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Spring Time Pasta

March 24, 2011

Spring just may be my favorite season. That feeling of warmth and sunshine……it almost makes going through the cold Michigan winter worth it. Here’s how Dennis and I celebrated the season last night.

Warning: I didn’t measure anything so this recipe is “loose”.


spring is in the air

Pasta with Asparagus, Smoked Salmon and Pinenut
serves 2


1/3 bag of Al Dente® Pasta (I used Egg Fettuccine)

nice bunch of asparagus, cut on the diagonal

a little smoked salmon or gravlax

1/2 cup pinenuts, toasted

2 Tbsp. olive oil


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, gently toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat. Remove from skillet. Then heat the olive oil in the skillet and saute the asparagus until tender and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with coarse salt to bring out the flavor. Once water comes to a boil, add pasta. Right before draining the pasta, ladle approx 1/4 cup of the pasta water into the skillet with the asparagus. Drain the pasta. Toss in skillet with the asparagus. Put on plate garnished with pine nuts and salmon.



If Kristin wins the Saveur Challenge……

March 22, 2011

you could win, too! Here’s how:

Whenever Kristin Cole sends me a recipe using Al Dente Pasta, I get really excited and share it with everyone right away. This latest one deserves extra attention because she submitted it to the Saveur HomeCook Pasta Challenge and it would be so cool if she won!  Here’s an extra incentive to vote…..

If Kristin wins, I will randomly select one Al Dente Pasta Facebook Friend to win a case of pasta and a $100 gift certificate to a store in their town which carries Al Dente®Pasta. What to do now.

1. Go to Saveur and vote for Kristin by March 28th.

2. Become an Al Dente Pasta Facebook Friend

3. Spread the word to your friends. If Kristin wins, you could win!

green is good

March 17, 2011

eat green in good health

I know, I know……pasta is hardly considered a traditional Irish dish. And, I love potatoes, I really do. But this blog is all about pasta and since my specialty is finding ways to tie anything and everything to pasta, here goes. In this recipe, I am featuring green veggies (any will work) along with some chicken apple sausage. I was cooking for just me and my 1/2 Irish husband, so only used 1/3 of a bag of pasta.

lucky to have local veggies in my freezer

Pasta with 3 Green Veggies and Chicken Apple Sausage

serves 2

1/3 of a bag of Al Dente ® Pasta (I used Whole Wheat)

2 links of Chicken Apple Sausage, Aidells or your favorite

3 cups veggies, eg. broccoli, edamame, green beans

1/4 cup walnuts, because they are so good for you

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Parmesan Cheese or Blue Cheese, your choice

1/3 cup reserved pasta cooking water

quick veggies and sausage in skillet


Put large pot of salted water on stove.  If the veggies are leftovers from your fridge or already parboiled, then simply heat the sausage and veggies over medium high heat in olive oil. Since I was using Locavorious veggies that’s all I did. Before draining the pasta, ladle a little of the cooking liquid into the skillet. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Garnish with walnuts, cheese and season with salt and pepper.(If the veggies are fresh, then you can cook them in the boiling water along with the pasta)

another recipe on the table in minutes

Another very appropriate recipe for St. Patrick’s Day is this one from Peggy Lampman. She did it in conjunction with FestiFools, which makes it extra appropriate since FestiFools is right around the corner.  We still don’t know who will be donning the Pasta Crown, so f you live near Ann Arbor and are interested, comment here and we’ll see what we can do.

3 in 3: low cal pasta recipe

March 11, 2011

I won’t make any promises, but this is my personal strategy when I want to lose a couple of pounds but would never consider giving up pasta. Obviously we are all different and numerous variables contribute to our health and weight, but this works for me. A diet based on what I call my  little, little, lot recipes—–a little pasta, a little protein and a  lot of veggies. It’s basically a version of what has been preached to us forever: portion control and everything in moderation, other than veggies, which you can eat as much as you want.  Super simple, light and healthy, but very satisfying and delicious. Here’s what I made for 3 in 3 Thursday (3 ingredients in 3 minutes) and it is a perfect example of a little, little, lot recipe. I ate a version of this for dinner 3 days in a row and I honestly think it shows! (when I am making  little, little, lot recipes and cooking just for myself, I can get 6-7 meals out of one bag!)

I feel thinner already!

Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Spinach, Mushrooms and Garbanzo Beans

2 servings

1/4 of a bag of Al Dente® Pasta, approx. 3 oz.

6-8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

a bunch of baby spinach

3/4  cup of garbanzo beans, drained

1 Tbsp. olive oil

salt, pepper and grated cheese as desired.


Put pot of water on stove and bring to a boil. In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in the olive oil till caramelized. Add a little kosher salt to mushrooms. Cook pasta in the salted water. Ladle 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the skillet with the mushrooms. Add the spinach and the garbanzo beans. Drain the pasta and toss all together in the skillet.


By the way, my sister just called and told me that she just saw our Whole Wheat Pasta featured in the April issue of Every Day Cooking with Rachael Ray. Exciting stuff for us! Don’t you think my little, little, lot recipes are right up her alley? Do you have a favorite Rachael Ray pasta recipe? Let me know.



3 in 3: fun with FLY

March 3, 2011

This is an idea for the easiest, most collaborative party idea you’ve ever heard of! The reason it qualifies under the category of a “3 in 3” recipe, is because the soup base really is done in 3 minutes and you can limit yourself to just 3 ingredients from the soup bar.

