‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin, right? This fall, Food Network Magazine is thinking beyond pumpkin bread and pumpkin seeds with a family-friendly recipe for Tortellini With Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce. It’s a go-to weeknight meal that’s as decadent and satisfying as it is quick to prepare. In just 20 minutes, you can combine Alfredo mainstays like cream and nutty Parmesan cheese with the seasonal flavors of nutmeg and pumpkin to create a rich, hearty sauce that pairs perfectly with bite-sized cheese tortellini. When you’re shopping for the ingredients to the make this recipe, be sure to pick up pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling – the two cans can be scary-similar to one another, and the pie filling will be too sweet in this savory dish.
Everybody has their favorite memory of a perfect pasta dish. My own came during a visit to a small restaurant in Rome where I was presented with a plate of Bucatini All’Amatricana, made with the tubular pasta and a spicy sauce containing guanciale (cured pig jowls). As I travel the globe eating the weird and the wonderful, it is often this comforting bowl of pasta that I recall and crave the most.
Pasta is such a familiar ingredient in the United States that it is often all too easy to take it for granted. There are few people who don’t have at least one type of pasta in their store cupboard and if you were to walk down the aisles of any supermarket, you would have to take off your shoes and socks to help you count the fresh and dried varieties now offered.
Despite its ubiquity, however, there is something about a beautifully prepared pasta dish that is very hard to beat and I hope you were as excited as I was by the way that the Iron Chef and their challenger brought a new spin to such a classic ingredient last night.
Given that pasta is, I suspect, so familiar to everyone who will read this, I thought I would stray from the normal format for these features and instead give you 10 interesting things you may not know about pasta.
The goal of Meatless Monday is simple: Inspire one day of meat-free eating each week for the sake of our health and that of the planet. The point is not to convert happy meat eaters into the most die-hard vegans, but rather to make even the staunchest steak lovers occasionally think twice before passing up a salad or scoop of vegetables in favor of meaty alternatives.
That said, we know how difficult — not to mention downright boring — it can be to fill up on a plate of veggies alone. So this week we’ve rounded up three of Food Network Magazine’s heartiest, most flavor-packed vegetarian recipes to please even the most demanding of meat eaters.
One of the easiest meatless meals to make, pasta not only feeds a crowd but can be tweaked to your family’s tastes and needs. Pictured above is Cavatelli With Tomato Sauce and Ricotta, a dressed-up version of typical noodles with sauce that can be made in just 30 minutes. Cavatelli isn’t your average pasta; it’s thicker, since it’s often made with cheese, so it’s naturally more filling than traditional spaghetti or penne noodles. Here it’s tossed with a simple but robust tomato sauce, laced with garlic and red pepper flakes for a touch of heat. Before serving, top each bowl with a spoonful of creamy ricotta cheese.
Even on the most hectic of weeknights, you shouldn’t have to settle for basic, boring meals simply because they’re easy to make. Believe it or not, in just 40 minutes — the time it takes to fix everyday chicken, meatloaf or burgers — you can whip up a three-course meal without breaking a sweat. Though multi-course meals can be heavy and rich, this one is light and seasonal, featuring a veggie-packed pasta dish, simple side salad and fresh, fruity dessert. Check out Food Network’s meatless menu below and surprise your family with this satisfying meal tonight.
Ready to enjoy in just 25 minutes, Food Network Magazine’s Fettuccine With Summer Vegetables and Goat Cheese (pictured above) is a creamy but light pasta that’s filled with good-for-you ingredients, like tomatoes, squash and wax beans. The beauty of this dish is that it requires hardly any cooking. Though you need to boil a pot of water, there’s no additional pan needed. The noodles and beans are cooked in the same water and the tomatoes and squash are left raw until they’re topped with the hot ingredients. The heat of the pasta warms the veggies, slowly melts the cheese and creates a silky-smooth sauce that perfectly coats each noodle. For added decadence, stir in nutty Parmesan and finish each bowl with extra dots of goat cheese.
Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
As soon as you add pasta to boiling water, stir it vigorously for about 5 seconds to keep it from sticking, like Food Network Magazine did with the Broken Lasagna With Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. Each piece should be able to tumble freely in the pot. Don’t add oil to the water as is often suggested: It can prevent sauce from clinging to cooked pasta.
My parents are avid vegetable and herb gardeners. My dad is responsible for digging, planting and watering, while my mom tackles the harvesting, cooking and preserving. It’s a fairly equitable division of labor for most of the season. The only time my mom complains about her end of the bargain is when the garden begins belching forth many pounds of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash and flying saucer-shaped pattypans.
Whether you’re a home gardener, CSA member or a regular farmers’ market shopper, keeping up with the flow of summer squash during its high season can easily become a full-time cooking job. I find that I am constantly looking for ways to cook it down, use it up and transform it from a rapidly reproducing raw ingredient into breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
To that end, I grate it into baked goods, cook it down into sandwich spreads and puree it into soup with tomatoes, eggplant, onions and plenty of Parmesan cheese. I also like to grill or roast it into submission and then toss it into pasta salads. Topped with a bit of cold chicken or crumbled feta, it makes for an easy dinner or potluck contribution.
A fresh, no-cook sauce that takes just moments to prepare, basil pesto is a must-have summer sauce that’s most traditionally made with bunches of fresh basil leaves, plenty of garlic, crunchy pine nuts, mounds of Parmesan cheese and fruity olive oil. If you’ve never made homemade pesto before, start with Food Network Magazine’s Basil Pesto (pictured above) — it’s an easy, versatile recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Though pesto is often featured atop pasta noodles, it can shine in salads, soups, appetizers and more. Check out Food Network’s pesto-based recipes below and let us know your favorite way to enjoy pesto.
With a smooth sauce and rich flavor, Food Network Magazine’s five-star Pesto Cream Tortellini is a go-to weeknight dinner that features tender tortellini — pillow-like pasta that is stuffed with either meat or cheese — and good-for-you broccoli. Pick up a package of store-bought tortellini to save time in the kitchen.
Giada’s Farro With Coarse Pesto is an Italian-style salad that can be featured as a hearty side dish or healthful light lunch. When making the pesto, Giada processes the basil mixture just until it’s coarse — the uneven texture will stand up well to the hefty weight of the grains. Be sure to boil the farro in vegetable broth or water, instead of chicken broth, to maintain a meatless dish.
Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Orzo is pretty delicious with just some butter and salt. But why not try one of these summertime-inspired orzo salads? The options are endless. Plus, you can serve them warm, room temperature or slightly chilled.
Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Instead of the usual penne or macaroni, try stuffed pasta like ravioli, tortellini or pierogi in a pasta salad. Stick to cheese varieties (meat-filled pasta isn’t as appealing cold) and choose a subtle dressing that won’t overpower the filling, like the lemony one in this Ravioli Salad from Food Network Magazine.
Though grilling season is in full swing, you don’t have to forgo your favorite plates of pasta until the fall. Lasagna, in fact, can be cooked just as easily on the grill as it can in the oven. Just a few simple steps is all it takes to prepare traditional lasagna in a very nontraditional way.
Food Network Magazine’s Grilled Lasagna (pictured above) is made in easy-to-assemble aluminum-foil packets that are sturdy enough to hold the classic ingredients inside of them. No-boil noodles form the base of the lasagna, which is layered with sliced ripe tomatoes, fresh spinach and a garlic-laced mozzarella-Parmesan cheese mixture. Thanks to the steam cloud that forms in the pouch while it’s grilled, the noodles become soft, the cheeses melted and the spinach wilted. For an added dollop of indulgence, open the packet before serving and top each square of lasagna with creamy ricotta cheese and in-season basil.