Category: pasta


Throughout the year I create variations on tonight’s menu, something I call a “tuna noodle toss.” It always includes tuna and pasta but those are the only “rules.” Sometimes I use fresh grilled tuna, sometimes good-quality canned; often the pasta is dried, and on other occasions (such as tonight), it’s freshly-made. This is another one of those meals where I simply pull out the ingredients I have on hand and start to think about combinations of flavors that might work well together: tiny French green beans…tomatoes…peppers. After the pasta is made, which can be done in advance, this is easy and quick to pull together. It’s almost like a warm or room temperature pasta salad and to my mind is a one-dish meal.

Yesterday I made a blueberry-lemon pound cake which turned out quite well, so that will be dessert.

Grilled onions and peppers, tossed with tuna, blanched haricots verts, chopped fresh tomatoes, housemade dill tagliatelle, and lemon vinaigrette
Yeast roll

Blueberry-lemon pound cake with vanilla ice cream

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The main course for this menu is an adaptation of a James Beard dish presented in his book Beard on Pasta.* I have often remembered his introduction to the recipe: “I first had this at a dreary hotel in Genoa that was tolerable only because the kitchen knew how to do a few brilliant dishes. The tiny waxy new potatoes bathed in basil kept me there long after the beds and plumbing should have driven me away.”

The recipe originally intrigued me because it involved the combination of two starchy ingredients, pasta and potatoes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two worked quite well together. But as is my usual practice, I have made changes to suit my own tastes. I like pesto as a “hint” in cooking, but I’m not overly fond of the sauce bathing a dish. And it’s rare that I have enough basil on hand to create it in the traditional way. So my rendition involves what I call deconstructed pesto. The pasta and potatoes are tossed with just enough extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic to achieve a light coating and then the dish is garnished with toasted pine nuts, a light chiffonade of basil leaves, and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I have omitted the cream that Beard calls for in the dish, preferring instead to dress the salad with a creamy buttermilk dressing.

Housemade fettuccine with roasted new potato wedges and deconstructed pesto
Salad of baby lettuces from the garden with green beans and buttermilk dressing
Yeast roll Chez Edouard

Housemade peach ice cream with pecan crisps

*Beard, James. Beard on Pasta. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1983.

I suppose if I were to subtitle this menu, it would be “Swedish Meatballs meet Stroganoff meets Chez Edouard” because the resulting main dish has elements of the first two but everything is transformed based on my own whims. The meatballs are made of ground turkey and the sauce is not typical of that for either the Swedish dish nor the stroganoff.

As a reminder, meatballs will be far more succulent and tender if you refrain from packing the meat during the rolling process and bake them in the oven as opposed to the stovetop method. Never overcook meatballs which inevitably leads to tough, unpalatable results.

Tonight I enriched the turkey with finely diced roasted red pepper along with minced shallots, garlic, and herbs. After removing the meatballs from the oven I tossed them in a pan with a sour cream-Dijon-rosemary sauce. Adding a small amount of cornstarch to the sour cream helps keep it from curdling, but even then it’s very important not to bring the sauce to a boil: simply heat it through.

Turkey meatballs and sautéed cremini mushrooms in a sour cream-Dijon-rosemary sauce served over housemade tagliatelle pasta
Steamed sugar snap peas and asparagus from the farmers’ market
Yeast roll Chez Edouard

Housemade peanut butter sandwich cookies

While dried cannelloni tubes are available almost everywhere, they are usually thick and even after boiling, never quite achieve anything like the delectable texture of using fresh-made pasta. If you are uncomfortable about making fresh pasta at home and/or do not have the pasta-rolling equipment needed, search for fresh lasagna-sized noodles in the refrigerated section of your supermarket which can be cut into the size needed (about 3 x 4 inches), and then boiled and filled as stated below. You probably won’t find the herb pasta sheets that I suggest, but the menu will work regardless.

If you ARE comfortable with making your own pasta, then roll it through the next-to-last setting on your pasta machine. Place flat-leaf parsley leaves here and there over half of the dough. Fold the other half of the dough on top and roll the  “sandwich” through the pasta machine several more times. You will achieve a beautifully “marbleized” herb pasta which is not only pretty but also adds a nice, subtle flavor note.

Cannelloni of fresh herb pasta tubes stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and briefly sauteed shallots and garlic, baked in the oven with a topping of house-made tomato sauce
Baby lettuce salad with red wine-honey vinaigrette
Yeast rolls Chez Edouard

A perfect tangerine

This menu features a winter take on what might otherwise be construed as a summer offering, yet, the components as I present them are easily available at this time of year in most locations. While the pepper is imported from Mexico, all of the other ingredients were sourced locally and/or preserved. Altogether, this meal presents a nice “pick-me-up” for those who are tiring of the gloom and chill of winter.

Roasted yellow pepper half stuffed with cavatelli pasta, onions, cremini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, black olives, and a topping of Parmegiano Regiano
Lettuces with red wine vinaigrette and garlic croutons
Yeast rolls Chez Edouard

Sliced navel orange with coconut shavings

When I conceived of this menu I was inspired by the fact that I have been successfully making corn pasta for many years, and ravioli can be made with any number of wonderful pureed or mashed fillings—so why not give my idea of stuffing corn pasta with refried beans a try? I’m happy to report that this worked out to be a very tasty and exciting dinner to create and eat. Ravioli takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. SLOW FOOD is the best food! However, the refritoes can be made a day or two ahead which will streamline the preparation.

Ravioli of house-made corn pasta stuffed with house-made refried beans served over a puddle of pureed and heated salsa topped with a grating of Queso Cotija cheese and a drizzle of lime-sour cream-chili powder sauce
Shredded lettuce with chunks of avocado and vinaigrette

Dried Pineapple Slices

I didn’t originally plan to make soup for tonight’s menu, but it has been frightfully cold here today (with temps not reaching above 25 F). So, a soothing hot soup came to mind and found its way to fruition.

While my chicken soup contains some of the traditional components you might expect, there are also a few that you might not be accustomed to. And, it’s hearty enough to serve as a one-dish meal with only a small sidekick sandwich added, along with a dessert suggestion.

Chicken Noodle Soup with carrots, celery, onions, lots of garlic, cannellini beans, bitter greens, and house-made black pepper pasta
Grilled pepperjack cheese sandwich

Tangerine ice cream with macadamia-coconut-white chocolate chunk cookies

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