Creamy Ricotta, Fresh Corn & Tomato Baked Ziti

Yes! More tomatoes. They are taking over my kitchen! 🙂 I loved that this dish also incorporated sweet summer corn- and basil.

This is a wonderful summertime version of one of my favorite winter casseroles. Cheesy but not too rich. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

The recipe was adapted from TheKitchn.com, contributed by Christine Gallary. I modified the proportions, reduced the pasta cooking time, and used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the sauce. Great.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8
  • cooking spray
  • 1 pound dried penne or ziti pasta
  • 15 to 16 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 4 to 5 medium), diced
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used kernels from 3 ears of corn)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F, preferably on convection. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. Add the pasta to the water and cook about 2 minutes shy of al dente, about 8 minutes, or adjust according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, place the ricotta cheese, milk, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until very smooth; set aside. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, corn, and ricotta sauce and stir until thoroughly combined.
  6. Transfer to the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil.
  7. Bake until bubbling around the edges, 30 minutes. Uncover and stir to evenly coat with sauce.
  8. Taste and season with salt as needed. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve.

Note: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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Pasta Salad with Peas & Summer Beans

This dish is going to be the beginning of an appetizer and side dish extravaganza of belated posts I have been wanting to share. Perfect timing (I’d say!) right before the Fourth of July and the peak of cookout season. 🙂

I especially loved this pasta salad because it had an equal ratio of vegetables to pasta. It was super garlicky, without even modifying the original recipe, and fresh. I loved the use of whole wheat penne too.  This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the peas and green beans and omitted the wax beans. We ate it with grilled salmon sandwiches but it would also pair well with grilled chicken or tuna. Nice!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces haricots verts or green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 7 ounces frozen peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice (about 1 1/2 limes)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes.
  2. Add beans; cook until pasta and beans are al dente, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Add peas and immediately drain. Run cold water over pasta and vegetables until completely cool; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice (it may splatter).
  6. Add dressing and 3/4 teaspoon salt to pasta bowl; season with pepper. Toss with cilantro.
  7. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, to taste.
  8. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 day.

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Penne with Radicchio

In my house, no one is a huge fan of bitter radicchio in their salad. Cooking it not only decreases its bitterness, but also creates a rich and wonderful pasta sauce in this dish along with pancetta and cream. It’s great way to use this special autumn CSA box treat.

This recipe was adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta via giulianohazan.com. I modified the proportions of many ingredients, incorporated whole wheat pasta, and used leeks instead of sweet onions. Yummy.

Yield: Serves 2 to 3

  • 2 leeks, sliced into half moons, soaked and drained
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 1/2 pound radicchio, finely shredded
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (about 2 T)
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • 6 T  heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Put the butter in a 12” skillet and place over medium high heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the clean leeks and sautĂ© until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the leeks are sautéing, remove any bruised leaves from the radicchio, cut it in half lengthwise and cut off the bottom of the root. Finely shred the radicchio. (I used a food processor.)
  4. When the leeks are soft, add the pancetta and cook until it loses its raw color 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.
  6. Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 20 minutes. Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender.
  7. While the radicchio is cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure about 2 tablespoons.
  8. After the radicchio has been cooking for at least 15 minutes, generously salt the boiling pasta water, put in the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  9. When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat and let any remaining moisture evaporate. Add the cream and parsley. Cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one-third.
  10. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and cheese. Top with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley, as desired. Serve at once.

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Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce

This year, my son qualified to compete in our County Championship swim meet for the first time! 🙂 The swim club hosts a HUGE pasta party the evening before the meet begins. Many many families bring pasta for all of the swimmers and their families to share. You have never seen so much pasta in your life!! Incredible.

I decided that in order to make it “fair,” I would bring my daughter’s absolute favorite pasta dish, so that the evening was special for her as well. The mistake was that – by appearance only (of course!)- it was indistinguishable from any jarred sauce… if the crowd only knew that it was made with the coveted recipe from Chicago John of one of my absolute favorite blogs From The Bartolini Kitchens… Well, it left more delicious penne a la vodka for us! Yay! 😉

I made this fabulous creamy red sauce including both pancetta and red pepper flakes- but it is just as delicious as a vegetarian and/or non-spicy version. It is particularly fabulous served with garlic bread and green salad. A crowd pleaser. Simple and perfect!

  • olive oil
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 lb. chopped prosciutto or pancetta, optional
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup vodka
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, diced or crushed (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • reserved pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over med-low heat.
  2. Add pork product and slowly render the fat. Do not cook until crisp.
  3. Increase heat to med-high. Add butter, then onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If needed, add some olive oil.
  4. Season with salt & pepper; add the red pepper flakes (if using) and the garlic, and continue sautéing for another minute.
  5. Remove pan from heat, add vodka, stir to combine, return to heat. Have a pan lid nearby to smother the flame should the vodka ignite. Allow to reduce for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes, cream, parsley, season with salt and pepper, stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer.
  7. After sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, begin heating a large pot of salted water in which to cook the penne. Cook the pasta per package directions, cooking until about 2 minutes before al dente.
  8. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, strain the penne, and add the pasta to the tomato sauce.
  9. Continue cooking the combined pasta and sauce until the pasta is done to your liking. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the pan if the pasta becomes dry during this last step of the cooking process.
  10. Just before serving, add the basil, mix well, and garnish the serving platter with grated pecorino romano cheese. Serve immediately.

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Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Penne

When we have guests staying at our house, I spend extra time menu planning. It is tricky because I want to serve something tasty, but not time-consuming. I also have a chance to splurge on desserts- and have to allow time for that! 🙂

My in-laws were visiting us recently, and I served this dish after a busy day. It was quick, delicious, and well-received! The roasted tomatoes were sweet and bursting with flavor. I reduced the amount of red pepper flakes (to 1/4 teaspoon) and added my special CSA hard-neck garlic. I thought that the garlic made the dish. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. Great!

  • 2 pounds grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 thinly sliced large red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced small
  • 2 large cloves hard-neck garlic
  • 3/4 pound penne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss tomatoes with onion, oil, and red-pepper flakes; season and top with pancetta.
  2. Roast at 450 degrees (on convection roast) until tomatoes burst, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once. Halfway through the roasting process, add the sliced garlic, stir.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the penne, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Toss penne with tomato mixture, parsley, and pasta water (as needed); season.

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Mexican-Style Chicken over Penne

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Chipotles, Cheese, Chicken Thighs… mmm… this dish could have just as easily been a taco or burrito filling, but we ate it over penne. 🙂 I had to make a Mexican dish to enjoy my new margarita glasses in the warmer weather! This dish was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Rubel Jacobson. I used a combination of cheeses and increased the amount of chicken, garlic, corn, and cheese in the dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound penne rigate (I used whole wheat)
  •  5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice
  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  •  One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  •  1 large chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  •  1/4 pound queso fresco, queso blanco and/or mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/3 cups)
  •  1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente. Drain the penne.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until the corn is heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the penne and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce and toss to coat. Add 1 cup of the cheese and toss.
  6. Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the cilantro and serve.

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