Crack Pasta aka Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta

This is a recipe that I have been working on and tweaking since college, it all started in the kitchen of Ridge 15 (Shout out to my camels!), we were doing a family dinner and I wanted to make a simple and fresh pasta sauce. What started with some olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and a pint of cherry tomatoes has since evolved into what I call "Crack Pasta."

Chances are if you come over to my apartment for dinner and I am feeling lazy - crack pasta will be on the menu. It is probably one of my favorite things to eat - and I have shared this recipe with many a friend looking to impress their boyfriend/friends/parents etc. It is super simple, flavorful, and above all satisfying. 

It is also very versatile - don't have cherry tomatoes, cook down roma's. Fresh or dried herbs will both do the trick! I prefer a short pasta like a fusilli - but if you only have spaghetti? Go for it! No mozzarella - feel free to sub in copious quantities of Parmesan, Fontina would work, ricotta, even goat cheese!  The one thing you cannot skimp on is giving those tomatoes time to stew in their own juices - you can do it in as little as 20 minutes or as long as 2 hours. But do NOT cheat the tomatoes people! I promise you will not regret it. 

Enjoy!

xo

L

PS. Update your iPhone's people! New Emojis!! 

Crack Pasta aka Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (I prefer the yellow tomatoes - they are sweeter, however red or heirlooms work great as well)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (If you are a garlic lover like me - go with 4 tablespoons)
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes (if you like more heat feel free to add more!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 lb. Short Pasta (I like penne of fusilli) 
  • 1 cup graded parmesan cheese
  • 1 container ciliegine mozzarella or 1 ball fresh mozzarella (this i the little cherry tomato sized balls)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Pro Tips:
1. Cooking Your Pasta: Pasta water should be as salty as the ocean, this is your chance to flavor the pasta! Also be sure to use a large pot, it help help keep your pasta from sticking, it is important to have enough water so that each piece can cook evenly. 
2. Cutting Mozzarella: If you could not find the ciligenine (aka cherry tomato sized mozarella) place a ball of fresh mozzarella in the freezer for 5 minutes and then use a seraded knife to cut it, this will make cutting the mozzarella easier. 
3. Finishing Your Pasta: Once your pasta is al dente drain and immediately add it directly to the pan with the sauce, this way the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce, and the starchy liquid will help thicken your sauce. 

Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil under high heat. 

In a medium sauce pan under medium low heat add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. sauté for 5 - 10 minutes or so until the garlic becomes fragrant and begins to brown slightly. Be sure to stir constantly - once the garlic begins to brown add the cherry tomatoes. Season generously with salt, pepper, oregano, and dried basil. 

Allow the tomatoes to cook on the stove top for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will begin to burst creating the sauce for your pasta. Feel free to use the back of your spoon to help some of them along.  Once the tomatoes have burst turn the stove down to low. 

Cook pasta according to package directions, once finished cooking reserve 1 cup of pasta water. 

Add the pasta directly to the pot with the sauce, stirring well to combine. Add the parmesan and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Once the sauce has begun to thicken sprinkle the mozzarella balls around the pan. Cover for 5 minutes or until the mozzarella has become melty. 

Sprinkle with fresh basil (if you have it) and serve immediately! 

 

Saffron Risotto with Chicken & Peas

So not to go all Scrooge on you guys, but, I am really not a valentines day person. AND I am not just saying that because I am single, I just don't think you need a day to tell someone that you love them, you should do that every day!

What I do celebrate is Galentines Day! Galentines Day is the creation of none other than Leslie Knope (shes the best). Best put by the boss herself,

"February 14, valentines day is about romance, February 13th Galentines Day is about celebrating lady friends, its wonderful and it should be a national holiday." 

I got a big group of my girlfriends together and we had an awesome time celebrating each other! 

So instead of getting all bent out of shape about not having a boyfriend or getting stressed out about what to get your man, get your best girls together and have a ladies night! I promise you wont regret it. Also if you want your friends to love you forever, make them this risotto. It is super flavorful and so easy!

xx

L

Saffron Risotto with Chicken & Peas

  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 3 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts (diced)
  • 1 c peas
  • 1 c corn
  • 3 slices of bacon diced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 c white wine
  • 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
  • zest of one lemon

In a medium sauce pan heat your stock, keep at a simmer. In a dutch oven over medium heat render the bacon till crispy. Using a slotted spoon take the bacon out of the pan, add 2 tbs olive oil to the pan. 

