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Hometown Focus Recipes – Hometown Focus – Tricks and Tips

Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for oyster mushroom tacos

I found this pasta cookbook in our local thrift shop the other day, and fell instantly in love—as I do with soups, Mexican fare, seafood, something spicy hot… basically everything!

These recipes are from the Step-by-Step Pasta Cookbook, and if I hadn’t been eating pasta the last three nights (pasta shells with white cheese topped with a lobster bisque sauce and some imitation crab chunks added—real crab not so readily available in northern Minnesota), I’d be eying up one of these creations for dinner. However, one can only eat pasta leftovers for so long, so I’ll tuck this book away for another day when the pasta craving hits again.

Soup season is in the air given our cooler nights and fall foliage starting to peek out. Soon wild game hunting seasons will begin, so I’ll get the pasta recipes in while I can—more will appear at some point!

Fettuccine with Zucchini

• 1 lb. fettuccine
• 1/3 c. butter
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 lb. zucchini, grated
• 3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 c. olive oil
• 16 medium-sized basil leaves

Cook pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling water until just tender. Drain and return to pan. While pasta is cooking, heat butter in a deep heavy-based pan over low heat until butter is foaming. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 – 2 minutes or until softened. Add zucchini sauce to pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and toss well.

To make basil leaves crisp, heat the oil in a small pan, add 2 leaves at a time and cook for 1 minute or until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining basil leaves.

Divide pasta between warmed serving bowls, garnish with crisp basil leaves and serve immediately. Basil leaves can be fried up to 2 hours in advance. Store in an airtight container after cooling. (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

Linguine with Red Pepper Sauce

• 3 medium red peppers
• 3 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 large onion, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. chili flakes or powder
• 1/2 c. heavy cream
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
• 1 lb. linguini or spaghetti, plain or
spinach

Halve each pepper and use a sharp knife to remove all the membrane and seeds. Place the peppers cut-side down under a hot broiler and cook for 8 minutes or until black and blistered. Cover with a damp dish towel and allow to cool. Peel off skin and cut the peppers into thin strips.

Heat the oil in large heavy-based pan. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, over low heat for 8 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add peppers, garlic, chili and cream, cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, and chopped oregano. If necessary, you can substitute dried oregano—use about one-third of the quantity as dried herbs have a much stronger flavor.

Before the sauce is cooked, add the pasta to a large pan of rapidly boiling water and cook until it is just tender. Drain the pasta well and return it to the pan, Add the sauce to the hot pasta and toss well until evenly combined. Serve in warmed pasta bowls. (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

Spirals with Green Sauce

• 1 lb. spiral pasta
• 1 medium onion
• 2 medium zucchini
• 5 – 6 large Swiss chard leaves

• 2 anchovies
• 1 Tbsp.capers
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1/4 c. butter
• 1/4 c. white wine
• Salt and pepper to taste

Add pasta to a large pan of boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain and return to pan. While pasta is cooking, chop onion finely. Grate the zucchini into fine pieces. Remove and discard stalks from Swiss shard. Chop or shred leaves into small pieces. Chop anchovies and capers finely. Heat olive oil and butter in a large heavy-based deep pan. Add prepared onion and zucchini, stir with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes over medium heat.

Add anchovies, capers, wine, salt and pepper to pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add prepared Swiss chard to pan and cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until Swiss chard has softened. Add green sauce to warm pasta and toss until well distributed. Serve in warm pasta bowls. (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

Pasta with Ricotta, Chili and Herbs

• 1 lb. spiral pasta or penne
• 1/4 c. olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 tsp. very finely chopped fresh chili
• 1 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves,
roughly chopped
• 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, shredded
• 1/2 c. fresh oregano leaves, roughly
chopped
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 6 1/2 oz. fresh ricotta cheese, cut into

small cubes

Add pasta to a large pan of rapidly boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain and return to pan. When pasta is almost cooked, heat oil in a non-stick heavy-based frying pan. Add garlic and chili to pan and stir for 1 minute over low heat. Add oil mixture, herbs, salt and pepper to pasta. Toss well until mixture coats pasta thoroughly. Add cubes of ricotta and serve immediately. (Yield: 4 servings)

Spaghetti Tomato Salad

• 1 lb. spaghettini or spaghetti
• 1 c. fresh basil leaves
• 8 oz. cherry tomatoed, halved
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 1/2 c. chopped black olives
• 1/4 c. olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste

Add pasta to a large pan of rapidly boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain pasta and rinse well under cold water. Pasta can be cooked up to 1 day in advance. If doing this, cool pasta and toss with a little oil.

Using a sharp knife, chop basil leaves into fine strips. In a bowl, combine basil, tomatoes, garlic, olives, oil and vinegar. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Place drained pasta in a large salad bowl and add tomato mixture. Add Parmesan, salt and pepper. Toss well and serve immediately. (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)