Category Archives: Pasta

Way Rad Bowl of Pasta


I didn’t know what else to call it. It has so many preparation-detailed ingredients that the full name would be something too long and annoying. So way rad bowl of pasta it is, because that’s what it was.

Sooo yeah. Remember how I said I wasn’t eating carbs and I missed them oh so much, but I refused to eat them? I kicked myself in the ass and told myself “moderation and portion control, betch” and then made this way rad pasta dish. And I would make it again, too.

I made this the night before our treadmill finally made its appearance in our basement gym, when I knew I would be running like mad the minute the delivery guys left my house. So I decided it would be best to pretend like I was running a marathon thereby validating a big bowl of pasta.

Although the base of this recipe comes from Cooking Light, I had to make some changes so it could fit into my “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.


For instance, I used whole wheat pasta, used a lighter cheese, and since we needed some kind of protein in there other than cheese, I threw grilled portobello “steaks” on top. So my version was born and was received well by both me and the man of the house.  I can’t get over the smokiness and spicy flavor this dish had, but tossing it all together with seared tomatoes and fresh spinach in a chili garlic sauce? Fuhgettaboutit.

Make it. Moderate it. Portion it well. Eat it. Delicioso. Fin.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fettuccine with Chili Garlic Sauce and Portobello Mushroom
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A robust bowl of whole wheat pasta, seared tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a chili garlic sauce, then topped with sliced portobello “steaks”.
Recipe type: pasta, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, or long pasta of choice (linguine would be yummy)
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ¼ if you prefer less spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, de-stemmed and gills scraped out
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes, or until al dente
  2. While the pasta cooks, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side down and cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until tomatoes start to soften or burst. Remove from skillet, transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the 1½ tablespoons olive oil over low heat.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir and cook 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
  7. While the tomato sauce simmers, the pasta should be done so you can drain and set aside.
  8. Get your grill pan ready or a separate pan and grill up portobello caps until browned and grilled well.
  9. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach, cheese, and drained pasta and toss well to coat.
  11. To serve, add mixed pasta to bowls, spoon a few grape tomatoes around the outer edge of bowls and top each bowl with sliced mushroom.

Truffle Mac and Cheese

It was fancy dinner night in our household. REB found a recipe for truffle mac and cheese and so we tried it out. Now, I’m not a huge mushroom person. I’m warming up to the taste of them, but it’s a slow process. However since we’re vegetarians, we need to find protein in other forms, which mushrooms fulfill.

The recipe he found was out of Maxim magazine in a segment about “foods guys can cook”, or whatever. The chef is Graham Elliot Bowles from Chicago, IL, and this dish actually tasted great. We changed it up a bit, but for the most part, it’s great as is.

What you’ll need:
•2 cups pasta (we used Cavatappi, my favorite kind of pasta!)
•1 can cream of mushroom soup (I bought the low fat, low sodium variety)
•1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (more like 1/2 cup for us :-X oops)
•1/4 cup Provolone cheese, grated (more like 1/2 cup of us :-X oops)
•1 tablespoon white truffle oil
•12 Cremini mushrooms, whole
•1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

If you noticed, the star ingredient in this dish is white truffle oil. So what the heck is it?

Truffle oil is basically a cop-out move to add truffle flavor with olive oil, rather than spending a whole lot of money to buy real truffles. And believe me, you can buy real truffles. I saw them in a locked up box in Wegmans store in upstate New York. Crazy stuff. Anyway, I bought this bottle which will last me forever because I have no idea what else I’ll use it for, but oh well. Another pretty something to add to my pantry. It’s a smooth flavor though and believe it or not, we could taste it in our dish.

So start by boiling the water for your pasta. While that’s going, heat up the cream of mushroom soup in another saucepan. No need to add water, let the soup just kind of warm away on low heat. Once it’s heated through and it starts to kind of bubble, whisk in the cheese and the add the truffle oil. You want to whisk and/or stir until the whole thing is smooth in texture. Then take it off the heat and set it aside.

While all this is happening, heat oil in a large saute pan. Add some regular olive oil to the pan and wait until it’s screaming hot (almost smoking), then add in the mushrooms. Now, this recipe calls for 12 whole Cremini mushrooms (baby Portabellas). However if you remember, I said I’m still getting adjusted to the taste of mushrooms, so I sliced a few up. The end result was having some texture to the dish, which is always a plus!

Cook the mushrooms for about 7-10 minutes, then add the sherry vinegar and let it cook an additional 2-3 minutes. The smell. I can’t even begin to describe the smell in our kitchen. It smelled so, so amazing.

Once the pasta is cooked, we scooped out about a cup of pasta water in case we needed it (we ended up not needing it), drained it then tossed the pasta into the mushroom sauce and then added the whole thing to the saute pan to mix with the mushrooms.

For a girl who isn’t 100% sold on mushrooms, I absolutely loved this dish. It was the perfect serving, full of protein and flavor and made me appreciate mushrooms just a little more. Of course, I didn’t eat any of the whole ones, but I did love eating the ones I sliced up!

