Dinner in 30 minutes or less…..

Mahi-Mahi Piccata with Bucatini

If your family is anything like mine with everyone on crazy schedules and such sometimes getting a meal on the table in a timely fashion is a struggle. In fact when this blog originally started way back in 2013 the focus was on quick and easy meals for a busy family. Though we’ve deviated away from that concept over the years, the struggle to get a meal on the table before 9PM is still very real in my house. That’s where this mahi-mahi piccata recipe comes in. So long as the fish or chicken is defrosted (or fresh) before cooking you can have all the prep done and dinner plated and served in 30 minutes. In the case of mahi-mahi, all the prep and cooking and the cooking of the fish is done while the pasta cooks.

Recipe (serves 4)

4 4oz mahi-mahi fillets

4 TBS butter

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS chopped parsley

1 box bucatini

3 cloves of garlic crushed

¼ cup white wine

1 TBS capers

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 TBS flour for dusting on the fish

salt and pepper to taste

red chili flakes (optional)

In a large pot with a lid, bring 8 qts of heavily salted water to a boil. The water should taste like salt water.  While the water is coming to the boil, zest and juice the lemon, crush the garlic, chop the parsley and dry the fish fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions for al dente typically 8-10 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 TBS of butter and the olive oil until foaming. Dust the fish on each side lightly with flour and shake off the excess. Place fish into the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. This take about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside on paper towel to drain.

Add the capers, garlic, lemon juice, zest and white wine to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the sauce will boil and slowly reduce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Adjust the heat to low until the pasta is ready to drain. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and  drain the pasta and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the sauce and return the fish to the skillet. Add the drained pasta and toss until the fish and pasta is coated with the sauce. If the pasta is a little dry you can add a little of the pasta water. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices.

 

 

Easy Summer Tomato Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

summer sauce with pasta

I mentioned in a recent post that we have a nice little garden out back this summer and now we’ve find ourselves with an (over)abundance of cherry tomatoes. There’s only so many cherry tomatoes I can tolerate in a salad. So I thought I’d make a quick and easy pasta sauce out of them and with the addition of basil, thyme and oregano which is also in (over)abundance make a really light, easy and savory pasta sauce.

I cut the tomatoes in half, tossed them with about 1 TBS of olive oil, added 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 TBS of chili flakes, and the herbs. I roasted them all on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes burst and start to brown.

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Because the sauce is so light, thin pastas like angel hair, capellini or spaghettini work best. Just simply toss the sauce with some pasta and add a salty cheese like pecorino, ricotta salata or feta. If you wanna add some protein, it’d be nice with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and finished with some julienned fresh basil. Or if you want to keep it vegan/vegetarian, add more summer veggies like zucchini and eggplant. These can easily be roasted alongside the cherry tomatoes.

The sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of days and can be warmed by tossing with warm pasta. I just put into a jar and toss it in the fridge to use later in the week.

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Mac & Cheese

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go in the oven.

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go into the oven.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I apologize for that. Things have been pretty busy around here. I’ve been finishing up my degree and today was the final day of classes. All the projects have been turned in. You can see some of the things I’ve been working on at my portfolio site. Graduation is next week and I have family traveling in from the West Coast to celebrate.

To help unwind from all the craziness I decided to make mac and cheese. One of my annoyances with mac and cheese (a lot of food really) is that people tend to under season. Mornay sauce itself can be pretty bland as is plain pasta. My way to combat this problem is to make sure to cook my pasta in heavily salted water and to season my mornay heavily. I use sharp cheddar cheese and an aged gouda, as well as add piquant spices like chili flakes, dried mustard, freshly ground black pepper and a hot paprika/pimenton.

Here’s the recipe.

Preheat the over to 400ºF

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheese
½ stick butter
1 egg lightly whipped
1 TBS flour
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried mustard
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly ground coarse sea salt

Cook the pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted water to just under al dente. Drain and set aside. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, melt the butter. When it starts to bubble whisk in the flour. Cook the flour and butter for about a minute. Then gradually add the heavy cream. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir. You’ll notice that the cream is starting to thicken up. Add in your spices and make sure they’re well incorporated into the cream. Take a few tablespoons of the hot cream and add them to the egg. Whisk together for a few seconds to temper the egg, then pour the egg into the larger batch of cream. Slowly add the shredded cheese into the cream and let each addition melt completely before adding the next. Once all the cheese is added in and melted, fold in the drained pasta and stir so that all the pasta is coated with the mornay sauce. Pour everything into a buttered casserole dish and bake in a 400ºF oven for 35 minutes. You can top the mac & cheese with crumbled up potato chips, bread crumbs or more cheese. I had some left over garlic crostini that I ground up in the food processor, so I used that as for my crumb topping. Enjoy!