Archive | pasta

Quick Lunch: Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Chicken macaroni salad was one of my favorite party side dishes as a child. Back in Manila, it was dotted with raisins, which I’ve grown to dislike through the years. I’ve come to embrace it’s blushing cousin, the dried cranberries, which I simply adore in salads and use as often as I can. I love it with the tuna mac because it adds a touch of sweetness and tartness that complements the tuna and pineapple well.

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Tuna is my preferred alternative to chicken in salads for convenience–just drain and voila, you’ll have flavorful protein to add. And thanks to that, you can make this salad in 15 minutes or less, not including the time to wait for the water to boil. To save time, I put the pot of water on maximum heat while I start chopping vegetables to make good on time.

This is a substantial lunch or a good snack to pack for work, but watch out for the tuna smell. The chicken would be less offensive to the olfactory senses for some, for sure. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in the coolest corner, so it’s a good make-ahead dish as well.

I’m making slow and steady progress on the eating-healthier-lunch front, and even smaller steps on blog posting, but I’m getting there. I’m almost ready to make this again for lunch, actually.

I’ve included meat and vegan alternatives in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

 

 

4.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • salt for boiling pasta and to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 120-gram can tuna, drained of water or oil
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1½ tablespoon sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook elbow macaroni in salty water according to the package directions for al dente pasta and drain. Transfer pasta into a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add cranberries last.
Notes
Meat Alternative: Chopped cooked chicken, especially if you have leftover rotisserie chicken. Vegan Alternative: You use "simulated" chicken meat sauteed with a little bit of chicken bouillon powder or cube to add some flavor. For the mayo, Earth Balance has a "Mindful Mayo" that is dairy free.

Posted in appetizer, make-ahead, nut-free, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, salads, seafood, snacks4 Comments

Eating Real Food When Working From Home: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Scheduling lunch or coffee with friends during the week is a must for someone who works from home, not only does it save me from cooking and eating leftovers, it also provides my version of water cooler talk minus the awkwardness and abrupt Gotta-go’s. The fact is  here are only so many conversations I could have with the cat at home. We chat about her love of tuna soup, how she can’t wait to rub herself against the bottom of daddy’s pants when he comes back from work, and her deep belief that she really is a queen.

DSC_6357_2

Still, she is not a “co-worker” by any sense of the word. Her furry paws tend to step all over the keyboard and unintentionally sends emails that have not been edited. I can’t deny she is an eye candy when I do stay put to get things done for the day.

When I’m at home during lunch, I can’t possibly share her canned seafood delights and saltine-and-water “meals” can only get me so far in the day. I have been eating my fair share of the latter and it’s shamefully bad, that awful desktop diet. I’ve decided to put a stop to this and commit to cooking real food for myself. For lunch. Because I deserve it.

To motivate (and force) me to continue with this, I will be blogging the recipe of at least one meal I make during the week. Several friends are on the same boat, some subsisting on delivery pizza and Chinese takeout, so this series is for them, too. I hope this will inspire you all to take the plunge and be unafraid of making a little mess in the kitchen to prepare real home-cooked meals for one. It is worth the little time and effort put into them.

Here is last week’s easy lunch meal: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It’s a simple pasta recipe made with garlic, salt, olive oil, red pepper flakes and spaghetti noodles.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

There’s no excuse not to have all the ingredients at hand.  I made this for a get-together at the request of my best friend from high school and they all loved it. It’s one of the quickest dishes you can make and it’s a great alternative for tomato-based pasta. As you can tell, I’m a bit enthusiastic about this new endeavor that I took step-by-step photos to help even the beginner cook. The recipe was inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees, which I found to be a great resource for easy Italian recipes.

