Post #561 Pasta’s the Bomb!

February 11, 2018 at 3:01 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the constant search for  quick and easy nutritious meals for the weekdays, I often turn to pasta.  It’s inexpensive; it’s amazing versatile; it’s delicious; and it’s the subject for today’s blog post.  Wading through the various types of pastas can take days and more words than I could manage in a month.  There’s long pasta, short pasta, round pasta, flat pasta, hollow pasta, shaped pasta, filled pasta, and even pasta from the leftover of making the above pasta.  Fresh pasta cooks in seconds; semi-fresh pasta cooks in a couple of minutes; fully dried pasta cooks in several minutes.  Some pasta is added directly from the cooking water into the sauce.  Some is drained first.  Others are drained, cooled, dried, and added to salads.  Like I said, amazingly versatile.

Most typical for pasta is to add it to a tomato based sauce.  Right now, I’ve got a chunk of beef roast in the slow cooker with two chopped up tomatoes, some chopped onion, garlic, and salt.  Tomorrow, the roast will get shredded and some more ingredients will be added.  Cooked pasta will be added and we’ll eat it up.

Growing up, pasta meant two things:  spaghetti which we loved because it was guaranteed to be messy as we slurped it up off the fork, and macaroni and cheese which we loved because it was macaroni and cheese.  What’s not to love?  As I grew older and started reading about other dishes, and going to different types of restaurants, I learned about other kinds of pasta.  I had ravioli, and lasagna, and beef a roni, and for a very short period, even ate a ton of spaghetti-Os.

Fortunately, palates grow wiser and more refined; cooking skills increase and become more deft.  Shortcuts are not to be sneered at when there’s a family to feed and no time to create things by scratch.  Many of my pasta shortcuts have found their way into the blog and I’m going to re-share them now.  And I’m going to add a couple of new ones.

When I was in college, I lived with my sister and her husband for a while and one of their go-to recipes was a tuna-noodle bake.  We used whole wheat macaroni boiled to barely al dente.   One can of tuna in water was drained and added to it and a can of cream of celery soup was used to bind it together.  A half cup of cheese cubes, fresh chopped broccoli, fresh chopped mushrooms mixed in then it’s all put into a standard loaf pan and topped with a mix of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.  Bake at 350 until cheese melts and bubbles and golden crust forms on the top, about 30 minutes.  Let it cool for a few minutes before digging in.  I made this with leftover chicken, pork, ham, beef, steak, whatever protein I had at hand.  I mixed up the soups I added, too.  It was good and filling.  And as all pasta dishes are, it was very versatile, lending itself to whatever was on hand.

Another go-to pasta meal I ate a lot of in college, and still make pretty often now over three decades later is a home version Hamburger Helper’s Macaroni and Cheeseburger.  Only better.  I started off this recipe using boxed macaroni and cheese with the sauce, not the powder.  While the pasta is cooking, I cook up a pound of hamburger well done.  I tend to season it pretty well, more than I normally would so when it’s mixed, the flavorings don’t get lost.  I drain the hamburger completely.  Once the macaroni is done, I make the mac and cheese, then dump the hamburger in and mix it up.  I try to cook the burger into large lumps so there’s something to bite into.   That’s the basic version.  Sometimes, I added freshly steamed veggies, or sometimes raw.  Other times, I put all in a casserole dish and bake it for about twenty minutes at 375.  Sometimes,  mostly now, I don’t use the box mix but make my own mac and cheese.

Home made mac and cheese is another one we have on occasion.  I don’t usually fix it with a sauce since neither of us like milk or cream so we don’t generally have it on hand.  But what I do it boil up a cup of macaroni and drain it.  I put it in a casserole dish and put about two tablespoons of butter in it and stir to melt and coat.  Then I add two cups of shredded cheeses, mostly cheddar.  The pasta is usually still warm enough to melt the cheese a little.  Then I cover it and put it in a low oven for about twenty or thirty minutes so the cheese melts completely.  Remove the cover and allow to cook for another ten minutes if you want a golden crust on the top.

Finally, here’s a recipe I haven’t tried yet, but it sounds really good.  It involves cooking the pasta in butter.  I haven’t had much luck cooking pasta in anything but water, but this sounds intriguing.  It makes a portion for one, so multiply by how many you’re feeding.

Butter Lemon Angel Hair Pasta

  • 2 oz angel hair pasta, broken to bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth, heated
  • Juice from one small lemon
  • Zest from one small lemon
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in medium sauce pan. Put broken pasta in and toss to coat well.
  2. Add chicken broth and pepper and stir. Cover and let simmer over low heat for ten minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. Remove from heat add lemon juice and stir. Garnish with extra pepper, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

I see this as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.   But it’s very easy and quick to make and sounds wonderful.  Looking forward to trying it.

So what are some of your go to pasta dishes?  Feel like sharing?  I know we’d all like to hear about them.

As always,


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