Playing Chef with Pasta

Some people believe that pastas belong to intermediate cooking. They accept the fact that only school-taught chefs could whip up the most mouth-watering pasta dishes. Aside from the expensive ingredients and cooking materials, there is also the need for knowledge about different pasta techniques that could bring out the right flavors in the recipe. Home cooks could prove them wrong with 3 pasta recipes below.

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oven- ready lasagna noodles, about 8 ounes, packaged
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 3 zucchinis, about ½ inch thick, sliced lengthwise
  • 1.25 cups of reduced-fat mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 eggplant, about ½ inch thick, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce, about 24-26 ounces
  • 2 yellow pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • 1 container fat-free ricotta, about 15 ounces
  • Garnish: Chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare a stovetop grill pan and a 13 x 9 –in baking dish for the lasagna.
  2. Soak the noodles in water in the baking dish and cover it. 15 minutes is good enough or until the noodles are already soft yet firm.
  3. Using the cooking spray, coat the vegetables evenly. Turn on the grill and cook them for 8 – 12 minutes. Wait for the vegetables to get tender and lightly charred. Turn them on all sides as needed.
  4. Cut the vegetables into bite- size pieces using the chopping board. Mix them with a good toss.
  5. Turn the heat in the oven to 375 degrees Celsius.  On paper towels, carefully place the noodles. Drain and wipe the baking dish used for soaking them.
  6. Prepare a bowl and blend cream cheese, ricotta, 2 tablespoons of water.
  7. Get the baking dish and pour ½ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom evenly.
  8. Place 3 noodles on top of the sauce in a crosswise position.
  9.  Layer the noodles with a 2/3 cup of ricotta and cream cheese mixture.
  10.  Add 1 cup of vegetables on top of the mixture.
  11. On top of the vegetables, spread 2/3 cup of marinara sauce and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese.  Add 2 teaspoons of Parmesan.
  12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 twice.
  13. For the top of the lasagna, use the remaining noodles and marinara sauce.
  14. Using foil wrap, cover the lasagna and set it in the oven. Cover the baking dish and wait for at least 30 minutes.
  15. Uncover again and use the remaining vegetables and cheese for toppings for the lasagna.
  16. Use another 15 minutes to bake it. Wait for the cheese to melt or the noodles to be tender.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound spinach fettuccine or linguine
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat- free half and half
  • 3 tablespoons flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare a pot with boiling water and add salt. Cook the spinach linguine or fettuccine in the salted boiling water.
  2. Get a medium- sized saucepan and melt the butter in it. After melting, the garlic cloves should be added and cooked at a low heat.
  3. Mix in the flour in the saucepan and stir it continuously. Pour the half and half and whisk them together well.
  4. Bring out the nutmeg, pepper and salt, and add them to the mixture.
  5. Boil the saucepan without stopping the stirring. Make sure that the creamy texture of the sauce is already thick.
  6. Bring down the heat and allow the saucepan to simmer. 5 minutes is good enough.
  7. Turn off the heat and add cheese in the sauce. Melt it by gradually stirring.
  8. Check the spinach fettuccine or linguine if it is already firm. Drain it, and return the pasta to its pot.
  9. Pour the sauce in the pot. Mix and coat the pasta by good tossing.

 

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces linguine, cooked firm
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning, store bought or own recipe
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Use a bowl and add the chicken strips and Cajun seasoning in it. Coat the chicken evenly by tossing it.
  2. Prepare a large skillet at medium heat. Put butter or margarine in it and sauté the chicken strips. Continue for 5 -7 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  3. The heat should be reduced so you can add heavy cream, tomatoes, green onions, garlic powder, dried basil, salt and black pepper.
  4. After completing, heat the skillet again to cook the additional ingredients.
  5. Pour the sauce into the cooked linguine. Toss the pasta to blend with the sauce. Add Parmesan cheese and toss again.

 

Home cooks will be surprised over the numerous pasta dishes found online. Some are even easier than making spaghetti at home.  Pasta is now a common dish that can be served on ordinary days. Try to make family get-togethers elegant with some pasta dishes and wine.

Linda Rosario is a food enthusiast from Chef Needs

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