This year has kinda sucked, so I’ve fallen back hard on recipes I already know how to make, and haven’t really pushed myself to try many new ones. But I saw this about a month ago, and felt like this would be a fun riff to try. And with the cold turn that finally came this weekend, this seemed like the perfect thing to make for the week. This is definitely getting added to my long term repertoire – it is the good shit.

A few variations: I used smoked cheddar instead of the recommended medium cheddar, used gigli from Trader Joe’s for the macaroni, held off on the cayenne, and didn’t quite get the toasted panko right. But oh man. Bacon, cheese, and a good kick from the kimchi that gets mellowed out by the dairy a bit. You could probably add a dash of shichimi togarashi for a more interesting kick. I’ll try it with the next batch.

Bacon and Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • .5 lb macaroni of choice
  • 5 T unsalted butter, divided into 4 T and 1 T
  • 4 T flour
  • 2.25 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c shredded smoked cheddar cheese (recipe recommends a medium cheddar, go with whatever cheddar your heart desires)
  • Pinch ground pepper and sea salt
  • 2/3 c chopped kimchi
  • .75 c panko
  • (1 t cayenne, gonna try shichimi togarashi next run around)

Heat your oven to 400 F, place the bacon slices on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for appx 15 mins until done to your preference. Set aside and cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and while you wait for that to happen, chop up your bacon. Add your macaroni of choice and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (pic 1).

In a large pot (possibly the same one), melt 4 T of unsalted butter over medium high heat, and once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly to make a roux (pic 2). Slowly add the milk to the roux in the pot, continuing to whisk until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, add in the cheese and stir until it’s melted and smooth (pic 3), followed by the salt and pepper, and finally the bacon and chopped kimchi (pic 4). Finally, gently fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce (pic 5), and pour it all into a 9 x 13 in baking dish (pic 6).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining T of butter in the microwave, and then stir together with the panko and sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake for 15 mins until the cheese is good and bubbly and the panko are golden brown (pic 7).

The version I made of this was severely parred down, as the boything doesn’t like mushrooms, I wasn’t sure about the beets in this, and honestly the pomegranate arils seemed more decorative than anything else. I’m probably going to try this again with the beets and maybe the mushrooms, not real sure about the pomegranate arils. (If anyone has insight on this, please feel free to chime in!)

The resulting pasta was, and is, still pretty amazing, and definitely something I want to try again. Please note below – parentheses used in this recipe will be used to indicate omitted ingredients, or instructions for the omitted ingredients.

Caramelized Balsamic Goat Cheese Pasta
Makes: pasta. However much you want. Look, it’s been forever since I made this.

Ingredients

  • 4 T olive oil (2 T if omitting the beets)
  • (4 medium red beets, quartered – omitted)
  • ((1 T chopped fresh thyme (substitute dry if you don’t have fresh), omitted bc not using beets)
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lb long thin pasta (like spaghetti)
  • (8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced – omitted)
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 T honey
  • .5 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • .5 c crumbled goat cheese
  • (pomegranate arils for serving – omitted)

(If using the beets – preheat your oven to 350, toss together the olive oil, beets, thyme, sea salt and pepper, put on a baking sheet, and roast for 25 to 30 mins, till tender and lightly charred.)

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring salted water for the pasta to a boil. Add your pasta, and cook according to package instructions until al dente, and then drain. Just before draining, reserve 1 c of pasta cooking water.

While you wait for the water to boil, melt the butter, and add 2 T olive oil in a pot over high heat. (If using the mushrooms, add them here and cook until just barely caramelizing on the edges, appx 5 mins.) Add the garlic slices like in pic 1, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove the (mushrooms) and garlic. To the same pot, add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes, like in pic 2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and then cook for 5-8 mins until the balsamic has reduced by about a third and is sticky to the touch – see pic 3 for the example of this in progress, and pic 4 for what this looks like towards the end. Then, reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta and garlic(/mushrooms). Toss to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serve the pasta immediately, topped with crumbled goat cheese, (roasted beets, and pomegranate arils).

