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Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil-7

Pasta with garlic and olive oil is the easiest weeknight dinner. Ever. Even stopping for take-out is a bigger hassle than making this bowl of pasta. Plus, it’s cheaper and made with ingredients that are actually food. All that aside, I recently realized something shocking. Despite being raised Italian and having a deep love of pasta, I have never posted a pasta recipe here at Hello Fun Seekers! How is that even possible? I rectify that oversight today.

I also have to say that I have never bought into the low-carb phenomena. My great-grandmother lived until she was 96 and my grandmother will be 100 later this year. Believe me, those ladies had pasta as a staple in their diets. So, eat your cauliflower crusts if you want but I will be over here enjoying a delicious bowl of pasta.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil-5

Fusilli is one of my favorite pasta shapes. The curlicues aren’t just pretty to look at but they create numerous nooks and crannies for the sauce to adhere to as well. Properly cooking the pasta is crucial. You will often here people talk about cooking it al dente, ‘to the tooth’, meaning that it still has some texture. There is nothing worse than overcooked mushy pasta.

In order to avoid overcooking the pasta, I typically finish cooking my pasta in the sauce which serves an important purpose. To accomplish this, I boil the pasta for a minute or two less than what the package instructions recommend. Finishing the pasta in the sauce allows the pasta to soak up the sauce and infuse the pasta with all that flavor.

The order of operations for this dish is to start your pasta cooking and then start the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, this pasta is for garlic-lovers only and although it is quick to make it does require your careful attention for a few minutes. Garlic burns easily and can scorch quickly so have all your ingredients prepped when you start cooking.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil-3

The simplicity of the ingredients and the balance of flavors are what make this pasta special. The olive oil is luxurious, the crushed red pepper provides a spicy kick, the squeeze of lemon juice brightens up the sauce, and finally, the Italian parsley adds a touch of freshness.

I hope you will try this classic pasta and let me know what you think.

How to Make Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Asparagus Fries

Asparagus Fries

Spring is in the air! Can you feel it? On the other hand, maybe it is just me willing it here. Winter just isn’t my bag. I can get into a little snow around Christmas but beyond that, I am ready for it to disappear for another eleven months and three weeks.

As I daydream about spring, I think about gardening, daffodils extending from the ground and showing off their pretty faces to the sun, and spring vegetables. Is there anything better than asparagus, peas, radishes, and greens? Well, perhaps, garden tomatoes and corn but right now after a long, cold, and super snowy winter, I crave all things springtime.

We have a friend named Denny who is in his seventies and who knows some secret spots in old orchards near his home where asparagus grow wild. GROWS WILD! I am such a city girl that it never crossed my mind that asparagus would grow wild. I know now that it does, and if I am lucky, he will feel healthy enough to go asparagus hunting this spring. He loves to pickle the asparagus (bloody Marys!) but sometimes he will show up at my door with a bag of asparagus that he has picked.

Asparagus fries

The orchards near his home seem to be getting smaller each year. Families sell off the land and developers build homes in their place, which makes me sad. So, even if you don’t have a source of wild asparagus available to you, at this time of year, grocery stores start selling asparagus at decent prices. I buy bunches of it in the spring. I love it steamed with lemon, roasted with olive oil and seasonings, or dipped in eggs and dredged in spices and panko. I added chipotle chili powder and cayenne to the seasonings which adds some heat. You can skip those if you don’t want the fries to have a kick.

Asparagus fries are wonderful appetizers to serve with drinks. They also make a beautiful accompaniment to seafood. I like to pick them up with my fingers and dip them into a complementary sauce. In the pictures in this post, I dipped into a spicy mango sauce, which is delicious. You can also dip them into warm marinara sauce or garlicky aioli. I also think that they would be delicious with Asian-inspired peanut sauce. I especially love Ina Garten’s peanut sauce.

 

How to make Asparagus Fries

How to make Spicy Mango Sauce

Spicy Mango Sauce

Here is the link to my post on how to make spicy mango sauce or you can follow the directions below.

Ingredients

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced

¾ cup canned coconut milk

1 tablespoon Sriracha

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 lime, juice and zest

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

½  teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Place ingredients for sauce in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Put sauce in a canning jar or covered container for one hour.

Asparagus Fries

Winter Squash & Havarti Puffs

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

A neighbor once told me that she had never met anyone who pleasure read cookbooks before she met me. She made that comment years before blogs and the internet were a thing.  I wonder what she would think if she knew how much time I spent perusing food blogs these days. There are a ton of really, really good ones. I mean they not only have delicious-looking recipes but also breath-taking photographs.

This recipe is inspired by the Kabocha and Havarti Pocket recipe on the I Will Not Eat Oysters blog. I was practically drooling when I saw the photos she posted.  Plus, who doesn’t love roasted squash at this time of year? It’s so seasonal, baby!

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsI have been actively seeking out recipes using winter squash because my friend Laraine had a bumper crop of winter squash this year and generously shared her harvest with me. I used a buttercup squash for this recipe but you could substitute butternut, red kuri, or kabocha squash too.  The process will be the same regardless of which squash you chose. You will want to use a really sharp knife to cut through the hard skin of the winter squash. I quartered the squash and scraped out the seeds and strings. If you use butternut squash you will only need to cut it in half lengthwise instead of quarters.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsAnother modification that I made to the recipe was to add a bit of heat to the roasted squash filling. I added chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. I thought the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the Havarti could stand up to the additional spices. I am happy to report that the result was delicious! In keeping with the fall flavors I also used apple cider vinegar instead of the champagne vinegar called for in the original recipe.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsThese tasty little treats are super versatile too. You can make small puffs which are perfectly-sized appetizers which can be eaten in two bites. Or, you can make larger puffs and serve them as an entree. I would pair the larger puffs with a salad and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

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