All Women's Talk

7 Ways to Make Pasta Interesting ...

By Diana

If you are hungry for something new and exciting, well then look no further for different ways to make pasta interesting. Don’t just have spaghetti and meatballs, mix it up with seafood, vegetables, and even fruit! Wait until you see the recipe I have for a pasta fruit salad, my mouth is watering. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these great ways to make pasta interesting...

1 Chilled Strawberry Pasta Salad...

Chilled Strawberry Pasta Salad...It’s strawberry season and what better way to make pasta interesting than with fresh fruit for your Summer barbecue! It seems like a no brainer, I mean...why haven’t I thought of adding strawberries to my pasta before! This refreshing dish also includes baby spinach, mozzarella, and a homemade balsamic dressing, delish!

Balsamic Dressing:
1 cup (250ml) good olive oil
1/3 cup (85ml) aged balsamic vinegar
1/3 x 250g punnet strawberries, washed and hulled
Cracked black pepper

2 cups cooked penne pasta, cooled
2/3 x 250g punnet strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
4 large buffalo mozzarella, torn (or large bocconcini)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup basil leaves, washed and torn

Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Puree the dressing strawberries and pass through a sieve, then whisk into the oil mixture. Taste and season with cracked pepper. To prepare salad, toss pasta, strawberries, mozzarella and spinach in a large bowl with dressing. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then serve on a large plate. Top with torn basil leaves.


2 Capellini with Asparagus, Pancetta, and a Sunny-Side up Egg...

Capellini with Asparagus, Pancetta, and a Sunny-Side up Egg...A pasta dish topped with an egg; looks and sounds pretty interesting! Poached and fried eggs are very popular in many restaurants for being the star of the main course, whether it’s on pasta, chicken, steak, or even duck! I ate in Koreatown in NYC a few years ago and had Bi Bim Bap, which is a rice and steamed veggie dish that is topped with a fried egg. It may be foreign to those of us in the states, but other countries have eggs included in many of their dinner dishes.

1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
12 ounces fresh asparagus, rinsed well and cut into one-inch pieces
1 large pinch salt
4 extra-large, free-range eggs
4 ounces diced pancetta or bacon
2 cloves large garlic, minced or grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large handful Italian parsley,, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of well-salted (with 1 tablespoon of salt) water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to crisp and fat is rendered. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove pancetta and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain some fat if necessary, reserving about 1 tablespoon of rendered fat in the pan.

Crack eggs into the pan and fry in the fat, sunny side up (do not flip). Remove to a plate when the white is firm throughout, but the yolk is still runny, which should take 2-3 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Turn off heat under the pan.

When the water boils, add the asparagus and pasta. When the water returns to a boil, begin timing. It should take about 3 minutes, or as long as the package directs. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Turn on heat under the non-stick pan to medium-low (it will still have some bacon fat in it). Add the cream and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the drained pasta and asparagus and the reserved cooking liquid and toss well to coat evenly. Add the pancetta/garlic mixture, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Place a good portion on 4 plates, and top with shaved parmesan cheese and reserved fried eggs. Serve immediately.



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Vegan meals

3 Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Mac and CheeseThere are plenty of recipes that include adding cheese to our pasta, but many us of have tried lasagna, baked ziti, and other casserole cheese and pasta dishes before. So let’s forget about those and put a twist on one of the most famous cheese pasta dishes and make it vegan! "How?" you might ask...well you put together a cheese substitute made with coconut milk, dijon mustard, and cayenne pepper along with a few other ingredients. Sounds pretty interesting, I might just have to try this one and see if I can sneak it by the kids without them knowing the difference!

1 package of GF Pasta – I used a quinoa pasta
1 cup water
1 med potato – peeled and chopped
1/2 yellow onion – chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk (I think any non dairy milk should do)
3/4 cup raw cashews
juice from 1 small lemon
1 garlic clove – minced
3-4 tbsp nutritional yeast (add to liking)
1 tsp salt – I added a little more for taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard powder
dash of cayenne pepper – i gave it a large dash
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp olive oil
Optional: bread crumbs

If baking, pre-heat oven to 375. Grease a small oven safe dish, preferably a 9×9.

Prepare pasta according to directions. If baking, place cooked pasta in dish.

In a small saucepan, bring the 1 cup water, potato, and onion to a boil for a few minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes. (This was actually when I cooked the pasta)

Add all the remaining ingredients to a high-powered blender, preferably a Vitamix. When potato and onions are done, add to blender, with water. Blend for a couple of minutes until completely creamy.

Spread cheese mixture over pasta, folding and mixing with pasta. When combined top with bread crumbs.

Cover with fold and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and broil for another 5 minutes. Watch closely to not burn the bread crumbs. Remove and cool slightly, serve and enjoy!!


