Cooking the Internet: Feta Pasta

A Finnish recipe went viral on TikTok and supposedly caused a shortage of the Greek cheese in the country. I started following my a video on TikTok and then decided to take some things from my pantry and get creative! I’ll be sharing the results with you today. This simple pasta has a lot of potential for customizing flavors, so feel free to share your recommendations.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 or 2 containers
  • Feta cheese (1 block, but a container of crumbled will work just fine)
  • Olive oil
  • Tuscan dried herbs (about 1-2 Tbsp)
  • Tri-color rotini pasta
  • Salt and pepper

*Note: There are tons of Tuscan herb mixes out there. Make your own or buy some from the store. Mine included dried oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, cayenne, and fennel.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash your tomatoes, dry, and place in a glass baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix. There should be plenty of olive oil to coat the tomatoes.
  3. Make a space in the center of the tomatoes for the feta. Drizzle the feta with more olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  5. While the tomatoes and feta bake, cook your tricolor pasta to al dente. Strain when done cooking.
  6. When the tomatoes are done, remove from the oven. Break up the cheese and stir. Be careful of the tomatoes! They might pop and spray hot tomato juice!
  7. Add Tuscan herbs to the baking pan. Mix again.
  8. Add the pasta. Stir one last time and serve!

Red Wine Spaghetti

Buzzfeed is full of links to tasty recipes, lists of foods to try, and now Buzzfeed Tasty even gives us their own recipes. I’ve been on a wine kick, so I bought some red wines and got cooking. I’m surprised I never really thought about it, but you can boil spaghetti in wine! It’s a liquid so that makes sense right? Like when you boil rice in chicken broth to add extra flavor. I tend to drink sparkling wines, roses, and whites, but I’ll never turn down a good Malbec or red blend. Beware wine lovers, you’ll be using a whole bottle for this!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup parsley (optional)

Instructions:

1) Measure 1/4 cup wine and set aside.

2) Combine water and the rest of the wine in a large pot. Bring to a boil.

3) Once boiling, add the spaghetti. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes.

Be careful! When you add the spaghetti it will bubble up!

4) Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid and drain the spaghetti.

5) In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes.

6) Add reserved cooking liquid and the 1/4 cup of wine. Bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and toss.

7) Add the butter, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and parsley.

Final Thoughts: I’m not sure if I’m impressed with this or not. The idea is really interesting, and it is not much more difficult than making pasta normally. There’s a subtle hint of flavor that might be better with a stronger wine, because it seems like a waste to use a whole bottle of wine for just a little flavor. I also didn’t quite care for the texture of the Parmesan with the noodles. The noodles seemed drier and with the addition of the parmesan and olive oil, seemed to get oily quite quickly. Maybe I just need a different recipe? Have you guys tried this?

Chicken Picatta

The first time I ever had chicken picatta, I was at California Pizza Kitchen. I had no idea what capers were, but it was chicken, lemon, and pasta, so I figured I’d try it. I instantly loved the flavors. Moist, dredged chicken over thin angel hair pasta is drenched in a bright, zingy lemon sauce. Capers add a pop of brine to counter any sweetness from the cream-based sauce. To this day, it is still my order of choice at CPK.

Trying to make it at home seemed daunting, probably because I was worried about making a chicken picatta that would meet the same standards as the restaurant. The lemony chicken pasta I’ve made before is similar, but heavier than this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley leaves

Instructions:

1) Salt a pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

2) Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the chicken in flour.

IMG_1539

Don’t let the chicken sit too long with the flour before cooking. It won’t be as crispy.

3) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, for about 4-5 minutes per side.

IMG_1543

 

IMG_1545

4) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in the skillet again. Add the garlic and shallots. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.

IMG_1546

Don’t wash the pot! The brown stuff from the chicken will help flavor the sauce.

5) Stir in the chicken broth, wine, and lemon juice. Cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

6) Slowly whisk in heavy cream until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the capers.

IMG_1553

I don’t think I let my sauce thicken enough, but at least the flavor was good.

7) Serve pasta with sauce and chicken.

