Monday, September 12, 2011

Creamy Two Cheese Linguine

I haven't fully subscribed to the whole "Meatless Monday" thing.  It's a good idea in theory, but what if my week gets wonky and I need to move my menu around?  Or what if I just want a hamburger on a Monday?

Truth is, I grew up thinking that meals had to include a meat, vegetable and a starch.  Daily.  I'm not talking deep South fried chicken, butter beans & mashed potatoes, but it is a hard habit to break.  My family owned a meat processing plant, so going vegetarian wasn't exactly good for the bank account.  These days, I like the idea of a meal that can be thrown together quickly - and the easiest ones don't include meat.  Plus, some days I may or may not indulge at lunch and having a lighter dinner just fits.

I decided on this dish because I had some Asiago cheese that I wanted to use.  I also had some spinach that we were not going to eat before the weekend, so I stirred that in.  But the best part was that Cooper even liked this dish, so that moves it up pretty high on the list these days.

Creamy Two Cheese Linguine from The Novice Chef
  • 8oz linguine
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped & divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2oz shaved Asiago cheese, divided
  • 2oz fat free cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, according to the package.  While the pasta cooks, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Pour the olive oil into the pan, turning to coat.  Add in the flour and whisk constantly, for about 3-4 minutes or until the mixture begins to brown.  Whisk in the milk, 2 tablespoons of basil and salt & pepper.  Continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes.  Add in 1 1/2 oz of Asiago cheese & the cream cheese, stir until the cheese melts.  Reduce heat to low and set aside until the pasta cooks.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add in the spinach.  Stir for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach wilts.  Combine the pasta & sauce in a large bowl, tossing well to coat the pasta.  Serve garnished with the remaining cheese and basil. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Green Bean & Tomato Pasta Salad

We've had a hot summer this year.  A really long, really hot summer.  I've tried to avoid using the oven at all costs to keep the house from turning into my own personal oven.  Thankfully, we started the summer with a new grill and a freezer full of beef, so this wasn't difficult.  We've spent quite a few weekends with steaks on the grill and some sort of salad on the side.

This recipe is one I've hung on to for quite some time, never having thrown it together.  I knew Cooper would like it, though, since he frequently consumes a pint of grape tomatoes on his own each week.  I try to tell myself it is ok because it is kind of a vegetable.  But it isn't.  And he can totally tell the difference in tomatoes - try anything other than a grape or cherry tomato and he'll refuse.  Kids are funny that way.

In hindsight, the only change I would have made would have been to add some crumbled feta cheese to this.  It was great, but cheese makes everything better.  Plus, the bite from the feta would have added another depth to the dish.  It will definitely be made again, though, with the cheese!

Green Bean & Tomato Pasta Salad from Southern Living
For the salad:
  • 8oz bow tie pasta
  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup Basil Garlic Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
In a large Dutch oven, bring salted water to boil and add the pasta.  Cook for 5 minutes and add the green beans.  Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water.

Smash the garlic and salt together to make a paste.  Whisk with the remaining ingredients until well blended.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, green beans, tomatoes & onion.  Toss with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.  Serve chilled.