and or at least picking up a small amount. For instance, most grocery stores have an olive bar. You can pick up specified quatities of olives, capers, artichoke hearts, and lots of other yummy stuff. It’s great because you’re not forced to buy the jar, which saves both money and the smell of your fridge 🙂 You can also pick up a handful of spinach instead of buying a whole bag. But the one thing, I do not recommend skipping…anchovy paste. If you think you don’t like anchovies, this is a great dish to TRY it again (and if you LOVE the little stinky guys, you might wanna consider getting anchove fillets and mincing them up). The paste is not overpowering, it’s subtle, salty, and the backbone of this sauce. It provides a depth of flavor I’m afraid you just can’t achieve with a sub. Wondering how the heck you will use the rest of that $4 tube?? Stay tuned for some homemade Ceasar salad dressing!



Whole Wheat Pasta Puttanseca

from Ellie Kreiger, Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of fresh whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 TB EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pitted chopped olives, use something salty like Kalamata or Spanish
  • 2 TB capers
  • 1 tspn. anchovy paste
  • 1 tspn dried oregano leaves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – I use a lot, but if you don’t like things spicy, just a pinch will do.
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, I always go for the “no salt added” kind
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh arugula or spinach
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute – I’m a nazi about burnt garlic, so as soon as you smell that wonderful fragrance, move on!
  2. Add the parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Throw the fresh pasta in at this point in the cooking process (or if you are using dried pasta, start it at the beginning!)
  5. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.
  6. Drain pasta and add it to the large skillet. Toss, top with parm, and serve!

Menu: Boiled artichokes with garlic butter appetizer and a hunk of crusty garlic bread to soak up the juices

Music: Bela Fleck & The Fleckstones: Live at the Quick