Tag Archives: pasta

Springing into Spring with Tortellini and Spring Vegetables

Last weekend, the weather was perfect. Beautiful blue skies, white puffy clouds, and temperatures in the 70s. It was great. The weather got everyone excited for spring, including me. And when I think of spring, I think of spring food…and spring veggies.

This recipe combines one of my favorite pastas, tortellini, with peas, asparagus, and onions, sautéed in delicious bacon grease. Finished off with a little 1/2 and 1/2 and some Parmigiano cheese, it’s perfect! The bacon and vegetables are crisp, the sauce is rich and creamy, and the tortellini are the perfect cheesy carriers for this deliciousness!

Chop 6 strips bacon into thin, small strips. Cook the bacon in a large pot or dutch oven over medium low heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. I use the lid for this process so the bacon doesn’t splatter everywhere. Once the bacon is crisp, remove to a plate, but keep the bacon fat in the pot on the heat.baconslicedcookingcookedChop 1 medium onion. Cook in the bacon fat until golden and softened, about 5 minutes. Mince 4 cloves garlic. Add to the onion, and cook for another minute.chopped onioncooking onioncooked oniongarliccookedMeanwhile, set a large pot of water on the stove, and bring to a boil. Chop 1 lb asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Once the water is boiling, add the asparagus. Blanch for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl. I do this instead of draining with a colander because that way you can use the same water for the pasta.

water boilingasparagusblanchingblanched asparagusAdd the asparagus and 1 lb peas to the onion mixture. I used frozen peas, but if you can get fresh, go for it. I don’t find a huge difference in flavor, so if you can’t, frozen works. Cook for a few minutes until heated through. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup dry wine. I didn’t have any white open, so I used red. The flavor stays the same, it just adds a slight pink to the sauce. 🙂 Simmer the wine for a few minutes until reduced some, then add 1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2. Bring to a boil and boil for a few more minutes until creamy and thoroughly combined.adding asparagusadding peasadding winesimmering wineadding 1/2 and 1/2almost readyIn that reserved water, cook 2 lbs tortellini according the package directions. Once cooked and drained, add to the sauce along with the bacon. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese. Roll up 10 basil leaves and thinly slice into ribbons. Add to the pasta and enjoy!cooked tortelliniadding tortelliniadding baconadding cheesebasil leavesslicedadding basilall readyAlthough I don’t know if I mentioned it sooner, pasta is my one of my favorite meals. It’s no wonder I turn to this recipe when spring has sprung! 🙂

My Favorite Comfort Food…Spaghetti Carbonara

When I was in grade school, I can remember going to dinner at my uncle’s rectory (he is a catholic priest) for Mother’s Day.  The cook at the rectory made this delicious dinner, and one of the things she made was spaghetti carbonara.  It was an amazing, creamy, cheesy sauce with bits of salty meat, and, after the first bite, I was hooked.  At that moment, I fell in love.  Ever since then, it has been one of my favorite foods, and it is the perfect comfort food for a cold, winter night.

IngredientsSpaghetti carbonara has to be one of the easiest pasta dishes there is.  By the time the pasta has boiled, your dinner is ready.  The first thing you need to do is cook 1 lb of pasta according to the package directions.  Traditionally, spaghetti is used, but I only had fettuccine, and was too lazy to go to the store, so that’s what I used.  As the water is coming to a boil, cook 4 oz of diced pancetta in a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta over a medium heat.  I get the pancetta at Wegman’s, and they have a pre-cut package that is perfect.  If you can’t find pancetta, you can always use bacon.  You want to saute it until it is crisp, but be careful you don’t burn it.  If it’s cooked, and the pasta isn’t done yet, just take it off the heat as you wait for the pasta.  As it’s cooking, in a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese.  If you don’t have it, you can always substitute Parmigiano.  Once it’s whisked together well, set that aside.

PancettaOnce the pasta is cooked, drain it, but reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.  After draining, pour the pasta into the saute pan with the pancetta, and, if you had removed it from the heat, put it on a medium heat.  Stir for a minute or so until combined and most of the water has evaporated from the pasta, then remove from the heat and pour in the egg and cheese mixture.  Stir to combine and continue stirring as the heat from the pan and the pasta cooks the egg mixture and it becomes a thick sauce.  If it becomes too thick, you can always add some of the reserved cooking water.

MixingWhen it’s thick and rich, you can add some black pepper, and you’re ready to serve.  Because of the salt in the pancetta, you shouldn’t need to add any extra.  And if you’re worried about the eggs, you can always turn the heat back on as you stir the pasta and egg/cheese mixture.  Just be careful to keep stirring so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.

It’s definitely a rich dish, but it’s so delicious.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it!