Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pasta alla Ghetto Fabuloso

When I saw this week's Food Network's Sensational Sides Calendar was "things in the panty," I got excited. I love the challenge creating of what I affectionately refer as ghetto or welfare meals, especially something relatively healthy. I thought about it for a couple of days. Hm, I always have my special Italian gluten-free pastas that I mail-order, some type of canned fish, shallots (I prefer their subtle sweetness over onions), and frozen peas are guaranteed to be found in my freezer. Just by chance I had some hothouse tomatoes and parsley, too. Yes, I can make some fabulous pasta using these ingredients. When I visited Venice, Italy I learned that "Ghetto" was coined there for the Jewish neighborhood I was renting an apartment (right on the canal about the fish market, which got loud and stinky in the morning.) What an amazing experience. So, yeah this creation is inspired by this trip to Venice, hence, "Pasta alla Ghetto Fabuloso." If you don't have these exact ingredients, improvise. Make it your own and own it.

  • 1 package of pasta of your choice (I used Le Venezian Corn Pasta Eliche)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot (or 1 small onion), finely chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas (or an frozen veggie, corn would work well, too)
  • 1 can (14.75oz) salmon (I used it w/ bones and all for extra texture and calcium. Any canned fish will work)
  • 3 small/medium hot house tomatoes or ~12 cherry tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, oregano (optional) to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian Parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional, it's lactose-free!)
Preheat (toaster) oven to broil. Cut up the tomatoes: in 8 sections for large tomatoes, length-wise; or in half length-wise for cherry tomatoes. Place cut side up onto an aluminum-lined small sheet, sprinkle with salt and broil until browned, about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them or they'll burn.

In a large saute/fry pan, heat up olive oil over low/medium heat. Add in the finely chopped shallots or onions. Stir frequently until transparent and start to brown a little bit. At this point, add in the frozen peas with stirring. Allow to thaw out. Then add in the salmon (or fish of your choice), broken up in chunks, liquid and all. Make sure to taste it for seasoning. It may not need salt if using say anchovies. Add in salt, pepper, oregano, even chili flakes to however you are liking the tasting. Add in most of the parsley and reserve a little for garnish.

Meanwhile, boil well-salted water in a large sauce pan over high heat. Once boiling, all in the pasta cook per the instructions on package. Cook until al dente, firm to the tooth. Yes, you must try it. Immediately drain.

Toss all three together: the pasta, everything in the saute pan, and the tomatoes. Serve in a nice pasta bowl. Garnish as you would like with parsley, chives, pecorino, use your imagination. Makes 4-6 servings. Buon appetito!

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here is  "things in the panty." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to help realize we all have items in our pantry to create something delicious:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Individual Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese (gluten-free, lactose-free)

Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food. While cooking for a personal chef client of mine who was also lactose-intolerant (in addition to Celiac), I discovered the joys of working with goat butter and goat milk. All goat and sheep milk products are naturally lactose-free. Goat cheese mac & cheese was a reoccurring dish for his menus. In this version, I spiffed it up a bit with sweated shallots and chopped Italian parsley. No, no orange food coloring in this version to make it "cheesier". I used my favorite Italian corn pasta made by Le Veniziane. The taste, texture, and appearance of Le Veniziane proves to be the best time after time for me. I start by making a roux with goat butter and potato starch while sweating the shallots. Do not be tempted to use tapioca starch, the texture turns snotty. Make the base cheese sauce using goat milk and any goat cheeses of your choice. I used goat cheddar with a small amount of smoked goat cheese. Do NOT used fresh goat cheese aka cherve. It can impart a chalky texture. For the topping, I love to process instant mashed potato flakes with melted goat butter and seasonings. Such a delight, I promise you will never long for breadcrumbs. Ever. Again.

Now that I'm single and minding my portions with more awareness, I really like the idea of portioning out the six servings into individual ramekins. I only baked one in a toaster oven for myself, covered the remaining ramekins and split between the fridge and freezer. Either way, just pop them into the toaster oven to bake off for easy weeknight dinner or for visiting friends for dinner. Makes cleanup way easier, too. And using the toaster oven saves energy and time. I feel toaster overs are underrated. In my mind, they are adult Easy-Bake ovens. I hope you make and enjoy this recipe!

  • 1 package (9 oz) of Le Veneniane Pipe Rigate or other GF pasta of your choice
  • 45 grams (~1.5 tablespoons) goat butter
  • 45 grams (~1.5 tablespoons) potato starch
  • 1 medium shallot chopped fine
  • seasonings to taste: salt, white pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, cayenne
  • 2 cups of goat milk (whole or low fat)
  • 8 oz of firm goat cheese(s) of your choice, grated (cheddar types work the best)
  • 1/4 bunch of fresh parsley leaves chopped fine
  • Topping: 1 cup instant mashed potato flakes + 2 tablespoons goat butter + seasonings as above

Heat up a large sauce pan over medium to low heat. Add in the goat butter and potato starch, stir continuously with a whisk. Once the butter has melted, add in the chopped shallots. Keep on whisking. Once the shallots have become transparent and roux is barely golden in color, remove from heat.

At this time, also get a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta. Boil the pasta shy of the time instructed on package. We want the pasta more on the firm side of al dente since it will cook more in the oven. Strain and put aside with a small reserve of the pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce.

Heat up the goat milk in the microwave for 2 minutes. Turn the roux back to the lowest heat. Slowly pour in the heated goat milk with constant and thorough whisking. Once incorporated, turn up the heat to low-medium. The bechamel sauce should thicken up and come to a slight boil after a couple of minutes. Don't forget to stir constantly for no clumps. Turn the heat down again to low and add in all the goat cheese(s) at once. It will take a few minute for it to incorporate with stirring. Then add in the chopped parsley. Taste the sauce for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Add in the pasta to now what is the mornay cheese sauce. Use a large wooden/silicone spoon to fold the pasta and sauce together until evenly distributed. If it is really thick, add in a little of the reserved pasta water as needed. Divide up the mac & cheese amongst 6 ramekins. In a mini food processor: grind the potato flakes with the seasoning until the texture is fine. Add in the melted goat butter and pulse until uniform. Top all the mac & cheeses with this topping. If not cooking immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in freezer or fridge. Cook uncovered in a 375F oven for 15 minutes or until the topping is a golden brown.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The comfort food we're focusing on here is comforting grilled cheese. Here are other delicious recipes to help keep you warm:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Grilled Cheese With Kale Artichoke Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Cooking With Elise: Inside-Out Grilled Cheese With Bacon
Red or Green?: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Red or Green-Style
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
Weelicious: Kentucky Hot Brown Panini
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Cheddar, Apple and Arugula Sandwich
Devour: Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
Thursday Night Dinner: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
The Heritage Cook: Open Faced Grilled Halloumi Sandwiches
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Muhammara Grilled Cheese
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Jarlsberg and Black Forest Ham With a Surprise
FN Dish: Grilled Cheese Goes Beyond Cheese
Feed Me Phoebe: Mexi Grilled Cheese With Avocado, Pepper Jack and Refried Black Beans