 

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Recipe type: Pasta, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 1
 
Here's a simple pasta recipe with ingredients that are often already in your pantry: olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese.
Ingredients
  • 3 oz of dry (uncooked) spaghetti noodles
  • salt for pasta water and to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 tsp of freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
Cooking Pasta
  1. Fill half a 2-quart pot with water and salt and bring to boil over medium high heat. **As a general rule, water needs to be as salty as seawater when boiling pasta.
  2. Put the spaghetti noodles in the pot and once the water returns to a boil, start timer for 9 minutes. Check pasta and cook until there is no white dot in the middle when you tear a noodle.
  3. Drain water from the pasta and leave about a quarter of pasta water.
Making The Sauce
  1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic slices and cook until pale golden. Take off the heat and sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Pour the remaining olive oil and the quarter cup of pasta water and put back on the heating element to boil.
  3. Transfer the drained pasta into the frying pan and mix together with the sauce. Cook for a minute before transferring into a bowl and tossing with grated cheese.
  4. Serve in a warm bowl.
Tips:
  1. For this recipe, I start heating the olive oil after the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes. That more or less guarantees that by the time I need the pasta water, it's also the same time that the spaghetti needs to be drained.

 

Posted in cooking for one, Meatless Monday, pasta, quick & easy, vegetarian1 Comment

Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

After a busy day, there’s nothing more that I want than fast food. Not the McD kind or the pizza kind. I want something I could fix ASAP without having to fret over ingredients I’m missing. You must think I just bake and eat baked goods all the time with everything that I’ve been posting lately, but I still do cook. I want to spend my time in the kitchen wisely (=quickly), making something that’s good enough to eat and enjoy, but still healthy. I mean, cutting out the part where I drink wine is eating healthier, right? Aha.

There were still fresh pasta and prosciutto from my last trip to Granville Island, and a bunch of almost- forgotten Swiss chard that commanded attention or they will take a direct trip to the food scrap recycling bin. And then there’s the leftover ricotta from my crumb cake baking, plus a lonely shallot bulb.  I’m not organized enough to have my market loot assigned into dishes and menus, so this is a regular plight: Get available and/or in-season ingredients and figure it out in the kitchen later. The pantry and fridge supplies my cooking notes, and sometimes we orchestrate some magic. This one will be added to my pile of go-to quick food, with the greens adapted to what’s in season or easily available.

Simple food can be satisfying, you just have to be willing to try. And don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen. Yes, that is a lesson for myself as well.

If you’re into Swiss chard, check this other recipe, too: Eggplant & Chard Lasagne. It’s a vegetarian dish that has a good chance of winning the meat lovers over. :)

Happy weekend!

   Get the recipe for Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

Posted in cheese, experiments, Fuss Free Fridays, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, vegetables3 Comments

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

I like a good challenge and whenever I see those lovely food blogs with results from the Daring Bakers Challenge, I’m in awe and envy. When I finally got around to joining the group, I froze when I saw my first challenge for March 2009: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi Al Forno). I was expecting to make dessert or bake cakes — something for my insatiable sweet tooth…something easier. But no, it turns out my “initiation” into the Daring Bakers would be a very laborious one. I was as scared as I was decades ago when the swimming instructor asked us to jump into the pool at the 6″ feet mark on our first class. Are you serious? What did I get myself into?!

THIS, dear readers:

YUMMMMMMM. As with life’s big challenges, this challenge has great rewards. This lasagna melts in your mouth. There’s homemade lasagne, and then there’s memorable homemade gourmet lasagne. I could not believe how delicious it was! I can still remember the taste of the ragu, the nice tenderness of homemade pasta, the rich bechamel sauce.

This lasagne marks a few firsts for me:

1) Very first lasagne. You read that right: I’ve never made lasagne in my entire life. It just looked like it was too much work. Yeah, look what I ended up doing! Haha.

2) Bechamel sauce.

3) Handmade pasta and without the aid of a machine, too. Oh, dear, this is a biggie. The whole thing was a workout.

4) Ragu sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than two hours to make a pasta sauce. No sir.

Woohoo!

