Creamy Pappardelle with Chicken & Bacon

This quick comfort food dish uses store-bought rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. I loved the freshness and pop of color from the fresh herbs and the minced carrot.

The recipe was adapted from Antoni Let’s Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye. My daughter and I are big Antoni fans! 🙂 I modified the proportions. Next time I would reduce the amount of chicken meat- just personal preference.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt
  • 8 oz bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz pappardelle (I used two 227 g packages)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, at room temperature (I used 6 cups but would reduce the amount next time)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sauce or a wide heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through with crispy edges, about 5 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, add the pappardelle and carrots to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce with 3/4 cups of the pasta water, the chicken, and the reserved bacon. Toss to combine.
  9. Add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if desired.
  10. Top with cheese, parsley, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Pappardelle with Pancetta, Broccoli Rabe, & Pine Nuts

I could eat broccoli rabe with a side of broccoli rabe- an absolute favorite. My husband could eat pappardelle with a side of pappardelle. 😉 Now you can see why this dish was perfect for our Valentine’s Day dinner! Everyone loved it. ❤

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kristine Kidd. I modified the proportions and method. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, flattened
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces cubed pancetta
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed (I used a mortar & pestle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 large bunches broccoli rabe (also called rapini; generous 2 pounds), stems sliced 1/2 inch thick, tops cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 17.64-ounce (500 g) package dried pappardelle pasta
  • 2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for serving
  • 1/2 cup raw pine nuts, toasted (@375 degrees for about 5 minutes)
  1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet, preferably with a lid, over medium heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic.
  3. Add onion, pancetta, and fennel seeds to skillet; sauté until onion is tender and pancetta begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add dried crushed red pepper, then broccoli rabe stems and cook 4 minutes to soften slightly, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in broccoli rabe tops, sprinkle with salt, and add 2 cups water. Cover and cook until stems and tops are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid.
  7. Add pasta to skillet with broccoli rabe and stir over low heat to combine, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary.
  8. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese. Season to taste with salt and generous amount of pepper.
  9. Transfer to shallow bowls, if desired. (I served it in the pot.) Sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with additional cheese.

Simple Sunday Soups

This first soup, Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle, was hearty and delicious. It was inspired by a soup from Trattoria dai Mugnai in Monteveglio, a village outside of Bologna. The second soup, Spanish Garlic Soup, was inspired by an “end of the month” meal, a “meal to make quickly with whatever is on hand and money is tight,” from José Andrés.

The recipes for these simple soups were adapted from Milk Street, the Italian bean and pasta soup from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rebecca Richmond, and the Spanish garlic soup from Milk Street TV, contributed by Christopher Kimball and Matthew Card.

Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 15.5 oz cans Roman (borlotti), cranberry, or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or sage
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind, plus finely grated Parmesan, to serve
  • 8 to 9 oz fresh or dried pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettucine, cut or broken into 2-inch lengths (see Note)
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste darkens slightly and begins to stick to the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, rosemary, Parmesan rind (use if you have it!), 5 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork, about 10 minutes.
  4. Off heat, remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Using an immersion blender, pulse the bean mixture until creamy but not completely smooth. (see Note) (Alternatively, if transferring to a blender, let cool for 10 minutes and purée in 2 batches before returning to the pot.)
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium. Add the pasta and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente (refer to the package for cooking times, but begin checking for doneness a minute or two sooner than the directions indicate). (I used dried pappardelle, broken into 2-inch lengths, and cooked it for 6 to 7 minutes.)
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with oil and top with grated Parmesan and additional pepper, as desired.

Notes:

  • If you can find sheets of fresh pasta, they work nicely, too—simply cut them into rough 2-inch squares.
  • Don’t puree the beans until completely smooth; leave them with some texture.

Spanish Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

Yield: Serves 4

  • 6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra
  • 4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 oz sourdough or other rustic bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups), divided
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 T chicken bouillion (I used Better Than Boullion)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low, combine the scallion whites, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add both paprikas and cook, stirring, until fragrant and darkened, 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 cup of the bread cubes and stir well.
  4. Whisk in the water and bouillon, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally to break up bread, for 15 minutes. Whisk vigorously to ensure bread is thoroughly broken up.
  5. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the remaining 3 cups bread, the scallion greens, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth. (It is important to do this step to prevent the yolks from curdling when added to the pot.)
  7. Remove the soup from the heat. Off heat, vigorously whisk the egg yolks into the soup, then whisk in the vinegar.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. To serve, fill individual bowls with the crouton mixture, then ladle the soup over them. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired.

One-Pot Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage & Spinach

In New York, today is a day for cheesy snow-day comfort food.

This dish could be made in a single pot but I must confess that I transferred the pasta to a casserole dish prior to browning it in the oven. This was completely unnecessary but I liked the increased surface area exposed for browning.

The recipe was adapted from Cook’s Country. I modified the method and proportions. I also used crushed tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 10 to 11 ounces (about 4 links) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 16 ounces (1 pound) ziti
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) chopped fresh basil (chiffonade)
  • 9-10 ounces (9 cups) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces whole-milk fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 2/3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/3 cups), divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 11 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
  1. Cook sausage in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and their juice, salt, oregano, sugar, and pepper flakes. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in water, pasta, and 6 tablespoons chopped basil. Increase heat to high and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, uncovered, until pasta is still very firm but just starting to soften, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @450 degrees.)
  7. Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach, half of the mozzarella, and 1 cup grated Parmesan. If using a separate casserole dish, transfer the mixture after incorporating the spinach and cheese. (I placed the casserole dish on a rimmed baking sheet and covered the handles with foil to protect them.)
  8. Dollop surface of pasta evenly with spoonfuls of ricotta.
  9. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Broil ziti until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.
  11. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Chicken Stroganoff

My husband was raised on comfort food dishes like this. 🙂 He loved this version, of course, but it was really my son who could have eaten the entire bowl on his own. Egg noodles are definitely a crowd pleaser!

This recipe was adapted from Cook’s Country. I actually doubled the recipe to make sure that we had plenty of leftovers. (The original proportions are included below.) I reduced the amount of butter and increased the amount of garlic.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 12 ounces (6 cups) egg noodles
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt, divided, plus salt for cooking noodles
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry (can substitute with extra chicken broth or water with freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add noodles and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain noodles, return them to pot, and toss with 1 or 2 tablespoon(s) of butter. Cover to keep warm.
  2. Combine 2 tablespoons flour, mustard, paprika, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Add chicken and toss to thoroughly coat.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  4. Add chicken and spread into single layer, breaking up any clumps. Cook, without stirring, until browned on bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate.
  5. Melt remaining tablespoon (or 2) of butter in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add mushrooms, onion, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until any liquid has evaporated and vegetables just begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes.
  7. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  8. Stir in stock and sherry and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits.
  9. Add chicken and any accumulated juices and cook until warmed through and sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.
  10. Off heat, stir in sour cream until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Transfer noodles to a serving dish or individual shallow bowls and spoon stroganoff over top.
  12. To serve, sprinkle with parsley and extra paprika, if desired. Serve with extra sour cream on the side, if desired.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

One-Pot Creamy Pasta & Greens

This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.

The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. :/ I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
  • 1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 wide lemon peel strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
  2. Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
  4. Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
  8. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.

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