by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, November 15th, 2013
by Maria Russo in Recipes, November 4th, 2013
When I was growing up, macaroni and cheese was a very special treat. The only time the boxed version made an appearance at our table was on the rare occasion when my parents went out in the evening and left us with a baby sitter. The sitter was given strict instructions to serve it with carrot sticks and glasses of milk, which dampened the joy of dayglow pasta just a little.
It wasn’t until I went away to college that I discovered two things about macaroni and cheese: It is dead simple to make from scratch, and if you stir in some kind of vegetable in with the pasta, you can call it a complete meal.
Once I was living off-campus and had a real kitchen at my disposal, I had my way with the world of mac and cheese. My roommates and I made cheesy shells with cheese, stirred ribbons of zucchini in with leftover spaghetti noodles, and we even did a batch of smoked salmon and cream cheese mac and cheese once for a brunch potluck. They were all tasty dishes that left me with a healthy respect for the power of cooked pasta and a quick batch of cheese sauce.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
by Maria Russo in Recipes, October 7th, 2013
While some vegetarian lasagnas consist of little more than pasta with everyday tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, there are indeed ways to dress up the family-friendly casserole to take advantage of bold flavors and seasonal ingredients. Instead of traditional marinara sauce, for example, experiment with no-cook pesto or a creamy cheese sauce, and incorporate fresh produce like good-for-you cauliflower, earthy mushrooms or bell peppers for added taste and texture. Food Network Magazine follows suit in its top-rated recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna (pictured above), a hearty pasta bake made with in-season squash and comforting bechamel sauce.
The trick to making this lasagna lies in its assembly. After roasting butternut squash with onions until it’s sweet and tender, begin building the layers of ingredients: first, a sage-laced cream sauce, then noodles, more sauce, a trio of Italian cheeses and finally the prepared veggies. This pattern will continue until the casserole dish is nearly overflowing with fall-fresh flavors and rich cheesiness, at which point you can bake the lasagna until it’s warm, bubbly and browned on top. Once the lasagna is cooked, it’s best to let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving; this will help the sauce thicken and ensures that the pasta keeps its shape instead of oozing out when sliced.
by Foodlets in Family, October 1st, 2013
When vegetables are overflowing in your refrigerator, what do you prepare to put the produce to work? Simply roasting potatoes, parsnips and peppers with olive oil and seasonings is an option, as is enjoying squash in a soup or carrots and celery raw in green salads. But to beef up your vegetables, no matter what kinds you happen to have on hand, and turn them into a satisfying main dish, try mixing them with pasta and your favorite sauce. Instantly you’ll have transformed two humble ingredients — noodles and vegetables — into an all-in-one meal the whole family will want to eat.
Food Network Magazine does just that in its recipe for Ratatouille Pasta (pictured above) by re-creating the classic vegetable plate into an easy-to-make dinner. After grilling garlic-stuffed tomatoes, plus bell peppers, zucchini and Japanese eggplant — four quintessential ingredients in a traditional French ratatouille — until tender, chop them and gently saute them with fragrant basil before adding the cooked noodles. It’s best to reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the noodles, as you may need to thin out the sauce before serving. For an extra-special finish to the dish, top each plate with a few crumbles of goat cheese; the tangy taste will marry the flavors of the vegetables, while the smooth, creamy texture will add welcome richness.
by Maria Russo in Recipes, August 26th, 2013
Getting kids to eat spaghetti probably isn’t too hard, but night after night it can be a bit dull. That’s why I like to throw a few surprises at the little guys when I can — especially when it’s this easy to make a big impression. Here’s how:
Cook spaghetti for 3 minutes less than the package suggests and drain. Add marinara sauce (you don’t even have to heat it up), plus one lightly beaten egg. Butter a muffin pan and fill each cup with half a cup or so of pasta and sauce, then use your fingers to push the pasta up along the edges, making a well in the middle. Pop the pan into the hot oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. During the last minute, add two small mozzarella balls to the “nest” and you’ll have eggs. Keep an eye on the nests and if they melt down, that’s OK — now you have snowcapped mountain-tops.
by Maria Russo in Recipes, July 29th, 2013
For many vegetarians, pasta is the ultimate meat-free meal; it’s quick to make, filling and practically guaranteed to please even the most demanding of meat lovers. But even though it’s a tried-and-true staple, spaghetti with everyday tomato sauce can get tired quickly. When you’re looking to dress up your usual pasta night routine, try incorporating fresh vegetables to take advantage of the season’s bounty, and look for hearty add-ins that offer additional substance, like mushrooms. Food Network Magazine’s Pasta with Corn and Kale is one such summertime supper featuring bright corn, vitamin-packed kale, and earthy shiitakes and creminis.
