Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

One of our favorite childhood memories of Halloween is having a special dinner of mac and cheese and “octopus” hot dogs. We would slam down that dinner and run out the door to start trick or treating. In honor of that tradition, we created this recipe for pumpkin mac and cheese. It is an adult twist on our childhood favorite, made even more festive by serving it in a large pumpkin. The mac and cheese has layers of delicious flavors, from the punch of sharp cheddar and nutty gruyere to the woody flavors of fresh thyme. The star of the show, however, is the pumpkin. We have combined canned pumpkin with some fresh pumpkin that is roasted from the serving vessel for the ultimate savory treat. We serve this family style so that people can nibble on it throughout the night while waiting for trick or treaters.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8 medium servings
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  An adult spin on our favorite classic Halloween dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz grated sharp cheddar
  • 4 oz grated gruyere cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Use a sharp knife (or a pumpkin carver) to cut an 8 inch circle into the pumpkin to remove the stem. Scrape the seeds and stringy pulp from the top and out of the pumpkin until the inside is smooth. Discard the pulp and seeds. Use 2 tbs of the olive oil to rub the inside of the pumpkin and inside layer of the stem. Put the pumpkin in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin has started to soften and the outsides are brown. Set the pumpkin aside and reduce the heat in the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions, about 13 minutes, and drain the pasta after it has finished cooking. Set aside.
  4. Reheat the pot that the pasta was cooking in over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbs olive oil, the onion, and garlic to the pot. Stir and cook until the onions start to become translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme and red pepper places and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the flour and butter to the pot. Whisk well to combine. Let the roux cook for about 2 minutes, or until it starts to become thick and bubbly. Add the pumpkin puree and milk to the pot. Whisk well to combine and let the liquids come to a simmer for about 3 minutes so that the flavors combine. Add the cheese 1 cup at a time, mixing well so that the cheese is melted into the sauce before adding more. Reduce the heat to low and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Use a spoon to gently scrape out some of the pumpkin (1/2 – 3/4 cup) from the inside of the cooked pumpkin. The pumpkin is the serving vessel, so make sure that the side walls of the pumpkin are still thick enough for serving. Add the pumpkin to the sauce and stir to combine. The texture of the pumpkin should be soft as if it were pureed.
  7. Add the pasta to the sauce. Gently toss to coat and put the mac and cheese back into the pumpkin. Cover the top of the pumpkin with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Uncover the foil and gently drape with the cooked pumpkin lid to serve.


Creamy Pesto Pasta

Try as we might, we have yet to find a store-bought pesto that tastes as good as a homemade batch. We love making homemade sauces and pesto is one that we make regularly in the summer. We love to drizzle it over sliced tomatoes and mozzarella for a caprese salad, throw it on a grilled flatbread with artichokes and burrata, or use it as a base for pasta like in this recipe today. As we move into summer and have basil growing like crazy in the garden, we like to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays so that we can pop it out and throw it into a recipe later on. We love this basic creamy pesto pasta recipe because it is so versatile throughout the spring and summer. It is great as it is or can be leveled up into a complete meal with the addition of some sautéed chicken. Because this pasta is a bit on the rich and decadent side, we like to balance things out by serving it with a punchy side dish like our Simple Arugula Salad.

Creamy Pesto Pasta

  • Servings: 4 entree portions
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Our go-to recipe for a classic fresh pesto transformed into a creamy sauce that is perfect with pasta.

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbs toasted pine nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Pasta

  • 1 lb fettuccini
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • a small pinch of chili flakes, optional
  • 3/4 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • toasted pine nuts for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Make the pesto. Place the basil leaves, garlic, and pine nuts in a small blender or food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients until the garlic and pine nuts are mostly broken down. Add the olive oil and vegetable oil to the blender and blend until evenly combined and the pesto is smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and blend for just a moment to combine it with the other ingredients- do not over-blend to the point of melting the cheese in a hot blender. Remove from the blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring the water to a boil. Cook the fettuccini according to package directions for al dente, or about 13 minutes. Remove at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta and set the pasta water aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes to the pan and sauté about 3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Add the pesto and heavy cream to the pan and gently whisk the ingredients to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to low until the pasta is ready to be drained. Add the pasta immediately from the strainer to the creamy pesto sauce. Use tongs to gently combine the ingredients and get the pasta well coated with sauce. Add the pasta water a few tablespoons at a time, as necessary, to make sure that all of the pasta is covered with pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a few fresh basil leaves and toasted pine nuts for garnish.


