Tomato Cream Pasta

I believe I’ve said in a past post that my love for pasta goes to the moon and back. Well, just in case you were wondering, my position on pasta remains unchanged. I usually don’t add a lot of things to Ragu but I’ve decided to change it up a little. I went to a restaurant a couple weeks ago and had Penne alla Vodka..it rocked my entire world..Maybe one day I’ll try making it but not today. You know once you’ve had something so good, you don’t want to ruin the memory of it by trying it again? Thats kinda how I feel about cooking sometimes, especially since I’m not a grade A cook, I don’t want to mess up a dish that I have extremely high hopes for. Anyways, I experimented with adding a few ingredients to Ragu’s “Old World Style” traditional red sauce. 

I added: a spoonful of vegetable broth, onion, half and half, Italian parsley (I couldn’t find fresh basil), garlic powder, and traditional Italian seasoning including oregano etc.

Why vegetable broth you ask? I saw it somewhere online that it gives regular red sauce extra flavor, like adding some pasta water. Turns out I could have done without it. Funny story about the half and half: I usually don’t like purchasing ingredients that I know I will only use once..I don’t drink/use half and half regularly, in fact I never use half and half or regular milk (I’m slightly lactose intolerant). However, this is a tomato “cream” sauce so I knew I had to use some sort of creamy substance..so I took a couple (6) half and half creamers from our coffee break room at work..See picture below

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I decided to be fancy and use “bowtie” pasta..but I really should have just used penne.

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I sauteed the chopped onions for a while before adding 2 cups of Ragu sauce. Then I added the vegetable broth, half and half, chopped parsley, seasonings, salt and pepper. I let it simmer while I cooked the bowtie pasta in another pot.

Below is the final product, the sauce looks a bit chunky here but it was actually pretty smooth. 

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You can also add cheese on top if you’d like. It was pretty good, when I do it again I’ll use more cream (just a few more packets from the break room) and not include the broth at all. While I’m on this pasta kick, I think I’ll try something different for my next post..stay tuned..

Eggplant Parmesan (baked version)

I’ve tried eggplant parmesan at almost every Italian restaurant I’ve been to; and from all these different tastings, I’ve found the ones that I really like are the kind where I don’t really taste the eggplant. Honestly, I’m not a fan of eggplant itself..it reminds me of zucchini which I’m not a fan of either. When I say that I’m not a fan of something, it doesn’t mean that I hate it and will never try it again..It just means that the times that I have tried it, I didn’t like the way it was cooked or presented. Like tofu, tofu can be prepared in dozens of different ways; and the taste of it also depends on how it is seasoned. Anyways, back to the topic, I’ve made this version of eggplant before and really liked it so I am sharing it with you today. Like I’ve said before, I’m not really good at measurements because I just throw stuff together but here are the ingredients I used:

Eggplant Parmesan:

1 eggplant, Italian style bread crumbs, 2 eggs, flour, salt and black pepper, angel hair pasta, Ragu or some other tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese

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As you can see from the picture, I got a huge eggplant (couldn’t use all of it). I also wanted to experiment with fried onions but it didn’t really work out so ignore them lol.

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Peeled eggplant and sliced very thin

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Set up a station with the flour, whipped eggs, and bread crumbs in separate dishes. Add salt and pepper to the flour. Preheat oven to 375. First cover the eggplant slice in flour, then egg wash, then bread crumbs and put it on a greased baking dish.

20130521_192251 Bake for 20 to 30 min or until golden brown.

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I like using angel hair pasta because it cooks fast, and I add diced tomatoes to the traditional Ragu tomato sauce.

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I added the cheese last. It was all very filling and it didn’t have that eggplant-y taste 🙂 . Next time, I will try frying the breaded eggplant..I like baking though because it is easier for me not to burn myself as opposed to frying where I am prone to splash hot oil on myself. Anyways, I hope you beginner cooks out there find this recipe as easy to make as I did!

Vegetarian Lasagna

Every banquet or event I go to that is held in a hotel including wedding receptions, I am very limited in my options. Lasagna or a plate of steamed vegetables and rice are usually  the only vegetarian plate options. I’ve never been a fan of hotel catering because of this and I usually love all kinds of pasta especially lasagna. Their rendition is always tasteless..I have to make sure the salt shaker is within reach. Anyways, I have come up with my own recipe for a vegetarian lasagna that tastes great..and get this, it includes a little tofu 🙂

Vegetarian Lasagna: frozen spinach, Morningstar griller crumbles, Ragu tomato sauce, onion, minced garlic, oven-ready lasagna noodles, tofu, and shredded cheese.

Side note: I also occasionally use griller crumbles with tomato sauce on regular angel hair pasta with some seasoning

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OK now back to the lasagna: First, I cook the frozen spinach, griller crumbles, garlic, and onion in a frying pan with some olive oil.

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Then, I add the tomato sauce and seasonings like oregano, season salt, etc and mix it together in the pan. In a separate bowl, I crumble the tofu and add some salt and pepper. The reason I decided to add tofu is because it kinda looks like the ricotta cheese that is usually in lasagna and since I’m slightly lactose intolerant, I decided not to have too much cheese..also, tofu makes it healthy right? I use a casserole dish (wipe it with some oil so it doesn’t stick) and start layering. First layer is the sauce/meat mixture and then add the crumbled tofu, then add the cheese. Next layer the pasta..I used the no-name brand lasagna noodles and broke them in half to fit the baking dish. Then repeat the layering until the dish is full (oh yea and preheat oven to 350 degrees)

 

 

 

20121102_19413320121102_19500120121102_195408 <—Cover with foil and put in oven for an hour and then you get the following:

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It would probably look a little better without layering the last tofu so the white stuff isn’t on top. My husband isn’t a fan of tofu but he really likes this dish because you barely get that “tofu taste”, it kinda just blends in with the rest of the ingredients. And let me tell you, this is delish! Better than any hotel catering, that’s for sure. Enjoy!