While freshly shucked corn promises subtle crunch and a vibrant color to the pasta (pictured above), much of the corn flavor comes from the noodles. They’re boiled in water with the shucked cobs, and after they’re drained, that water is used to form the base of the sauce. To cook the other vegetables, start by sauteing the mushrooms until they’re golden brown and tender, then slowly wilting kale with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Before serving, stir in chopped scallions and a pat of butter for richness; mix in the noodles and the reserved pasta water to create a simple yet satisfying summer dinner.
by Maria Russo in Recipes, July 11th, 2013
No matter if you’re preparing a lean vegetarian dinner or a hearty beefy entree, cooking on Monday nights needs to be easy and fast. With summer camp schedules, after-work commitments and various errands, the first day of the week isn’t the time to experiment with complicated meals. Instead, reach for tried-and-true recipes — those that require hardly any prep time.
Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce (pictured above) is one such dinner, ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. The secret to her fuss-free dinner is relying on a no-cook sauce to dress the noodles. After whirling garlic, goat cheese and cream cheese in a food processor, she adds nutrient-rich spinach to create a tangy, smooth puree, which she mixes with whole baby spinach leaves and uses to top just-cooked penne. Be sure to save some of the pasta water when draining the noodles; you can use the starchy liquid to loosen the sauce. Before serving, season the pasta and finish with a sprinkle of nutty Parmesan cheese. Click the play button on the video below to watch Giada made this go-to dinner.
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by FN Dish Editor in Community, June 30th, 2013
Hot dogs, burgers and barbecue may take center stage at your backyard cookout, but no matter the entree, you surely need a few side dishes to round out your spread. Easy to make in a hurry and guaranteed to impress party guests of all ages, pasta salads are go-to summertime picks, especially since they often can be customized to your family’s tastes, or the ingredients you have on hand. Check out Food Network’s best-five pasta salad recipes below to find top-rated classic and dressed-up creations from some of your favorite chefs, like Giada and Ina.
5. Tuscan Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables — Mix crunchy radicchio, fennel and fresh vegetables with pasta and cannellini beans to create a big-batch salad that’s best served at room temperature.
4. Pasta Salad with Steak, Bell Pepper, Green Beans and Bacon — Ready to eat in only 20 minutes, Food Network Magazine‘s hearty pasta salad is dressed with a creamy, cheesy topping featuring mayonnaise, fresh garlic and Parmesan.
Get the top three recipes
by FN Dish Editor in Community, June 2nd, 2013
Filled with fresh vegetables and crumbled feta cheese, this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is a go-to pasta salad dressed with a simple mixture of lemon juice and mustard.
For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Recipe of the Day board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: 30-Minute Lemon Pasta Salad
by Maria Russo in Recipes, May 20th, 2013
Sometimes the most-simple ingredients can make a perfect side dish for the warm months. Paula’s five-star salad, this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, is one of those recipes. Hard-boiled eggs, celery, bell peppers, green onions and Paula’s house seasoning are combined with classic elbow macaroni to complete any meal. Make it in advance and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.
For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Recipe of the Day board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: 10-Minute Macaroni Salad
For a quick weeknight dinner, few meals are more efficient or economical than pasta with tomato sauce. But regardless of whether you commit to making your own sauce from scratch or you rely on store-bought jars when in a pinch, everyday marinara can get tired quickly. This week, instead of calling the dish complete with just noodles and tomatoes, dress up the sauce with vegetables, olives, fresh herbs or cheeses — any or all that you happen to have on hand — to turn an ordinary meal into something special. Even if you’re pressed for time, know that it doesn’t take long to simmer the sauce with a few additional ingredients, as, in fact, most mixtures come together in the time it takes to boil and cook the pasta.
Food Network Magazine‘s can-do Bucatini With Olive-Caper Sauce (pictured above) is the ultimate in easy-yet-elegant pasta in that it boasts a bold, flavorful no-cook sauce. After making a salty paste of smashed garlic, capers and red pepper flakes, add Mediterranean ingredients like kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese and fragrant basil, then let the heat of just-cooked pasta gently warm the mixture and soften the tomatoes slightly. Ready to eat in only 25 minutes, this go-to supper elevates the mainstays of marinara — tomatoes and garlic — into a wholly new dish, one that’s simple enough for weeknight cooking but interesting enough to offer guests. When making no-cook pasta, it’s best to reserve a few cups of cooking water before draining the noodles, just in case you need to loosen the sauce with liquid.