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When you think of Italian weddings, don’t you envision a large reception hall crowded with boisterous and fun people…laughing, dancing, and celebrating the newlyweds?  Food and drinks everywhere, of course.  Exactly like what we all witnessed when watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  The Italians and Greeks really know how to have fun and celebrate important events!  The actual term “wedding soup” comes from the Italian language phrase “minestra maritata” (“married soup”), which is a reference to the flavor produced by the combination or “marriage” of the greens and the meat.

I’ve wanted to make a version of the infamous Italian Wedding Soup for years.  I love the combination of a light clear broth with fresh vegetables and meat or meatballs.  Traditionally the soup contains green vegetables, like endive, spinach, escarole, kale, cabbage, etc.…but adding some diced carrots really adds a touch of color, sweetness and prettiness.  It is a “wedding” soup after all!

There are two other important elements to this soup…meat and pasta.  I prefer making small 1” meatballs with chicken and chicken or pork sausage.  The size is perfect and also keeps this soup on the lighter side.  Using a small meatball or melon ball scoop helps too.  And usually pasta is featured as well…orzo, or some sort of pastina (small pasta). There are a ton of recipes out there, but none feature “Heart Pasta”, which of course is the most natural choice for this style of soup.

So when serving this soup on Valentine’s Day or sometime that week, it tells your family or significant others…I love you and I care about your waistline! Haha. This is an appreciated message knowing that the next Heart Pasta recipe I’m sharing is a Vodka Cream Sauce with Shrimp!:) That recipe is coming soon…

Eating out on Valentine’s night always seems forced and often expensive and disappointing.  Italian Wedding Soup is simple to make and a wonderful comfort food for this time of year.  So I’m encouraging you to “Eat In” and “Eat Your Heart Out”!  Make this soup or a pasta dish you know your family or sweetheart will love.  Some other good choices are my Quick Cioppino with Heart Pasta, or even our simple Classic Marinara Sauce.

Friends, have a heart-warming Valentine’s week!  And follow me on Instagram (@worldofpastabilities) to keep up with more of our Pasta adventures!

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Italian Wedding Soup with Heart Pasta

Light and delicious soup for any time of the year!  The Chicken and Sausage meatballs are full of flavor and the small size makes them perfect for a soup!  Enjoy!

  • Author: Carey | World of Pastabilities
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8
Ingredients For the Meatballs:

1/2 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb. chicken sausage, casing off, or I used hot pork sausage

1/3 cup panko

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 t. dried basil

1/2 t. onion powder

1/4 t. salt

3 T. fresh parsley, minced

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Soup:

2 T. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 carrots, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

10 cups chicken broth

7-8 ounces Heart Pasta (approx 1/2 a bag), or substitute any short pasta shape: orzo, pastina, etc…

12 ounces or so of fresh baby spinach, or any other green of choice! (kale, escarole, cabbage, etc)

1/2 cup white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

For the meatballs:  Place all ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Gently combine with a fork or your hands (I use disposable gloves).  Using a small melon ball scoop or a teaspoon,  drop meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment, or sprayed with Pam/oil.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cooked thoroughly and the meatballs begin to brown.  Remove from oven and set meatballs aside.

While meatballs are cooking, heat olive oil to medium low in a large soup pot.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until softened and onions are translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the broth and gently simmer for 6-7 minutes until pasta is al dente. (I actually cook my pasta separately, and add it in with the meatballs).

Add meatballs to soup and simmer for a minute.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Stir in the fresh spinach or greens of choice, until they begin to wilt.

Ladle into soup bowls and top with additional fresh Parmesan!  Enjoy!

The post Italian Wedding Soup with Heart Pasta appeared first on The Pasta Shoppe.

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Do you ever find yourself in a fabulous Italian restaurant with umpteen delicious pasta and Italian offerings…and your eyes are drawn to the simplest thing on the menu?  Margarita (or Margherita) Pizza just jumps off the page. Sometimes amidst the wonderful choices, our hearts and tummies just long for the simplicity.

Why is that?  The pureness of the ingredients?  The clean taste of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil are hard to beat.  And it is beautiful to look at…never overdressed.  And rarely does it disappoint.  Just thinking about this makes me want to eat a large, thin, crispy one right now.

So why not a Margherita Pasta?  They are practically sisters.  And we’ll add some pan sautéed chicken for the main entrée tonight.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  Pasta and Pizza, all in one dish!  Clean, fresh, and perfect for a Spring or Summer dinner.  Margherita Pasta with Chicken….yum!

