Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Pasta

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

Not long ago, I made a meal (this fantastic baked ziti) for a friend who just had a baby. Several people did this for me when Amelia was born, and I like to pay it forward. Having a newborn is a hard gig! However, I am still a little sleep deprived myself, so while I was making the ricotta cheese for two batches of baked ziti, I had a math fail. Long story short, I ended up with twice as much ricotta as I actually needed.

But, hey, that’s definitely not a bad problem to have. I pondered what to do with the extra, and landed on a quick and easy meal of spinach and artichoke pasta. Since we have plenty of spinach growing in our garden these days, it was easy to pop outside and pick some, sauté it, combine it with some chopped marinated artichoke hearts, the ricotta and a little cream, and toss it with pasta. Voila! Dinner is served.

spinach ricotta pasta

I do like my pasta pretty saucy, and this is no exception — so if you like yours with more pasta than other stuff, well, just make more pasta.

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 8 oz spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped roughly
  • 1 12-oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (recipe follows)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted.
  3. Lower the heat and add the artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese (breaking into smaller chunks with spoon) and cream. Stir over low heat until warm, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir in the pasta. Serve warm topped with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Homemade Ricotta
  • 4 cups whole milk (preferably organic, pastured milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth so that it's four sheets thick, and set it in a colander in the sink.
  2. Bring the milk, buttermilk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep watch over the mixture, stirring occasionally, until you see the curds start to separate. When this happens, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Keep scooping under all you've got left is a light-yellowish liquid (whey).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese with a little kosher salt and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.


Chard Pasta with Ricotta

We all have those days… You know, where everyone is running late to everything, dinner doesn’t get prepped like you planned, and the easy way out is to just pick something up. I will admit having succumbed to the takeout impulse plenty of times, but a little while ago, after having one of those days, I shot down hubby’s suggestion to “just get takeout” and set about improvising.

Sometimes improvised meals turn out to be the best. We had chard growing in the backyard (it’s the gift that keeps on giving!), stuff to make a batch of homemade ricotta, and I always keep pasta in the pantry and good-quality parmesan in the fridge. That was all I really needed to make this delicious pasta with a creamy sauce happen, and, guess what? It was better than takeout, not to mention healthier. Win!

Chard Pasta with Ricotta ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

Now, can someone please remind me of this next time we have one of those days?

Chard Pasta with Ricotta
Recipe type: pasta
Serves: 4
  • 8 oz spaghetti (preferably whole wheat)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch chard, tough stems removed, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • homemade ricotta (recipe here)
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chard and cook until wilted but still bright green. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for a couple minutes more.
  3. Stir in the cooked pasta along with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil and a nice splash of the pasta water, and add the parmesan.
  4. Lower the heat and stir until the cheese is incorporated and a thin sauce coats the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve topped with a healthy dollop of ricotta.


Linked up at:

The Peaceful Mom

I have a messy house

I have something to admit: My house is messy. I just thought you should know.

My darling neighbors were over playing with Nora yesterday, and, in that frantic space in the five minutes before dinner where everything is coming together and everyone wants your attention, I dropped something out of one of my cabinets. The four-year-old, being a four-year-old, pointed out that I had dropped it, and I, being a little short of patience right at that moment, might have responded a bit curtly.

“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s a messy house.”


The thing is, I spend a lot of time cooking, and running after a two-year-old (who doubles as a wrecking ball). But really, those are just excuses. I’d like to have a clean house — really, I would — but I like more to sit down for a few precious minutes at night before I crash in bed.

This has been making the rounds, and it is truth:

Pick Two

(I wish I knew where it originally came from, so I could give proper credit, but I pulled this from Momcom Life’s Facebook page.)

But, the thing is, it bothers me. Because I try to keep a clean house, but life gets in the way. I even have a cleaning schedule, for goodness’ sake! So, for a neighbor kid to catch me at the very messiest moment of the week and make a cutting observation… well, I won’t lie. It hurt. Even if she didn’t mean anything by it, it did.