Once hot sear the chicken breasts about 3 - 4 minutes each side until cooked through. Set aside. Sautee the onion until translucent. Add in the rice and toast for about 3 minutes until it starts to smell nutty. Add the butter and deglaze the pan with white wine.

Ladle stock into the pan covering the rice, continue to stir and add stock as the rice begins to plump up and get softer. Add the saffron threads. It should take about 20 minutes for your rice to finish. Stir in corn, peas, and chicken. Add the parmesan cheese and lemon zest. 

Ladle into a bowl and finish with bacon crumbles (if you have any left, I usually nibble on mine). Enjoy!

Mushroom and Baby Kale Baked Pasta

I spent most of my Monday thinking about mac and cheese, it was cold and dark and dreary and rainy. And all I wanted was something that would be delicious and comforting and warm. This was also compounded by the fact that they had mac and cheese at lunch today and of course I could not eat it because it was chock full of gluten. I thought about just making the

4 cheese baked pasta

I shared with you a few weeks ago, but I decided to shake it up. This baked pasta checked every box for what I was craving.

AND it felt healthy...ish because I put vegetables in it! I have come the decision that no matter what it is, it automatically becomes healthy if you just add kale. My obsession happens to be with baby kale, it is much more tender and I just like it way better. As you can see from this blog I have made salads with it and even put it in quesadillas. So I figured kale and mushroom  baked pasta would satisfy my mac and cheese like thoughts as well as make me feel slightly less guilty about my dinner.

Anyway it is cold and possibly snowy today in New England so make this for dinner and I promise you wont regret it!

xx

L

Mushroom and Baby Kale Baked Pasta

  • 1 lb short pasta (I used g-free but as always you can substitute for some g-full)
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 handfuls of baby kale
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock 
  • 2 c parmesan cheese
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon thyme 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used g-free but as always you can substitute for some g-full)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: Be careful how much salt you add to this dish, chicken stock and parmesan cheese are both very salty. Be conservative with the salt you add, you can always add more later but you cant take it away. 

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the mushrooms, garlic, and onions in olive oil until they begin to brown and become tender. Add in the butter, once melted add the flour. Once the flour is fully dampened slowly add the chicken stock. Whisk carefully, be sure to get out any lumps of flour that occur. Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened, add in the parmesan cheese and thyme. Cook the pasta to the package specifications.

Toss together the pasta, kale, and the mushroom sauce. Butter a large baking dish or individual ramekins. Toss 1/2 of the mozzarella with the pasta. Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Scatter the remaining mozzarella around the top of the dish.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Cream, Tomatoes, and Five Cheeses

I don't know about you guys but the struggle is very very real on this Monday morning. I woke up and the first words I hear is my best friends saying "But Mom I don't want to go to school." That actually could not be be more accurate. Is it christmas yet? Can I  sleep soon? I mean it is 100% my fault that today is such a struggle, I may or may not have stayed up a little too late last night. Whoops! You're only young once right?

Last night I had an awesome dinner party at P's house with my brother and some good friends. We had an absolute blast and the food was of course amazing. My friend P and I love to cook together, its funny because we are both kinda control freaks and you would think that we would step on each others toes a little too much BUT we don't thank goodness! We made my roast chicken, duck fat brussels sprouts (to.die.for), baked pasta, and a big ol salad. Cooking with friends is so fun and way cheaper than going out!

So this baked pasta is a recipe from Al Forno, a restaurant in Providence RI. It is freaking amazing, like mac and cheese on crack. There are five cheeses (FIVE!) and it is super easy to put together. It also reheats really well. When I first discovered this dish I made it 5 times in one week. I promise that you will be obsessed with it too.

Enjoy!

xx

L

Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Cream, Tomatoes, and Five Cheeses

  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/3 c ricotta 
  • 1/2 c shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/4 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 c chopped tomatoes 
  • 1/4 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 a stick of butter, sliced
  • 1 lb short pasta
  • 1/2 c basil 
  • 3 scallions chopped
  • salt 
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. In a large bowl combine the cheeses, heavy cream, half of the basil, and the tomatoes. Par boil the pasta, about 4 minutes. Combine with the cream tomato cheese mixture. Spread in individual ramekins or a large casserole dish. Try to spread as thing as possible. Bake for about 10 minutes, until browned, bubbily and crispy on top. Finish with basil and chopped scallions. 

