Thursday, March 27, 2008

recipe of the week

In my never-ending quest to prepare meals that the entire family will eat, I have decided to make a new dish every week. But you know will probably be more like once a month or every other week, at best. My goal, however, is once a week...starting next week since the big boys are gone this week.

Last week, I made a delightful Pasta Primavera from one of my new favorite sites, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I even made it on the first day of Spring. (Eat your heart out, Martha!!) I didn't make too many changes, except I didn't have fresh basil or parsley, so I added a little Italian seasoning with the sauce. Also, my sauce didn't get as thick as it was supposed to, but I realized a few days later that I had actually purchased fat-free half & half, which is probably why. Still, it was a very tasty sauce and everyone, except Jack & Ainsley, ate it with no complaints...just helpful suggestions.

Emily: It's 0-k-a-y. I like the sauce. And the zucchini.
Ryan: It's pretty good. I'd eat it again. But I don't really like the red peppers. Or the cucumber things. (Um, those would be zucchini)
Doug: I really like it. But I think I would like it better if it had chicken in it.

Personally, I thought it was fabulous. But I'm not crazy about how artery-clogging the sauce is. So, I decided to play around with it and I made a sauce with white wine, vegetable broth and some Parmesan cheese. Also, I didn't have any more penne, so I just used thin spaghetti. Let's just say it wasn't received as well as the first version. Ryan ate it, but didn't really comment. Emily had this twisted up expression on her face and the way she poked at her dinner, you would have thought it was a barbecued rat or something equally vile. And Doug only had one small helping. He said he hadn't felt very well since after lunch, but that seemed a little suspect to me, especially given that he had 2 pieces of carrot cake right after dinner. I, again, thought it was great and when reheating the leftovers every day this week, I've also added a little goat cheese and crushed red pepper and it's been even better!!

The verdict: Everyone loved the first version. I would highly recommend clicking this link and scrolling down to see the recipe, because I love how The Pioneer Woman takes pictures of everything as she goes along, but in case you'd rather not, here is the recipe:

The Pioneer Woman's Pasta Primavera

Olive Oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stem pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
2 zucchini, sliced on the bias
1 yellow squash, sliced on the bias
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 package white or brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 cup half and half, plus a little more for thinning sauce
1 small wineglass of white wine
Low-sodium chicken broth as needed (I actually used vegetable broth)
6-8 fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Penne pasta

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Now begin sauteing the veggies in batches, cooking only 1 to 2 minutes (at most) each. To begin, add broccoli and carrots to onion and garlic. Cook only for a minute, then remove to separate plate. Add another tablespoon of butter to pan and add red pepper strips. Cook for one minute, then remove. Repeat with remaining veggies, being very careful not to overcook; veggies at this point should still be somewhat raw/crunchy. When all veggies have been removed and skillet is empty, pour 1/2 to 1 glass of dry white wine to pan. With whisk, begin to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the nice, flavorful bits from the bottom. Cooking over medium heat, add 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 cup whipping cream, and 1 cup half and half. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir together and cook to thick, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste sauce as you go; don't oversalt, but don't undersalt either! Chiffonade fresh basil leaves and stir into sauce. Now add all the veggies, including frozen peas, at once. Stir gently to combine; if sauce seems too thick, add equal parts half and half and chicken broth to thin. Cook over low heat until warm, just a couple of minutes. You don't want soggy veggies! Taste and check seasoning; add more salt & pepper if needed.


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