I am going to take a moment to pat myself on the back, though. I am a good mom. I have a brilliant, sweet, beautiful daughter who gives me hugs and kisses (sometimes), has her alphabet down pat, is fully potty-trained and happy as a clam (usually). I make nutritious and delicious meals for my family nearly every night. I am starting a new career in a tough field and making a go of it (my first honest-to-goodness article in a print magazine is coming out soon!), and I have a wonderful, supportive husband with whom I am madly in love. But yeah, I am stretched a little thin at times.

I’m not perfect. I hope I never put forth the pretension that I am. I’d hate for anyone to think this is one of those glossy “lifestyle” blogs designed to make you feel bad about yourself. I really just like to write, I like to cook and I get a kick out of sharing recipes and stories with you lovely people. That’s it. And I have a messy house. Just thought you ought to know.

As your reward for reading my little sob story (that is, if you haven’t just skipped straight to the goods), please accept this delightful recipe for a fresh-from-the-garden early spring pasta.


I had spinach fettuccine in my pantry, plenty of chard and delicate broccoli crowns in my garden, and even a few baby leeks to add to the mix. I whipped up a quick creamy sauce to tie it all together, and voila! Just ignore the mess in my kitchen, please.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spring Garden Fettuccine
Recipe type: pasta
Serves: 4
  • 8 oz spinach fettuccine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup broccoli crowns
  • 2-3 baby leeks (or 1 regular leek), sliced thinly (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 bunch chard, stems removed and reserved for another use*, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup cream or whole milk
  • ½ cup parmesan, grated, plus additional for serving
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leek and broccoli and stir for a couple of minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the chard to the pan and saute until wilted. Add a splash of the pasta water if the pan seems dry. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, and then add the flour, stirring until bubbly. Gradually add in the milk, stirring well to remove any lumps.
  4. Allow the mixture to simmer until it thickens slightly, and then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Add the garlic powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Toss the pasta with the cream sauce and the chard-broccoli mixture, adding splashes of pasta water if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with additional parmesan, if desired.
* I usually freeze mine and use them in a batch of vegetable stock. Hate to let all those good nutrients go to waste!


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The Peaceful Mom

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cracked Pepper and Parmesan

Spaghetti with cracked pepper and parmesan is one of my go-to weeknight meals when everything else falls through and I need to get dinner together in 20 minutes. I can throw it together with stuff I have on hand, and it’s always delicious.

pasta with cracked pepper

Make sure to use good-quality parmesan, since that’s where the flavor comes from. I like whole wheat pasta not only because of the nutritional content, but also because it has a heartier, nuttier flavor that holds its own in this dish. I served it the other night with a quick salad of wilted spinach, avocado and some balsamic vinaigrette.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Avocado and Balsamic Vinaigrette

And that was that! It was a delicious weeknight meal with a minimum of fuss. That’s just how I roll.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cracked Pepper and Parmesan
Serves: 4
  • ½ lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Toss the warm pasta with the parmesan, olive oil, a generous dose of pepper and salt and a splash of the pasta water.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve and enjoy!

Orecchiette with Kale and Breadcrumbs

This pasta is so sublime, it needs a better name. Sure, it is orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs… but that doesn’t tell you how creamy, garlicky and delicately spiced it is, and it doesn’t evoke a pasta that made me yearn for seconds. And that is what it is.

orecchiette with kale

It’s also a great entrée to kale, if you are phobic. The kale is cooked down and chopped so finely that you’ll practically never notice it’s there, if you’re not into that sort of thing. Which my 2-year-old isn’t… and she still gobbled this up. Mostly from our plates rather than hers, but I’ll take what I can get!

Orecchiette with Kale and Breadcrumbs
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb lacinato kale (about 2 bunches), tough stems removed
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed, divided
  • 1 lb orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the kale until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the kale and transfer to a rimmed cutting board. Cool slightly and press out the moisture, then chop.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and 1 clove of the garlic and toast, stirring and tossing often, until golden brown.
  3. Return the kale cooking water to a boil and add the orecchiette. Cook until al dente, per the package directions. Drain, reserving 1½ cups of the cooking water.
  4. In a large saucepan (preferably the pot you just got done cooking the pasta in), melt the butter and the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the tomato paste, crushed red pepper, the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and a healthy pinch of salt.
  5. Stir until fragrant and mixed, and then add the chopped kale and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Simmer until the kale is warm, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, another ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, half the toasted breadcrumbs and the parmesan cheese. Stir over low heat until well mixed and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve warm, topped with the remaining breadcrumbs and additional parmesan cheese.

