Creamy Ricotta, Mint, and Garlic Pasta with Peas: In the Woods

Ricotta Pasta and Garlic Bread in the Woods 25

This particular dish, from The Camping Cookbook, is supposed to be served hot, but I thought it would make a nice cold lunch for us to eat after setting up camp on the first day.  So I ended up making all of this ahead of time, at home (which means that technically I didn’t make it in the woods).

Ricotta Pasta and Garlic Bread in the Woods 1

Start by boiling up about 150g of your favourite short pasta. The original recipe calls for ziti, but I love fusili so that’s what I used. Cook it according to the package directions, and drain it and return it to the pot when it’s ready.

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While that’s cooking, cut yourself about 1 tablespoon fresh mint and chop that up.

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Thaw about 1/2 cup frozen peas (or fresh, if you’ve got ’em). I added this element to the recipe for the sake of vitamins. Don’t want to get scurvy while camping.

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Mash up as well some roasted garlic (I roasted a few heads of this the week before and it pretty much went into everything).

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While the cooked pasta is still hot, stir in 1/3 cup ricotta cheese and 1/3 cup heavy cream (I wimped out here and used half and half).

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Add in your mint, peas, and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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We served this cold with a nice toasted garlic bread I prepared in advance: slice up a small baguette so that you have individual pieces but they’re still stuck together at the bottom.

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Chop up some fresh herbs: parsley, basil, and oregano (dried is also fine).

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Mush up some roasted garlic.

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Smush those all together with some pepper.

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Add softened (this is too softened) butter and mix.

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Insert the butter between the slices and wrap in tin foil until you’re ready to eat.

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You can toast the bread directly on your camp stove, or you can put it in an Outback Oven, or you can roast it directly over the campfire.

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Either way, it’s excellent.

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Made-up Macaroni Salad

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Pasta salads are ideal for summer parties.  You can make them ahead of time and you don’t have to worry about heating up the house.  This one came together on the fly, as most of them tend to do.  I stuck with a reddish theme and it worked out.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 2

Start with a bowl of cooked pasta.  I used cavatappi, or Scoobi-do pasta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 1

Chucked in a diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, and green olives.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 3

Then some fresh oregano, chives, and some cubed feta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 4

Then I decided to throw in a few bocconcini as well.  I also tossed in some tandoori spice and some Hungarian paprika for kick.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 5

When you make a pasta salad, make a lot of dressing to go with it, because the pasta will absorb so much extra liquid.  The base of this one was olive oil, maple syrup, Tabasco, and rice vinegar.

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As I said, make a lot.

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Put half in now and then the other half right before you serve it.

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TADA.

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There was enough left over that I added some pasta sauce to it, topped it with cheese, and baked it into a casserole afterwards.  Waste not!

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Chicken Orzo Salad

Chicken Orzo Salad 10

The Pie’s parents, Mrs. Nice and Papa John, are in town on a visit for the Pie’s graduation (B.Sc. Honours in Geography and Computer Science, booyah), so I get a good number of opportunities to cook new things that I think might appeal to them.  This one I made with Mrs. Nice in mind, and reminds me somewhat of that amazing orzo salad we had at Ferryland a few years ago.

Chicken Orzo Salad 5

Chicken Orzo Salad 2

Prep your vegetables.  Dice up half a large red onion, 1 red pepper, and half a large cucumber (I cut out the seeds).  I also halved 250g grape tomatoes and defrosted 1 cup each frozen corn and frozen peas.

Chicken Orzo Salad 3

Prep your dressing.  In a small jar (or other container with a lid), dump 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons dried savoury (or basil, or oregano, or whatever you want), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil.

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Close the lid tightly and give that a shake.  Let it sit for a while.

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Fill a large saucepan with about 4L of water and salt it generously.  Put it on to boil.  When it’s boiling, remove the lid, turn the heat down a bit, and pour in 450g orzo pasta.

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While that’s on the go, cut up about 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts into small cubes and  pitch those in a frying pan or skillet with a bit of vegetable oil.

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Sauté those until fully cooked and browned on the outside.  Remove from the heat.

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Drain your orzo and plop it in a big bowl. This bowl was not big enough.

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My peas and corn were still a little frozen so I added them to the still-hot chicken pan to let them thaw properly.

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Then I chucked in the rest of the vegetables and stirred that around.

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Then you just add your veg to your pasta.  Give that a good stir.

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Give your dressing another shake and toss that with all the rest of your salad (don’t worry about the amount — it will be absorbed into the pasta) and serve warm or cold.

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Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

There is no reason that those among us with a gluten intolerance can’t enjoy a good summery pasta salad.  This one was cool and civilized with fresh herbs and a nice new mozzarella.

First, cook your noodles (gluten-free or otherwise) according to the package instructions.  For the gluten-free variety, I find it’s actually better to cook them for a little bit less (like 15 minutes as opposed to 20) because then you avoid the mushy stage.  What they don’t tell you is the amount of sludgy starch that comes off the noodles when you drain them, nor how sticky the noodles are when they are ready. These are brown rice noodles, just FYI.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

So I added a drizzle of olive oil to the noodles to keep them separated while they cooled.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Then I halved a few handfuls cherry tomatoes (I find the ones from Costco are actually the best and last the longest) and chucked those in.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Then I chopped up some green onions, fresh chives, and fresh parsley and added that as well.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

I cubed up two large hunks of soft fresh mozzarella (I was looking for the little balls, but couldn’t find them) and added those in before tossing the salad. Make sure the noodles are cool before you do this or the cheese will melt.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Pour a dollop of olive oil, another of rice vinegar, and another of lemon juice into a small sealable container and add some salt and pepper to liven it up a little bit.  You can add garlic, too, if you wish.  Give that a shake before pouring it over the salad and tossing all the noodles to coat.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

You can store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat it, but I would recommend eating it all the same day, as the noodles will become stiff and stick together after a while.

Gluten-Free Pasta Salad