Acini Di Pepe Spinach soup

While rearranging my pantry I came across a pack of acini di pepe pasta. It’s a tiny pasta that works well in soups and salads. The name apparently means “seeds of pepper”. This tiny pasta is also used for a cold salad called frog eye salad. I had initially bought it to make the salad but never ended up making it.

I used the recipe in the box itself for our lunch today. It’s been extremely windy and cold here for the past couple of days. A hot bowl of soup is perfect for this weather.

The recipe is very simple and the soup was ready in a matter of minutes. While searching the internet, I learned that this soup is called Italian wedding soup if you add meatballs to it. The name implies a marriage of flavors rather than being served at an actual wedding. But of course I didn’t tell my husband that part ;-) He had his lunch thinking he was having a part from a wedding meal!

Read on for the recipe. This post goes to Kids Delight event, hosted this month by PJ under the theme Winter warmers.

Recipe source: Ronzoni

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups of broth/water
  • 1/2 cup acini di Pepe pasta, uncooked
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
  • 10 oz pack of frozen spinach
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Method:

  1. Heat butter in a pan. Sauté onion and garlic until it turns light pink.
  2. Add water or broth and bring it to a boil. Add pasta, nutmeg , salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add spinach and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring in between. Pasta should be cooked by now. Take off the heat and serve with grated Parmesan cheese if preferred.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#96

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Baked Pasta with Ricotta cheese

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On most Fridays, my husband works from home. Last Friday was no different. I was busy with a cake for my friend’s son and so I had to make a lunch that’s substantial enough for the man but that’s not time consuming. I didn’t want to spend time in front of the stove when I had a lot to do. So baked pasta it was! I like this recipe as the hands on effort is less. You are almost done if pasta is cooked. The rest is just mixing a couple of sauces and baking.

I had tried this recipe two weeks back for Thanksgiving lunch. So I knew it was a good recipe. I had followed the recipe exactly that day and made a Rigatoni pasta pie. You can checkout this one minute video tutorial to see what I am talking about. But I realized that the effort of packing the pasta into the cake pan is really not worth it. I couldn’t fill each pasta with the ricotta filling and the pie collapsed when I cut into it. It was tasty but it didn’t stand by itself like a pie piece. It tasted amazing, so I decided to take the simpler route of just mixing the pesto sauce with the pasta and the baking it. It all tastes the same at the end anyway and the effort is so much lesser.

Read on for the pictorial.

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Recipe adapted from Tastemade.com

  • 1 12 oz pack pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Gemma’s hot sauce
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of shredded cheese of your choice

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente is fine. For 12 oz pack of tricolor pasta, it was 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1 cup basil pesto with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper for seasoning. I added 1 teaspoon of Gemma’s hot sauce for a spice kick. Transfer pasta to an oven safe pan. Mix in the ricotta with the pasta.

Mix the ricotta well to distribute evenly, taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the pasta.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly on top of the pasta and top with cheese. I used about 1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese here. Shredded Mozzarella would work better.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Take off the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

3tacco_pasta_salad

Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

5tacco_pasta_salad

Tortellini Salad

salad1

My son’s resistance against food is growing everyday and meal times are war zones in our place. I still have the upper hand in everyday battles, but slowly I can sense defeat.

My tactics include diverting him and feeding him when he is really hungry – like right after he comes from school. But God knows how long I can keep that up. The minute he sees a bowl of rice, he starts howling. The problem is, with rice being the predominant grain in our cuisine, it would be a huge problem if he turns his back on it.

I have right now cut a deal with him – he has to have a typical Indian meal once a day and in return, lunch and dinner would be his choice. Funny thing is, it’s always been that way – just that he never realized it ;-). Good for me!

Salads are his choice for dinner many a days. I am happy because of the amount of vegetables I can feed him and he is happy that there is no rice in the plate. A perfect win-win situation!

Read on for this recipe.

salad2

BM theme : Salads

recipe adapted from all recipes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet tortellini ( or 2 cups cooked pasta of your choice)
  • 1 cup sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

salad dressing*:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning ( I didn’t have any, so skipped it)
  • salt and pepper

* Alternative dressing would be 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixed with any other salad dressing and seasoned with salt and pepper

Method:

  1. For the dressing, mix everything listed and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta or tortellini per the package instructions.
  3. Slice the olives and artichoke hearts and halve the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Drain the pasta and let it cool. Once cool mix everything and add the dressing.
  5. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

salad3

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58