Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Fancy Spaghetti

Simple spaghetti tends to be a go-to, weeknight dinner for most families, and if you are like me, spaghetti in the regular meal rotation starts to get intolerable boring. Easy weeknight spaghetti remains on our rotation because my all people will actually eat it, and any mother knows that is a feat in itself. Years ago, an Arkansas neighbor shared Taglierini Alla Chitarra with us, and this heavenly version of spaghetti has remained a weeknight and a “good-enough-for-company” favorite.

The star of this fancy weeknight spaghetti (Taglierini Alla Chitarra) is thinly sliced pancetta, aka Italian bacon. Pancetta is paper-thin meat in the deli section of your grocery store, sold prepackaged (vacuum-packed) or sliced fresh at the counter. If purchasing at the counter, ask the attendant to slice it as thinly as possible. Prosciutto can be substituted if Pancetta is not available. I do not recommend the prepackaged cubed version of either meat, as the taste/consistency is lacking.

Another note: Pecorino Romano from the deli may only come in portions larger than 3 oz, but you’re actually buying enough for a few meals if you freeze the unused cheese for later.

Taglierini Alla Chitarra/Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
7 oz Pancetta, cut into julienne strips (can substitute Prosciutto)
28 oz. can peeled, crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (can substitute 1/8 cup dried)
Ground black pepper
3 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (can substitute regular Romano)
Fresh Parmesan cheese wedge (topping)
Pasta-Barilla Spaghetti alla Chitarra or Angel Hair
Large saucepan with top

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and Pancetta and brown for 10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, pepper and Pecorino. Simmer, covered, over very low heat for one hour.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Serve red sauce mixture over cooked pasta and sprinkle with *grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.

Freeze any leftovers you do not use.

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Fancy Spaghetti

*This Microplane Zester is the perfect kitchen tool for finely grated hard cheeses. Place on table for individual use.
Printable Recipe

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Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad Main
I was sitting at the pool recently with my sweet friend, Anna Dabbs, and we agreed that deep into summer, it becomes harder and harder to want to cook, especially with the temps so hot!  The thought of heating up your kitchen when it’s sweltering outside…boo!  Anna mentioned a cold pasta salad that her family has loved for years, and I gave it a try the next week. If you love Greek flavors, this pasta salad is for you! Below is the base for the dressing, but you can make additions to suit your taste! Enjoy!

Greek Pasta Salad

16 oz pasta (colored rotini or your choice)
4-6 green onions, chopped fine
2 oz. jar chopped pimiento (I chop even smaller from jar)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
3 T. mayo
2 T. Cavenders Greek Seasoning
1 can petite diced tomatoes

Optional additions:  Shredded Rotisserie chicken, crumbled feta cheese, olives, etc.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients with pasta.  Add any additional ingredients to suit your taste. Wal-Mart carries my favorite Rotisserie Chicken-Traditional flavor.  I shredded roughly half the meat from one chicken.

Chill overnight or at least a few hours before serving to allow flavors to marry.

If you prefer a sweeter version of pasta salad, be sure to try this Summer Pasta Salad that is an all-time favorite from my sister.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a favorite cold pasta salad to share!  Happy last days of summer!

Bacon Carbonara Pasta

Pasta Carbonara
Bacon, eggs, and pasta together…what a combo!  This easy, yet elegant, one-dish meal of Bacon Carbonara Pasta is great for a weeknight meal or perfect for company!  One of my very first blog friends, Shelly Wildman, posted her version of Carbonara Pasta a few years ago, and I combined a few different recipes to come up with this version.  You can vary the flavor by adding chicken or substituting extra broth in place of the wine.

After living in Arkansas so long, I am partial to Petit Jean Meats bacon!  It really is the best!  If you cannot find Petit Jean Meats at your local grocery, they will ship (in a cooler) from Arkansas!  If you’ve read my blog for any time, you know we adore Petit Jean’s Smoked Ham for holiday meals, too!

Bacon Carbonara Pasta

1/2 pound  Bacon (6-7 slices)
1/2 lb Linguini Pasta (or pasta of choice)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 T. butter
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 – 1 cup Chicken broth (divided)
2 eggs
3/4 – 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (divided)
2 T. Fresh, chopped Parsley + a little extra for garnish, if desired
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon one of two ways:  Slice uncooked bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.  Cook bacon pieces until brown but not overly crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard bacon grease.  *OR* cook bacon in the microwave until brown, but not overly crisp.  Crumble microwaved bacon into small pieces.

While you are cooking the bacon, boil pasta according to package directions.

Melt 4T. butter in the frying pan.  Cook chopped onions over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the pressed garlic.  Be careful here, garlic burns easily.  Cook for a couple more minutes, until onion and garlic are soft.

To onion and garlic mixture, add the bacon, wine, and chicken broth, and increase heat. Let simmer for several minutes, but do not boil.

In a medium separate bowl, place the eggs and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Drain the cooked pasta, and while pasta is still very hot, add the pasta to the bowl with the egg mixture and then add the bacon/onion/liquid mixture.  Mix well.  Add 2 T. parsley and mix again.  Add a few shakes of pepper to taste.  Add a few Tablespoons of chicken broth or a couple of Tablespoons of butter to mixture, if needed, for moisture.

To serve, sprinkle individual portions with Parmesan cheese.  Add a little chopped parsley, if desired.  Enjoy!

Pasta Carbonara

 As a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club, I occasionally receive free product for my use and review.  I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

We lived in Louisiana for about 3 1/2 years…long enough to love the people…and the food!  Crawfish season is in full-swing down there right now, and oh how we miss neighborhood crawfish boils!

If you live in a state anywhere near Louisiana, you probably have a local seafood market that is stocking fresh crawfish tails right now, so grab your grocery list and add the ingredients for this Creamy Crawfish Pasta.  You can also substitute frozen crawfish tails, available year-round in your grocer’s freezer.

My neighbor and Louisiana-native friend, Andrea, shared this recipe with me.  Alter any ingredients to suit your taste!

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

1 lb pasta (shells, fettucini, or rotini work)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 lb. fresh crawfish tails, peeled and deveined (or 1 pkg frozen tail meat)
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1/2 lb. Velveeta (Jalapenos version)
Salt to taste
5-6 drops Tabasco
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1/2 large onion, chopped small
1 bell pepper, chopped small
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped or 2 T. dried parsley
1/4 cup green onions, chopped small

Preheat oven to 350°.

Rinse crawfish and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large skillet with medium heat, melt butter and saute´onion and garlic until soft.  Add flour a little bit at a time and stir just until blended.  At this point, my mixture was too thick, so I adjusted the amount of flour for this recipe to 1/4 cup, as noted.  You do not want a paste-y consistency.

Add crawfish and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Lower heat and add the half and half, Velveeta cheese, 1 t. Tony Chachere’s, salt, and Tabasco.  Cook until cheese is completely melted.  Gradually add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, stirring often.  Add the parsley and green onions and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the cheese mixture with the pasta and mix well.  Test-taste to determine if you would like more salt or Tony Chachere’s.  Transfer mixture to a 9×13, greased casserole dish. Top with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

Bake covered with foil for about 10 minutes.  Remove foil and bake about 5 more minutes or until casserole is heated through completely.  Be careful not to overcook, as it will dry out.

Enjoy with a green salad and bread for a complete meal!

Printable Recipe

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

Creamy Crawfish Pasta

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