Tag Archives: pasta

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Mini Turkey Lasagnas & the Woes of Summertime

Summer has never been my favorite time of year (except for summer of 2008—yeah that was fun!).  Because I have crazy sensitive skin, summertime has become synonymous with sunburn. If that’s not bad enough…I’m allergic to sunscreen.

This year–in particular–has been especially difficult because of the high temperatures and terrible humidity. Not to mention the drought.  Okay…I mentioned it.  We need rain!

In my opinion, the only thing good about summer (as an adult) is the vegetables.  I love being able to just step outside my home and come back inside–into the air conditioning–with a basket full of peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and herbs.

Some vegetables from the garden

I am especially proud of my shallots.   I am an amazing shallot grower, apparently.

beautiful shallots

In fact, I’m so proud of my shallots, I tear up.  Literally.  They make me cry!  I’m not sure what the reason is, but these tiny, purple-hued beauties make me bawl worse than a baby!

Their crying power is way stronger than that of any onion.  But, they taste incredible; so the crying is worth it.  I guess.

When I woke up today, I planned on going to the gym.  But those plans quickly changed.  The weather report said it was 71degrees outside, and I knew I better take advantage of that!  I decided to clean up my gardens and plant a few more cone flowers, mums and burning bushes.

When I finished, I came back inside with all this:

 

and had Lasagna on my mind.

You see, I love lasagna.  A lot.  In fact, I can’t be trusted around it.

Knowing this, I decided to make mini lasagnas instead of a giant pan full.  They’d be perfectly portioned and I wouldn’t have to worry about eating more than my share.

Instead of noodles, I used wonton wrappers.  This isn’t anything new, and I’ve seen tons of stuff made with the little dough squares–from raviolis to tacos…to pie crusts!  How versatile! 

I figured I’d use the wonton wrappers instead of traditional pasta for three reasons.

  1. There is no need to pre-cook the wonton wrappers, so I won’t burn my fingers.  I always burn my fingers on lasagna noodles!
  2. The wrappers fit perfectly into a muffin pan.
  3. Wonton wrappers are relatively low calorie.  They ring in at 20 calories/each.

I also decided to use ground turkey meat.  I cooked the meat with finely diced green bell peppers, basil, oregano, lots of garlic, and a bunch of finely diced mushrooms.

Because I’ve been scaling back the amount of meat I cook with, adding the mushrooms allowed me to use less turkey and also stretched the meat into multiple meals–instead of just the one.  In fact, I have made these lasagnas twice this week, and still have over half a pound of the cooked meat left over (frozen, for some other time).

I turned the tomatoes, garlic and basil into a simple–and flavorful–sauce (no real recipe, sorry!  I just tossed stuff together, blended it up and then let it cook for about 10 min. to reduce).

And made a mixture of basil, cottage cheese (3/4 c.) and Parmesan cheese (1/4 c.).  [Enough for 6 mini lasagnas]

I then layered everything together in a muffin pan which I sprayed with a little olive oil.  I started with a wonton wrapper, added a little sauce, cottage cheese mixture, meat, more sauce…and repeat.  I then topped the mini lasagnas with a little shredded cheese and some dried herbs.

The lasagnas were popped into a 375 degree F oven, and were baked for about 20 minutes–or until they started to get a little browned.

I let them cool in the pan for a good 10 minutes before I popped them out–simply using a fork.

 

Each mini lasagna was a little over 150 calories, so I had two.  And I’ve got to tell you…I enjoyed every single one of those delicious calories!

I plan on making another batch this weekend, but instead of baking them, I’m going to freeze them.  If all works out, I think they’d be a great way to preserve my garden’s bounty! :)

pasta feature

Indian Inspired Pasta Salad

This pasta salad isn’t like most pasta salads I’ve eaten.  It’s different…in a good way.

I was trying to think of something easy, fresh and light to bring along to my family Easter pot-luck; but nothing sounded good.  I wanted something to counter-balance all the candy I knew I would be eating.  I mean…seriously, look at this awesome cake my cousin, Emily made:

Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting...covered with kit-kats and M&M's

I thought a pasta salad would be nice, but I didn’t want to smother it with mayonnaise;  nor did I want a traditional Italian vinaigrette.  I had cucumber, onion and tomato in my refrigerator–and upon seeing those ingredients, the idea for this salad was born.

There’s a Bengali vegetable “salad” that I’ve blogged about here.  It’s fresh, light and everything I wanted; but it needed a little something extra.  I dug through the pantry and found some chickpeas and some spiral pasta.  I also had a pomegranate on hand.

Beautiful, Red Pomegranate Seeds

I wanted to add some minced fresh garlic, but Piyush thought it might be too pungent.  Instead, I cut about 5 cloves in half and threw them in a baking dish with some olive oil and one slit chile.  I thought the chile would impart a nice hint of spice…without being in-your-face hot (lots of Scandinavian palates to tend to, you know?).