Look at what I made

Here is how the idea for this party developed. My friends and I wanted to have a fundraiser for FLY.

For our party, Marcy Vandertuig, had the brilliant idea to translate the experience of FLY’s Art Bar………………

FLY Art Bar

into an adult version of Soup and Salad Bar!

My idea of fun!

So, here’s how we did it.We made a huge pot of soup just by opening up a jar of Monique’s Sauce, as the base. In this case I used the Luscious Leek and Sun Dried Tomato, but have done it with Rustic Roasted Garlic and Marinara. You simply add an equal amount of water or broth and voila!

Tomato Soup Base

1 jar Monique’s Sauce

equal amount of water or broth

That’s It!

(I put the water or broth right in the jar and swish it around so that nothing is wasted)

Everyone brought ingredients to put on the soup bar.

peas, corn, sauteed zucchini, assorted grated cheese, sliced cooked sausage, chorizo, crumbled bacon, cooked, lima beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, sauteed mushrooms and the list went on and on. I put a pot of cooked pasta on the stove with a little sauce, for the people who wanted to add noodles to their soup.

Definitely, the easiest party idea ever!

 Just found out that the FLY fundraiser was VERY successful! It gave Ruth the courage to get a wonderful space on State Circle, across from the Scrap Box, where she can host camps and classes. Yeah!


3 in 3-Rosy Red Pappardelle

February 24, 2011

This is such a great way to take a jar of pasta sauce to the next level. Add a little cream cheese to make it lusciously creamy! I own a pasta company, so of course I’m going to use Al Dente® Pasta and Monique’s Sauce, but this recipe works with just about any pasta and any sauce!

Al Dente® Pasta’s Rosy Pappardelle
serves 4-6 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish

1 Jar Pasta Sauce (24 oz),
1 Bag (12 oz) Al Dente® Pasta, any flavor, but I used Golden Egg Pappardelle
8 oz. Cream Cheese, fat free works fine
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Cook Al Dente Pasta® for 3 minutes. In meantime, heat Monique’s sauce over low heat, stirring in the cream cheese until blended. Drain pasta and serve with sauce.

Additions: Sauted shrimp, chicken, or sausage, then proceed with sauce.


By the way. If you are reading this and haven’t “liked” us yet on facebook, please do! It would make me feel so good.


See you next Thursday for another 3in3 recipe!

winter pappardelle-by a real pro

February 22, 2011

It’s no secret. I am not Italian, but make some pretty good pasta. (At least that’s what many people tell me.) And, I’m not a professional cook, but can get some pretty tasty pasta dishes on the table, often in a matter of minutes and usually using random ingredients from the fridge. I share these improvised recipes with you, knowing that the measurements are somewhat approximated, crossing my fingers that you will use your own tastes and judgment when cooking up Al Dente Pasta®.

This recipe, however, has been contributed by a real professional, Kristin Cole. Not only did she test the recipe 3 times, but her writing is beautiful, her photos are spectacular and her instructions are detailed.  For this reason, I have decided to not edit a thing. Despite her level of expertise, she is very much in tune with all of us who love delicious, seasonal, simplicity. With this kind of dish, who cares if it’s cold outside!

Pappardelle with Mushrooms and Fried Sage Leaves


Serves 4 as Main Dish, 8 as a Side Dish


1 bag of al dente pasta® , Egg Fettuccine or  Golden Egg Pappardelle.

1/2 c toasted walnuts (broken into smaller pieces)

16 oz baby bella or cremini mushrooms (sliced 1/4 in thick)

4 T heavy cream

1/2 c parmiggiano reggiano or grana padano cheese (freshly grated)

1/2 c red wine (your preference since you will enjoy the rest of the bottle)

bunch of large sage leaves (at least 12)

olive oil, knob of butter, salt and pepper


Start to heat a pot of salted water on the stove top. Your pasta water should taste like the ocean.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil (1-2 T) and heat over med-high temp until it starts to bubble slightly. Toss in all of the sage leaves, making sure they are not touching. Allow them to fry for a few minutes before delicately turning them over and doing the same on the other side. Discard any leaves that turn brown in the frying process as they will be used for garnish. Drain the sage leaves on a paper towel while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Using the same pan, add a bit more oil and a knob of butter. Once the butter has melted, add all of your sliced mushrooms and start to toss. At this point, you can add black pepper and salt to help to draw out more liquid. Continue to saute for another 4-5 min until the mushrooms have darkened in color and shrunken in size.

Turn the heat up to high and add the red wine. You want to reduce the wine to produce a lovely sauce, eliminating the alcohol taste but maintaining the richness and color. This may take a few minutes. Add the heavy cream and walnuts and stir, reducing a bit further. Add 1/2 c cheese, reserving the rest for garnish. Turn heat down to low or take pan off the burner altogether.

At this point, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Using tongs or a strainer, transfer all of the pasta to your sauce pan, making sure the temperature is still on low. Retain at least a cup of starchy pasta water to emulsify and add depth to your sauce. Toss your pasta in the sauce for up to a minute while gradually adding some of the starchy water until the sauce adheres nicely to the pappardelle.

Serve four entree size portions and garnish each plate with the remaining cheese, a nice drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, pepper and 2-3 perfectly fried sage leaves.

Buon appetito!

sliced mushrooms

frying the sage leaves

the start of tasty mushroom and wine sauce

cooking the pasta