Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fabulous Pasta with Ingredients So Simple It Blows Your Mind !

Aight, you know how you go to those fancy restaurants and you order them fancy seafood pasta and they taste soooooo succulent yummy, and there's just a hint of something that you know you cannot recreate it, i think i got it!  Yes, yes, butter plays a big role in making the yummy ..any yummy pasta sauce..but this one can go without and you won't be missing any bold flavors, but of course, you can definitely add butter in you're on a Paula Dean mode.  The second dish, was an inspiration by Mrs. MAS (shoutout), went over to her place for dinner and got inspired to create my own, such a seasonal fall dish>>  Roasted Rosemarry Buttnernut Squash Lasagna.  This lasagna recipe is slightly easier than Viking sister's previous post (, in a sense i'm not making a separate bechemel sauce, mine is a super lazy white sauce !

Dish 1: Shrimp linguine (or any pasta in your pantry) with Herbed White Wine Sauce:

Key to this dish is to get shelled in frozen shrimp (any size, but of course like anything else, bigger better:)
Do not thaw out shrimp during preparation, keep frozen.  Let the shrimp+shell and whatever frozen liquid in the bag thaw while in the pot, hence the juice creates the yummy seafood broth  like you've been collecting stinky shrimp shells and clam shells forever!

1 box / lb linguine or any type of your favorite pasta
1 box of standard frozen spinach (daily dose of vege is important!)
1 head of garlic (yes the entire head), minced
~1 lb of frozen shrimp (or more if its super cheap), the one i used was 24-26 count large shrimp
1 C any cheap or open bottle of white wine, mine was an opened bottle from a party from the previous night.
1/2 to 1 C of chicken broth (or water if you don't have it in hand)
Salt and pepper to taste (you will need a lot, don't be shy, it is afterall, a whole freaking pound of pasta!)
Dash of chili flakes (optional)
Chives and parsley (as much or as little depending on what you like)
~1/2 tbs Sugar (as with any of my cooking, you always need sugar to balance out your flavors!)
Butter >>> totally optional, but can't hurt the pallete

As standard pasta dish, boil your pasta the way you like it or base on the box directions.  It is important to have it Al dente as we want to pasta to finish cooking in the superscrumptious seafood "broth" and soak up all the flavors.

In a separate pot, pour a few tbsp of your favorite olive oil or vege oil and sautee a couple minutes the entire head of garlic.  Before garlic starts to brown, add in your frozen shrimp and the "juices" in the frozen packet.  It will take over 5 minutes for your frozen shrimp to thaw out, so stir on occasion to keep it moving in the pot.  Add in the spinach (semi thawed / drained) and start layering the flavor with a couple pinches of salt and pepper.  As the shrimps are getting semi cooked (based on turning red), add in your wine and broth and let simmer for another 6 minutes or so.  Add in your sugar and taste your sauce, add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desire.  Remember, you are adding a whole pound of pasta into this sauce, so its ok if its on the salty side!  Add in your pasta, and let it sit in your sauce to simmer, stir and mix well. You can always add more broth if things are cooking too fast and liquid is low in the pot. Add in your herbs, and or butter for a final touch.  This dish is best overnight as the pasta is soaking up the delicious seafood flavor.

(this dish takes less than 3 minutes to prepare >> mincing garlic, and less than 20 minutes to finish cooking. Boiling the pasta doesn't count, as you just throw the pasta in the pot, and go do whatever you like, and only 1 pot to cleanup!).

Roasted Rosemarry Buttnernut Squash Lasagna (Can't you tell i am in Autumn mode, Full swing!)
This recipe can be for 1 side dish, or as a main course lasagna. And did i say this dish lasted me 5 days, eating it 2X a day!! Great dish for entertaining guests and is super hearty!  Thanks for the inspiration Mrs. MAS!

Roasted Rosemarry Butternut Squash (this can be your individual side dish, served as is or mashed)
1 butternut squash
1 tsp dried rosemarry (crumble them before you sprinkle)
1 tbs brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
and of course, olive oil

Quarter your butternut squash as shown in picture below, coat with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemarry.  Cover with foil and roast i oven at 350 deg C for about 40 minutes or until fork tender.  If you are serving this as is, then sprinkle some brown sugar and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes, ready to serve.  For my purpose, i scooped out my squash, mash them (to as fine or as bite size as you like for your lasagna) and then incorporate my brown sugar.  This can be served again as is for a side dish >>> mashed roasted butternut squash.  I will be using it as my lasagna layer.

Ingredients for lasagna:
1 box lasagna noodles
1-2 shallots
1-2 tsp butter (for rue / bechemel)
1 tbs flour
1/4 to 1/3 C milk
3/4 to 1 C of ricotta cheese (you could go low or nonfat as i do not find any taste difference between low and regular cheese)
1 box of frozen spinach
a pinch of nutmeg
Liberal amount of salt and pepper
About 1 C of your favorite red pasta sauce (or you can make your own sauce)
shredded mozzarella cheese for topping (optional)

Boil 1 box of lasagna noodles per box instruction, in salted water.  In a medium size sauce pot, add in olive oil sautee the shallots until translucent, push aside and add a couple pats of butter, and flour.  Stir for a minute and add in a couple rounds of milk.  This will be our quick and easy bechemel sauce.  Add in your spinach, salt and pepper, nutmeg and continue stirring.  If it is getting too dry from the rue, add a few more rounds of milk.  You need to liberally salt and pepper this as this is your flavor layers in between your plain noodles. How much salt and pepper you ask, man i tell you if you want to attempt to learn to cook, you gotta taste your food and add or subtract during the cooking process.  Everybody's taste pellet is different.  Dare to try your food, stick your fingers in and pick out your food and taste it.  Need more salt, add some more.  Too salty, remember, its a pasta dish, it will be blended out eventually, but for real too salty, add broth, water, and in our case, milk.  Ok enough rambling about salt and pepper.   Turn off heat, and add in your ricotta cheese and slowly incorporate by stirring.

Now you are ready to assemble your lasagna.  On your casserole dish, coat your pasta sauce at the bottom and place your noodles on top (about 4 noodles per layer, if you are using the same size casserole dish as i am).  Evenly spread a layer of your spinach/ricotta layer on the noodle, and place 4 more noodles on top of this.  Spread some red sauce on the noodle, and now place your mashed roasted squash on this layer (you can layer them liberally and make it a freaking hearty meal!).  Place another layer of noodle above this, do the sauce, spinach/ricotta and noodle layer again. Just keep repeating until you finish everything or your casserole can no longer hold its weight.  The final layer should be just the noodle, and sauce above it.  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on this top layer (optional), or just leave as is with the sauce as the final topping.   Cover with foil tightly and bake for 40 minutes, and the result is just super super..gratification... its do i say...super favoloso in Italian!!!  Enjoy!!

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