Legend has it that the Margherita pizza was created by a Napoleon baker, Raffaele Esposito, in 1889 to honor the Italian Queen Margherita de Savoia.  Note that the colors are representative of the Italian flag.  There is of course much controversy about the origins of the infamous pizza, and if you are interested, read this investigative article by Zachary Nowak…it’s fun.

So to keep with the pureness of this dish, we are going to make our tomato sauce with fresh grape tomatoes.  I decided to roast them first, just for a few minutes, to bring out their maximum sweetness, before putting them in a pan to crush them into a luxurious sauce. You want to save a few tomatoes whole too – to add little bursts of flavor to the dish.

And my latest favorite discovery…Mozzarella Pearls!  Yes Ladies – pearls!  It’s tempting to eat them right out of the package! I love these bite size mozzarella bursts as an easy option for so many recipes and salads…you just separate the little pearls and use them as you wish!  (I don’t recommend trying to string them for a pearl necklace….:))

And when considering which pasta to use, I opted for our Tri-Color Angel Hair Pasta Nests.  Might as well go all the way with the tri-color theme.  This would be wonderful though with our Spinach Basil Garlic Angel Hair or even just the Classic Original.  And if you have a box of spaghetti, linguine, or even fettuccine in the pantry, any long pasta will work fine!

With all the rain we’ve had here in Nashville recently, I haven’t even planted my basil yet!   This dinner has inspired me to get on it this week.  Fresh basil isn’t abundant yet, even in the stores…but I’ve made do with some store-bought basil.  Side Bar: Fresh basil, and all herbs, for that matter as so expensive!  It is so easy to buy few plants and just grow some yourself.  Find some old pots of planters and just start with a few.  It is a wonderful gift to yourself.  After overplanting for years, I now only grow the herbs I use most frequently…lots of basil, parsley, rosemary, and fresh mint.  The rest I purchase.

So keep it simple and enjoy this classic Margherita Pasta…and have fun these first weeks of summer!

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Margherita Pasta with Chicken

Your favorite pizza has gone PASTA!  Fresh and delicious – you’ll be happy to make this again and again!

  • Author: Carey | World of Pastabilities
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 7
  • Total Time: 32 minutes
  • Yield: 4
Ingredients

12-16 ounces Pastabilities® Tri-color Angel Hair Pasta (or any other long shape)

1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, I used one package of thinly sliced breasts, approximately 5 thin breasts

2 T. olive oil

8 cups grape tomatoes (approx. 4 – 10 oz containers)

½ t. red pepper flakes

¼ t. Aleppo pepper

8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (or more)

1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add chicken to pan and saute for 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked thoroughly.  Transfer chicken to a plate, and slice.

To the same large saute pan, add roasted grape tomatoes.  As tomatoes are warming up, use a potato masher, and crush about half of the tomatoes, saving some tomatoes as whole.  Add red pepper flakes and Aleppo pepper and season tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce and begin to toss with tongs gently.  Add the reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce, and pasta is coated with sauce.

In a large serving bowl, place pasta, add mozzarella pearls, and fresh basil.  Toss gently until thoroughly combined.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.

For individual plates, add pasta and top with sliced chicken.  Add more fresh basil and even Parm if you desire!  Enjoy!

The post Margherita Pasta with Chicken appeared first on The Pasta Shoppe.

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Skillet recipes and One Pot recipes are all the rage.  Have you noticed?  I guess all of us want something quick and easy and the fewer pots to clean the better.  My husband John teases me all the time about how many pots, pans, and dishes I use to make a meal…so here is my attempt to make an “almost” one pot skillet pasta dish, Skillet Chicken Alfredo.

Just using the word “skillet” conjures up images of my grandmother’s (Momo’s) cast iron skillet and all the goodness that goes along with it.  My favorite memory is her skillet cornbread and I have yet to perfect that one. And there is something very appealing about stirring all those delicious ingredients together, building flavors as you go, and serving it right out of the hot pan.

This recipe is pretty simple and a few key steps are combined to make it even easier – like throwing in the asparagus into the pasta water just a few minutes before the pasta is ready.  Done.  In just two pots.  Adds some bright green to the finished dish and some healthy bites for the family.

