Italian Pasta Salad

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Once in a while, I just wish there were minions in my kitchen where i can pass them the recipe paper and the cooking gets done for me. Pat’s hopeless in the kitchen, his specialty is a mean bowl of cereal and that’s about it. Suddenly, recipes that are quick and easy to put together has so much of a bigger appeal.

This pasta salad is quick to whip together and typically is reserved for summer days where it’s hot and a cool meal is the perfect pairing. Also, this is perfect to make ahead for summer camping and potluck gatherings. Truthfully, this meal is a time saver. It is best served at room temperature and eaten the day it is made. The taste changes quite a bit at colder temperatures.

Personally, I would eat this dish by its own bit you can also serve it as a side to compliment any protein.

Italian Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 7 mins

Yield: 6-8 portions

Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound fuscilli pasta
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, cubed or bite size pieces
  • 6 ounces salami, cubed or bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Steps

  1. Place onion, red wine vinegar and oregano in a large bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and cook pasta for 7 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain over a colander and rinse with warm water till pasta is warm to touch.
  5. Combine pasta into the vinegar mixture and toss.
  6. Add all other ingredients and toss to combine.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve immediately or cold. Pasta salad can be kept for 3 days in air tight container.

Note: Personally, the salad taste better served at room temperature. Also, i’m cheap so I usually buy pre- sliced cheese and salami and cut it to pieces. The leftover slices are then used in sandwiches.

 

Recipe by ChowHound

Asian Garlic Noodle

 

There’s has always a certain uncertainty with what Asian Dishes I can try to make at home for dinner without scaring Pat away. So far from experience, true blue Asian is a no-no but Asian inspired or western Asian dishes are fair game. It’s like a science experiment every time I try a recipe where I won’t know the result till my test rat pat provides some feedback. That’s the thing about a bi-racial relationship, loads of trial and error.

There’s a site called DamnDelicious where her webpage mainly focuses on quick easy meals where you can put it together on weekdays, typically in half hour. It is so awesome when you run out of ideas of what to cook and this one is no exception. Especially with the current economy and rising food prices, this is relatively cheap to put together.

This dish calls for what you usually already have in your pantry and frankly speaking, there’s no need for protein cause it’s that good and easy. You can use whatever greens you have in your fridge too. Better than any take out and a bonus if you are a garlic lover.

Try it and I am pretty sure it will get introduce into your meal rotation immediately!

Asian Garlic Noodles

Yield: 3 generous servings

Prep time: 15 mins

Cooktime: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 10 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 12 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 package of snap peas ( approx 3 oz)
  • 2 tablespoon of fresh parsley or cliantro, chopped
  • Sauce, divided
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce or 1/3 cup if you’re using reduced sodium
    • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground chili paste; the bottle can be found usually with siracha)
    • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or more to your liking)

Steps

  1. Combine sauce ingredients into a measuring cup for easy mixing and pouring. Stir well to ensure sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add shrimp and 2 tablespoon of sauce. Cook till shrimp is just pink. Set aside.
  4. Add vegetables into the skillet and stir fry till vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in spaghetti,shrimp and sauce. Stir for a minute or 2 till well combined
  6. Serve immediately, garnish with parsley if desired.

 

Recipe inspired by DamnDelicious

 

All Meat Lasagna

Back when I was in university, I used to waitress in a Japanese restaurant to support myself and on a very rare occasion, one of the restaurant managers would make lasagna when he feels likes it. It was the best lasagna I have ever eaten hands down, better than any restaurants. I actually popped over his place one Christmas because he was making it so I could learn but back then, I have never cooked much so everything seems pretty foreign to me. I never wrote anything down but just watch. His secret is using 2 different cheese and adding a lot of heat. I love the heat but am quite lazy to buy and have 2 kind of cheese on hand.

He soon left the restaurant and never really got in touch with him much but I remembered vaguely about that cooking lesson so I tried to replicated it. It’s not as good but I love it and it’s with no cheese layer so it’s not heavy and super filling like most lasagnas.

I know my layers are not perfect but I manage to dish this out with the layers intact and the cheese layer just so charred. You wanna know the secret? it’s TIME – you need to let it cool and sit after you remove from the oven before you start slicing it!

To quote Alton Brown again, often people don’t regard time as an ingredient.

So patience, my dear one.

 

All Meat Lasagna

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins – 1 hr

Yield : 1 loaf pan = 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (750g/1lb) of Italian sausage
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 white button mushroom, sliced
  • 1 Jar (700ml) of  pasta sauce
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
  • Thyme, to taste
  • Basil, to taste
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 6 Lasagna noodles
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Steps

  • Place pan over high heat and add some olive oil
  • Add Italian sausage and fry them till brown. Try to break the pieces as small as you can. Set aside on a paper-towel lined plate.
  • Lower heat to medium high and add some olive oil.
  • Add diced onions and fry till translucent but not burnt
  • Add red bell pepper and mushroom and stir fry for 2-3 mins
  • Add cooked Italian sausage then pasta sauce
  • Add black pepper,oregano,crushed red pepper,thyme,basil and bay leaf.
  • Give everything a good mix and cover. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer while you prep other stuff.
  • Bring a kettle of water to boil. Place lasagna noodles in a deep baking tray and add hot water till it covers the noodles.
  • Let it steep for 5-10 mins until noodles are soft but not cooked through.
  • Heat your oven to 350F
  • Remove the bay leaf before assembly

Assembly

  • Spray a loaf pan with vegetable spray.
  • Remove lasagna noodles from the water and pat dry with towel.
  • Trim the noodles by cutting off any excess length.
  • Layer as follows:
    • Noodle
    • Meat sauce
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • Noodle
    • Meat sauce
    • Mozzarella cheese …
  • You should have to layer the noodle 3 times and the very top layer should be cheese.

Cooking

  • Cover the loaf pan with foil
  • Pop it in the oven, centre rack for 20 mins
  • Remove the foil and adjust the oven rack to the second highest level
  • Broil the lasagna until the cheese is browned and slightly charred

Resting

  • Remove the pan from the oven and let it cook for 10 mins
  • Slice a desired size and serve immediately.

 

Note: You can do all the assembly the day before and keep it in the fridge. Allow the lasagna to come to room temperature before popping it into the oven or cook at 425F for 20mins straight for the fridge. Also, using fresh mushrooms will create some water in the lasagna but I prefer it that way so it will not be overdry. If you wish, use canned button mushroom instead so there will be less water.