This pesto goat cheese pasta is, to me, a perfect encapsulation of late summer. Packed full of zucchini and fresh basil, it’s trying its darnedest to use up summer’s bounty of produce while it’s still there.
It combines two of my favorite things (fresh basil pesto and tangy goat cheese) into a super light, refreshing sauce. I added zucchini because I love the flavor and texture, and we’re in the peak of zucchini season.
I threw in the shredded brussels sprouts mostly because they were sitting in my fridge close to going squishy, and I wanted some added “health”.
I used my one true love, Giovanna’s easy homemade pesto, as the base for the sauce, though I did leave out the parmesan since it didn’t seem necessary.
It was as simple as blending the ingredients together and then adding the goat cheese while the pasta and vegetables cooked.
This is a “kitchen sink” pasta, as so many of the best are. I had a delicious smoked salmon filet that needed used, and this creamy smoked salmon pasta is the result of me trying to create a pasta version of my beloved smoked salmon bagel flavors.
I started by thinking about smoked salmon with crème fraîche as the basis, and adding some minced red onion or shallots (and capers, which I was out of).
Then I wanted to add veggies, because you know…healthy. Spinach was a no-brainer and then I shredded and sautéed up some brussels sprouts (basically things that wouldn’t overpower the other flavors). I roasted some golden beets and threw those in as well.
You can use whatever you have on hand, but I’d stay away from strong flavors like peppers.
I used pappardelle because I had some leftover in a package, but would use something different next time. I’m not a huge long pasta fan myself, but linguini would work well, or for shorter pasta a gemelli or cavatappi would be great.
This was a perfect light summer pasta, paired with a crisp and mineral-y white wine.
Fresh pasta con pesto has long-been probably my favorite food in the entire world. Seriously.
If you visit the Liguria region of Italy, you’ll get the opportunity to experience pesto in its birthplace, and it will almost always be served with the traditional trofie pasta.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
~ Federico Fellini
I’ve talked about this more in my post on the food of Cinque Terre (one of my favorite places in the world!) but every time I visit those tiny fishing villages I look forward to gorging myself on platter after platter of trofie pasta with pesto.
If you haven’t made your own pasta before, it might seem kind of fussy and intimidating. But this Ligurian trofie pasta is really very easy, without dealing with eggs or any special equipment. All you need is a couple ingredients and your two hands!
It would even be a great activity with kids, or just a few extra people since the work will go much quicker and you can easily chat while you work.
This zucchini baked pasta is the perfect recipe for those lazy hot days of summer as they start to slide into fall. Not too heavy, packed with bright and silky garlicky zucchini and light ricotta, but oozing with a comforting amount of gooey mozzarella.
The recipe is also super flexible and adaptable, and I did make a couple changes.
I cut back on the fresh mozzarella by a third…partly because I forgot to buy enough, but I ended up finding what I had was MORE THAN plenty. I threw in a small handful of shredded (bagged) mozzarella in the main mixture for good measure and to help bind everything together.
I also used a ton of zucchini—three medium and one ginormous. In case you’re wondering, I made my own pesto (love that fresh basil taste!) but I’m sure a jarred would work fine.
I just needed something indulgent but not *too* unhealthy, and this zucchini ziti fit the bill perfectly.
Somehow I totally forgot about this recipe. Which is bananas, because for a number of years I probably made this pasta with spinach, tomatoes, and feta…once a week???
I started making it in college, and pretty soon it was my go-to. I made it at least once a week while I was doing my internship, and later once I moved to Atlanta. Sometimes multiple times a week.
It was easy and cheap, came together in the time it took the pasta to cook, and felt kind of fancy. Before I started this blog I basically had a 3-recipe rotation…
[Editor’s note: photos updated in July 2021]
Then somehow I totally forgot about it once I started trying out lots of recipes for this site.
But when I was at the grocery store last weekend trying to figure out what to do for dinner (since my Kroger was totally out of avocados, which I’d kind of needed), I saw some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and this recipe popped into my mind.
It’s very forgiving, the veggie amounts aren’t super exact and neither is the feta amount. I recommend this for a night where you just need something on the table fast, and want fresh, healthy ingredients.
Today we’ve got a twist on a traditional pesto…specifically a kale and walnut pesto combo.
As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I made a few healthy additions to my lifestyle, things I felt like I could manage. The first was guzzling a full glass of water before getting up every morning, and the second was making sure I ate a healthy breakfast every day. I also started to make sure I took vitamins every day.
This meal was about the last one—trying to eat more raw foods.
Cooking foods can make them more delicious, but can also destroy valuable nutrients and enzymes.
That’s not to say you should never eat anything cooked, but adding more raw foods to your diet (such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts) can significantly up the amount of benefits you’re getting from your food.
Of course, the best way to really get the most out of your food is to make sure you’re buying local and organic, since the longer since a food has been harvested, the more it loses. That’s not always feasible—either financially or availability-wise—but I am trying to get certain things organic, such as apples and carrots (two of the worst pesticide-contaminated foods).
This organic dino kale was in my CSA box, so it checks both boxes. Rather than sauteeing it up like I normally do, I decided to puree it with some raw walnuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a little ground flaxseed for a different take on pesto.