Antipasto Pasta

Like some of our best recipes, this pasta first came about by accident. The week before Ryan’s triathlon, we were doing lots of carbo-loading and also trying to clean out the fridge before leaving town for the big race. As you know by now, we love a good cheese board, and for the sake of having enough food we often have quite a bit of leftovers. To solve two problems in one, we made a hodgepodge pasta with all of the cheese board leftovers and called it Antipasto Pasta. It was a combination of prosciutto, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and olive tapenade. The result was good… like really good. So many salty delicious flavors melding into one decadent pasta dish. We enjoyed it so much that we have made it a number of times since and hope to share it to your homes as well.

Antipasto Pasta

  • Servings: 4
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  Some of our favorite recipes happen by accident, and this antipasto pasta is one of our favorites. We have used all of our favorite cheese board ingredients to make a savory, delicious pasta dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of your favorite long pasta (we use bucatini or spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2/3 cup olive tapenade
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, cut in half if they are large and drained of any oil or water
  • 4 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot of water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the water is heating, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and red chili flakes to the pan and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the roasted red peppers, olive tapenade, artichoke hearts, and proscuitto to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, gently stirring so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add the spinach to the pan and cover for another 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Give everything a good stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  3. When the pasta has finished cooking, remove 1 cup of pasta water from the pot before draining the pasta. Add the pasta to the saute pan (or back into the pasta pot if you are running out of room). Toss all of the ingredients together well to combine, adding pasta water as necessary to make sure that the pasta is not dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in big bowls with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Creamy Lemon Lobster Fettuccini

You may remember a few weeks ago that we put our chef skills to the test and made homemade fettuccini. We have to admit that even after Jamie’s famous pasta fail in culinary school, the homemade pasta process is a lot of fun and really not too difficult if you give it your full attention. That is why we decided to make it the main event of our 2021 Valentine’s Day Menu! It’s a fun bonding experience for a couple’s night in and a great activity to do with kids of all ages. There is something so satisfying about seeing your homemade pasta on a plate, even if it looks a little less perfect than restaurant quality.

To take things up another notch, we have made this preparation of pasta by incorporating lobster and a decadent cream sauce. It is Valentine’s Day, right?! We are pretty much obsessed with this recipe and we know you will be as well. Adding lobster, an ingredient that we don’t cook with often, to our homemade pasta and a creamy lemon sauce… .. well, let’s just say we are overwhelmed with food joy. If you don’t have easy access to live lobsters, you can buy lobster tails as an easy option for this recipe. Be sure to also take a look in the freezer section of your grocery store; Whole Foods sells frozen lobster meat that is delicious and had quite a bit of claw meat – our favorite!

Creamy Lemon Lobster Fettuccini

  • Servings: 2
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Our decadent lobster pasta for two! The perfect addition to your Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of our homemade fettuccini, or 1/2 lb fettuccini
  • 12-16 oz lobster meat (thawed if frozen), or 3 lobster tails (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 tbs salted butter, divided
  • 5 large sprigs of thyme
  • 2 lemons (the second lemon is for garnish and optional)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Put the white wine, 2 tbs of butter, and thyme in a medium sized sauce pot. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pot and add the lemon rind to the pot as well. Bring the pot to a low simmer and add the lobster meat. If you are using lobster tails, poach the lobster tails in their shells to get extra lobster flavor. Poach the lobster tails for about 6 minutes – until just warmed through. It is okay if the lobster is undercooked at this point, as it will be cooked again later. After the lobster has warmed, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and set the lobster meat aside. Remove the lemon rinds and pour the wine sauce into a bowl and reserve it for later.
  2. Use the same pot to heat the remaining 2 tbs of butter. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until caramelized, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of the wine sauce to the pot and let that liquid reduce by 1/3 up to 1/2 over medium heat. When the liquid has reduced, remove any thyme or lemon that is in the pot, and add the heavy cream. Give everything a good stir and let the cream sauce come to a slow simmer. Add the lobster back into the sauce and let the sauce reduce again over the lowest heat on your stove while you cook the pasta.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If you are using our fresh fettuccini recipe, cook the pasta for about 3 minutes, or until al dente. If you are using a packaged pasta, cook to the lower time of the cooking instructions. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
  4. Put the pasta back into its cooking pot and add the lemon cream sauce to the pasta. Gently stir it to combine all of the ingredients and to let the pasta absorb the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta water to thin it back out to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  5. Serve the pasta in two large bowls. Top with fresh parsley and additional lemon slices, if desired.


