Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What To Do When You're Out of Spaghetti Pasta

Since Scott's paydays have changed from the 15th and the last day of the month to every other Friday; it has made a hiccup in my grocery shopping.  I have always shopped twice a month, on payday.  In between, I run after fresh produce or milk.  It's just a 40 year old habit.  It's just that he was paid the 31st and I was expecting to shop again on the 15th.  But, no, he was paid again on the 8th, tiny amount, and then not until the 22nd.  I forgot about the change.
I am running out of some staples.  No problem.  Just substitute.  After all, one pasta is just another in a different shape, right?  Right.  Pasta is just flour and water, kneaded, and rolled thin or thick.  The shapes we buy at the market are all pressed through a die.  Okay, so I had 1/4 lb piccolini, 1/3 lb medium shells, and 1/2 lb macaroni.  With the sauce, it is still spaghetti.

Every cook has their own take on spaghetti.  There's marinara, bolognese, clam sauce, butter sauce, vegetarian versions.  Mom used the recipe in her  green cookbook (we daughters are still trying to decide who inherits the book.)   It was a thin sauce.  She served it with the pasta broken in half in a large mixing bowl.  It was a crowd pleaser.  Scott's Mom (both our Mom's were named Patricia) made a thick sauce simmered all day.  The next day she served it mixed with the  pasta broken into quarters and baked.  It was delicious, but very, very dry.

My sauce is a little of each:

Spaghetti Sauce
Brown together:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
5 or 6 crimini mushrooms sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
Drain the fat

Add to the hot pan, put the pan on an unused burner so you don't burn the spices
1 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil  If you prefer fresh, wait until all the liquid is added to the pan then add 1 TBSP chopped

Stir around the spices and deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of
red wine
or water
or beef broth

Add back the meat mixture and both
1 quart homemade tomato sauce
1 quart home canned tomatoes

Simmer for at least two hours
serve over pasta
Serves six
This recipe is great frozen for Scott's lunches.  I just add some homegrown, frozen green beans.

I use the same sauce for lasagne.  I like to make a double batch of Spaghetti Sauce.  I leave half on a low burner while we eat, the sauce gets thicker.  I freeze the leftover sauce for lasagne later in the month.

1 recipe Spaghetti Sauce, thawed if frozen
12 lasagne noodles cooked 7 minutes in boiling water, drained and left in cold water.
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated and divided
8 oz mozzerella, shredded or sliced
8 oz ricotta, sometimes I sub cottage cheese
1 egg
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F
grease a 9x13 pan

White sauce
Make a ruex of the melted butter and flour.  Cook until it is foamy, whisk in the milk and heat until the sauce is thickened, remove from heat

Drain the noodles, put them in a bowl
Add the ricotta and the one egg.  Mix together.
Put down 3 noodles in the bottom of the pan
layer 1/2 the meat sauce
cover with 3 more noodles
layer 1/2 the mozzerella and 1/2 the Pecorino Romano cheese
cover with 3 more noodles
layer the remaining meat
cover with the last three noodles
layer the white sauce, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzerella and Pecorino Romano cheese

Bake 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and bubbly all over.
6 servings.
Freezes well.

If you do not have homecanned or frozen produce, then you may use 'off the shelf' canned or frozen foods.  When I have homecanned I use it, otherwise I use commercially canned or frozen foods.

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