Would I make it again? YES! But not without a pasta machine. ;-) The challenge did not require us to buy one, but god, I wish I had. Oh well, that’s done. I can now say that the very first lasagne I made entailed a back-breaking 2-hour manual pasta rolling ordeal. No wonder I put it off for more than a week! I had to muster enough courage and strength to get the ball rolling. Literally. This started out as a dough ball that you flatten with your rolling pin if you do it by hand. It has a gorgeous green color because of the spinach.  I used frozen chopped spinach and this is an egg pasta.

I dried it as cut sheets for 24 hours before cooking. I dared not to take photos of the transformation of our dining room into a pasta drying area with the sheets hanging on freshly cleaned table cloth-covered chairs.

It’s more delicate than store-bought pasta, understandably. I had some tears here and there. It looked very pretty as I assembled the dish. This is how one layer looks like, beginning with the spinach lasagna sheet overlapping each other:

Rich and creamy bechamel sauce:

The MMMMM-inducing ragu sauce:

More bechamel on top of the ragu sauce.

Topped with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:

And this is the topmost layer of my lasagne, with a generous amount of bechamel and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:

Our kitchen smelled amazing while it was cooking:

Here, the fruit of my labor:

I started making this 4pm (for the pasta sheets) and we ate this at 11pm the next day. It’s no walk in the park, but I’m glad I did it! WHEW!!!!!!

I will post a PDF recipe tonight. :)

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Posted in baking, cheese, Daring Bakers, dining, dips and sauces, featured, make-ahead, pasta, vegetables55 Comments

Seared Sea Scallops with Spinach Linguine

Ever since I’ve finished reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food [I'll talk more about the book later, it's a real gem.], I can’t help but think of ways to eat organic and local. I’ve been doing my best to eat organic food for years now, but didn’t pay much attention to where they came from. By eating locally farmed food, not only do we get really fresh food, but it traveled less so the nutrients are more intact compared to (fresh food) that braved thousands of miles to get to our grocery stores. That’s one of the things I remember reading.

I actually picked up Pollan’s book when I got here in Vancouver. Was it such a coincidence that my frequent weekly stops — my friend’s spa and my chiropractor — are within the same vicinity as the Granville Island public market? It’s meant. :-) Last week, after having a facial that made my skin very happy and getting one of my last few therapies for my back, I headed down to the public market to shop for dinner. I picked some beautiful fresh sea scallops, fresh spinach linguine, rye sourdough bread [not in photos], pancetta [what a deal for $2.29 for 100 grams!], and rosemary.

And voila, dinner:

Seared Sea Scallops with Spinach Linguine

The scallops were to die for. They were so unbelievably fresh, sweet, and did I mention they were huge? I seared them on the same pan and oil where the pancetta was fried. I cooked the ‘sauce’ on that pan as well, so it had all the nice flavors to go with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic. The scallops cooked darker than usual because of the whole wheat flour it was rolled in, but you can use white flour if you prefer. I placed the crispy pancetta one on top of another, then a little stem of rosemary (you’ll be using just one rosemary sprig divided into three for this recipe), and the hot scallop going on top. The heat brought out the nice aroma of the rosemary.

I’m still trying to learn to sear scallops. It looked so easy during our cooking class but alas, I couldn’t replicate them. Ugh. Here I go again, being the perfectionist. I hope it’s not going to be an obsession like those Cinnamon Rolls.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe [and almost step-by-step photos]:

Continue Reading

Posted in cooking for one, dailies, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, seafood7 Comments

Smack Yo Mamma Mac and Cheese

Pause. Breathe deep. And behold a remarkably rich and creamy mac n’ cheese that’ll have you smitten:

Smack Yo Mamma Mac and Cheese

And the good thing is, we didn’t even have to lift a finger in preparing it! Dan’s mom, Mary Anne, baked it as part of Easter dinner at their house, and we took some home. Woohoo! What can I say — she spoils the family good. :-)

The recipe she used was from one of the finalists on Emeril’s Best Mac ‘n’ Cheese Ever Challenge, Princess Thompson, who described this as — ‘…the right mixture of love and cheese and once you taste you’ll want to Smack Yo Mamma and say, “Why didn’t you ever make macaroni and cheese like this?“‘

It was awesome. I still remember taking my first mouthful. Wow.

