2015-04-10 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Pass the primo pasta promptly, please
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

I love pasta. I love to eat it and I love to cook with it.

You can mix it with just about anything and it always comes out fabulous. It’s great for a crowd or when you have unexpected company, it can really stretch a meal! I’ve included some new pasta recipes that I have tried over the past few months. I hope you like them.

Sesame chicken and noodles

1/3 cup rice vinegar; 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions; 2 tablespoons honey; 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce; 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger; 2 teaspoons Asian garlic chili sauce; 2 (6 ounce grilled chicken breast strips; 12 ounces dried udon noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti; 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil; and 2 medium yellow, red and/or orange sweet peppers, cut in bite-size strips; fresh cilantro.

In medium bowl, stir together vinegar, scallions, honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic chili sauce. Add chicken; stir to coat. Set aside to allow flavors to meld.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan cook noodles in boiling water about 8 minutes until just tender. Drain noodles well and return to sauce pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Add chicken mixture and toss to combine.

Transfer to bowl. Top each with pepper strips and cilantro.

Serves six.

Chicken and pasta in peanut sauce

8 ounces thin spaghetti; 1 bunch broccolini, cut in 2-inch lengths; 1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips; 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves; salt and pepper to taste; 1 tablespoon olive oil; ½ cup peanut sauce; and crushed red pepper (optional).

In Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccolini and sweet pepper during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain. Return to Dutch oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, halve chicken breasts horizontally. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In extra large skillet cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes each side, or until no longer pink (170 degrees.).

Transfer to cutting board. Slice chicken; add to pasta and vegetables. Heat through. Add peanut sauce. Pass crushed red pepper.

Serves four.

Mexican rigatoni and cheese

Nonstick cooking spray; 12 ounces dried rigatoni pasta (4 cups); 8 ounces uncooked chorizo sausage; ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium); 1 medium fresh poblano chile pepper (optional); 3 tablespoons butter; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 1 teaspoon chili powder; ½ teaspoon ground cumin; 2 ½ cups milk; 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces); 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained; chopped fresh cilantro; and Pico de Gallo.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Place pasta in a very large bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook sausage, onion and poblano pepper over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion is tender and sausage is browned. Drain off fat. Add chorizo to bowl with pasta.

In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, chili powder and cumin. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese, stir until cheese melts. Pour over pasta in bowl. Add black beans. Stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture in prepared dish.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. If desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro. Top each serving with pico de gallo.

Enjoy your pasta and, until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com

Return to top