One Pot Turkey Pasta

Ingredients:

  • ground turkey
  • parmesan
  • salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic
  • pesto
  • half a package of cream cheese
  • half a box of pasta
  • water
  • can of artichoke hearts
  • balsamic vinegar

Ground meat tends to be cheaper than most cuts, largely because of the whole ‘made out of unidentifiable bits’ thing. It’s also really versatile, though, and does well stashed in the freezer until the day before you want to use it.

I browned the turkey and garlic in the pot I intended to cook the pasta in, throwing a bunch of Italian seasoning in as I went. Turkey being very low fat, I didn’t have to drain it when I was done, just add a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of pesto, and salt and pepper. Mix that up, throw the half a package of cream cheese on top, then add your pasta. I used linguine broken in half, but anything you can get to lie fairly flat works well. Add enough water to just cover your pasta.

I then stuck the artichoke hearts on top of that – they don’t need to cook, but I wanted the flavor incorporated, and putting them on top of the pasta ensures that the pasta stays under the water where it belongs. Bring to a simmer, put a lid on, and walk away for twenty minutes- pasta takes longer to cook with stuff than on its own.

When the noodles are the texture you want them, mix it all up: you’ll be able to tell you’ve got a unified dish rather than layers when you stop seeing distinct streaks of cream cheese. Serve with parmesan.

Macaroni and Cheese

We’ve got a guest, so I wanted something quick but still kind of indulgent, and we had the ingredients for mac and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • flour
  • butter
  • taco seasoning
  • salt, pepper, garlic
  • milk
  • cream cheese
  • shredded taco cheese
  • macaroni

Start the water boiling on high and the butter melting on medium. Add as much flour as you used butter, and let that turn into a roux. Let it cook down for a bit so it doesn’t end up tasting like flour. You should be moving on to the next step around the time your pasta water comes to a boil.

Add your spices and a splash of milk, and stir it all together so it makes a thinner paste. Add a chunk of cream cheese for additional flavor and creaminess, add some more milk, and let all of that melt together while stirring frequently.

When it comes just to a boil, turn the heat down and add all of your shredded cheese. Let it melt, stirring constantly, and by the time it’s done your pasta should be ready. Add the pasta to the sauce and serve!

Pasta Alla Puttanesca

This whole thing is really densely flavorful without being heavy, which is awesome.

Ingredients:

  • pasta
  • water
  • olive oil
  • minced garlic *
  • sundried tomatoes (a whole bag of the ones you can find in the produce section as, like, salad toppers)
  • can of black olives – preferably sliced into rings
  • capers

I had E doing all the slicing of the sundried tomatoes while I did other stuff, but if you don’t have an assistant, probably do that first.

Start the pasta water!

Start heating some olive oil in a large skillet on medium – I had some leftover sausage grease, but not quite enough. Add minced garlic and let that go for a minute or two while you do other complicated things like getting the goddamn caper jar open and opening and draining the can of olives. Add the capers! You want them in first because the goal for them is ‘crispy.’ Which, whatever, who cares if they actually get there? It’s delicious anyway.

The pasta water should go off at some point, so add your pasta to that.

After you add the pasta to the water, add the olives and sundried tomatoes to your skillet. Add some more olive oil if you need it: you don’t want it, like, dripping oil, but oil is the transfer medium to make everything taste like everything else and also transfer flavor to the pasta, so definitely make sure it’s some kind of liquid presence.

When the pasta is al dente, add to the sauce and serve.

*I am not even going to pretend that my garlic comes from anywhere but a jar. Yours should, too, if you cook more than once a week, because it reduces a ton of effort and makes it easy to add flavor.

Simple White Lasagna

T hates tomato sauce and ricotta and cooked spinach: I love lasagna as comfort food. Since I cook for both of us, and it had been three years since I made it, eventually something had to give.

Ingredients:

  • block of colby jack
  • jar of four cheese sauce
  • like 6 chicken thighs
  • a zucchini
  • lasagna noodles

Cook the chicken! Don’t precook the lasagna noodles – there are any number of brands that do no-cook noodles now, but even if they’re not no-cook, add some extra water to the pan before you stick it in the oven and don’t worry about it.

