Posts Tagged 'pasta'

Pasta with Tomato, Spinach and Mozzarella

This meal has my favorite combination of flavors – fresh mozzarella, sweet grape tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar.  I make some variation of this meal at least once a week in the summer.  It’s light, fresh and delicious. 

Pasta with Tomato, Spinach, and Mozzarella

1 box pasta (any kind will do, I used Rotini this time)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. bocconcini, halved (or as I usually call them, little mozzarella balls)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, rinsed
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
5 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
Parmesan cheese for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

-Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente, making sure to salt the water.
-Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Allow it to reduce by half (about 10 – 15 minutes) – the vinegar should become thick and syrup like.
-Add the spinach leaves to the bottom of a large bowl.
-When the pasta is cooked, spoon it over the spinach into the bowl, allowing the spinach to wilt (about 2 minutes).
-Add the mozzarella and stir to combine.
-Add the grape tomatoes and some freshly ground black pepper.
-Top with balsamic reduction.
-Add basil and stir to combine.
-Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


Skillet Chicken with Broccoli, Penne and Asiago

I love America’s Test Kitchen.  I literally take their recipes, equipment ratings, and taste tests as gospel.  The other night a caught an episode for quick skillet dinners.  I was thrilled because cleaning a million pots and pans is not my (or hubster’s) idea of fun.  This is one of the recipes featured on that show.

Skillet Chicken with Broccoli, Penne and Asiago
America’s Test KitchenIngredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces ziti (I used penne) – 2 1/2 cups
2 3/4 cups water
1 2/3 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 ounces broccoli florets (4 cups)
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ounce grated Asiago cheese (1/2 cup, plus extra for serving)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of the pink color has disappeared and the chicken is lightly browned around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the ziti, 2 cups of the water, and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is very thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining 3/4 cup water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Uncover and return the heat to high. Stir in the cream, Asiago, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing more grated Asiago at the table, if desired.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

This is one of hubster’s favorite things to order in restaurants and bikini season is approaching (YES!), so I searched Cooking Light for a Vodka Sauce recipe.  Low and behold… I found one!  It was delish, though next time I’ll reduce further to thicken the sauce.

Penne with Vodka Sauce
Cooking Light (modified)

1/2 pound uncooked penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons sliced fresh basil

– Cook pasta according to package directions, ommitting salt and fat.
– Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
– Add onion and saute 4 minutes until tender.
– Add 1/4 teaspoon slat, pepper, and garlic; saute for 1 mintue.
– Remove from heat and add vodka; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid reduces by 1/2.
– Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
– Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
– Use immersion blender or transfer sauce to blender and process until smooth.
– Stir in cream and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
– Remove from heat.  Stir in cooked pasta, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and basil.
– Serve immediately.

Baked Ziti Redux

I absolutely love baked ziti.  It is one of my all time favorites.  However, it is not so…well, as Rachael Ray would say, “Figure Friendly.”  I decided to revisit and healthy it up! 

Baked Ziti (the healthier way)

1 lb. whole grain pasta (I used Barilla Plus Penne) cooked
3/4 lb. ground turkey
2 cups pasta sauce, divided
1 15 oz. container part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (I always use fresh) plus more for topping
Salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 350. 
  • Season the turkey with salt and pepper and brown in a non-stick skillet. 
  • Transfer to plate.
  • Add half of the cooked pasta to a baking dish lightly lined with pasta sauce.
  • Add half the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, 1 cup of pasta sauce and half the ground turkey to the pasta.
  • Mix well to combine.
  • Repeat with the rest of the pasta, turkey, and ricotta.  Add the other cup of mozzarella and sauce.
  • Mix again to combine.
  • Top with sliced mozzarella.
  • Bake covered for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes until cheese on top is melted.

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