Tag Archives: pasta

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

Continue reading Harvesting Anchorage: Spruce tips

Pasta with Chard & Sausage in Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Time to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon. I’ve had a medium baking pumpkin sitting around the house for a couple of weeks and I’ve been putting off cooking with it because I have so little pumpkin-cooking experience.

I was inspired by a recipe from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, but I also had items in the fridge I needed to use up, so I winged it a little. What I came up with was a flavorful casserole that was creamy, cheesy and somewhat healthy too.

You can use canned pumpkin, but I recommend baking your own using this method, as it was super easy and fresh.

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Pasta with Chard & Sausage in Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Serves 6-8


4-5 hot Italian sausages, casings removed

14.5 oz.-box farfalle noodles

10 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cups chopped Swiss chard

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1.5 cups pumpkin puree

3 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil noodles till just al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large saute pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Set sausage aside and in the same pan, add the mushrooms, onions, chard, salt and pepper and toss till coated with the sausage grease. Add a small amount of olive oil if needed. Cover and let steam for five minutes. Uncover, stir in the garlic and saute another minute.

Stir in the pumpkin, chicken stock and oregano. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add the evaporated milk, sausage and parsley and bring back to a simmer. If it’s too thick, add more chicken stock.

Place pasta in a large casserole dish and pour sauce over noodles. Sprinkle in half the cheese and mix thoroughly. Top with remaining cheese (and more cheese if you’d like) and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

This is a wholesome dish the whole family will love!

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Ravioli Nudi and the End of Summer Camp

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend End of Summer Camp, which proved to be a unique bonding experience for Anchorage grown-ups. I met bloggers, event planners, printmakers, food critics, photographers, storytellers and other local professionals all while enjoying nostalgic campy activities. The campers were fed by Fork Catering, and I took every available moment to enjoy their meals and chat with chefs Rob and Dave.

Chef Rob Kinneen taught a cooking workshop, which I eagerly signed up for. Turns out he was going to demonstrate homemade pasta-making. I’m familiar with making my own pasta, such as comb pastas, basil fettuccine and Russian pelmeni, but I was interested in learning techniques from a professional chef.

He led a hands-on lesson on tortelloni and ravioli nudi. The tortelloni, which were essentially large tortellini, were familiar to me, but the ravioli nudi were entirely new. The nudi are like ravioli without the noodle, literally naked ravioli. Instead you incorporate cheeses, flour, herbs and egg into a sticky, soft dough and create small dumplings, which are then boiled. They are sort of like gnocchi, but with cheese instead of potato.

Chef Rob Kinneen (left) instructs campers on how to roll out ravioli nudi dough.
Chef Rob Kinneen instructs campers on how to roll out ravioli nudi dough.

My only attempt at making gnocchi in the past was a complete slimy failure and Rob’s technique for making nudi could be easily translated to gnocchi. I had to try the recipe myself when I got home.

And I did.

Ravioli Nudi | Alaska Knit Nat

Ravioli Nudi with Spinach, Ricotta, and Parsley

Serves 3


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus about 1/2 cup for coating dough

Useful utensil: spider strainer


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water and set beside the pot. Meanwhile beat together the eggs, yolks, garlic, chili flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Incorporate the ricotta till smooth. Add the parmesan, parsley and spinach. Slowly add the 1/4 cup flour till a super sticky dough forms. It should be the consistency of thick, lumpy pancake batter. Heavily flour a large cutting board. Gently turn the dough onto the board and work in enough extra flour for it to be very soft and sticky inside, but coated on all sides in flour. Form the dough into a 1.5-inch tall rectangle.

Cut the dough into 1.5-inch strips and gently roll each strip around, dusting with flour, till coated evenly on all sides. Cut each strip on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces so you have small, oblong dumplings. Gently roll each dumpling around in your floured hand till they are each coated and no sticky dough is exposed.

Ravioli Nudi | Alaska Knit Nat

When the water is at a rolling boil, gently add the ravioli in batches so the water doesn’t cool down too much. Boil for just a few minutes, until the ravioli float to the surface. With a slotted spoon, strain out the ravioli and add to the ice water bath. Repeat with remaining ravioli.

Ravioli Nudi | Alaska Knit Nat

Now that you have made your ravioli nudi, there are lots of ways to serve them. Use them in any ravioli recipe, or fry them up with butter till lightly browned and crusty.

Ravioli Nudi | Alaska Knit Nat

Thanks again, Chef Rob, for your excellent instruction. I’m happy to add this technique to my repertoire.

Ravioli Nudi with Spinach and Parsley | Alaska Knit Nat

How to Make Marinara in Bulk

I never thought I’d be a label reader. But then I had a child and started feeding him. I quickly realized there’s a lot of extra stuff in store-bought food. I could be making a lot of that food myself and it would probably be cheaper.