Add some Parmesan shavings and cracked pepper on top and enjoy!

RLB’s Warm Pasta Salad

REB’s brother makes the most amazing warm pasta salad. We’ve made it a few times and I’ve posted pictures of it on Flickr, but I decided it was time to post the recipe since I actually asked REB to tell me how much of what he put in.

This pasta salad evolved when REB and his family were in Vermont, where they vacationed every year when they were growing up (right through college, actually). They own a share out there and trek out there for a week. Apparently one time while out getting groceries, they wanted to get this pasta salad that looked uber delicious, but cost quite a bit (common in Vermont: the land of organic, delicious food). REB’s brother, who we’ll call RLB (/wink), said he could probably make it, so they bought some ingredients, went back to their share, and he made it. It was a success.

The first time I had this dish I was in heaven. it’s so simple and reminds me of summer and also reminds me of REB’s family. We try to make it a few times a year, but it makes a TON so be prepared to have leftovers for 3-4 days. This easily serves about 8-10. I’m sure it should be served as a side dish, but it always is a main dish for us.

Here’s what you’ll need:

•1 1/2 pounds Penne (that’s 1 1/2 boxes ;))
•1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
•1 red bell pepper, chopped
•1 orange bell pepper, chopped
•1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
•1/4 cup (basically cut a smaller half) red onion, chopped
•1 8 oz. block fat free mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
•1 can medium whole black olives (or whatever olive you prefer…we think black works better than green in this dish though) NOTE: save about half the liquid from the can
•1/2 cup olive oil (I know that sounds like a lot, but you’re making it in a big vat, so it’s not THAT bad
•1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce (more if you want a real kick)
•1/2 cup red wine vinegar
•1/2 the liquid from the can of olives
•Couple splashes of balsamic vinegar (you don’t want this dish to be sweet though, so 1-2 splashes will be fine)
•S&P to taste

A disclaimer:

In addition to the block of mozzarella cheese, we also buy fresh mozzarella. We don’t use the whole thing, but this is what we top the whole dish with (just a few pieces) so it kind of melts into ooey-gooey-cheesy-heaven as you eat it. This is totally optional and you’ll have leftovers of this cheese to make an antipasti platter or Caprese salad or whatever.

On to the cooking!

Boil water and cook the pasta according to the package. Drain and set aside. Add the dressing/liquid, half the cubed cheese and stir. Then you add the vegetables and the rest of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Top with the fresh mozzarella if you want, or it’s ready to go! We eat it warm, but it really tastes best if you let it sit a day and then reheat it. I don’t know why, but it does. Or you can have it cold as a side dish.

It’s the perfect summer dish and yes, it has a lot of dressing, but it’s well distributed so it’s actually quite light. I love it! And the best part is eating it for the next three days. Enjoy!

Rainbow Pasta

Michigan has graced us with four consecutive days of beautiful Springtime weather.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, except, this time last year it snowed for the last time for the season. And it snowed a LOT.

I know it’s coming. I know it. We always get one more dump of snow and then winter is officially over (usually) the second week of April.

I’m not going to go over the logistics; I’m thoroughly enjoying this weather and hope to continue doing so for a few more days.

In lieu of the warm weather I made a most delicious pasta dish full of roasted vegetables. It just makes me think of Spring and warm weather!

You’ll see why I call it Rainbow Pasta if you keep reading.

Rainbow Pasta starring:

•1 pound Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
•3 carrots, peeled
•1 red bell pepper (or 2..they roast up beautifully!)
•1 yellow bell pepper
•1 green bell pepper
•1/2 cup grape tomatoes
•1/2 red onion (or a whole one if it’s on the small size)
•1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings (marjoram, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley)
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1 cup pasta water
*S&P to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 450ºF

Peel and cut the carrots into thin strips. Do the same with all the other vegetables.

See why I call it Rainbow Pasta?? So many pretty colors! Makes me antsy for Spring!
You could also use summer squash, zucchini, eggplant…whatever you like! I haven’t met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like.

Place all the vegetables onto a baking sheet in their own little piles.

Drizzle some olive oil all over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss them carefully and lightly, but try to maintain their little piles as best you can.

Put them into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.

While that’s happening, start boiling your water and cook your pasta. I used Farfalle pasta, or bow tie pasta. Really, you can use any kind of pasta you like. Penne would work great, or rigatoni. I just had bow tie in the house and it’s one of my favorite kinds of pasta, so that’s what I used.

After 10 minutes, check on the vegetables and stir them around a bit. At this point, sprinkle the herbs on top and put them back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

This is what they look like when they come out of the oven. The vegetables are done when 1). you can smell them (and believe me, you can!), 2). they look a little wilted, which lets you know they’ve roasted beautifully. More importantly, the carrots are tender and soft.

Let them cool while the pasta finishes cooking. You can also get your grape tomatoes ready. The ones that were bigger, I cut in half. But for the most part you can leave them whole. When they’re in the pasta, they’ll burst in your mouth with amazing flavor – so delicious!