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The Peaceful Mom

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Chard Pasta

I have a new favorite use for cauliflower. I know I say that often this time of year, but cauliflower really is so versatile. I’m always mystified when people tell me they can never find a good use for cauliflower — I have dozens!

Admittedly, it’s kind of a boring vegetable on its own (although I do love it simply roasted with some olive oil, salt and pepper), but it’s also a chameleon that can fit into all kinds of cuisines. I have several standby cauliflower pasta recipes, but this new one is definitely my favorite, owing not only to its tastiness (I do love a creamy sauce), but also to its use of chard, something I have in spades right now. Hooray for winter veggies!

chard pasta

Together at last.


Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Chard Pasta
  • 8 oz rotini pasta, preferably whole wheat
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets (about half a medium head)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ bunch chard, coarse stems removed and leaves roughly chopped or torn
  • 6 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp sour cream
  • grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, preheat the broiler. Toss the cauliflower florets with 2 Tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and broil, tossing a few times, until nicely browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and stir until fragrant, taking care not to let the garlic get too brown. Add the roasted cauliflower to the skillet and stir to combine. Add in the chard and sauté until wilted but still bright green.
  4. Stir in the cream and sour cream and stir until well incorporated and beginning to bubble. Add the cooked pasta stir well to coat it with the sauce. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, and serve topped with grated parmesan cheese.


Best Ever Baked Ziti

When Nora was still a wee newborn, the in-laws came out to visit us. As I thought was prudent, I made it clear to anyone planning to visit us within the first few weeks that they would be there not only to see the baby, but to help take care of some cooking and cleaning, too.*

* I highly recommend this to anyone having a baby. You’ve got to make sure everyone’s expectations are the same or you may end up playing hostess with a newborn attached to you 24-7. Doesn’t sound like fun to me!

I fondly remember my mom making a batch of chocolate chip cookies from my recipe, since I had craved them for weeks. My mother-in-law made an absolutely delicious baked ziti from a recipe that we had clipped from the San Francisco Chronicle, but not gotten around to trying before we received our (slightly) early arrival. I have dreamed about it ever since.

baked ziti copy

Sweet dreams are made of this.

It was, to my mind, the perfect baked ziti. It had ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses mixed right into the sauce. Into the sauce, people! No less important, it turns out that it is also rather easy to make, especially when you do the heavy lifting ahead of time and then just slide it into the oven to bake when it’s almost dinner time. I finally got around to making it again last night, and I was not disappointed — memory had served me well. And now I’m going to have some leftovers for lunch. Glorious.

Baked Ziti
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree (San Marzano preferred)
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb penne rigate or ziti (preferably whole wheat)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lb high-quality ricotta cheese**
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 12 oz grated mozzarella (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and bring the tomatoes, onion halves and butter to a steady simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, and add the oregano to finish. Discard the onion halves, cool the sauce slightly and set aside. The sauce can be made up to 2-3 days in advance.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until slightly firmer than al dente. Drain, and toss with all but 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, cream, egg, mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Fold the cheese mixture into the sauced pasta.
  4. Spread the mixture into a 13 x 9 or similar-sized baking dish. Spread the remaining 1 cup sauce over the top, and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup parmesan. Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese on top. Serve hot.
** As ever, I recommend making your own. It's so easy, and you'll never go back to store-bought!


Chard and Caramelized Onion Pasta Bake

Sometimes the best culinary experiments are born out of necessity. The other day, I wasn’t able to run by the grocery store as planned, so I needed to make something for dinner out of what I had on hand. When you have good raw ingredients (thank you, backyard garden!) and a little inventiveness, I think that happens to be the best way to cook.

How could you resist?

Our rainbow chard is growing like gangbusters right now. We’ve already harvested twice, and it just doesn’t stop. Caramelized onion makes anything taste good, so it’s my secret weapon. Add a creamy sauce and you’ve got yourself a deal.

Caramelized onion and chard pasta bake


Chard and Caramelized Onion Pasta Bake

1 bunch chard
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb farfalle or other small pasta
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter, divided
2 Tbs flour
2 cups milk
1 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated

Remove the stems from the chard and finely chop them. Roughly chop the leaves. Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbs of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, then turn the heat down, add the chard stems, and continue cooking until the onion is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and the chard leaves, turn the heat up to medium high, and sauté until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350º.