Then again I am pretty lazy. I’ll make homemade marinara every once in a while, but when I’m in a pinch, I just go buy the jarred stuff. If I want the good jarred stuff it usually costs about $4.

Here is where I take a lesson from good ol’ dad. My entire life he has cooked sauce in bulk and freezes jars of it for later. I’ve been saving quite a few pickle and sauce jars so why not give it a try?

How to Make Marinara Sauce in Bulk

It was easy and in the end cost less than half as much as store bought; and it’s probably twice as good.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 GIANT 106-oz. cans of crushed tomatoes – $2.99 apiece at Costco

25 cloves of garlic, smashed

about 1/3 cup good olive oil

1/4 cup dried basil

2 Tbs. dried oregano

2 Tbs. sugar

8 dried red chilis

salt and pepper to taste

6-7 large 40-oz. jars with lids



Heat the olive oil in an extra large stock pot over medium-high. When oil is heated, toss in the garlic and turn heat to medium. Stir frequently and sauté till garlic is golden, about five minutes. Add all the other ingredients and turn heat to high. Cover and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to med-low and simmer for about two hours, stirring every once in a while so sauce doesn’t burn.

Let cool and spoon into jars. Do not fill right to the top because the sauce will expand in the freezer and then you’d have a sauce bomb to clean up later. If sauce is still hot enough, the jars might self seal as once they cool on the counter. Freeze up to six months.

To thaw: Defrost in microwave according to your microwave settings or leave out on the counter during the day. Once it’s slightly thawed and can be loosened into a sauce pot, thaw the rest of the way over medium-low flame.

How to Make Marinara Sauce in Bulk

Lasagna Roll-ups with Spicy Sauce

Oh Pinterest, how I love thee. Let me count the ways….nah, I’ll just tell you about lasagna roll-ups. Do a Pinterest search for this dish and you’ll find lots of versions. I would like to add my version to the list.

Lasagna roll-ups — what a splendid idea. It’s easier to serve and you don’t have to make one gigantic batch and hope that you’ll eat the leftovers before they become fuzzy with mold. That’s always the problem when I make it for just me and my husband. Each roll up is like one slice of lasagna, which to me is about one third of a serving since I’m always starving.

Here’s my down-home lasagna recipe TRANSFORMED!

Serves 4 hungry people, or 6 regular people

Ingredients for the sauce:

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

1 Tbs. tomato paste

2 Tbs. olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 onion, chopped (optional)

3 Tbs. or so dried basil

1 Tbs. or so dried oregano

1 tsp. sugar

salt and pepper

1 lb. spicy pork sausage


The rest:

One package of lasagna noodles (the kind you have to boil)

1 regular-sized tub of cottage cheese (trust me)

1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

1.5 cups shredded parmesan

2 eggs

1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach

3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper


For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook till onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat so sauce doesn’t burn. In the meantime, brown the meat and break up into small pieces. Add to the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the spinach in boiling water till it’s heated through. Drain, cool, and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella, 1 cup of parmesan, spinach, parsley, salt and pepper.

In a square baking dish, add about a cup of the sauce.

When water is boiling add six noodles at a time and boil for 10 minutes, or whatever the packaging says. Spread the noodles out on a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread a couple of tablespoons of the cheese mix to each noodle. Roll up the noodles and place seam-side down into the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle the rest of the cheeses on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 5-10 minutes.


Creamy Tortellini, Sausage and Mushroom Soup

Winter’s a-coming and that means it’s soup and stew season. Gotta stay warm, especially when we’ve been having these unusually early El Niño-like windstorms lately. Here’s a great recipe to hunker down with. I found it on Pinterest and as usual, added my own little flair (i.e., meat).

I wasn’t sure what the blogger meant by “white sauce mix.” Normally, I’m averse to using prepackaged stuff in my cooking, but I thought I’d try it out and I used one dry packet of alfredo sauce mix. It turned out to be a delightful soup base and boosted the other flavors quite well.


Creamy Tortellini Sausage and Mushroom Soup

Serves a whole bunch of people — like 12?


1 packet of dry alfredo sauce mix

4 cups water

2 cups chicken broth

1.5 cups crimini or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

1/2 an onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. or so dried basil

1/2 teaspoon or so dried oregano

some sprinkles of cayenne powder

salt and pepper

one 8-oz package of dried tortellini

1/2 package of frozen spinach

4 Italian sausages

1 12-oz. can evaporated milk


Combine the sauce mix, water and chicken stock in a large Crock Pot. Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper and set Crock Pot to low for 4-5 hours.

Stir in the dried tortellini. Cook on low for another hour. Meanwhile, heat the frozen spinach in a small pan with water till it’s thawed. Strain and squeeze out the water. Set aside. Cook the sausage thoroughly and slice up.

Add the spinach and sausage and continue cooking till tortellini is al dente. Add the evaporated milk and cook till soup is hot again. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.