Category: pasta

Sweet Potato Gnudi

Ah, pasta dumplings. One of life’s simplest pleasures! I saw this gnudi recipe a while back in Chatelaine magazine, and I (in my old-school ways) marked it with a post-it for later. I stumbled upon it again recently, and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to make these. You really don’t need to be an expert chef to whip up your very own batch at home, impressing your entire household along the way. The recipe comes together quickly, making it a perfect weeknight meal. What’s more, their neutral flavour lends beautifully to a variety of sauces, toppings, & even soups. While the boy ate his portion topped with some osso buco, I enjoyed mine on their own, tossed with a bit of crumbled goat cheese. The cheese melts and sticks nicely, creating a beautiful burst of flavour in every bite!

Sweet Potato Gnudi
inspired by Chatelaine magazine

400g sweet potato (about 1 medium)
200g potato (about 1 small)
3-4 tbsp oil, as needed
3 egg yolks
1 cup flour
pinch sea salt

Prick potatoes with a fork all over and microwave whole potatoes until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes each. (Or, if you prefer, cut into cubes, boil until very tender, and drain.) Let cool about 10 minutes. Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash by hand, adding oil to make them extra smooth. Mash in egg yolks and salt. Add flour, a bit at a time, until fully incorporated.

Boil a large pot of water. Fill a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, with some of the dough. Cut off the tip. Holding your bag over the water, pipe out into 1-inch sections, cutting with kitchen scissors and dropping into pot. Gnudi are ready when they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve warm.

Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Fall is just around the corner – which means it’s time for pumpkin EVERYTHING! Last year, I showed you how to make your very own pumpkin spice latté, and some homemade pumpkin alfredo pasta. This year, pumpkin season kicks off with a super easy weeknight meal that requires very little prep and comes together in less than 15 minutes. Happy *almost* autumn!

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup milk (or cream, for a richer sauce)
1 brick cream cheese (250g) cut into cubes
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
pinch salt, black pepper, and clove, to taste

Method
Prepare your favourite pasta according to directions. (I used a herb-speckled pasta, but you can use anything you desire!) Drain, reserving some of the water for the sauce. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add milk. Add cheese, a little at a time, until melted. Add pumpkin. Mix together until homogenous. Continue stirring for about one minute, until mixture comes together and is hot. If mixture is too thick, add a few tbsp of cooking water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt, pepper and clove. Toss with pasta. Serve warm.

Que-Pasta? (Noodles & Avocado Sauce)

My name is Allison, and I am an avocadoholic. 
I can’t help it; it’s all I ever want to eat. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that draws me to this ridiculously expensive – albeit healthy – habit, and I’ve come to a handful of possible conclusions. I’ve thought that perhaps it’s my body craving the 20 essential nutrients that avocadoes have to offer. I’ve also considered the possibility that maybe it’s just my body craving healthy fats. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s simply because it’s something that just tastes so darn good! It’s a creamy, delicious, versatile food that can be used as a dip, in a sandwich, or as I’ve discovered recently, as a sauce.
This lovely creation was actually inspired by a condiment that I quite enjoy at this Venezuelan resto in the plateau (aptly named Arepera Du Plateau – and highly recommended if you’re in the Montreal area!) They serve their sandwiches and salads with this bright green addiction-forming avocado-based deliciousness. I’ve been known to order an avocado and cheese sandwich and slather it in avocado the stuff. (Because, well, I can never have too much avocado!) I don’t quite know what’s in their sauce, but I’ve taken my three favorite elements form it (avocadoes, cilantro and spice) and created my own version. I served it atop some egg pasta and garnished it with extra chopped fresh cilantro. The result? Delicious dinner in a flash, and a new way to use my favorite fruit!

Egg Noodles with Avocado Sauce & Cilantro

an original recipe by allison sklar
what you’ll need
2 medium avocadoes
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
dash salt
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 cup egg pasta, cooked al-dente and drained
(If you follow a vegan diet, this will work well with any thin flat pasta as well!)
how to do it
while your pasta is cooking, mash up avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic and hot sauce. Add cilantro. Slowly stir in vegetable broth, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. For a creamier sauce, use less broth. For a thinner sauce, add more. Adjust salt and spice to taste. Toss with cooked pasta while pasta is still hot. Garnish with additional cilantro. 
(hint: round out this meal by adding some vegetables on top. I had mine with sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes and it was delish!)

Fallin’ For You (Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce)

Pumpkin alfredo sauce, where have you been all of my life?