Homemade Fettuccini

As you may recall from the holiday season, one of our gifts to ourselves this year was a subscription to Master Class. For the month of January, Jamie has been working through Gordon Ramsay’s class, which includes a section about making pasta from scratch. Ironically, Jamie failed her first pasta making class in culinary school, so this recipe is a little bit of a redemption song from that fateful day in Philadelphia.

While making pasta from scratch might seem intimidating, it’s actually quite easy and a lot of fun. It’s a great activity for an at home date night or a fun way to include your kids in the kitchen. We are giving you step by step instructions (with photos) so that you can easily follow along if this is your first time making any sort of pasta from scratch. We have purchased this pasta roller and cutter from Amazon- there are a million to choose from but this one is pretty inexpensive and gets the job done just fine. Stay tuned for an exciting recipe coming Valentine’s Day week, where we use this fettuccini to make lobster pasta!

Step 1: Measure the flour and make it into a well on a cold surface. We have used 00 flour for this recipe (you can find it at Whole Foods and most grocery stores).

Step 2: Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add 1/3 of the egg mixture + the olive oil to the center of the flour well.

Step 3: Use a fork to start dragging the flour in towards the center and mixing it with the eggs. Be careful not to break through the flour wall to help avoid having the eggs spill out of the center… you’ll make a big mess if you do!

Step 4: Continue this process until the egg is mostly absorbed by flour.

Step 5: Add another 1/3 of the egg mixture. Repeat the process of adding flour with your fork until the egg is mostly absorbed with flour. As you get towards the end of the flour, the dough should start to form into a wet ball.

Step 6: Ditch the fork and cover your hands in a light layer of flour. Start to use your hands to form the dough into a ball. At this point you will have to gauge if you need any more of the egg mixture or if the dough is at a good consistency. In the many batches of pasta we made for this recipe, we never used all of eggs. The dough should be dry enough to start forming a ball but not so dry that it has no traction on your surface when you knead it. When it doubt, resist adding anything to the dough at first.

Step 7: Start to knead the dough by folding over the top corner of the dough into the center of the ball.

Step 8: Use the heel of your palm to push the dough from the fold back towards the top. Turn the dough 1/4 of a turn and repeat this process for 5 minutes or so. This is where the gluten in the flour develops so that the pasta holds its shape during cooking. It is around this point that you might decide you need to add a little flour if the dough is constantly sticking to the counter surface or a little egg if the dough is dry and very crumbly.

Step 9: The dough will start to become more smooth and form into a ball with little cracks. Continuing kneading for a few more minutes.

Step 10: You will know when you are done kneading when the dough appears shiny and very smooth. At this point, you can tightly saran wrap the dough and refrigerate it for 20 minutes to rest.

Step 11: After refrigerating, lightly flour the surface that you want to roll the dough. Put a dusting of flour on a rolling pin and begin to roll the dough out into a long rectangle, keeping in mind that the pasta will have to fit through the width of the roller.

Step 12: Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can make it with a rolling pin. Don’t go crazy to make this super thin- that is what the pasta roller is for!

Step 13: It is time to use the pasta roller! This is our favorite part. Put a light dusting of flour all over the pasta roller. Begin to gently feed the dough into the pasta roller on its thickest setting (1). Be sure to pull the pasta out of the roller as it goes through the machine so that it doesn’t stick. Roll the pasta through the thickest setting three times before moving down to the next setting. If at any point the dough appears to be sticking to the roller or to itself as it comes out, give it a little dusting with flour and continue.