Toss with some curly pasta, and you get the best of both worlds—cooked whole grains with a potent creamy raw sauce. I toasted a few walnuts to throw on top, or if you don’t care as much about raw foods then you could toast all your walnuts before making the pesto.
The CSA box I got a couple weeks ago was—much like the rest of us here in Georgia—stuck between summer and winter.
There were some delightful strawberries and spring-y butter lettuce, but a couple of sweet potatoes as well. I don’t give sweet potatoes much thought, generally, but the timing seemed perfect since I’d just pinned this sweet potato pasta sauce recipe.
I’ve been really trying to focus on cooking and eating healthy when I’m at home (minus a few Chinese food-palooza Saturday nights), particularly since I’ve had a rash of delicious but indulgent lunches and dinners for work.
This recipe seemed to balance my need for comfort food that especially-chilly day, but the presence of whole wheat pasta and adding creamy sweet potato to the sauce upped the healthy quotient.
Also, shallots, amirite?! These little guys pack so much flavor punch!! And the crispy sesame kale really takes this dish to the next level.
The sauce also has deeeelicious sautéed garlic and shallots to make a super flavorful base. I had a little trouble with the crispy kale (left it in the oven too long…yikes!) but overall this was simple and awesome and totally satisfying.
As the whole country knows, Atlanta has had some winter weather troubles lately. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough not to get stuck in the 24-hour city-wide traffic jam—only took me an hour and a half to get home (vs. 20 minutes usually).
I hadn’t had the foresight to check the weather ahead of time, so I ended up being stuck at home for a few days with only the food I had stocked up in my pantry and fridge. (I did have wine this time…a few years ago I got snowed/iced in for five days without wine. #neveragain)
I started poking around to see what I could make. I was craving comfort food but knew I needed to eat somewhat healthy. Unfortunately I hadn’t bought many fruits and veggies, but I found a butternut squash in the fridge and had some wilted kale, so I figured I could make something work.
This is a true McGyver meal, but I think it came out pretty darn good. It was creamy and warm, with the salty sausage and the kale adding different textures. It’s since become one of my go-to comfort food dishes.
So BEHOLD, I give you the best mac & cheese with kale, roasted butternut squash, and chicken sausage!
Can you tell I’ve been craving comfort food? Seriously, I could have chosen to make a quinoa casserole or something, but instead I ended up with a steamy, creamy mac & cheese.READ THE POST
Lasagna is a very personal thing. In general, most people think their mom’s/grandma’s/wife’s/pick your relative’s lasagna is the absolute best thing in the world, and all other lasagnas are vastly inferior.
I certainly fall into this camp. I’m don’t think I even ate any other lasagna except my mom’s until I was…in college? And then I was so disappointed by it that it only reinforced my opinion.
I stand by that opinion, and have had friends reinforce it over the years. When I make this, I often get exclamations of “This is so good! It’s even better than my mom’s…though don’t tell her I said that!”
This lasagna recipe is really easy to put together, and it gets its awesomeness from a couple ingredients that are outside the norm.
Instead of a homemade marinara or a jarred tomato sauce, it uses a specific Hunt’s canned four-cheese sauce, which gives it a special flavor. And rather than the traditional ricotta, it uses cottage cheese.
Yeah, I know it sounds weird. I think we started doing that when I was a kid and I didn’t like ricotta and my mom wasn’t too crazy about it either. But what we discovered is that the little curds in the cottage cheese end up melting and take this to a whole other level of gooeyness (instead of the graininess of ricotta).
The result? Tangy, cheesy, fragrant, spice-filled awesomeness. I love it fresh out of the oven, with the steam still coming off it.
My dad loves it as leftovers, when the cheese and sauce have had a day or two to hang out and get married in the fridge. Either way, it’s out of this world. [My mom informs me that it was originally my Aunt Susan’s recipe that we tweaked over the years, so kudos to her as well!]READ THE POST
Mercy! It’s been over a month since I posted a real, honest-to-goodness main dish recipe here. I’ve had sweets and breads and pancakes, but nothing that’ll really stick to your bones.
I feel like I’ve been saying it all year, but it’s been utter madness lately. Work’s crazy, some travel, add in Thanksgiving, all the extra food and drinks around the holidays, and trying to finish everything up for the year.
That means I’ve been keeping long hours and not eating remotely normally. Pretty much no fruits and veggies, and I don’t remember the last time I cooked a real meal. But last weekend it was so cold and dreary and I really wanted to get back to real life.
I wanted comfort food, but healthy, and this baked pasta with broccolini, kale, and chicken sausage fit the bill. It’s got greens and crunch, tossed with golden sausage and firm pasta, all in the warm hug of creamy, garlicky béchamel and dots of gooey fresh mozzarella.
Basically, it’s perfect.
And fairly simple, all things considered. I was able to saute up the sausage and kale while the water boiled, then get everything else ready while the pasta and broccolini cooked, then stir everything together and pour it into the pan.
Twenty minutes later, I had a big, golden, slightly crunchy masterpiece on my hands.
The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen calls for broccoli rabe, which I couldn’t locate at my grocery store. I used broccolini instead (which isn’t quite the same, but can do in a pinch) and added some sautéed kale for some extra health and texture. Everything else was just right!READ THE POST