I came up with this quick and simple dish after flipping through the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. For a couple of weeks, I’d routinely flip back to the same page, drooling over a photo of tortellini bathed in this dreamy pumpkin sauce. The original recipe asked to sautée pumpkin with nutmeg, but since I’m really not a nutmeg kind of gal, I decided to omit that step. I then reassessed the rest of the recipe, and well, I pretty well stripped it down to the basics (pumpkin puree and cream) and then added my own little twist.

My version comes together when delicious pumpkin puree meets with heavy cream, gets sprinkled with a hint of marinated garlic and finished off with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano cheese. Toss it with pasta and top it all off with sea salt and pepper, and you’ve got a meal. This sauce is so velvety that it tastes sinful, yet it’s surprisingly light thanks to the magic that is pumpkin puree.
(Also, what better way to get a picky eater to eat his or her veggies?!)

This recipe’s quick, easy, and ridiculously tasty – so make it tonight! Whether it’s for yourself, or to impress a lucky guest, tastebuds everywhere will be rejoicing in the glory of this newfound autumn comfort food.

Note: I served this with fresh cheese ravioli, but it would be a great companion to tortellini, fettuccine, tagliatelle or any other of your favorite pasta varieties.

Pumpkin Alfredo Ravioli
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 cup fresh pasta
1 cup canned pureed pumpkin (NOT pie filling!)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp crushed marinated garlic
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt & pepper to taste

how to do it
Prepare your pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, begin to warm pumpkin in medium saucepan over low heat. Slowly add cream, stirring constantly with a non-stick spatula. Add garlic and heat until mixture begins to bubble. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Toss desired amount of sauce with drained pasta.

Serve with extra shredded cheese & fresh ground pepper sprinkled on top.
Enjoy!


Wine and Dine (Creamy Wine Sauce)

Cream sauce, I have mastered thee.

After numerous failed attempts at concocting my own alfredo, I finally hit the milky jackpot. I quickly discovered that combining mushrooms, cream and wine will result in some tasty magic on my dinner plate. Simple, smooth and satisfying, this base will be my go-to for any white sauce I’ll be craving in the near future. If you’re not a fan of funghi, don’t fret: substitute chopped spinach, onions or garlic in place of the mushrooms for an equally delicious variation.


Simple Cream Sauce with Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp ground sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped mushrooms (or spinach)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (optional)
2 tbsp cooking wine (white is best, but red works fine)
1/2 cup cooking cream
1 tbsp white flour

how to do it
In a saucepan over medium-low, melt butter. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until golden. Add cream and wine, stirring well after each addition. Once mixture is bubbling, whisk in flour, stirring until sauce begins to thicken, about one minute. Add salt to taste.
Serve hot, over pasta or vegetables.

CooCoo for Coconut

Last week started off on quite a poor note for me: on top of having to deal with a broken bed and a wintery slap in the face in the form of an ice storm,  I had to deal with some less-than-pleasant stomach issues which landed me in the dreaded waiting room of a health clinic. The cherry on top of it all: I was instructed by my new doctor to stay away from both gluten AND dairy for “a couple of weeks.”

Is he aware that gluten and dairy are the basis of my comfort-food diet every winter?
Is he aware that the temperatures dipped below freezing this week?
Is he aware that denying me of bagels and cream cheese is not good for my mental health?

Attempting to keep my mental health in check – for the good of everyone around me – I decided to make the best of things and turn this into a cooking challenge! (While grinding my teeth and forcing a smile!) At first, it was tough to think up ideas. (On that note, it’s also been tough trying to ignore the brand new chocolate milk container and the three containers of yogourt in my fridge. But I digress). I began to get quite creative in the kitchen.

And that my friends, is where my fabulous coconut shrimp stir-fry was born.
I must admit, I had some inspiration from my good friend Lisa, so thank you!
The boy and I both reached for seconds. And then thirds. We then had to restrain ourselves, because I was insistent on getting a photograph in before it was all devoured…


Coconut Shrimp Stir Fry with Rice Noodles

what you’ll need

•    2 eggs
•    ½ Spanish or Vidalia onion, finely sliced
•    1 cup sliced mushrooms
•    4 shallots, cut into long pieces
•   1 yellow pepper, sliced
•    ¾ cup sugar snap peas
•    ⅓ cup frozen peas
•    ½ cup cooked, peeled de-veined frozen shrimp
•    ⅓ cup water

•    ¾ small can tomato paste
•    ½ cup coconut milk
•    3 tbsp lime juice
•    3 tsp fenugreek
•    3 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)
•    2 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