Step 14: For this recipe, we are making fettuccini, which is a rather thick pasta. While the rolling is fun, unfortunately we are only doing to roll down to a 2 or 3 setting on the pasta roller. Make sure you roll the pasta through the machine twice on each thickness setting, for a total of seven times through the machine (three times on the 1 setting, two times on the 2 setting, and two times on the 3 setting). At this point, it is ready to go into the cutting side of the machine.

Step 15: Cut the pasta dough into the length that you want your pasta for cooking – we suggest anything from about 6 – 10 inches long. You will have about 3 segments of dough based on the quantity of this recipe. Make sure that the cutting side of your pasta roller is well floured and feed each of the segments through the pasta cutter.

Step 16: Gently separate any pieces of pasta that have stuck together, using an extra light coating of flour if necessary so that the noodles don’t cook in one clump. If you don’t plan to use the pasta right away, store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container.

Step 17: Cook the pasta and serve with any sort of sauce variation that sounds good to you! Remember that fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta; it may be in the boiling water for only 2-3 minutes before it is al dente. Our recipe for Creamy Lemon Lobster Pasta is coming Valentine’s Day week… stay tuned!

Homemade Fettuccini

  • Servings: 2
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We are taking things up a notch in the kitchen and making pasta from scratch!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 00 flour + more for rolling the pasta dough
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Pour the flour onto a flat surface and make a well with the flour so that when you pour the eggs in, none of the liquid will escape.
  2. Put the eggs and egg yolk into a bowl and whisk well to combine.
  3. Add the olive oil and about 1/3 of the egg mixture to the center of the well. Use a fork to gently pull flour in from the edges to the center of the egg mixture. Gently mix the flour into the eggs, pulling more flour in as needed. When the dough is starting to get too dry from flour, add another 1/3 of the egg mixture. Continue to the process until all of the flour and egg are absorbed. Pay attention at this point before adding the remainder of the egg- err on the side of not adding the eggs and seeing how the dough forms before you make the dough too wet. After making a few batches of pasta, we never added all of the egg to the flour.
  4. Lightly coat your hands with some extra 00 flour. Use your hands to begin to form the dough into a ball. The dough will be on the wet side, which is why it is important to have your hands coated in flour. Start to knead the dough into a ball, adding flour as necessary so that it starts to take shape. Knead the dough by taking the top corner of the dough, folding it down, and using your palm to knead it. Repeat the process many times, for about 5 minutes. The kneading helps the gluten in the flour develop and will help the pasta keep its shape while cooking. You will know you are done kneading when the dough has an almost glossy appearance and the forms into a smooth ball without any rips. Wrap the pasta dough tightly in saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight.
  5. Assemble your pasta roller and toss a light coating of 00 flour all over the pasta roller and your counter work space. Remove the dough from the saran wrap and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough lengthwise as thin as you can get it with a rolling pin, making sure to pick up the dough every once in a while to make sure that it isn’t sticking to the counter. Flour as necessary to make sure this doesn’t happen. You want the dough to be in a long rectangle, keeping in mind that it has to fit through your pasta roller.
  6. When the dough is as thin as you can make it with the rolling pin, begin the process of putting it through the pasta roller. Set the pasta roller onto “1” thickness, or the thickest width option. Roll the pasta through the machine, being careful to gently drag it out from the bottom as you continue to roll. Roll the pasta through the thickest “1” setting 3 total times before moving it down to the next setting.
  7. For this pasta recipe, we are making a fettuccini. That means that we will only go down to a 2 or a 3 setting, as fettuccini is much thicker than other pastas. Roll the pasta through the “2” setting two times before moving down to the “3” setting. If you like the thickness of the pasta dough at the “2”, you can stop there and continue to the next step.
  8. When you are ready to use the cutting portion of the pasta roller, lay the pasta dough onto your workspace and use a pairing knife to cut the dough width wise into about 8″ long sections. The pasta cutter that we have linked above has a spaghetti width and a fettuccini width. Make sure you use the fettuccini cutter – it will be the thicker shape – to cut each of the segments of pasta. Make sure you flour the pasta before putting it through the cutter so that the strands of pasta separate from one another. After you have cut the pasta, keep it in an air tight container until you are ready to cook it.
  9. To cook the pasta, bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook 1-3 minutes, or until it is the texture you desire. Serve with whatever sauce pairings you can dream up!