Go make ‘em before you get a smackin’ from your friends and family! Here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cheese, dairy, fun, pasta15 Comments

Linguine with Beef and Mushroom Cream Sauce

The trend here in Casa de Gourmeted as of late is that the no-thought-to-it experimental recipes get the higher thumbs up from the other half. Could it be because the flavors are kept simple and there is no chance to overdo it?Hmmm.

I quickly put this together for lunch last week and had one serving left after I finished my big plate of it. Dan brought it to work the next day. That afternoon I got this message — “Your pasta was AWESOME.” You’re welcome, hon.

Linguine with Beef Mushroom Cream Sauce

One of the benefits of keeping a food/cooking blog is that you get in the habit of keeping notes of what you make in the kitchen . If I hadn’t typed down the recipe last week, I probably wouldn’t be able to replicate this. The photos help me remember the procedure, too:

And here’s the recipe. Enjoy! Continue Reading

Posted in beef, dailies, dairy, dips and sauces, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy4 Comments

Teddy’s Weekly Roundup: Feb 16 – 23

In case you missed anything the past week, I’m here to tell you what we had here:

Here’s a peek at what we’ll be featuring this week:

  • Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie
  • Comfort Beef Stew
  • Linguine with Beef and Mushroom Cream Sauce

Next week we are also going to have a weekly roundup of recipes and articles we like from other websites.

Are you having an Oscar’s Party tonight? What are you going to eat?! What’s a-cookin’ in your kitchen? We are going to make cinnamon rolls! Yipee!

Posted in dailies, experiments, fun, pasta, quick & easy, reviews0 Comments

Rotelli with Shrimp in Creamy Drunken Tomato Sauce

How’s everyone this weekend? We hope you’re all having a good one and eating well. It’s sunny here, but still cool. I apologize for those who might be jealous looking at the picture. For someone who has suffered through years of Vancouver winters, it’s a nice change to see sunshine peering through the blinds in the middle of February. If you’re freezing out in the snow or counting the days until spring or summer, I’m bringing the sunshine to you.

We hit some hundred golf balls yesterday morning [again, don't hate us...hehe] and don’t you follow my example because I didn’t wear a glove. I was left with blisters on both hands and when we got back home for lunch, I was sore, cranky and the last thing my brain and body wanted to do was exert any more effort than the required minimum. As much as I’d like to stick to our new year’s goal of providing step-by-step visual guides for our recipes, it just didn’t work out yesterday. I initially thought that this What-would-you-like-to-eat-for-lunch-honey? -Oh-okay-I’ll-see-what-I-can-come-up-with-in-20-minutes dish won’t make it to the site so I didn’t bother taking photos while cooking.

Surprises of surprises, we both finished two platefuls of it and I was this-close to licking my plate clean. I mean…Wow. Loved it! How can I not share the recipe (as much as I can remember of it) after that?

Rotelli with Shrimp in Drunken Tomato Sauce

I wanted a creamy sauce but we didn’t have heavy cream like we usually do, and honestly I am not going to make a supermarket run just for that. Instead, we had leftover crème fraîche that we bought for Dan’s Chocolate Pudding Pie [I made him promise to post about that soon!]. I’ve never used creme fraiche for a dish, but it’s still cream so it should work right? I chose my favorite go-to pasta tomato sauce base, Muir Glen Tomato Basil which doesn’t have any overpowering flavor that you can easily transform it into whatever you like, really. I had the last minute idea to add lemon juice along with the parsley at the end, which gave it a light refreshing kick. The overall result was more than I’ve ever hoped for — it was smooth and creamy, but not too much that you can’t eat a lot of it, and all the flavors just blended together so wonderfully. I hope you try it.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in dailies, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, seafood5 Comments