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pasta

Shrimp Scampi

By Heidi Sutton

Pasta has been enjoyed around the world for centuries, with deep ties to Italy and other Mediterranean nations like Greece, and several territories of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula. In fact, centuries ago dry durable pasta was one of the main sources of nutrition for Arab traders, including those who landed in Sicily.

The flavor profile of pasta can change significantly depending on which ingredients are added. Cooks needn’t feel beholden to the standard “spaghetti and meatballs” recipe. Shrimp Scampi with linguine, for example, originates from Genoa, Italy while Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta and Dill, may take its inspiration from Greek cooking. Both are easy to whip up on a weeknight and are shrimply irresistible!

Shrimp Scampi

Recipe courtesy of Culinary.net

Shrimp Scampi

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces pasta linguine

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine or seafood broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 dash crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 lemon, juice only

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions. In large skillet, melt butter and oil. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add wine or broth, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to simmer and reduce by half. Add shrimp and saute until shrimp turn pink and opaque, approximately 2 to 4 minutes depending on size. Stir in parsley, lemon juice and cooked pasta. Toss to combine. Serve with garlic bread.  

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta and Dill

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done! cookbook

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta and Dill

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces spaghetti (3⁄4 box)

1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 ounces feta, crumbled (3⁄4 cup)

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and return it to the pot. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Add the shrimp mixture to the pasta, along with the feta, dill, the remaining 1⁄4 cup of oil, and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss to combine. 

Split Pea Soup

By Heidi Sutton

In Seinfeld‘s infamous episode #93, “The Soup,” Jerry is gifted a brand new Armani suit by fellow comedian Kenny Bania. In return, Jerry agrees to take Kenny out for a meal. When Kenny only orders soup, the two debate whether soup actually constitutes a meal and if Jerry is now obligated to take Kenny out to dinner for a second time.

If Kenny had ordered one of the following soups (instead of  consommé), Jerry would’ve been off the hook. Hearty, delicious and perfect for this chilly weather, these recipes have remained popular in my family through the years and I’m sure your family will love them too. 

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)

3 carrots, thinly sliced

2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

1 Russet potato peeled and cubed

1 onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 ham bone with fat cut off

1 bag of green split peas

1/2 cup cooked diced ham

4 cups reduced salt chicken broth

4 cups water

DIRECTIONS:

In a 5 quart pot, heat oil and saute carrots celery, potato and onion for 10minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add bay leaf, marjoram, ham bone and split peas. Add chicken broth and water and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham bone, cool, cut off meat and add to soup. Add diced ham. Serve with French bread or baked sweet potato fries.

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2  tablespoons oil 

One pound Italian sausages, casings removed .

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 celery stalk with leaves, sliced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 1/2 cups sliced carrots

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes (optional)

5 cups canned chicken broth

1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup elbow macaroni

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a 6 quart Dutch Oven. Add sausages, and saute until beginning to brown, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, celery, basil, carrots, rosemary, and red pepper. Saute until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with their juices and beans. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add elbow macaroni and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with cheesy garlic bread.

Beef Barley Soup

Beef Barley Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 tablespoons oil

About 1 lb of beef shank cross cut

3 large carrots, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 onion, sliced

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1 Russet potato, cut into cubes

1/3 cup barley

1/2 teaspoon oregano

4 cups of reduced salt beef broth

1 cup hot water

1/2 package of frozen, chopped spinach

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a 5 quart pot, heat oil, add the beef and brown well on both sides. Remove to plate and let cool. Cut meat into very small juices; save the bone. In the same pot, cook all vegetables until slightly softened. Return the meat and bone, add barley, oregano, beef broth and water. Simmer until meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Add spinach, cook 10 more minutes. Remove bone. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with cornbread muffins.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Summer pastas take advantage of the season’s bounty and feature veggies and herbs and other warm weather flavors that go hand in hand with the outdoors where the livin’ is easy.  They’re light, they’re colorful and they’re savory. And like the livin’, they’re easy to put together. My favorite is a pasta with lemon and herbs. Of course, there’s pasta with pesto which is wonderful on its own and even more wonderful with the addition of finely diced summer veggies. And if spring and summer take you fishing, boating or beaching and you get a hankering for seafood, there’s pasta with crabmeat and peas.

