Today is the last day of October and that means two things: 1) National Pasta Month is coming to an end and 2) We start the 24-hour countdown before I’m allowed to say the words “Thanksgiving” and “menu” out loud.
So let’s talk about the former. That dish up there, that is Roasted Broccoli Carbonara. It’s our favorite carbonara pasta recipe made over to be a little more nutritious of a one-bowl dinner. Because let’s be real, most of us could probably use a little green stuff to help offset tonight’s candy binge.
Peanut Butter Kisses for the win! Am I right?!
That candy has never gotten the respect it deserves. But back to the carbonara.
The sauce is a more traditional eggs, parmesan, and bacon mixture with a generous dose of black pepper (and the pepper is simmered so it infuses the oil that much more). A few splashes of pasta water, some penne, and a pan of roasted broccoli later, you’ve got dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
And with plenty of room left for that late-night, quality assurance inspection of your kids’ candy haul.
Roasted Broccoli Carbonara
Roasted broccoli replaces half of the penne to lighten up this traditional pasta carbonara a bit.
2 crowns broccoli
8 oz penne pasta
3 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan, divided
3 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 400.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut the broccoli into medium florets and place on the baking sheet.
Drizzle with 3 Tbsp olive oil, toss the broccoli to coat (hands-on works great, gets everything evenly coated), and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
Roast for 12-15 minutes, until nicely browned. While the broccoli is roasting, cook the pasta and the bacon - everything will be done at about the same time, important because the pasta and water need to be hot.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
Add the black pepper and when bacon has completely browned, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together in a smaller bowl, then add to the bacon mixture, stirring to mix well.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl, while stirring vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
Add the broccoli, toss to coat (adding additional water if necessary).
Plenty of people are passionate about food – good food – and perhaps none more so than the people out there who read and comment on food blogs. And that’s where we got dinner tonight.
On the post about National Pasta Month, reader Anna mentioned her friend’s “desperation” macaroni & cheese. Broccoli & bacon + macaroni & cheese. It may have been created in a moment of desperation, but there is nothing second-rate about it.
I modified our favorite stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe to use what we had in the cheese & veggie bins: fontina, cheddar, bacon, and 1 1/2 crowns of the saddest looking broccoli you’ve ever seen. If you’re unfamiliar with the original recipe, it uses fat-free, high-protein Greek yogurt in the cheese sauce. The yogurt and fontina help the cheddar melt into a smoother sauce. If you can’t get fontina, try white American cheese – just using more cheddar and other less melt-friendly cheeses won’t be very pretty.
You can feel good about yourself for adding broccoli. And just feel good about the bacon
Broccoli and Bacon Macaroni & Cheese
Broccoli and bacon make macaroni and cheese a one-dish dinner.
8 oz penne pasta
4 thick slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 crowns of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use fat-free Greek)
Dash of hot sauce
4 oz fontina, shredded
4 oz cheddar, shredded
In a medium saute pan, cook the bacon to a crisp and then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Cook macaroni pasta in salted water according to package directions, until al dente.
Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta.
Drain the pasta water into a second pot and return the pot to the stovetop.
Add the broccoli to the hot water and cook over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, until just fork tender and then drain. (Alternately, you can just use the second pot and cook the broccoli at the same time.)
While the broccoli is cooking, transfer the pasta to a large bowl.
Add 1/4 cup pasta water, the yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping.
Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin the cheese sauce.
If you’ve poked around the pasta recipes over the last couple of years, you know that I frequently use Dreamfields Pasta. It’s a healthier pasta option – when prepared according to package instructions, it’s designed to only deliver 5 grams of digestible carbs per serving.
And to celebrate a healthier National Pasta Month, we’ve teamed up with Dreamfields to share a few recipes that are perfect for that cooler weather than most of you probably get to enjoy right now (luckies – I have 98% humidity and mid-90s highs still).
They’re also providing a Dreamfields Pasta Prize Package Giveaway for a couple of lucky readers! The prize package includes:
– ~12 boxes of Dreamfields Pasta
– A $25 gift card
To enter the giveaway, simply answer this question in the comments below: What is your all-time, hands-down, most favorite pasta dish ever? EVER.
