Pastas

Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • One 6-ounce package chuka soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry wine
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 6 fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
  • 2 cups cooked and cubed chicken, beef or lamb

Instructions

  1. Pour boiling water over the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and let them soften for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles for 3 to 4 minutes, or until al dente. (Do not overcook the noodles, because they are going to be cooked again.) Drain the noodles well and spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry slightly.
  3. To make the sauce, in a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk to blend, making sure that the cornstarch is dissolved. Drain the shiitake mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Strain the soaking liquid through cheesecloth and add 1/2 cup to the sauce. Trim the stems of the shiitakes and set aside.
  4. In a wok or large, nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil. Add the noodles and toss using 2 large forks or spoons until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a bowl.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic, and quickly stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots, peas and fresh mushrooms, and continue to stir-fry, stirring and tossing constantly, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  6. Add the shiitakes and the sauce to the vegetables. Raise the heat to high. Add the meat and stir until the meat is heated throughout and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Just before serving, stir the noodles into the stir-fry just to heat them through. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people

Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta, and Prosciutto

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Ingredients

  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette, penne, fusilli or bow-tie pasta

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 12 teardrop tomatoes, halved, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté, tossing with tongs, for about 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook only a minute, making sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. Lower the heat and add the stock, ricotta, lemon zest, prosciutto and tomatoes (if using), and mix to combine completely. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a half of a cup of cooking water for later. Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture. If it is too dry, add a bit of the saved cooking water. Mix. Cook for a minute on low heat.
  6. Serve in shallow pasta bowls with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Tips

  • Select young pencil-thin asparagus wit bright green stalks and tight tips. This way, you won’t have to bother peeling each stalk. This really cuts down on your preparation time. Just cut or snap off the tough bottoms and then cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces, making sure to keep the whole tip as one piece.
  • When making pasta, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to the sauce to control the thickness.
  • Also, when cooking pasta, combine the cooked, drained pasta and the sauce over heat for a minute to marry the flavors. It allows all of the ingredients to blend together.

Serves 4-6 people.

Three-Cheese Macaroni with Leeks, Prosciutto, and Peas

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 leeks, light green and white parts, cleaned, finely chopped
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas
  • 1/4 pound sliced prosciutto, finely chopped

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons each: unsalted butter, flour
  • 3 cups milk, warmed
  • 2 cups shredded each: Pepper Jack cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, white pepper

Topping

  • 1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in large non-aluminum skillet on medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in the macaroni; cook until slightly soft to the bite, 7 minutes. Drain. Place in bowl with leeks; toss. Add peas and prosciutto; toss.
  3. For sauce, melt the 3 tablespoons butter in the large skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter; whisk to mix well. Cook, stirring, until the flour is absorbed and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the milk gradually; heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the white sauce is smooth and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add the cheeses. Remove from the heat; whisk constantly until the cheese is completely melted. Stir in the mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the macaroni leek mixture; mix to combine.
  5. Place a greased 8-inch-square baking pan on a baking sheet. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the pan. For the topping, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a small bowl.
  6. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni. Dot with the butter; bake uncovered, until the top browns and begins to form a crust, 35-40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tips

  • Use Italian penne or fusilli instead of elbow macaroni
  • Substitute blue cheese for the Pepper Jack cheese
  • Substitute mortadella or speck for the prosciutto

Advance Preparation

This may be made up to two days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before reheating in a 350-degree  oven for 20 minutes. You may need to cover with foil so it does not burn.

Serves 6 people.