Category Archives: Pasta

Squash and Spinach Ravioli

Sometimes a dish is too good to blog. I’m so busy eating it I don’t think to photograph it. But then some dishes are so good that I have to make them two days in  a row just to blog about it.

Last night a friend came over so I could show him how to make ravioli. I winged the filling by using ingredients I already had: delicata squash, frozen chopped spinach, cottage cheese and pecorino Romano cheese.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

These tender, flavorful morsels were so good, I just had to make them a day later and share them with my best friend, Kelly.

Squash and spinach ravioli

You will want/need a pasta rolling machine for this recipe – or a wine bottle and a lot of patience.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling:

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

  • 1 medium delicata squash (sub pretty much any other kind of squash here)
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (sub ricotta if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Cut each half in half. Scoop out the seeds and rub all over with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until flesh is pierced easily with a fork. Remove from oven and cool.

While squash is cooling, make the dough. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs, milk and salt to the well and whisk together, slowly incorporating the flour until a shaggy dough forms.

Remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface for a couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. If it is too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk. Continue to knead for a few more minutes, then wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Heat a small pan with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Place into a medium mixing bowl.  Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the spinach as you can and add to the bowl. Scrape the squash into the bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside.

Set up your pasta roller and put it on the biggest setting. Take a palm-sized piece of dough and pat it flat. Run it through the pasta roller one time. It may be tough but it’s ok to press it through unevenly. You’ll be using this largest setting to knead the dough for you.

After the first time through, fold the dough in half and run it through again. Continue folding the dough and running it through four or five more times. Now advance your pasta roller to the next setting and run the dough through once.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Continue narrowing the roller and running the dough through once each time until it’s your desired thickness. Each pasta maker is a little different. With my KitchenAid roller I go to setting 6.

Lay your dough on a lightly floured surface or drape it on a bamboo clothes drying rack while you finish the other pieces of dough.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Now it’s time to assemble your ravioli. First, put a salted pot of water on to boil. Take one strip of pasta and place 1 teaspoon of filling across the bottom of one side, about one inch apart with a 1/2-inch space from the edge.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Fold the long side of the dough in half over the filling and start pressing lightly all around, pushing out air as you go. Press around all the filling so the pasta sticks to itself.

Using a pastry scraper or pizza cutter, cut your dough into individual ravioli. Be sure to cut the long edge because the cutting actually seals the pasta.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Boil your ravioli in two batches. Once the pot returns to a boil, simmer the pasta for just a few minutes until it’s al dente. I like to take a ravioli out of the pot and cut off a corner to test the doneness.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Use a large slotted spoon or spider to remove the ravioli from the pot. Place into shallow serving bowls. Top with a little butter, good olive oil, more pecorino Romano cheese, and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve with green beans and Italian sausage.

Squash and spinach ravioli | DIY fresh pasta recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

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Chicken lasagna with artichokes and white sauce

Every once in a while I have the wherewithal to make lasagna with homemade noodles. This evening I decided to try something different. Instead of traditional red sauce and ricotta I made a creamy béchamel sauce and layered the spinach noodles with shredded chicken and marinated artichoke hearts. The marinade from the artichokes added a tangy flavor to the dish and the creamy sauce was pure deliciousness. You can of course use store-bought noodles, but there’s something fancy about fresh pasta.

Chicken lasagna with artichokes | the perfect Sunday dinner from alaskaknitnat.com

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White vegetarian lasagna with wild porcini

This is my favorite time of year in Anchorage. It’s cool, rainy and chock full of mushrooms. It’s a mushroom wonderland out there!

Aspen scaber stalk bolete mushrooms Inedible mushrooms found in Anchorage forests Inedible mushrooms found in Anchorage forest

I grew up eating boletus mushrooms and this year they have been abundant. If you’re interested in picking them, check out my handy mushroom guide.

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Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce

My husband travels for work so I’m frequently “solo parenting.” Working full time, picking up our son and getting dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30 can be a struggle. Tonight was really tricky since we got home late, but thanks to my rare meal planning this week I was able to put together a wholesome pasta dish in under 30 minutes.

By marinating the frozen chicken in the fridge overnight I didn’t have to make a mad dash to thaw it out and flavor it right before preparing the dish. I felt like a winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce

Serves 4

For the chicken marinade:

  • 5 frozen chicken tenders
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper

For the pasta:

  • 3/4 pounds pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The night before, place the frozen chicken in a large Ziploc bag with all the marinade ingredients. Let sit overnight in the fridge. It’ll be delicious by tomorrow.

Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the noodles according to packaging.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil over high heat. When the pan is hot, cook the chicken tenders till browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Set aside. When cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Clean out the pan with a paper towel and add the rest of the oil and the butter. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook spinach till it’s wilted. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. When pasta is drained, add it to the pan with the chicken, Parmesan and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Spaghetti & Chicken with Lemon Thyme Mushroom Sauce

Sometimes I just don’t want to plan dinner. Today was the case as I opened my fridge at 5:10 p.m. to figure out what to prepare for my family. I came up with frozen chicken breasts, frozen broccoli, lemon and fresh thyme. I was uninspired, but decided to put the frozen chicken in the pressure cooker and figure it out as I went along.

Then, when my son called me out to the yard to look at the newest addition to his playhouse, the best thing happened: I found two pristine king bolete mushrooms standing proudly under our large spruce trees.

Spaghetti & Chicken in a lemon, thyme mushroom sauce | An original recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

I’ve been waiting all summer for this moment. King boletes are the most delectable of the mushrooms my family gathers and they happen to grow in my yard every summer from late July to early September. For the past three weeks I’ve been checking the areas under the spruce trees for these meaty, delicious fungi. They pop up overnight and you have to pick them when they are fresh otherwise bugs will lay claim to them.

As soon as I cleaned my two treasures I had formed a supper strategy. Lemon, thyme, mushrooms, broccoli, garlic, chicken and pasta — yeah, that’s a good combination. By 6:15 I had a decent meal that was a real crowd pleaser.

Spaghetti & Chicken in a lemon, thyme mushroom sauce | An original recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Of course you can use store bought mushrooms, but if you happen to have wild porcini, I encourage you to cook them as soon as you can.

Spaghetti & Chicken in a Lemon Thyme Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry cooking sherry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Place 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a pressure cooker. Line the bottom of the cooker with lemon slices. Add the frozen chicken, zest, thyme and salt and pepper. Set the pressure cooker to 35 minutes. When it’s done, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside and reserve the cooking liquid as well.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place broccoli and 1/4 cup chicken stock in a large sauté pan. Cover and steam over high heat for 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Set broccoli with stock aside.

In the same sauté pan, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat on medium-high and add the mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms have given off their liquid and they begin to brown, about 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the sherry and let it evaporate, about 2 minutes.

Create a slurry with the flour and 1/4 cup chicken stock. Add this to the mushrooms and garlic. Once it’s thickened, add some of the stock from the pressure cooker until it’s a sauce-like consistency. Add some more butter if you want it creamier. Add the drained pasta, broccoli and chicken. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Spaghetti & Chicken in a lemon, thyme mushroom sauce | An original recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips

After my less-than-stellar morel hunt last weekend I needed to forage something more gratifying. It’s the perfect time for spruce tips. Pretty much all the spruce trees in town are boasting bright green tips with brown papery casings. I ventured as far as my yard to collect a pound of them. They required very little processing; just remove the papery casings and you’re good to go.

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips | Alaskaknitnat.com

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips | Alaskaknitnat.com

I’ve never been quite sure what to make with these edibles. I’m not much for tea or jelly. I wanted something savory.

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips | Alaskaknitnat.com

I first referenced the Goddess of Alaska Forests, Laurie Constantino, and made a delectable dip with mayo, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and minced spruce tips. It was perfect for the garlic bread crusts I had leftover on my dinner plate last night.

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips | Alaskaknitnat.com

Recently a friend of mine told me about a Juneau-based blog that’s all about foraging Alaska edibles. There was an intriguing recipe for spruce tip gnocchi. I had to try it.

Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips | Alaskaknitnat.com

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Harvesting Anchorage: Devil’s Club Pesto

As Part Two of my summertime Alaska blog series, I tried to harvest a few things such as fiddlehead ferns and fireweed shoots, but I only successfully cooked something using devil’s club.

You’ve probably encountered devil’s club in any Alaska forest. It’s pretty much the last plant you want to encounter because it’s covered top to bottom in sharp thorns that can easily embed themselves in your skin; but in the spring the plants produce short buds covered in premature, soft thorns. This part of the plant is edible. Is it good? That’s what I aimed to find out.

I embarked on my devil’s club hunt on a sunny spring day after the birch trees had started budding. I had no trouble finding a thicket of devil’s club up on the hillside. They all had 1-to-3-inch buds emerging from the dry, wheat-colored stalks. I used a gardening glove to pluck them and collected them in a bucket.

Harvesting Anchorage: Devil's Club Pesto | A free recipe from AlaskaKnitNat.com
This one isn’t quite ready yet. There should be an inch or two of green coming out of the brown sheath.
Harvesting Anchorage: Devil's Club Pesto | A free recipe from AlaskaKnitNat.com
This one is ripe for the plucking!

After getting stuck with thorns a few times I felt as though I had enough to work with. On the drive home my car started smelling like an Alaska forest. The devil’s club buds had a spicy, celery-like scent.

Continue reading Harvesting Anchorage: Devil’s Club Pesto