pasta

overhead view of lemon pasta salad made with bowtie pasta

Lemon Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

This easy lemon pasta salad is a great side dish – or toss in grilled chicken for a full meal that’s perfect for meal prep! I love the sweet and tangy lemon-honey vinaigrette on this healthy pasta salad recipe.

Mussels with Saffron Tomato Sauce

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Ignore the mussels in these pictures for a minute. They were good, but what I really want to talk about here is the saffron tomato sauce that they’re smothered in. Oh my goodness. With a luxurious, velvety texture that clings lightly to each strand of pasta, and a complex flavor that’s a tiny bit sweet, a little exotic, and has a faintly spicy note that’s familiar but at the same time hard to place (hint: it’s vanilla!), this sauce is the stuff dreams are made of.
The sauce goes great with mussels, and I’m sure it would be delicious with shrimp or chicken too, but you could just give me a ladle full on top of a big bowl of plain pasta and I’d be a happy camper. Honestly, I’d probably be happy even without the pasta – this sauce is so good that I’ll happily eat it by the spoon full.

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I like to use San Marzano tomatoes, which are naturally lower in acidity and have a sweeter flavor than other canned tomatoes, in this sauce. Some brands can be expensive, but there are a few brands that aren’t bad at all. I like Bella Terra Organic San Marzano Tomatoes, which are about $3 per can. Since the rest of the ingredients in this sauce are cheap (I stock up on cheap saffron at Trader Joe’s whenever I’m visiting a place where there is one), I still make out better than buying a jar of “good” sauce. If you can’t find San Marzanos or want a cheaper option any can of whole peeled plum tomatoes will do.

Milk and butter add a layer of richness and help give the sauce its amazing texture. Full fat or skim milk will work, but you can also use almond milk or even coconut milk if that’s what you have around. I actually used Silk Simply Coconut in the sauce shown here and was very happy with the way it turned out (I had a coupon for a free half gallon of the milk, which is delicious!)


mussels in saffron tomato sauce

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Mussels with Saffron Tomato Sauce—>

Orichette with Caramelized Fennel and Summer Vegetables

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It’s no secret that I love fennel, but I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the thought of making caramelized fennel ever since I first read about it over on The Tipsy Baker’s blog months ago. I requested a copy of Ad Hoc at Home from the library and patiently waited for what seemed like forever to get the recipe. And then I had no idea what to make with it. I mean, I’m not exactly a meat and potatoes kind of girl. I don’t do side dishes. And as presented in the book, caramelized fennel was most definitely a side dish. But then I had an idea: pasta. When I’m short on recipe inspiration I always turn to pasta, throwing in a combination of whatever looks good at the grocery store and whatever I have in the fridge. Caramelized fennel seemed like it would be a great jumping-off point for a summery vegetable pasta. And it was.

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In addition to the fennel, I used a combination of eggplant, summer squash, red onions, and peas. I tasted the vegetables on their own and they were so delicate and fresh that it seemed like a shame to cove them up with a heavy sauce so I decided not to, and instead dressed the pasta with a little bit of ricotta and a touch of pesto (I had originally planned to use garlic and olive oil). It was perfect! I really liked the creaminess that the ricotta added — when you stir it into the hot pasta it melts and creates a light coating that reminds me a little of mac and cheese. The pesto perked the dish up without taking it over; you could tell it was there, but it certainly isn’t a “pesto” dish by any means. Really it’s just… good. Good when you first make it. Good the next day. Good hot. Good cold. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this one!

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