Butter and Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

I took a vacation about a month ago, and it seemed to extend until around now. Summer vacation has a tendency to do that, it seems – and in the office where I work, it’s only reinforced, because at any given time there are 20% of my coworkers on vacation between the months of May and September. So the overall feeling of vacation hangs around, even long after my own is over. I’m definitely not complaining – I’d extend summer throughout the whole year if I could.

I finally feel like I’m getting back to a sort of normal routine, though, and with that I am able to cook more regularly again. I’d had this recipe bookmarked for a couple weeks and finally got around to making it yesterday. It’s as simple as can be, and was easy enough for a weeknight where I was sleep-deprived and couldn’t bother with anything complex. You just toss some (good quality) canned tomatoes into a large baking dish, and throw in a handful garlic cloves, a teeny bit of anchovy, and butter to help it along. It roasts for just 35-40 minutes, bubbling away and reducing to a luscious sauce that you can pour over any pasta you’d like. With minimal chopping required, it’s almost as easy as just opening a jar of sauce, and it certainly tastes a whole lot more unique.

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

The first time I had caprese, it was in a salad. Not the traditional caprese salad you may be thinking of – which is just sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella laying together in harmony, perfect as they are – but instead a big pile of salad greens with fresh basil leaves throughout, topped with cut tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, it was incredibly good, so good that I often ordered in lieu of pizza at that restaurant (gasp). It has since been my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a potluck – it’s hard to mess up.

And in the warm months, it’s hard to imagine a better thing to eat. Basil and tomatoes are at their freshest and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you can just go grab handfuls of both right outside. It is a big, bold, underlined item on my Life Goals list to have a garden of my own, and when I do, it will be required to house many bunches of my beloved basil.

Here, we’ve got another slight variation on the tomato, mozz, basil holy trinity: toss ’em with pasta. This caprese pasta salad has a twist, too: the tomatoes are quickly roasted in olive oil and garlic until they blister and soften in the oven, taking away any bitterness and replacing it with earthy sweetness. I had a hard time not plucking them all off of the pan and eating them before assembling the pasta. The roasted tomatoes get tossed with whatever pasta you like, ribbons of basil, and mozzarella in a bright vinaigrette. It’s equally good cold, room temperature, or warm, which makes it a great take-along meal for potlucks, parties, or just your desk at work.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

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Bacon and Broccoli Pasta

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Do you have a go-to pasta recipe? One that you think of when you hear the word “pasta?”

For me, and probably a lot of you too, it has always been a simple spaghetti with meat sauce. This was what I had growing up, as much as I possibly could – it was by far one of my favorite foods, and I’d always scoop up the remaining sauce with a nice piece of bread in what I like to call Having Some Carbs with My Carbs. It was delicious; it still is.

But these days I like to branch out just a little more when it comes to my pasta recipes. Ones that don’t necessarily need to contain tomato sauce (gasp!). This bacon and broccoli pasta one is one of our new favorites around here, and it’s got tons of broccoli as well as a good amount of bacon, making it semi-healthy and very flavorful.

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

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Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks was the first food blog I ever visited. It was 2008, I was a newly minted vegetarian, and I was searching online for a good recipe involving tofu. I came across the humble gem of a recipe for Caramelized Tofu, which I still to this day love, and a love of food blogs was born. The recipe seemed to marry so many disparate things that I would never have thought to put together: brussels sprouts (shredded up, no less), brown sugar, tofu, cilantro? But the end product was so good that I trusted her from then on.

I’m no longer a vegetarian, but I still love good vegetarian foods. Today I have a different recipe that I’ve adapted from Heidi, but one that has the same ingenuity of bringing together techniques and flavors I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own. I love ginger, I love lemon, I love soba. But the dressing on these noodles also incorporates mirin, brown sugar or honey, and celery, and the resulting flavor is very unique while still seeming just right. It’s tangy and refreshing, but combined with some pan-fried tofu (or any protein of your choice) it is undoubtedly filling.

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage

orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I’m tempted to say that pasta shapes have never mattered to me, but on whatever minor level it may be, I do prefer certain kinds over others. Long shapes like spaghetti, linguine and bucatini are great, as well as standard short pastas like penne and rigatoni. But when it comes to “wagon wheel” pasta, bowties, and fusilli, for some reason I’m not as charmed. But the little ear-shaped orecchiette pasta has always been a favorite of mine. It is special enough that I don’t have it all the time, but not so fancy that it feels pretentious.

This orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage is definitely not pretentious, and is easy enough to throw together in a half hour. The flavors of the sausage, spinach and red pepper blend perfectly with the parmesan, basil and a small spritz of lemon juice at the end. It’s the kind of pasta that doesn’t just feel like a big bowl of starch but can be as hearty or light as you want.

orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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cacio e pepe (italian cheese & pepper pasta)

cacio e pepe

Cacio e Pepe is one of the easiest pasta dishes to make. It’s like a fancy, dressed-up mac & cheese, but with lots of fresh black pepper. It comes together in a pan on the stove, and requires so few ingredients: cheese, pepper, pasta, butter, and not much else. This recipe added an extra flavor with the addition of a little lemon zest, which gives it a nice kick for spring.

The recipe calls for Grana Padano cheese: if you’re not familiar with this cheese (I wasn’t either), it’s a very common and popular cheese in Italy that is growing in popularity here in the states, too. It was very easy to find in the cheese section of the big supermarket near me. It’s somewhat similar to parmesan in flavor, but melts more easily and therefore works great in cacio e pepe, which melts the cheese with butter and pasta water on the stove. There is also a bit of Pecorino Romano, which is a classic cheese associated with cacio e pepe.

cacio e pepe

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