Oodles of Noodles

The word "pasta" was not part of my Jewish culinary heritage, but lucshen (the Yiddish word for egg noodles) was its counterpart, often served in my home. These golden noodles came in just two shapes: thin for chicken soups and wide for kugels. On occasion, either was sauced up with some ketchup or tossed with cottage cheese for a savory dairy main dish.

There were also kreplach — or Jewish ravioli — stuffed with meat, cheese or potatoes, which were a special treat for the holidays. As much as I loved these dishes, today's pasta has greater appeal and adapts well to summer entertaining.

Beautiful vegetables, fresh herbs from the garden — these are the season's best. What better way to showcase these gifts of the season than to combine them with different shapes of pasta for light, colorful and tasty warm-weather fare.

Effortless, elegant and easy dishes can be created in a flash, allowing the cook to serve leisurely without spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen. The key is simple preparations that rely on the natural goodness of the ingredients.

These sauces can be made ahead of time and reheated just before serving. Try using a variety of pasta shapes to spice up the presentation.

Farfalle With Fresh Peas, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts


2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsps. chopped shallots
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup kosher white wine
2 cups shelled fresh peas
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 lb. freshly cooked farfalle pasta (butterflies or bow-tie pasta)

In large skillet, heat oil and butter. Cook shallots and mushrooms about 5 minutes.

Add the stock and wine, bring to a boil and add peas. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in toasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup cheese. Taste for salt and pepper.

Toss with pasta and sprinkle with chives.

Serves 6.


Penne With Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto


Pesto Ingredients

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
6 Tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese
6 Tbsps. grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 small cloves garlic
1 lb. new potatoes, cooked and cubed
8 oz. green beans trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces and cooked just until tender
1 lb. penne pasta

Place all pesto ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.

In large bowl, combine potatoes and green beans.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Just before draining remove 1/2 cup cooking liquid and add to pesto.

Toss penne, potatoes, green beans with pesto. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.


Shells With Sweet Corn, Artichoke Hearts and Peppers


3 Tbsps. olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 each red, yellow and green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears of corn
1 package (10 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered
salt and pepper
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
1 lb. freshly cooked medium shell pasta

In large skillet, heat oil. Cook onions and peppers until soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the cumin, coriander, oregano and tomatoes; cook another 3 minutes.

Add stock and corn; bring to a boil.

Add artichokes and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper; toss with shells.

Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves 4.


Pasta With Uncooked Tomato Sauce and Anchovies


4 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 Tbsps. minced shallots
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup imported black olives, pitted
4 Tbsps. olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. freshly cooked pasta
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese (optional)
basil leaves for garnish

Coarsely chop all ingredients except pasta and basil leaves in food processor.

Taste for salt and pepper, and toss with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and garnish with basil leaves.

Serves 8 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.



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