(Remember: bonus entries can only be counted if entered as a separate comment.)
Congrats to Nicole (#112) and Sarah (#228) – please check your email inbox for instructions on claiming your prize.
The fine print:
– Maximum of 5 entries per person.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm (Texas time!) 10/31.
– 2 winners will be selected by one of those cold, soulless, unfeeling random number generator thingies and announced on this post after selected.
– 2 winners will receive a pasta prize package and a $25 gift card (maximum retail value of prize = $56).
– Prize must be claimed within 7 days or it will be forfeited.
– Prize can only be shipped to a US address.
– Prize is being provided directly to the winner by the giveaway sponsor.
– Official giveaway rules can be found here.
There are stuffed poblanos and then there are stuffed poblanos. These are the latter.
These are poblanos stuffed with all the fresh, grilled flavors that we love eating during the summer. Poblanos stuffed with a so-good-you’ll-eat-the-leftover-filling-with-a-spoon of quinoa, queso fresco, grilled corn, lime, and green & red onions. Poblanos served with a wonderfully smokey, grilled romesco sauce.
So just go ahead and stop what you’re doing. Grab your menu, cross one thing off, and then add these.
You will not be disappointed.
On the rare occasion that I whip up a vegetarian dish for dinner, it’s usually pizza or maybe the occasional pasta dish. Even rarer is getting a response like, “phenomenal, wow, amazing” from the resident carnivore when I do.
So when I got responses of “phenomenal, wow, amazing” throughout dinner, I decided that we’d found another new dish to go into heavy rotation this summer.
I worked the original over a bit to give it a fresher, Tex-Mex profile. I also decided to skip the part where they ask you to return your stuffed poblanos to the grill and turn them. Poblanos lose their sturdiness when roasted and I didn’t want to lose any of the filling through the grates of my grill. I simply warmed them in a baking dish in the oven on top of the romesco sauce.
Quinoa Stuffed Poblano with Grilled Romesco Sauce
Chile Relleno get a summer makeover on the grill; served with a smokey, grilled romesco sauce.
For the poblanos:
1/2 cup quinoa
6 large poblano peppers
2 ears of corn, shucked (or replace with 1 can black beans)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Small handful cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco, divided
Juice of 1/2 lime
For the sauce:
2 large red bell peppers, halved and seeds/stem removed
1/2 medium onion, cut into thick slices
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeds/stem removed
1 large tomato, quartered
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup almonds
Heat your grill to medium-high.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a small sauce pan, cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt according to package directions. Set aside to cool when done.
Top a large piece of foil with the red bell pepper halves, onion slices, garlic, jalapeno, and tomato quarters, drizzle with olive oil.
Loosely gather the foil around the vegetables and place on the grill for ~25 minutes, until charred and soft, turning once halfway through.
Transfer the vegetables in the foil pouch to a blender and blend with lime juice, cilantro, a pinch of salt and pepper, and almonds until smooth.
Drizzle corn cobs (if using) and poblanos with olive oil and place directly on the grill.
Grill the poblanos for 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer the poblanos to a bowl or place and cover with plastic wrap for ~10 minutes.
Turn the corn cobs every 5 minutes until lightly charred all over. Let cool and then cut the kernels off the cob and transfer to a mixing bowl with the quinoa. (Alternately, drain and rinse a can of black beans and add that to the bowl instead.)
Carefully peel the skin from the cooled poblanos, slice the very top of the peppers off, and use a small spoon to carefully remove the seeds.
Add the green & red onions, cilantro, 1/4 cup queso fresco, and lime juice to the quinoa and stir to mix.
Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling into each poblano pepper.
Pour 2/3 (or all) of the romesco sauce into a 13x9 baking dish.
Add the stuffed peppers on top, and then top with remaining romesco sauce (optional) and remaining queso fresco.
Bake for ~15-20 minutes, until heated through.
Serve peppers with a generous scoop of romesco sauce.