I also used rotisserie chicken and chopped it up instead of cooking chicken breasts…just another time saver. I did brown the chicken In the skillet just for looks and to give myself something to deglaze when making the alfredo.  Because alfredo can be a little drab in color and presentation, I also added some chopped red pepper.  You can roast these yourself but again I opted for ready to go red peppers.  Actually grabbed them from the olive bar at the grocery store.  This is super easy and cost efficient when you only need a little of an ingredient that isn’t used very often.

The alfredo sauce itself is not heavy with cheese and is really quite delicious. Adding goat cheese at the end is a tasty surprise for your taste buds.  Skillet Chicken Alfredo is just plain ole satisfying. Your family gets a protein, some veggies, pasta, and a totally delicious meal…and you get to wear a  gold medal for your first skillet event!

With Easter around the corner, I used out Bunny Hop Pasta.  It is a great bite size shape that works well in these types of dishes.  Feel free to substitute any short shape and also sub out other holiday shapes as well!  And if this recipe sounds good to you, I think you’d also enjoy our Light Fettuccine Alfredo or  this Creamy Oriental Pasta Salad.

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Skillet Chicken Pasta with Asparagus & Goat Cheese

Simple more of less one pot dish…comfort food that will please the entire family!

  • Author: Carey | World of Pastabilities
Ingredients

14-16 ounces dry pasta (Bunny shapes or any short shape!)

1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal

1 ½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, or approx. 4 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped

1 T. olive oil

3 T. unsalted butter

2 T. garlic, minced

2/3 cup white wine

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup chicken broth

2 egg yolks

1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped, approx. 2 whole red peppers

1 cup goat cheese crumbles

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In the last 2 minutes, add asparagus.  Drain, and rinse with cold water.

Sauté chicken in oil in a pan or skillet over medium heat until cooked through, approx. 8-10 minutes. Remove and slice into bite size pieces. Or sauté chopped rotisserie chicken until browned, approx. 5-6 minutes.

Add butter and garlic to pan, and swirl and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add wine and deglaze pan, until reduced by almost half.

In a bow, whisk cream, chicken broth and egg yolks.  Add to sauté pan. Add pasta and asparagus, and increase heat until you bring to a simmer, stirring often and sauce is thickened about 3-5 minutes.

Add the peppers, goat cheese crumbles, and pine nuts.  Toss gently and season with salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!  Pass Parmesan cheese on the side!

The post Skillet Chicken Pasta with Asparagus & Goat Cheese appeared first on The Pasta Shoppe.

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Aww…fall…the time of year when pecans start emerging on the food scene.  Whether you pronounce them PEE-cans or Pe-CAHNS, you’ll soon be consuming them as Pecan Pralines, Pecan Pies, Candied Pecans, Spiced Pecans,  and may I introduce you to my new favorite pecan recipe, Pecan Pesto with Garlicky Breadcrumbs.  Can’t you just taste and hear that garlicky crunch?! Woohoo!  

I came across this in May’s Southern Living Magazine and I’ve been waiting to share it with you.  This has made it to the TOP of my pasta recipe “Best-Of” lists and I’m thrilled.  It’s the kind of “goes with everything” pasta recipe…I’ve added grilled shrimp on top, grilled salmon, and also just served it as a side dish.  And admittedly, I’ve eaten an entire bowl standing over my sink before anyone could see me and ask me to share.   This is recipe gold friends.  I mean it.

Let’s break this down a little bit…first of all, I love pestos.  There are so many variations out there, and I’ve shared a few in the past like Arugula and Lime, Sun Dried Tomato, Everyday Basil Parsley, and even a Kale and Walnut Pesto.

One of the best things about pesto is you can make it ahead…days ahead, and store it in your refrigerator.  Or if you are super ambitious you can freeze cubes and keep for months.

Pecan Pesto is milder than most, due to the mixture of basil and parsley, and pecans of course have a somewhat mild, rich, buttery flavor.  But the real surprise is the addition of the garlicky breadcrumbs.  Wow.  You could honestly put these over ANYTHING.  I’ve made a recipe for roasted broccoli with similar breadcrumbs and it is absolutely delicious.  Have you noticed a lot of menu items are adding some sort of crunchy yumminess on top?  If you are not sure what to do with your next recipe, whether a salad, soup, or pasta….just add some homemade dressed up breadcrumbs!

The breadcrumbs themselves are seasoned with minced fresh garlic, but also include lemon zest – adding a nice zing.  I always go heavy on the lemon zest…you can’t really have too much!  When making the breadcrumbs, made sure to pulsethe bread into decent sized pieces…you’ll want to see these individually on the pasta.

