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Fennel Spiced Ham and Mushroom Pasta

An easy pasta dish with leftover ham, mushroom, greens and spices. mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen

 

Let’s talk pasta….About once every two weeks I’ll make a pasta dish.  At times it’s my fallback dish Capellini with Lemon, Garlic and an Egg (quick, easy and delicious), but most of the time I just throw a pasta together using a “little bit of this and little bit of that” from the fridge and pantry.  This fennel spiced pasta with ham and mushrooms was the result of last week’s throw together.

When I made it, I didn’t measure anything because I wasn’t expecting to post it.  However, since it turned out SO good, I thought I would post it as a lead in to how to make a delicious pasta dish without a recipe, using what you have and needs to be used.
 
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30+ Recipes Using Preserved Lemons

A host of recipes that used preserved lemons mjskitchen.com

 

Do you have a jar of preserved lemons sitting in the refrigerator feeling ignored?  Well, it’s time to quit ignoring it and put those lemons to use.  If you don’t have any preserved lemons, do not fret – one of the following recipes tells you how to make a small batch in just 24 hours.  Following are at least 30 luscious recipes that take advantage of the unique and absolutely divine flavor of preserved lemons.

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Pasta With Leek Confit and Mushrooms

A vegetarian pasta with leek confit, mushrooms, and sweet red peppers

 

Today’s pasta with leek confit and mushrooms was inspired by a wonderful leek confit that I saw over at The Wimpy Vegetarian back in January. I’ve made this confit several times, using it as the base for pizza and a toss for vegetables and rice – always resulting in a delightful dish.  However, one of our favorite uses is tossing it with pasta.  In this dish, mushrooms and sweet peppers are added to the confit during the last 10 minutes of simmering. The vegetables are then toss with pasta and topped with Pecorino Romano.  The resulting dish is a delicious, hearty and healthy meal, a great dish for Meatless Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, or any day of the week.

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Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Farfalle with fresh tomatoes, basil olives and cheese

 

Now that your mouth is burning from the green chile I’ve been serving up this month, I thought I would help cool things down a bit and introduce you to another of my tried and true recipes – Farfalle with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil. This recipe was inspired by one I saw many years ago in Gourmet magazine (I think).  Over the years I have taken the original recipe and tweaked it a little here and there, playing around with different cheeses, pasta, and a variety of ingredients.   The recipe I’m sharing with you here is the best of them all, and a recipe that I am not allowed to change. :)  During tomato season I make this three or four times, then once the fresh, local tomatoes disappear, we wait until next year to have it again.

This dish requires fresh picked, quality, ripe tomatoes and fresh picked basil. The tomatoes and basil are mixed together in a bowl with a few other ingredients, allowed to rest for at least an hour, then tossed with hot pasta.  (If you can’t eat pasta, rice works just as well.)   The hot pasta melts the cheese and provides a base for this wonderful no cook tomato sauce.  I think you’re going to love it!

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Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Asparagus

Macaroni and Cheese

 

For some reason my craving for macaroni and cheese has been escalating.  Maybe it’s because of all the wonderful mac & cheese recipes I’ve been seeing online lately.  But the one that pushed me over the edge was Zsuzsa’s stovetop Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.  When I first saw her picture, I knew that was the mac & cheese I wanted to eat.  Her recipe looked fabulous and the video she provided in the post was a great tutorial on how to put all of the components together for a creamy outcome. You definitely need to check it out.

For this recipe I used Zsuzsa’s for the most part, but purely out of habit I ended up making the béchamel (white sauce) the way I normally do. I added a couple of herbs to the dish because I love herbs, and then cut back a bit on the cheese. For the finishing touch and to create a complete meal for Bobby and me, I added my Simply Asparagus dish which you’ll find later in this post. Each plate was served with a serving of macaroni and cheese and about 5 to 6 spears of asparagus.  We cut the asparagus into bite size pieces and ate a piece with each bite of mac & cheese.  It is quite tasty!

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A Celebration of Garlic

 

For anyone who has been following my blog for more than a day knows that I LOVE, I mean LOVE garlic! So in honor of this versatile and tasty bulb, I am dedicating this post to all foods garlic.  Through the last several months I have found others that celebrate garlic as much as I do, so I am sharing their love and my love with you through a variety of recipes, all of which use a respectable amount of garlic.  Cook and Enjoy!
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Capellini, Garlic, Lemon and Egg Pasta

Plate of paste with preserved lemon, garlic, and topping with egg

 

I’m sure we all have our ridiculously easy dishes that we can fix on a lazy night in the kitchen or when we dine alone.  This Capellini with lemon, garlic and an egg is one of mine.  The most time-consuming part of the process is cooking the pasta and since it’s capellini (angel hair), it doesn’t take any time to cook once the water comes to a boil. The veggies can be chopped and sauteed by the time the pasta is done and then it’s just a matter of frying or poaching the egg.

I do use those wonderful preserved lemons I keep in the refrigerator, but if you don’t have any, you can always substitute lemon juice and zest, or even better Meyer Lemon and zest.  See my Kitchen Notes for more substitution ideas.

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Tortellini with Roasted Pepper and Onion

Tortellini with Roasted Pepper and Onion

In the fall when red bell peppers are plentiful and cheap, I buy a lot of them. Most get roasted and peeled, then wrapped individually for the freezer.  All winter I used them on pizza, in sandwiches and pasta dishes, and in salads.  The other night in trying to come up with starter for a small dinner party, I found the last two frozen bell peppers buried in the freezer. That lead to the creation of this roasted bell pepper and onion appetizer.  It was a big hit and I will be making it again!

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Pasta Salad for Parties, Potlucks, and Picnics

Orzo salad with olives, veggies and pine nuts

A Lemony Orzo Salad

This recipe makes a huge bowl of pasta! This salad can be served hot, cold or at room temperature making it a great dish for parties, potlucks, and picnics, or really – just anytime you want it. There’s no meat, mayo, egg or anything to go bad if it sits out for a few hours.

When I make it for the two of us, we usually get two meals and a couple of lunches. Yes – we can make a meal out of it, it’s so good! Bobby eats the leftovers cold. I prefer them warm or at room temperature so I’ll microwave mine for about a minute. Sometimes we’ll add a little more protein to the salad by sauteing a few Creole seasoned shrimp in some butter and serving on top of the pasta.

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