•    2 cups broad rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

how to do it

Cook rice noodles according to package directions, ensuring that they are slightly al-dente (otherwise, they will fall apart later on – you’ll see).
Scramble the egg in non-stick fry pan (or in 1 tbsp of oil / cooking spray). Set egg aside.
In same pan, cook onions and mushrooms in water over medium-high heat until reduced.
While you are waiting for the mixture to reduce, in a small bowl, combine coconut milk, tomato paste, hot sauce, lime juice and spices. Set aside.
Once the water in the pan is completely evaporated, add yellow pepper and cook until slightly softened. Add shallots, peas, shrimp and egg to the mixture.
Pour sauce into the pan and mix well.
Cook until shrimp are completely defrosted.
Once the mixture is ready, empty it all into a bowl with the rice noodles and toss to coat.

Serve immediately, garnished with lime slices, shallots and toasted coconut if desired.

My Noodly Appendage

I’ve always been known to keep a well stocked fridge and pantry. Among other basic necessities, you’ll rarely find me lacking any of the following foods: assorted cheeses, frozen vegetables, multiple bags of pasta and jars of Classico tomato sauce. [A note on the latter: though I’m a stickler for homemade, those chefs over at Classico really know what they’re doing. Though I wasn’t paid to say that, I’d just like to inform the fine folks over at Classico that I really wouldn’t mind some free sauce. Or a coupon. You know, both are good!]

All I had was an hour, but all I wanted was pasta. With some garlic toast. And maybe even a little use-up-the-veggies-up-before-they-wilt salad. I thought it would be as fast as boiling some noodles and opening up a jar. Alas, I was jar-less. My Classico supply had been depleted.

That’s when I hit the vodka… 

Paired it with tomatoes and cream and turned it into a velvety smooth sauce!
Though the actual preparation is quick, if you have the time I highly recommend that you make this earlier on in the day and let it simmer over low heat in order for the sauce to thicken and the flavours to enhance. I served mine over spinach fettucine (to add a splash of colour & pizzazz to the plate… yes, I just used the word pizzazz) with a side of pumpernickel toasted with garlic butter and a hint of shredded cheese. I balanced it all out with a cherry tomato, avocado & romaine salad tossed with Renee‘s naturally low-cal cucumber, dill & yogourt dressing.


Nutrition facts about this meal

Pasta myths debunked: Spinach pasta is not any healthier than regular pasta – the spinach is mostly used for the colour, though the spinach content does add a small ammount of vitamin A and some iron. I choose spinach pasta because I prefer the taste and texture, but you may prefer the enriched semolina (regular) variety. If you’re looking to add fibre to your diet, whole-wheat pasta is the choice for you. The “healthiest” pasta in my opinion is quinoa pasta, as it contains the most nutrients overall – however, this is not to say that you should banish pasta from your diet. In a well-balanced meal like this one, pasta can be a satisfying and healthy choice, no matter what variety you use.

Vitamins & Nutrients: Lutein, the compound that gives tomatoes their bright red colour, is a vitamin that is said to reduce the risk of serious eye disease. This sauce is chock-full of it! The avocados in your salad are a source of HEALTHY fat – the kind that helps to unclog your arteries, as well as 20 other minerals and nutrients. Contrary to popular beleif – eating avocados will not make you fat! The yogourt in the dressing is a source of “good” bacteria that help with food digestion, and is low in saturated (unhealthy) fat. People who are slightly lactose intolerant can often digest yogourt due to it’s bacterial content.

Drunken Tomato Sauce 
note: you can add other vegetables into this sauce while simmering, such as diced carrots, crushed garlic, chopped spinach, etc. I kept the recipe simple because that’s how I like it but I’ll leave it to your discretion to make it your own! 

what you’ll need
•    1 large can plum tomatoes (other varieties will do, but this is my recommendation)
•    1 large onion, diced
•    1 tbsp vegetable oil
•    1 tsp sugar
•    1/2 cup cream (at least 10%, use 35% if you prefer a creamier sauce)
•    1/4 cup vodka
•    2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
•    dash tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
•    handful of fresh basil, chopped (optional)

how to do it
In medium saucepan, heat oil on medium and add onions. Sprinkle with sugar and cook until soft. Add tomatoes, breaking up with mixing spoon. Stir in tabasco & vodka. Simmer until tomatoes begin to break down. Bring cream to room temperature while simmering. Once sauce has reached desired consistency, slowly stir it, one tbsp at a time, into cream, just until the cream is warm. This will ensure that the cream does not curdle upon entering the hot pot. Whisk cream into sauce, slowly, little by little. Add salt and basil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Garnish with grated fresh parmesan cheese.