I dressed the salad with a mixture of chaat masala, lime juice and the garlic-infused oil.

I wasn’t really sure how this salad would go over with my family.  My immediate family is scared to death to try anything I make—they say it’s too weird (my mom finds everything spicy. UFFDAH!); so I figured Piyush and I would have plenty of left-overs for work the next day.

In fact, we were looking forward to the left-overs.  This salad suited both of our tastes, and it was healthy too!   Unfortunately for us, we had no left-overs.  The recipe seemed to go over pretty well, and I was glad people at least tried it.  This isn’t your typical, American pasta salad…after all!

I noticed a lot of my family members were avoiding the pomegranate seeds.  You could leave them out entirely, but I thought they added a nice sweetness and a beautiful color to the dish.

I think this salad would taste really refreshing and light during the hot summer days.  It’d be a great dish to bring to a picnic or a pot-luck—or even served as a main-dish meal. I will definitely be making this again, soon!

Indian Pasta Salad

  • 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)- rinsed well
  • 1 cucumber- seeded and diced
  • 3 roma tomatoes- seeded and diced
  • 1 medium red onion- diced
  • pomegranate seeds
  • 3/4 lb. spiral noodles- cooked according to pkg. directions
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 c. garlic-oil (recipe follows)
  • 2 tsp. chaat masala (or to taste)–available at Indian grocers
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • bunch of cilantro, chopped

Garlic-Oil

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 serrano chile- slit 2 or 3 times
  • 5 cloves of garlic (skins can stay on)-cut in half

To make the oil, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Combine all the ingredients in a glass baking dish and toss in the oven.  Leave the oil in the heated oven for at least 45 minutes. Remove from the oven.  Allow to cool.

Once the oil is cooled, strain.  You then have garlic infused oil!  You can store it in a cool dark place for about a month.  Make sure it’s stored in a sealed jar, though!

Salad

In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, pomegranate and noodles.  Mix well so that everything is coated.

In a separate jar combine the lime juice, garlic-oil, and chaat masala.  Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously.  Now your dressing is done!

Pour the dressing on the salad and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with additional pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro.

*This salad is best served cold.  It is also better if you make it and then allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight.  —lets the flavors mingle a little, you know?

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Pesto Pasta…for one! My Version of Noodle and Co.’s Pesto Cavatappi

Today Mayo is hosting a chess tournament in the cafeteria so Piyush is busy competing with his friends.  I work evenings this weekend, so its nice he has something fun (for him) to do aside from golf.  He is a golf maniac and I think a little weekend break will be good for him.

While he’s busy with chess, I’m at home until I have to leave at 1:30.  I was feeling a little hungry and was craving pasta.  I don’t eat pasta too often, its not my favorite thing and I rarely ever order it when eating out.  There is one exception to this though…I will eat tons and tons of pasta if it is covered in pesto!  Its dangerous, believe me!  I thought about running to Noodles and ordering a Pesto Cavatappi, quick and easy.  Instant gratification.  But then, I remembered I had some spirally pasta in the pantry.  —Who knows how long that’s been there.  I also remembered I had bought some ready-made pesto at Trader Joes last week.  I also have tons of veggies in the fridge.  So, I decided I’d just whip together my own version.  It was so quick and easy, and the calories were significantly lower.  Did you know one serving of Pesto Cavatappi at Noodles is almost 800 calories!?!  My version comes to approximately 385 calories.

This was delicious!  and I didn’t regret my choice to make it at home at all.

The Recipe:

2 oz cellentani (spiral) pasta —weighed on the food scale to make sure

2 tbsp. pesto (you could even use a little less, if you’d like)

4 cherry tomatoes

1/4 c. sliced fresh mushrooms

1 c. fresh spinach

1/4 oz. goat chesse

How I made it:

  • I first cooked the pasta according to the box in a pot of salted, boiling water.  Drained the pasta and set aside.
  • In the same pan that I cooked the pasta, I put a couple mists of olive oil (using my Misto) and then added the cherry tomatoes.  I cooked these until they started to blister (turn a little brownish and burst), then I threw the mushrooms in.
  • I stirred until the mushrooms were fully cooked and then added the spinach.  I kept stirring until the spinach was wilted.  I threw the cooked pasta into the pan and stirred everything around.
  • I added the pesto and cooked until everything was nicely heated through.
  • Garnish with a little goat cheese because goat cheese = happiness!

I will definitely be making this again!  I’ll probably increase the quantities to make at least 4 servings though.  Leftovers make fantastic lunches for work!

Well, time to go make a quick salad for tonight…hope everyone is having a good weekend!!!!