I want to start this recipe with a disclaimer. Tieghan makes amazing recipes. A lot of her stuff is in my arsenal, or on my to-try list. HOWEVER. I usually end up cutting out upwards of three or four ingredients of hers per recipe, because as nice as those things are, they’re there more for garnish, and don’t really add anything to the dish. Here, I cut… three things, but we’ve still got a damn amazing recipe here. 

The most expensive things you will likely have to get are the cherry tomatoes and the feta, but the rest you likely either have in your pantry/fridge, or can find them nearby for reasonable prices. You can still make this for a pretty reasonable price, and it makes enough for you to have leftovers and then some. 

Twenty Minute Mediterranean Hummus Noodles with Blistered Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 6 baby bell peppers (I used about half of what the original recipe recommends, found them cheap at my local grocery, look for sweet snacking peppers)
  • pinch sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • .75 lb thin spaghetti, or your personal preferred thin pasta (I went angel hair here)
  • .75 c of your favorite hummus (roasted garlic, here)
  • 1 c pasta cooking water (drain this off right before you’re done!)
  • 1 c fresh basil (I tore it, Tieghan isn’t really clear on if it needs to be chopped, diced, left whole, etc)
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • .25 c kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 T oregano, chopped
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz feta crumbles

Take a pot of water, salt it, and bring it to a boil.  While the pot warms up and begins to boil, take a large grill pan, pour 2 T olive oil in, and heat over high heat. Once heated, add the cherry tomatoes, baby bell peppers, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and grill until the cherries begin to wrinkle and grill marks appear on the peppers, flipping from side to side. The difference between pictures one to three here is about 10 minutes’ time, and pic 3 is what it should look like at the end of that time. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to instructions, until al dente. Right as it finishes, scoop off one cup of the water the pasta’s cooked in, and add it to a medium sized bowl. Then drain the pasta, and let it sit a minute while you get the next part ready. 

To the pasta cooking water, add the hummus, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes, and whisk together until you’ve got a thin sauce (see pic five). Let it sit a bit to thicken. Then, take your pasta, and toss it to coat with the sauce. 

Take 1 c of your blistered cherry tomatoes, put them in a small bowl, and smash them lightly with a fork, so that the juices are released. Stir in the oregano, chopped kalamatas, remaining 2 T olive oil, a bit of sea salt and pepper to taste, and balsamic, and toss to combine. 

When ready to eat, take the sauced pasta, add the tomato-olive mix, a few blistered tomatoes and peppers, and feta, and toss to combine, and then enjoy the amazingness!

Looking for a quick dinner to throw together in under a half hour – or, if you’re me, the night before you roll out to a vacation you only just got approved for the day before? Or for something super simple? Or super cheap? Or summery feeling? Really, you can’t go wrong with this. I didn’t quite have all the ingredients for this, or follow the directions exactly, but it still worked out pretty damn well, I’d say. 

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spaghetti (if you can find pot-sized spaghetti, it’s going to help lots)
  • sea salt
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced (about .5 c lemon juice)
  • .25 c olive oil
  • .25 c heavy whipping cream (I tried to substitute just milk, forgot to add melted butter to thicken it, whoops)
  • .5 c grated Parmesan cheese (or parmigiano reggiano, if you have it on hand)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • dried Greek oregano

Heavily salt your water, bring to a boil, and cook according to your pasta’s directions. While the water comes to a boil/the pasta cooks, zest and juice your lemons. 

Once the pasta’s done, drain your pasta, but retain about 1.5 c of pasta cooking water (I didn’t do this. whoops.)  Take the same pot you made the pasta in, dry it out, and then boil the olive oil, whipping cream, lemon zest, and 1 c of the reserved cooking water together for two minutes. Return your drained pasta to the pot, and toss until completely coated. Add the cheese and lemon juice back in, and toss to coat completely again, adding in a bit of extra sea salt, pepper, and the oregano, if you’re so inclined. 

And then, enjoy your simple, citrusy, summery pasta!

And this, right here, was my final meal cooked at the old place. A combination of things fresh from my garden, frozen farmer’s market items, and just a good combination of flavors. Peas, proscuitto, parmesan, egg yolk, and mint all together over a lovely pasta just makes the perfect summer meal. Also, HyVee makes pot-sized pasta, which means that you can just stick in your box of pasta and not have to worry about breaking it all over. It’s pretty fantastic.