Cheesy Baked Penne

We love a good comfort food recipe and are particularly fond of this cheesy baked penne. We recently had a friend who was ill, and to lend a helping hand, we prepared this recipe to send to his house. In the days of social distancing, dinner on the doorstep is an easy gesture for someone that could use some TLC. We love this dish because it has a little bit of everything including sausage and loads of cheese. You can make it and bake it all in one batch as the recipe describes below, or you can refrigerate it before baking and either deliver it to a friend or save it for yourself for later. It appeals to even the pickiest of eaters, so it’s great if you are looking for a kid friendly meal to add to your recipe rotation!

Cheesy Baked Penne

  • Servings: 6
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Our version of comfort food! We love making this penne on cold nights or to leave for a friend to bake later.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, removed from the casing (spice level is up to you)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 15 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large stock pot full of salted water to a boil. When the water is rapidly boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Strain the pasta and place the pasta back in the pot you cooked it in.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook to brown, about 5 minutes. Use your spatula to break the sausage up into bite sized pieces. When the sausage has browned (it doesn’t have to be cooked through), remove it from the pan into a bowl for later use. You want to leave about 2 tbs of fat from the sausage in the pot, if there is any. If there isn’t add the 2 tbs olive oil and let it get warm.
  4. Add the onion to the pot; sauté for 4 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste to the pan and sauté for another 3-4 minutes- this helps caramelize and bring out the sweetness of the tomato paste.
  6. Add the next 4 ingredients (whole tomatoes – dried oregano) to the pot. Give everything a good stir and bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors develop. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce into an even consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the sausage back to the sauce. Remove 1 cup of the sauce and 1 cup of the ricotta and toss it with the pasta. It’s okay if the pasta is at room temperature at this point, as it is all going in the oven.
  8. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer the pasta in the baking dish. Use a spoon to put dollops of the remaining ricotta cheese throughout the pasta. Top the pasta with the tomato sauce, shaking the pan or using a spatula to dig the sauce into all the crevices of the pasta. Top the sauce with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish.**
  9. Bake the penne for 20 minutes covered and another 10 minutes uncovered. Top with fresh basil, if desired. Let the pasta rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  10. ** At this point, you can refrigerate the penne and bake at a later time. If you are cooking the penne from a refrigerated temperature, bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes; 30 minutes covered and 10-15 minutes uncovered so that the cheese is melted and bubbly. Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.



Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Fun fact. Tate’s mom made this pesto using the Beaba baby food steamer and processor. In this season of life, making baby food regularly, it made the most sense to re-purpose kitchen tools that were already in use. Regardless of process, we were able to create a pasta dish that is easy to make and tasty for the whole family. One of the best parts of this recipe is that it can easily be made dairy free by not adding any Parmesan cheese while serving.  Healthy, simple, and delicious? We call that a weeknight win.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Makes: 4 servings 
Total Time: 25 minutes 

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 1 head of broccoli (feel free to buy a package of broccoli florets instead)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients for Pasta:

  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta (we used cavatappi)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half 
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Steam the head of broccoli over a pot of water or in a steamer (or in the Beaba) for 15 minutes or until the broccoli is tender when poking with a fork or knife.
  2. Transfer the broccoli to a blender and add the remaining pesto ingredients (cilantro – red chili flakes). Blend until you get a smooth consistency. Depending on your definition of “bunch”, you may need to add more olive oil. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  3. Cook the pasta al dente per the package directions. Rinse the pasta with cold water and add back to the hot pot that you cooked it in. Add the pesto and toss so that the pesto thoroughly coats the pasta. 
  4. Place the pasta in a serving dish and add chopped tomatoes and Parmesan. Serve warm.