Today is National Spaghetti Day and in honour of that, I decided to share my favourite spaghetti recipes. For those of you working on the “Eat from the Pantry/Freezer Challenge”, I find most of these recipes very useful for making quick and easy meals and often find that I have all the ingredients on hand whenever I want to prepare them.
Tip: Basic spaghetti and meat sauce (Spaghetti Bolognese) is typically not one of my favourite meals. I am not sure if I got tired of it (being something quick and easy to make and one of my daughter’s favourites) or if it was because my Crohn’s disease caused a lack of appetite particularly for anything with much taste to it. Tomato based products also wreaked havoc on my digestive system when my Crohn’s was especially active and I think the knowledge that I would feel so sick after eating it kind of turned me off of the taste. Then I was watching a cooking show (Rachael Ray I believe) and she shared a tip for perking up the flavour of basic Spaghetti Bolognese. Her tip was to add a dash of balsamic vinegar and a touch of brown sugar. Now, I am pretty much all for anything that has balsamic vinegar in it! Originally when I was working from memory alone, I had forgotten about the brown sugar so I just began adding the vinegar alone. The difference in the taste is astounding. You can’t actually taste the vinegar at all but it just seems to enhance the taste of the sauce and add a bit of interest to it. Later, I found my notes from that show and found the reference to the brown sugar as well. I haven’t yet tried it though because I feel that it is simply delicious the way it is so why put in added sugar? You might want to try one or both though to see which way produces the result you want.
Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower
1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets (I place this on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over it, and squeeze some lemon juice on it all. Mince up about 6 cloves of garlic – you can omit or use more or less depending on your preference – and toss this over top of the cauliflower. You can sprinkle with some salt and pepper too if desired. Put in a 400 degree F oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes until it is a nice golden brown and tender. As soon as you remove this from the oven, you can sprinkle this with about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan if you’d like. Serving the cauliflower just as is even without the spaghetti portion of this recipe is delicious as well!)
Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions to al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with 2-4 T. butter (I use the lesser end of this measurement but you may prefer more), 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, an additional 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (you might want a bit more if you didn’t add Parmesan to the cauliflower), 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs and any or all of the following if desired: 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or choose from herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme or others you like)
Toss the cauliflower with the pasta and serve!
Spaghetti Frittata: I like to use up leftover spaghetti by making it into a frittata. I first got this idea from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book but I have since seen the same idea on Rachael Ray’s website. She has a variation on it that I have linked below as well. I simply take the leftover spaghetti and saute it in oil (I prefer olive oil for this), then lightly beat some eggs as if making scrambled eggs (you can even add a little milk or cream to this if you want – adds a delicious creamy taste to it but it’s still very tasty without!) and pour this over the spaghetti in the pan. Top with grated cheese (your choice…I use whatever is on hand..another great way of using up some leftovers…adding a little grated Parmesan to this is wonderful too!). Cook until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted. Of course as with any frittata, you can "dress" this up by adding other ingredients too. I have added leftover diced ham, bacon, chicken, or pancetta, chopped onions, leftover chopped cooked veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, or green beans (I would think mushrooms or some fresh tomatoes would be good too but I am allergic to them so have no personal experience with trying them in this dish), a fine herbes mixture or herbs of your choice. I am sure if you use your imagination and look to see what leftovers you have that need to be used up, you can come up with even more variations!
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
1 lb (454 g) spaghetti
8-9 oz (250 g) finely chopped pancetta or bacon
2 large garlic cloves, minced
(1/3 cup chopped onion…optional..I don’t use it)
(Olive oil – optional)
(1/3 cup white wine – optional)
1 1/2 cup (250 mL) 35% Real Whipping
4 egg yolks
1/3-1/2 cups grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions: Fry up the bacon/pancetta in a large pot (one that will accommodate the cooked spaghetti later). Meanwhile boil the spaghetti according to package directions. Once the bacon/pancetta is pretty much cooked, mix in the minced garlic and the chopped onion and saute until just softened. (Some people like to add about 1/3 cup white wine to the pan prior to tossing it with the pasta. They allow the wine to reduce down at low-medium heat. Some also like to add in a bit of olive oil just prior to tossing the spaghetti with the bacon mixture.) Drain the cooked pasta and add this to the bacon mixture in the pan and toss gently. In a bowl, combine the cream, egg yolks (I have had variations of this recipe with the eggs omitted. It’s still good but not quite as creamy and decadent tasting), Parmesan (adjust the quantity to your taste or use the lesser amount and then sprinkle the remaining bit over top of the whole she-bang just prior to serving), and salt and pepper if desired (I don’t add the salt. I find the cheese is salty enough for me. I do like lots of cracked pepper in this dish but my daughter doesn’t like as much as I do so I usually leave most of it out and simply add some to my own serving). Toss the spaghetti mixture (still in the warm pan) with the cream mixture and serve!
One of the quickest and easiest recipes I own! Yum-o!
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless that you have cubed and browned with a little garlic and pepper – you can certainly use leftover cooked chicken in this dish as well. Just adjust your remaining ingredients to reflect how much chicken you have/how many servings you are trying to make. I have made this recipe for myself when alone using just one leftover piece of chicken and decreasing the other quantities. I have also done it with other parts of the chicken – for example pulling off the leftover meat from a roast chicken and it was quite good too but breasts are my preference).
Once the chicken is browned, add to it:
2-3 cans of chicken broth (of course you can use homemade as well)
1 small bag of frozen carrots (again you can use fresh chopped carrots but when I did this, I found I needed to steam them first before adding them to this dish as there isn’t enough cooking time for them)
1 1/2 -2 tsp. tarragon (the first time I made this recipe I found I was out of tarragon so I used rosemary, lemon pepper, and basil instead – it was scrumptious! From then on I used those same spices along with tarragon. Yum!)
You will also need:
Spaghetti cooked according to package directions (when I cook too much spaghetti which is often, I put the leftovers into Ziploc bags and freeze it. Whenever I need some for a recipe like this, I take a package out and defrost/warm it up by placing the bag in a pot of hot water and heating it gently.)
Once the spaghetti is ready, I mix a little cornstarch in water and add this to the chicken mixture to thicken it up.
The friend who first sent me this recipe said that she didn’t have spaghetti on hand so she used angel hair pasta for it and it was really good too. I am sure pretty much any pasta you prefer and that you have on hand would work quite well. I have experimented with this dish since then and have found that adding those tiny peas is really good in it too. Once I had a part of a package of frozen mixed vegetables that I wanted to use up and threw those in this dish. Also very tasty!
Links to prior posts with spaghetti variations:
Chili spaghetti https://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/fourth-of-july-recipes-cincinnati-skyline-chili-getti/
Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti https://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/chicken-parmesan-meatballs-and-spaghetti/