I might be on hiatus for a while as I make the transition down to Chicago here. Hopefully it won’t be long before I’m back, but these things can’t be helped. See you all on the other side!

Fresh Mint and Pea Pasta Alla Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 1.5 plus .5 to .75 c peas, shelled, frozen or fresh (I used the ones I had in my freezer, with 1.5 c frozen, and the other .75 c thawing out while everything cooked)
  • 5 slices prosciutto
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large handfuls of mint, leaves whole (I took a bunch of peppermint from the garden)
  • 1 lb thin pasta of choice (seriously, get HyVee pot sized pasta, it’s the best thing ever)
  • 2-3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • fresh grated Parmesan (used Sartori’s)

Get your pasta water boiling in a separate pot. While that gets going, take 2 T olive oil and 1 T butter and melt it in a large pan. Once it’s melted, take 1.5 c of your peas (mine were frozen when I tossed them in) and your minced garlic, and saute them over medium heat until they’re soft, about 8 minutes. I chose to salt and pepper (including red pepper flakes) the veggies rather than the yolks, and found it worked very well. Don’t be afraid to use a heavy hand on the sea salt here, as the pasta will not be salted. Remove from heat.

Right about the time your peas finish, the pasta water should be boiling. Add in your pasta, and cook according to package instructions until al dente (usually 8 minutes). While the pasta cooks, take your prosciutto slices, tear them up, and heat 1 T of olive oil in a small pan. Take the torn prosciutto and cook it in the pan over medium high heat, until crispy. 

Once the prosciutto is fried, your pasta should be ready to go. Take a half cup of pasta water and add it to the peas, before draining and straining your pasta noodles. Combine the noodles with the peas, and add more salt, pepper, and pepper flakes after a quick taste. 

To serve, put your pasta in whatever you will be serving/storing it in, add the fresh peas and prosciutto, and toss to combine. Then, add the egg yolks and parmesan, and mint leaves, and toss to combine, until the pasta is coated. And then, enjoy the amazingness!

Looking for a cheap as hell, quick, delicious, simple dinner? You’re looking at it. The most expensive thing you will need to buy for this will be the ravioli (and even that is $5 for a package, tops). Most of the rest of this you should already have in your pantry. And plus, once fresh herbs come into season, this’ll get even better (I used dried basil because basil bunches are still expensive as hell around here right now). 

Tomato Balsamic Ravioli
Lasts four lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 lb ravioli (or however much comes in whatever package you’re buying)
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped (I used dried basil)

Take your ravioli, and cook it according to the instructions on your package. Drain, run some cold water over it, and set aside.

Heat your olive oil over medium, and then take your diced tomatoes and onion and sautee for 5 to 7 minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper, followed by the fresh diced tomato, and cook for another five minutes. 

Once five minutes has passed, take the ravioli, toss it with the tomato mixture, sprinkle your chopped fresh basil on it, and serve!  Maybe add a bit of parm if there’s not enough cheese in your ravioli for your tastes. 

This is basically like a risotto, except substitute red wine for the soup stock, and pasta for the rice.  You cannot go wrong with a good 3 cups of red wine, absorbed into your pasta, trust me.  I went with Yellow Tail’s Sweet Red Roo for this, but anything light and dry will do well with this.

The original recipe recommends two different cheeses to put into this at the end, both of which are ridiculously expensive.  We have a nice little cheese shop out on the Square here, and I was able to get a recommendation for something just as good, and not quite as expensive – Sarvecchio parmesan (look it up).  I actually got a bigger brick than I needed – about half for this recipe, and the other half for me.

Red Wine Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • .25 c olive oil
  • 3 c red wine (I used Yellow Tail’s Sweet Red Roo)
  • .75 c good quality cheese, grated (I used Sarvecchio parmesan, original recommended parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain the pasta, and add the olive oil, heating to medium and adding the pasta back in, tossing until coated.

Add your wine in half a cup at a time, stirring until absorbed.  Once you’ve added all your wine, stir in your cheese, and serve!  Quick, cheap, boozy, and all things considered, pretty easy to make!