Farfalle with Lemon and Herbs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound farfalle pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, bruised

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup snipped fresh garlic chives

1 tablespoon (T) fresh lemon thyme leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon balm leaves

1 T finely grated lemon zest

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 to 2/3 cup pasta water

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat; add garlic clove and cook one or two minutes until it releases its aroma; remove and discard. Add basil, parsley, chives, thyme, verbena, lemon balm, zest, and juice, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat. When pasta is just al dente, drain and add to skillet with the half to two-thirds cup pasta water; over medium-low heat, toss to  coat thoroughly. Serve hot or warm with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound fusilli

8 to 10 large sprigs of basil, leaves removed

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

1/2 cup pignoli nuts

1 large garlic clove

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more pasta water, if needed

1 small zucchini, cut into half-inch dice

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into half-inch dice

1 medium tomato, seeds removed, cut into half-inch dice

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook fusilli according to package directions. Meanwhile place basil, cheese, nuts, garlic, 3/4 cup of the oil, salt and pepper in bowl of electric food processor. Puree mixture, scraping bowl often, until it is smooth and turns a light green color; if it seems too thick, add pasta water a tablespoonful at a time until right consistency is achieved; set aside. In large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; add zucchini, potato and tomato and saute, stirring frequently until tender, about 5 minutes. In large pasta bowl, toss pesto and pasta together, sprinkle with sautéed veggies and serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a crusty bread.

Capellini with Crabmeat and Peas

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound capellini (very thin spaghetti)

1 pound fresh or frozen shelled peas

8 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1/4 cup fresh snipped chives

1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions but 3 minutes before end of cooking time add peas to pasta water and continue to cook until it is al dente. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet over moderate heat, melt butter; add herbs. Add pasta and peas, grated cheese, half a cup (more if needed) of pasta water, salt and pepper to skillet. Tossing constantly, continue cooking the mixture over low heat until pasta is coated with a light creamy sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add crabmeat and cook over medium-low heat, just enough to heat through, about a minute or two. Serve hot or warm with an arugula salad and crisp dry white wine.

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At some point along my ancestral chain, I must have been Italian. Or Chinese. How do I know? I have an unbelievable passion for pasta. That’s not a carbohydrate lust. While I have never met a carb I don’t like, I can take or leave rice or bread and the many other forms in which carbohydrates can be found. But my soul soars for pasta.

It was World Pasta Day Oct. 25, and that got me to thinking about my love affair with pasta. I suppose it started in my early childhood, as almost everything does. SpaghettiOs came in a can, and my mother occasionally served it to us as part of a meal. However, the story is not that straightforward. She felt the sauce was a bit sharp, and so she sprinkled the spaghetti with a little sugar. Now this is enough to make any self-respecting Italian restaurateur gag. Many did, as I would ask, “Can I have some sugar please?” of my waiter as I was served a bowl of steaming pasta. “Sugar? You mean Parmesan cheese?” he would ask. “No sugar, thank you, granulated sugar,” I would patiently explain. Then he would watch in fascination as I topped off my dish accordingly.

It wasn’t until I visited Italy for the first time that I understood the miracle of pasta. The secret is in the sauce, which decidedly is not improved with the addition of sugar. Somehow the pasta itself tastes different there too, the same way water does depending on where it comes from. I remember that first trip very well, as I fell in love with the beauty of the country, the kindness of the people, the richness of its art. But what I remember best is the pasta, which I will tell you that I came to eat there three times a day. And it never tasted the same way twice because all chefs proudly make their own secret sauces. The high point occurred in Amalfi, in a small restaurant on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea. We were with a tour but unscheduled for lunch, and we wandered around the town looking for a likely eatery. They are all charming, you know, but one in particular attracted us and we went in to find that the luncheon special consisted of six different kinds of pasta.

Six! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The chef, who spoke no English and needed none, came out to explain that we should start with the mildest pasta on the huge plate, then work our way around much as an artist does with his paint palette, to the one with the strongest flavored sauce. The six pastas were each different and the experience was, as you can tell, exquisitely memorable.

Although some think pasta was invented in Italy, others believe Marco Polo brought it back from his travels to China, where he supposedly tasted it at the court of Kublai Khan. There is record of the Chinese eating noodles as early as 5000 B.C. and, in fact, the Etruscans from western Italy seem to have made pasta in 400 B.C. There are bas-relief carvings in a cave 30 miles north of Rome depicting instruments for making pasta: a rolling-out table, pastry wheel and flour bin, according to the National Pasta Association. Anyway in the 13th century, the pope set quality standards for pasta. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with a macaroni dish he tasted in Naples while serving as ambassador to France and promptly ordered crates of the pasta, along with the pasta-making machine, sent back to the United States. Indeed, he may have been the one to introduce macaroni to this country. Cortez brought tomatoes back from Mexico in 1519, but it took two centuries before the marriage with pasta was consummated.

There have been many imitation pastas, meaning not made from wheat, that have come along, but only one makes the grade with me, and I give it a shameless plug here for those who can’t or won’t eat the real thing. Manufactured by Tolerant, it is made of beans and called Organic Red Lentil Pasta.

Buon appetito!