While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir over medium heat until light brown and bubbly. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring just to a simmer, stirring, and allow to cook until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the pasta with the chard and caramelized onion mixture and the cream sauce and spread in a casserole dish. Top with the shredded mozzarella and bake until bubbly and starting to brown on top, about 20-30 minutes.

Pasta with Creamy Broccoli Pesto

Wait… broccoli pesto? Yep. It’s good, I promise!

I object at least a smidge to calling it a “pesto,” since it doesn’t have basil or other herbs or nuts, but pesto is actually a somewhat reasonable description of how the sauce turns out.

Pesto-like, no?

It’s delicious, plus it’s a great way to sneak some extra veggies in, especially if your kiddo — or significant other, as the case may be — objects to the texture of broccoli by itself. Not the case for either of mine, fortunately (as the hubby would want me to point out).


This is definitely the tastiest use of broccoli I have come across, and it was so simple to make. I steamed the broccoli and made the pesto while Nora was napping, and finished it off in a quick 10 minutes at dinner time. Score!

Did Nora like it?

Two-fisting it.

Um, yeah. I’d say so. Eat your veggies, kids!

Pasta with Creamy Broccoli Pesto
Adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 lb broccoli
1/2 lb dried cappellini or spaghetti, preferably whole wheat
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 Tbs heavy cream or milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus additional for serving

Remove the broccoli florets from the stem and peel the stem with a vegetable peeler. Peel the stem with a vegetable peeler and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Steam the broccoli until just tender (5-6 minutes) and set aside.

Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water** and cook until about one minute less than fully cooked. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

Wipe out the pasta pot so that you can use it again. In the bottom of the pot, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium-low, sauteing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the steamed broccoli, salt, and red pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour the cream over the mixture and let it cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer the broccoli mixture to a blender or food processor, scraping up the creamy bits at the bottom of the pan. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and pulse until finely chopped with a creamy pesto-like texture.

Add the broccoli mixture back to the pot with the drained pasta and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust the seasonings to taste, and serve topped with additional Parmesan.

* You could always substitute half an onion, but I didn’t have an onion in the house (shocker!).

** You can re-use the broccoli steaming water if you are not making the pesto ahead of time

Fusilli with roasted eggplant and goat cheese

I have had to get really creative with eggplant this summer. We get a big haul of it in each CSA box, and I’m just not used to cooking with it much. For one, the hubby was, until fairly recently, not eggplant’s biggest fan. For another, eggplant does really well in the heat, and heat is something we have a lot more of in Texas that we did in Northern California.

Despite the fact that this is the third eggplant pasta recipe I have posted in recent memory, they are all quite different, and this one was delicious. Plus, as I modified it, it used up some leftover caramelized onions, and a handful of cherry tomatoes that I didn’t have another use for, so that’s always a bonus.

Num num.

It was perfect with a nice glass of 2007 Ridge Buchinani Ranch Carignane. There’s nothing like opening a nice bottle of wine to make a weeknight feel special!

Fusilli with Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese
Based on this recipe from Food & Wine, January 2010

1 medium eggplant, cubed
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
3/4 lb fusilli
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
4 Tbs caramelized onions (optional)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) with 2 Tbs of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Using a spatula, turn the eggplant, scraping it off the baking sheet (it might break up slightly) and roast for about 5 minutes longer, until very tender.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fusilli until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a work surface and coarsely chop them.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil in the sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the fusilli, roasted eggplant and tomatoes, caramelized onion (if using), chopped pine nuts, lemon juice and the reserved pasta water and toss over the heat until the pasta is evenly coated. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Add the parsley and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently until the cheese is slightly melted. Spoon the fusilli into bowls and serve.

* We had some caramelized onions left over from our latest grilled pizza adventure, so I just threw them in, but they added a really nice touch. You can always caramelize a small onion to add, if you’re not as lucky as I am to have them already on hand. Just slice the onion thinly, sauté it over medium heat in 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil until it’s softened, and then turn the heat down to low and cook it until it’s meltingly soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

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