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken with Garlic Thyme Roasted Potatoes

I know you are sitting at work, its finally friday (is it just me or are the weeks after a holiday the WORST) and you are trying to plan your weekend. Well I have it all figured out for you, YOU should roast a chicken! Its surprisingly easy, you can impress all your friends, and you can leftovers for the week ahead. This chicken recipe is an adaptation of one that my idol the Ina Garden makes. I love the combination of the lemon and thyme plus it add tons of flavor to the chicken. Do not even get me started on these potatoes, they are to do die for. I may or may not have made them multiple times just to eat for dinner... by themselves.

A trick to help your dishes really come together is to echo the similar flavors in multiple places. I used lemon and thyme in the chicken, so when I roasted my potatoes I roasted them with thyme and garlic. It is important when thinking about putting meals together that they are cohesive (wow I feel like a Chopped judge, they are always talking about cohesive dishes) and using the same flavors in different ways does that. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use herbs.

So have a fantastic weekend and roast a chicken!

xx

L

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken & Garlic Thyme Roasted Potatoes

For the Chicken:

  • 5 lb chicken
  • 1 lb softened butter
  • 1 tbs chopped thyme
  • 4 lemons, 2 halved, 2 zested and juiced 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 bunch of thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry your chicken. Season the cavity and the outside with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine the softened butter, thyme, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Take 1/3 of the butter and rub under the skin of the chicken. Use the rest of the butter to rub on the outside, be sure to cover your whole bird. 

Place your chicken on a roasting pan, put 2 half lemons and the bunch of thyme in the cavity. Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound at 350. 

For the Potatoes:

  • 1 1/2 lbs small potatoes (use red skin, small white skin, or I used Russian fingerlings)
  • 1/8 c olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves minced garlic (depending on how much you love garlic)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbs thyme 

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash and dry your potatoes. Slice them into similar sizes, I like to quarter them to get more crispy edges. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and minced garlic. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours. Roast on a baking sheet for about 40 - 50 minutes, flipping once half way through cooking. 

Carbonara

I got back from florida yesterday, and let me tell you my transition back to real life has been a little rough. Partially because I returned to my apartment to find it a complete disaster zone (granted it was my own doing) and I had almost no food in the fridge.

After unpacking, cleaning, and beginning the process of organizing my life I started to think about dinner. I searched my fridge and found bacon, eggs, frozen peas, and parmesan. Most people would say, "L you idiot make bacon and eggs!" But I don't know if you have figured this out yet but I am not like most normal people. My mind immediately jumped to one of my favorite things, carbonara! This italian classic is probably my most quintessential comfort food. Luckily I am a crazy person who spends their free time perfecting dishes like this one.

Plus since it was the weekend after thanksgiving I made it "healthy" by adding in frozen peas! The peas actually add some really nice pops of freshness in all of the creamy amazingness of the pasta.

Anyway if you need a dish to fight off the sunday scaries or something to cuddle you and make you happy, this is the one for you.

Enjoy!

xx

L

Carbonara 

  • 1 lb gluten free or full Spaghetti
  • 4 ounces of bacon or pancetta 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly graded parmesan cheese
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup peas 
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Put a large pot of VERY salty water on the stove and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over heat olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Dice the bacon into small lardons and sauté until crispy. Add in the smashed garlic cloves (leave them relatively whole you will pull them out later). Once the water is at a boil cook your pasta to the packages directions. 

In a small bowl combine the eggs and graded parmesan cheese, whisk until well combined. Season with salt (be careful with the salt, both bacon and parmesan cheese are both very salty so be conservative) and pepper. Pull out the cloves of garlic. Once your pasta is cooked, add it to the sauté pan. Toss the peas in as well. Coat the pasta with the bacon grease and olive oil. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the cheese and egg mixture. Toss the pasta with tongs in order to slowly heat the egg mixture (you don't want scrambled egg pasta). Toss for about 2 minutes until well incorporated. 

EAT IMMEDIATELY : )