Friday, August 29, 2008

Let's talk pasta!

Easily a favorite and one of the things that I love about it is how versatile it can be. It can also be simple and easy without taking much time to make, as well as a great way to get your daily food groups requirement. These three recipes are some of my favorite to make, simple and full of flavor.

Chicken Carbonera, with sundried tomatoes & fresh basil

Served on penne


Vegetable oil 200 ml

Chicken breasts, sliced 2 (serves 3-4)

Bacon, diced 250 g

Bay leaf, optional 2

Onion, diced 150 g

Garlic, minced 100 g

Sundried Tomatoes, chopped 250 g

White wine (optional) splash (chardonnay, or substitute with water)

Flour, all purpose 300 g

Heavy cream, 35% 1 cup

Mozzarella, shredded 150 g (substitute with parmesan)

Fresh basil 50 g

Salt & Pepper To Taste


  1. Boil some water and cook your pasta.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat and add the chicken.
  3. Add diced bacon and bay leaf.
  4. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.
  5. Add sundried tomatoes and wine and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add flour, stirring constantly until you get a light paste consistency.
  7. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer
  8. Add the cheese and basil, slightly stirring until cheese is melted.
  9. Add the basil, and season to taste.


This is a very easy recipe to put together and you could even freeze it to have it ready for those days when you just don’t feel like taking the time to cook anything.


Pasta sheets, cooked

Bolognese sauce (recipe in previous entry)

Ricotta cheese 500 g

Spinach, stemmed 1 kg

*Mozzarella cheese, shredded enough to form a thin top layer

Fresh parsley just enough to garnish


  1. To layer the lasagna start with a layer of meat at the bottom, pasta, ricotta cheese & spinach, pasta, meat, and coat with cheese.
  2. Cover aluminum foil and seal tightly.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  4. Cook lasagna to an internal temperature of 160F. If you don’t have a thermometer you can use a butter knife, just poke in the middle and with it touch just underneath your bottom lip to feel the heat.
  5. Remove aluminum foil and brown the cheese slightly.
  6. Garnish with parsley

*You can use your favorite cheese, or a combination here. Play around with it and find something you like. I like a combination of mozzarella and asiago.

*Mediterranean Vegetable Penne

One of the benefits of this dish is that it takes very little time to make. You can chop all your vegetables the day before and have ready to just throw together.


Vegetable oil 100 ml

Red onion, sliced 1 half

Garlic, minced 100 g

Roma tomatoes, diced 2 (substitute with sundried tomatoes)

Canned artichokes, drained 1

Canned black olives, drained 1

Dry white wine 50 ml

Fresh basil, thinly sliced 60 g

Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped 60 g

Parmesan cheese 40 g

Salt & pepper To Taste


  1. Heat oil over medium heat and add the onions.
  2. When onions are soft, add garlic and tomatoes and sauté for about a minute.
  3. Add the canned vegetables and wine and bring to a simmer.
  4. Finish with the fresh herbs, cheese and season to taste.

* Mediterranean cuisine can be described as a fusion of the foods from all the cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Given the geography, the cuisine of these nations have influenced each other over time and evolved into sharing common principles and ingredients, making this type of cuisine very flexible.


NSFL said...

I'm definitely going to try a couple of these.

Alex Rodas said...

Let me know what you think.

NSFL said...

Alrighty, so I tried the lasagna recipe and I have a few comments. If you intend for this to be a really really beginners type how to cook blog, you're going to need more specific and structured instructions. I've grown up cooking, but it was chinese food, not western/white people food. So I actually found the recipe kinda hard just because it was vague. Things you might think are totally common sense and can be learned from watching mom/dad cooking were things I lacked. Like how many noodles I needed, noodle cooking instructions, things like what I should be looking for to not screw up the sauce, how big a pan I should have used. Lol, I sound like an idiot. But those things all needed to be specified. Although, despite all my screw ups, it did turn out pretty good. Totally edible and I have leftovers for the next 3 days.

Alex Rodas said...


making mistakes is part of the learning curve and by the sounds of it you were able to get through the recipe.

" many noodles I needed, noodle cooking instruction"

One box has enough lasagna sheets for this recipe. Cooking instruction are printed on the side of the box but the basic way to cook pasta is to boil anywhere from 7 to 12 minutes or until al-dente.

"...what I should be looking for to not screw up the sauce"

Anytime you're cooking something with tomato sauce the key is heat control. There are natural sugars in tomatoes that will cause the sauce to burn if you cook it at a high temperature. Most stoves have a number setting on the dial so for something like this you'll need to set the dial between 2 and 4, keeping the sauce at a slow simmer.

Hope that helps and keep checking for more recipes.