You can also grate your Parmesan cheese.

I buy the real stuff. I’ve said it before, but it’s true: using quality ingredients makes a world of difference. I’m also a food snob when I want to be ;-)

When the pasta is done, measure out 1 cup of the pasta water. The starchy water will help mix all the ingredients together and since we salted the pasta water when it came to a boil, it’ll intensify the flavor of the dish even more! Mmm! Mmm!

Drain your pasta and return it to the same pot (no use dirtying a new dish). Pour all your vegetables (carefully!) into the pot and stir.

Pour a little bit of the pasta water and stir a bit more. Add in the cheese, tomatoes and the rest of the pasta water, and give it one more good stir.

Grate some more cheese on top – honestly, you can’t have enough cheese – and enjoy!

It’s such an easy dish to prepare and it’s colorful, fresh and flavorful. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Easy Peasy Baked Mac and Cheesy

The ultimate comfort food, and just so happens to be one of (out of many many many) my favorite foods EVER. Pasta and cheese? Yes, please!

I don’t make it that often because it’s obviously not the greatest thing for your figure. But when it’s the weekend, and I need that ultimate comfort food, this is what I make. REB also loves it, so anything I can do to please my man, the better.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Aren’t they all cute lined up and ready for roll call?

•1/2 cup of butter. That would be a whole stick. Hey, I already said this wasn’t healthy. So deal with it, people!
•1 pound of pasta
•2 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice. I used half a block of extra sharp cheddar and also bought brand-name Colby-Jack mix.
•1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. As my favorite goat-woman Rachel Ray would say, it’s the thing that makes them go, “Hmmm…what IS that?”
•1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Pardon me…would you happen to have any Grey Poupon? Why yes, I do!

…ahem…moving on…

•1/2 cup flour
•3 3/4 cups milk (the only healthy thing in the bunch as I used the fat free variety)
•1/2 teaspoon black pepper
•1 teaspoon salt
•Half a small bag of Goldfish crackers

Let’s get cheesin’

First preheat your oven to 350ºF. You want that thing waiting for you, not you waiting for it.

Then cook the pasta. I went ahead and boiled my water and when it came to a boil, I dumped the pasta in and then started making my sauce. It’s totally fine if your pasta cooks first. You want it to cook to al dente since it will finish cooking in the oven with the cheese.

I used Cavatappi pasta.
This is hands down my favorite kind of pasta. I tried this recipe with different kinds of pasta: Elbow, Farfalle, Shells, etc. But, I love Cavatappi. I love the way it sounds when you say it, and I love the shape. Plus, it’s got those sweet lines to help the ooey-gooey cheese stick to each lovely noodle. Ah, bliss.

As your pasta starts cooking, get to making your sauce.

Melt the butter over low heat. I cut it up to help the melting process go a little faster.

Once it’s all melted, or just about there, you can add in the flour.

Add the flour a little at a time and raise the heat a little. Stir the roux until it is smooth and bubbly.

Remove the roux from the heat, and add the milk. Return the saucepan to the stove and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

….and I mean that.

Keep stirring! It’ll take about 10-15 minutes. You want to keep stirring it and raise the heat every few minutes so it helps quicken the process. You’re basically making a bechamel sauce, but you want it to thicken a lot.

You know it’s done when the sauce coats the back of your spoon like so. Let it come to a bubble for a minute.

While the sauce keeps thickening, grate some cheese. We bought a block of super, extra sharp white cheddar. Basically amazing. It was also kosher (fun fact) and wasn’t made with animal rennet (good for vegetarians!)

Told ya. Amazing.

Before you add in the cheeses, add the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. I wish I had whole nutmeg. Pout. However, ground nutmeg works just as well. Give that a good stir.

Add in the cheddar. Ooooh-weee! Look how thick that sauce is now!

Took some help from the store and bought a package of finely shredded Colby-Jack cheese. Choose any cheese you like, though: Gruyere, Swiss, Provolone, Jalapeño cheddar, smoked Gouda…mmmm! Even Bleu cheese would probably work (Um, can’t believe I just said that…)

Now tell me that isn’t beautiful. Go on. Try. I won’t believe you, though.

Pour the cheese over the pasta and give it a good stir.


Pour the entire pot o’ mac’n'cheese into a 9 x 13 ungreased glass dish like so.

Pour half the bag of Goldfish crackers into a food storage bag and then with a pan, your hand, a rolling pin, whatever…smash ‘em!

Just like that. Yup. That looks about right.

And because we didn’t have enough cheese in the dish already, sprinkle the top with just a touch (or handful) more.

Then top it off with the crushed Goldfish crackers.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Then you end up with this, glorious, delicious dish of heaven. This clearly makes enough for about 10-12 people, but that’s why leftovers are a wonderful thing.

Mmmk, now it’s OK to start drooling.

Sigh. So, so glad I’m not lactose intolerant. Heaven. Just…heaven.