4 Asian Stir-Fry...

Asian Stir-Fry...Instead of ordering Chinese take-out, why not make your own Asian noodle stir-fry right at home! This pasta recipe does include some spices to make it hot, but if you really want to turn up the heat try sriracha sauce, it’s the bottle with the rooster on it. My husband loves using this sauce when we order take out.

1lb flank steak
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup beef broth
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 ounces vermicelli (cooked)
½ cup sliced green onions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add vermicelli and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. While the noodles are cooking, slice steak against the grain thinly into strips. In a large wok or skillet heat sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 10 seconds. Add the sliced steak and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

Combine cornstarch and beef broth and whisk until smooth. Stir the beef broth mixture, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce into the pan with the steak. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 1 minute or until the mixture is thick and bubbly.

Toss the steak and sauce mixture with the cooked hot noodles. Sprinkle with sliced green onions.
(Makes 4 Servings)


5 Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp ScampiAt first I was craving Asian stir-fry and now I am drooling over this delicious shrimp scampi pasta recipe, it’s a good thing that I already had dinner! Adding shrimp and other seafood to your pasta dish is another great idea for Summer, along with the strawberry pasta salad. Heck, why not combine the two for a shrimp and strawberry pasta salad!

1 pound linguine, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pinch red chili pepper flakes (optional)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup white wine
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Start cooking the pasta as directed on package.

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add the red chili pepper flakes and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the shrimp and saute until cooked, about 1-3 minutes per side.

Remove the shrimp from the pan.

Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil.

Simmer the liquid until reduced by about half, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the butter, wait for it to melt and turn off the heat.

Add the shrimp, pasta and parsley and toss to coat.


6 Brown Butter Spaghetti with Kale and Butternut Squash...

Brown Butter Spaghetti with Kale and Butternut Squash...On those winter nights when you just can’t stand the cold any longer, come back to this post to cook up this warm and inviting pasta recipe that will toast your heart and soul. Just look at how beautiful this dish is, and wow -- brown butter, kale, and butternut squash; the name alone sounds like a recipe you would want to make on a snowy night! Seasonal vegetables, whether it’s kale and squash in the winter or asparagus in the Spring, will always add a delightful and refreshing taste to an otherwise boring bowl of noodles! What’s your go to veggie for your pasta recipes?

6 oz spaghetti
2 cups butternut squash, cut into cubes
1 or 2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
2 small onions, sliced, about 2 cups
4 packed cups of baby kale
1/4 cup pecorino romano
1/4 cup parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
additional pecorino romano or parmesan, for serving
finely sliced chives, for serving

**Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out butternut squash. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Bake for 30-40 minutes until squash is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork or knife. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package details. When draining pasta, reserve a cup of pasta water.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, continue to cook over medium low heat until butter has browned and is fragrant (should smell nutty). Add minced garlic (I like to smash mine using a mortar and pestle) and sliced onions. Cook until onions are almost translucent. Add baby kale in two additions. Cook until kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat. Add pecorino romano, parmesan cheese, and roasted butternut squash. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked spaghetti and toss to coat pasta. Add 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water at a time until pasta is well coated with sauce. (I ended using 1/2 cup of pasta water).

Serve immediately with sliced chives and/or more cheese, if desired.


7 Fresh Beet Pasta...

Fresh Beet Pasta...Look at the incredible color of this pasta made with fresh beets, I would have never thought of such a tasty idea before seeing this! I’ve had different flavored pasta before, mostly spinach or tomato in the tri-color pasta pack. However, this here is not from a box, this is homemade pasta with fresh beets...amazing! I really need to start cooking already instead of just talking about all of these delicious recipes.

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour {+ additional if necessary}
2 eggs
pinch salt
1/4 cup *roasted beet puree

Roasted Beet Puree:
1 large beet – cleaned

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat beet with olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for approximately 1 hour OR until beet is fork tender.

Allow beet to cool. Place beet into food processor OR blender, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Note: Add more olive oil if mixture is too thick.

Into your stand mixer place flour and make a well in the center. Crack eggs into the well. Add salt. On low speed mix until somewhat combined. Add beet puree. Continue mixing until a ball has form. Scrape the edges of the bowl as necessary. Continue until a ball has formed. NOTE: If mixture is too “wet” add additional flour. If mixture is too “dry” add more beet puree.

Switch to your dough hook and knead dough until it is tacky but no longer sticky.

Wrap your dough ball in plastic wrap. Transfer to refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Unwrap your dough and cut it into four equal sections. Working with one section at a time. Flatten the dough slightly. Run the dough through the pasta attachment until it’s to your desired thickness {will depend on the type of pasta shape you are making}. Next cut it using the attachment of your choice.

Hang pasta to dry for approximately 5 minutes. To cook fresh pasta: Into generously salted boiling water add pasta and cook for approximately 2-3 until al dente. Drain. Dress with appropriate sauce.


So how do you make pasta interesting when you are looking for a way to jazz up your dish? Have you tried any of these ideas before?

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