Cut the chicken up into little bits, and grate the cheese and the zucchini. When all that prep is done, start your oven preheating to 350°F and start assembling. I did chicken then zucchini then cheese then noodles, with about a quarter of the cheese sauce spread on top of the noodles thin and even so you don’t get weird dry spots. Repeat four times, then add something like a quarter or half a cup of water so the noodles absorb it. Cover in a bunch more cheese on the very top so you get the melty delicious thing going on.

Using jarred sauce meant I skipped adding any other spices – if you want more flavor, you can mix it in with some of the stuff you’re layering or make it a layer on its own. By this time your oven is probably beeping insistently at you about being preheated, so pop it in for 45-50 minutes. If you’re feeling fancy, turn the heat up in the last ten minutes so the cheese on top gets bubblier.

Last Recipe from Russia – Pasta

My last recipe from Russia is also what I made on the last night there. It cleaned out our fridge.

Ingredients:

  • Summer sausage type thing
  • pasta
  • water
  • oil
  • soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • pesto

I started the water in the kettle and got stuff out and assembled, then I put a little bit of water in the bottom of the big pan so I wouldn’t be heating it up completely dry. I added a generous splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper, too, so there’d be plenty of flavor even though we only had like a teaspoon of pesto left. I also added some soy sauce, because the stuff I’d found was more sweet than salty – if yours mostly tastes salty, probably skip it. I dropped in the pasta, then just barely covered it with the boiling water from the kettle, then added half a packet of what was either tomato seasoning or tomato soup.

Normally, for one pot pasta, you can add everything and then bring it to a boil, but our stove was weird and finicky.

I let it all cook together for a few minutes, while I was cutting up the summer sausage into bite-size pieces. When the pasta was done, I added the pesto and meat to it and stirred everything together. Done!

The moral of the recipe, basically, is that you can add pretty much anything you want to pasta and it works out fine.

Sundried Tomato Pasta

One of the goals my roommate and I came up with for our in-dorm meals was that everything should include at least one vegetable. We were in Russian class between 9 and 13.5 hours a week, plus another 9 hours of electives, homework, and organized excursions. We couldn’t afford to not be eating well – and on top of all the mental work, those excursions often involved a lot of walking. So we were concerned about running out of fuel, but not particularly worried about calorie consumption.

Which is one of the reasons that, when the first time I found sundried tomatoes in Russia they were in a jar with oil, I snapped them up. I might be used to, well, drier sundried tomatoes, but they’re deliciously intensely flavored and T doesn’t like them here at home, so I went for it. Because I had sundried tomatoes, I didn’t want to overwhelm them with sauce, so dinner was, again, pretty simple.

Ingredients:

  • pasta
  • ground chicken
  • sundried tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • olives and capers

I made this a couple times. With the olives and capers, it’s proper pasta alla puttanesca – well, minus the garlic.

I added a bit of the oil to the pan with the ground chicken, because it’s low fat and the pan wasn’t non-stick. I browned the meat while I started the kettle and then made the pasta in our other pot. While those were going, I cut up the sundried tomatoes into little bite-sized pieces. The chicken finished before the pasta, so I added the sundried tomatoes (and whatever else) to the chicken and stirred that all together so the flavors mixed. When the pasta was done, I added that to the sauce, then served.

How servings worked was this: an entire pound of ground chicken, and entire jar of sundried tomatoes, half a jar of capers and an entire can of olives if I was using them, paired with a small bag of pasta to serve four. If you’ve got a vegetarian, skip the chicken – but in that case definitely use the olives and capers. If you’re only feeding a couple of people, change nothing but the pasta quantity, because who the Hell wants to buy food storage containers for a measly five week stay? If you’re only serving two, a generous handful of pasta works, and it just ends up being way heavier on the other stuff, but still delicious, and tremendously filling.

Olive and Pesto Pasta

One of the great things about the grocery stores near the dorm was that they mostly had cans with tabs to open them – this was great because we didn’t have a can opener.

  • can of olives
  • pesto
  • pasta

Add a protein of your choice, too, or cheese, but it was pretty good on its own. Cook the noodles, drain, add stuff.

One thing, if you’re short on time or starving because you’ve spent all day walking around – boiling water in a kettle is faster than on the stove. Well, if you have one of those electric kettles where the element is actually in the water. So stick a little water in the bottom of the pot and stick that on the stove on high. If your stove is super questionable the way that outs was, it’ll only barely have started steaming by the time the kettle goes off. Put the noodles in the pot, cover with the boiling water, leave on high until the water’s boiling again, and your pasta’ll be ready pretty quickly.