IMG_1555

Final Thoughts: There are a few food bloggers whose recipes I will always recommend. Chungah of Damn Delicious is one of those bloggers. Her recipes never fail to be delicious and easy to execute. I wish I had let my sauce thicken, but it had a strong lemon flavor. Boyfriend dislikes capers, but I love the “pop” of brininess. Any tips on improving the consistency of the sauce?

 

 

Cacio E Pepe

Cacio e pepe sounds fancy, but is actually a simple pasta dish. It literally means “cheese and pepper.” If you love black pepper and noodles, this is the recipe for you. I love the strong flavor of the pepper, almost like eating spicy noodles with an earthy aftertaste. It’s a cheap and easy meal to put together. Keep in mind if you’re vegetarian that Parmesan cheese is not considered a vegetarian cheese option.

Recipes for this tend to vary a little, but both Epicurius and Bon Apetit have the same recipe. You can find it here.

DSC_0687

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

DSC_0688 (1)

Some notes on the ingredients. I didn’t use two different types of cheese because I didn’t have any pecorino on hand. The different cheeses make for a better flavor, but not having fancy cheese on hand doesn’t make the dish impossible. Kosher salt adds a more robust flavor to balance the pepper, but sea salt or other salt works too. I used fettucine, but I usually prefer a thinner pasta.

DSC_0690

Instructions:

1) Boil a pot of water. Sprinkle in some salt. Add the pasta and cook al dente as directed on the box.

DSC_0693

2) Drain the pasta, but do not drain all of the water. Reserve 3/4 cup of water.

DSC_0694

I find it easier to ladle the water into a measuring cup first before straining pasta. Also, I’ve been told it’s a cardinal sin to rinse your pasta.

3) Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and cook, swirling the pan, until toasted, for about 1 minute.

DSC_0703

I used the same empty pot. Saves on clean up.

4) Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and other Tbsp of butter.

5) Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta.

DSC_0711

6) Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry. Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

DSC_0714

It seemed dry with just the 1/2 cup. The sauce should seem loose.

The pepper in this dish really packs a punch. I know I may not have the best tolerance for spice, but I’d even say this gets close to spicy. I think this would be better with a thinner noodle, but I enjoy the idea of making pasta different than the usual preparation. A jar of pasta sauce and plain noodles don’t compare to this Italian comfort food.

DSC_0716

3 Ingredient Tomato Soup with Pasta

At the front of every issue of Food Network magazine is a calendar with suggestions for simple meals that don’t really require a recipe. One of those recipes has become a staple for days when I’m tired and don’t really want to put that much effort into making dinner.

I used to be suspicious of 3-5 ingredient recipes because I assumed you were giving up something in order to make the dish easier to cook. This is not the case. Often getting back to basics brings food back to life. And sometimes, fewer ingredients means less work and less time consumed cooking. It’s the perfect answer for lazy nights.

DSC_0651

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • Pasta
  • Cheese

DSC_0588

The original recipe calls for three items: 1) a can of tomato soup, 2) orzo pasta, and 3) goat cheese. I have tried this with multiple cheeses, brands of soup, and types of pasta. It really is a combination that can be changed in any number of ways to suit your preferences. My favorite is Campbell’s tomato soup (I tried organic soups but found them too sweet), gnocchi, and goat cheese. The goat cheese really adds an extra creaminess so I would really recommend you give it a try!

On a lazy weekday night, I grabbed some gnocchi and a can of soup from the pantry and some shredded cheese. The pictures are here, but honestly it’s very simple.

1) Cook the pasta according to the package.

DSC_0622

DSC_0626

I made gnocchi. You boil water, add the gnocchi, then remove the pasta with a slotted spoon when it starts to float. For 99% of other pastas, you’ll boil water, cook the pasta, and strain it.

2) Drain the water from the pot (if you haven’t already). Add the tomato soup and pasta.

DSC_0630

DSC_0639

3) Mix in the goat cheese. Or sprinkle cheese into the hot soup.

The heat can be very low or off. If the pot is hot, it will melt the cheese.

DSC_0660

It’s not exactly “cooking” per se, but it is marginally more challenging than making a box of mac & cheese. Plus it gives you the chance to experiment. Add spices, try different cheeses, and different pastas for new flavors and textures. First, I’d really recommend the original orzo, tomato soup, and goat cheese combo if you’ve never tried it. Then make it your own! Share what you’ve added and I’ll try it on my own!