Pantry Pasta

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One of my roommates moved out today so while she was finishing up her packing, I decided to clean out the fridge and my pantry. In the process, I found 3 different types of dry pasta and, in the fridge, some random produce left over from other recipes that was about to go bad. I figured I would throw it all together and see how it turned out! Here’s what I did:

First I put a large pot of water on so it could come to a boil while I started on the “sauce”

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I used garlic oil (mince a clove of garlic per 2 tbsp of olive oil and let the flavor meld together) that I had left over from when I made homemade pizza a while back. I put that in my wok (a large frying pan will work too) over moderate heat

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 I then thinly sliced the left over green onions from the stir-fry I made yesterday. I let the garlic and onion sweat out for about 3-4 minutes

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Next I added in left over sliced mushrooms from the Slow Cooker Lasagna I made on Monday and let them cook for about 7-10 minutes (I didn’t really time everything so these times are all estimates)

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Next I threw in halved cherry tomatoes that I’ve had in the fridge for salads. I let them cook for about 3 minutes and then covered the wok.

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I left the wok covered for 2 minutes so the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms could steam and cook through more quickly

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I let the “sauce” go for another few minutes (maybe 2 or 3) until the tomatoes started to burst and let out some of their juices

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(This is what it should look like)

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Next, I drained the pasta and dumped it on top of everything. I took the pasta out a minute before the recommended time (so after 7 minutes of cooking) because it continues to cook once added to the “sauce”

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The last step was throwing in a few handfuls of arugula for a little green and spiciness

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All done! I was able to make about 4 (larger) servings with what I had on hand. This is by no means a recipe to follow step-by-step but more of a guideline for making sure you aren’t throwing out any food! Now I have lunch for Nick and I for the next two days!

WW Points: 9 points per serving*

*Remember- this is for this pantry pasta so yours will probably have a different points value. I used about 4 cups of pasta, 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, 2 cups of arugula, 2 cups of mushrooms, 4 tbsp of oil (I added a little extra to my garlic oil), 2 cloves of garlic and 4 green onions (whites and pale green only).

Pasta with Manilla Clams

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I got the idea for this pasta dish from the Mark Bittman article I posted last week. His was a pasta (dry spaghetti or linguine) with manilla clams removed from the shells. I decided to take that idea and mix it up a bit. I took a trip to Eataly and bought 4 ingredients: fresh pasta (chitarra), pancetta, manilla clams and parsley.

Ingredients

Fresh Manilla Clams (6 per serving)

Fresh Pasta (2 oz. per serving)

Pancetta (1/4 inch thick- 1/8 cup per serving)

1/4 cup White Wine (use this amount when making 2-4 servings)

Parsley to garnish

Directions

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Heat a large skillet (that has a lid that fits) over moderate heat. Once warm, add the pancetta and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes- you want to render the fat so you basically have some oil in the pan.

Add the manilla clams and toss to coat with the pancetta “grease”. Add white wine and cover with the lid. Cook for 8-10 minutes until all the clams are open. Don’t check too often- you don’t want to loose the steam. While the clams are steaming in the wine, add your pasta to the boiling water. Cook fresh pasta for 2 minutes and dry pasta for 8- you want it a little less than al dente.

Discard any clams that did not open (they are no good) and remove the rest from skillet to a plate to cool. Using tongs, move the pasta from the pasta water into the large skillet. Add about 1/8 cup pasta water to the pasta, pancetta and wine. Toss to mix everything and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes (until the pasta is done).  This is important because the pasta will absorb the extra wine and pasta water! Turn off the heat and add in roughly chopped parsley. Toss to mix and move to a serving bowl. Add clams to the bowl in a decorative way!

Enjoy!

WW Points: 9 points per serving

Slow Cooker Lasagna

I have plans to have drinks with Lauren and Colleen tonight (twice in 5 days!) and then Lauren is coming over for dinner. Usually, I am at home cooking when someone comes over for dinner so everything is more or less ready right when they walk in. Because we’re coming uptown together, I needed something that could cook while I am gone but still be ready when we get here. Enter: SLOW COOKER! Nick bought me my slow cooker about 6 months ago and I have loved learning new, easy, healthy recipes that cook themselves.

I wanted to find something healthy but comforting so when I stumbled upon this slow cooker lasagna, I had to try it out! I made a few changes (noted below) to cut some calories and make it a little more WW friendly. I can’t wait to try it tonight!

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Ingredients

4 cups torn spinach

2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup commercial pesto

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese*

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded provolone cheese*

1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided

1 (25.5-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Cooking spray

1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)**

Instructions

Arrange the spinach in a vegetable steamer; steam, covered, 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop.

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 Combine spinach, mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl, stirring to combine; set aside.

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Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and the tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

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Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of a 6-quart oval electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.

Yields 8 servings

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* I used Trader Joes Quatro Formaggi which has asiago, provolone, mozzarella and parmesan in it instead of buying provolone and mozzarella separately. I used 1 1/2 cups of this mix and then used 3/4 of grated parmesan in addition (as stated in the recipe).
** In order to cut calories/WW Points, I used sliced eggplant (below) instead of lasagna noodles. Eggplant is 0 points so it helps a lot!
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WW Points: 9 per serving (with eggplant instead of noodles)

Lattanzi Ristorante

Nick and I went to Lattanzi on Sunday night (yes, after eating everything at the BK Flea!). To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes but I went in hoping for the best. Lattanzi is located on 46th St between 8th Ave and 9th Ave which is known as “Restaurant Row.” There are a few great restaurants but most of them are geared towards the pre-theater crowd and the emphasis tends to fall on getting people out of the door instead of on the food.

Nick had a gift card that he received for his 24th birthday so we figured we’d give it a try. We started with cocktails – Old Fashioned for him and a dirty Hendricks martini for me- and then ordered a bottle of Valpolicella Ripasso for the meal. The drinks were great!

Everything I read about the restaurant said I had to try the artichoke appetizer. So we did.

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I will say, the artichokes were good. Not amazingly amazing but solid. I would order them again. Next up we had the beef carpacio appetizer and, again, good but not amazing. The portion was perfect (which means I secretly wanted one more bite but knew I was at a good place in the meal).

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I was kind of excited at this point because everything so far was enjoyable. Next up was bucatini. I love bucatini so, again, I was excited. The first thing that threw me off when the pasta came to the table was that the pasta was stuck together and under cooked. I can appreciate al dente pasta but this was under cooked- crunchy almost. Once I got past the really undercooked pieces of pasta, the dish was really good. I would go back and give the pasta another chance to blow me away.

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We ordered  Orata, which is usually one of my favorite fish to eat (I even wrote a post about making orata at home in my old blog!) The fish was inedible. I took one bite and it was over cooked beyond belief. It was what we called “hammered” in the restaurant industry. I was so sad!

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All in all the meal was good. The ambiance is romantic and old school (in the best way possible). The service was attentive but not instrustive. The only thing that really threw me off were the prices. If the orata had cost $16-$18, which is what it should have cost for how it was prepared, I would have been ok with everything. The fish was $26 which is comparable to Esca. I guess I made the mistake of ordering fish. I’m sure pork or beef would have been better.

We decided to skip dessert at Lattanzi and head over to Esca for dessert. We went for the chocolate, mascarpone cheesecake. It was so delicious. The desserts at Esca never disappoint!

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