Pecan Pesto with Garlicky Breadcrumbs will be a recipe you’ll want to make all year long.  So save or print this recipe and please make it soon!  My pasta choice was our Classic Angel Hair Pasta Nests…and for this recipe, I’d recommend a “long” pasta shape like angel hair, thin spaghetti or linguine…it’s an elegant and fabulous dish!  Enjoy!

Follow me on Instagram @thepastashoppe for more pictures and happenings from around here.  I’d love to connect with you!

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Pecan Pesto with Garlicky Breadcrumbs

One of the BEST pasta recipes ever!  Recipe from Southern Living May 2017.

  • Author: Carey | World of Pastabilities
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 8
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: 4
Ingredients

1 12 ounce box Classic Angel Hair Pasta Nests (or 12-16 ounces of long pasta, like thin spaghetti)

3 cups loosely packed basil leaves

3 cups loosely packed flat leaf parsley

6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups), plus more for serving!

1 cup olive oil (I tend to use a lighter one, not too strong)

1/2 cup pecan halves

3 T. fresh lemon juice ( about 2 lemons)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 t. kosher salt

2 T. unsalted butter

Garlicky Breadcrumbs

4 cloves garlic

5 oz. sourdough bread or other crusty bread, crust removed, torn/cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

Zest of 2 lemons (original recipe called for one…)

1/2 t. kosher salt

1/4 t. black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions Garlicky Breadcrumbs

I make these first and also these can be made ahead of time.

Pulse garlic cloves in food processor until finely chopped.  Add bread and lemon zest and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Stir in salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large pan over medium heat.  Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer crumbs to a small bowl.

Pecan Pesto

Place basil, parsley, Parmesan, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a food processor.  Pulse a few times and see ingredients come together.  Add olive oil slowly and process until pesto is smooth.  You may need to stop and scrape down sides of processor during process.

Cook pasta in lot of salted water, according to package directions.

Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of cooking water.

Transfer pasta to large serving bowl.  Add pesto and butter to hot pasta.  Toss gently until pasta is coated. Stir in cooking water 1/4 cup at a time, until sauce reached desired consistency.  Discard any remaining pasta water.

Top with Garlicky Breadcrumbs and more fresh Parmesan!  Also can top with fresh chopped tomatoes and extra toasted chopped pecans!

The post Pecan Pesto with Garlicky Breadcrumbs appeared first on The Pasta Shoppe.

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Hey Friends!  This isn’t a typical Pasta Recipe, but rather a Recipe for Helping the Hurricane Victims!

We are all hurting and praying for the families in Texas and Florida that have been impacted by the crazy storms.  The flood waters have been devastating and here in Nashville it brings back memories from our 100-year flood of 2010.

While there is much difference in the floods and damage, what is common is the coming together of states and cities to help each other survive and recover.  The past week in the office we’ve been talking about what we can do to help these victims, either stores that have bought from us, or individual customers who have bought through our website or fundraising program with us over the years.

Pasta is a universal comfort food, loved by most people, it appeals to the entire family, and one of its best qualities is it has a long shelf life.  We happen to make Lone Star Texas Pasta, in the shape of the state of Texas and stars.  It’s always a best seller as Texans are known for their state pride.  And Flamingo and Palm Tree Pasta are always best sellers, especially in the beachy states.   So, we saw this as an opportunity to help two communities that are in need.

So here is The Pasta Shoppe pledge:  For the next 30 days (ending October 15th), we will match all pasta sales, bag for bag, pound for pound, and donate bags of Lone Star, Flamingo and Palm Tree Pasta to help the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  So, for example, if you order 3 bags of pasta, we will send 3 bags of to the help support the families.  We’ll take total number of pasta bags sold, and divide our contribution between both states.

How can you help?  Order pasta from our website Pastashoppe.com.  Take advantage of shopping for Christmas early.  Stock your pantry.  Have some fun supporting this cause.

NOTE:  We have a 15% off sale on all Collegiate Pasta Salads right now through September 22nd!

SHOP NOW!

Let’s see how much Pasta we can donate to help these Texas and Florida families.  We want to contribute to as many dinner tables as we can and help these folks in their recovery.  We hope it brings comfort and smiles, and shows them that even people at a small pasta company in Nashville care.  Thanks in advance for your support in this effort!

Carey & John & entire The Pasta Shoppe Team

The post Helping Hurricane Victims…one bag at a time appeared first on The Pasta Shoppe.

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