My hubs used to be the SWAT commander for our local police department & somehow this pasta became known as “SWAT RAGS. One of his officers taught me how to make this when the hubs and I first started dating. He was friends with a local restauranteur and this was a secret dish he made for his friends. I used to make huge pans of this stuff in my tiny apartment kitchen for SWAT team get togethers & special events. When we got married in a friend’s backyard, you better believe this dish was served. Later, we started adding grilled chicken and that was a hit, too. This dish has been a staple at the many large parties we have thrown over the years. A party is not a party without SWAT Rags. Awwww…the memories!
Rigatoni w/Mushrooms (SWAT Rags)
I used to serve this for huge parties. Here is a great rule of thumb: For every box of pasta, you will need 2 more bunches of green onion, 1 additional jalapeño and 2 more garlic cloves. You will also increase the pepper, Italian seasoning and lemon accordingly. For parties, you can make the pasta the day before or the morning of. It’s a very forgiving dish. We then serve it in a giant pot or a roaster.
- 2 (1 lb) boxes of rigatoni pasta
- 1 (2 sticks) cup butter
- 24 ounces of sliced mushrooms
- 4 bunches of green onions, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 TBS Italian herb seasoning
- 1 TBS fresh ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Italian parsley and grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
- Optional: Add sliced grilled chicken.
- Prepare the rigatoni according to package directions. Do not over cook. I usually subtract 1 from the recommended time. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking prepared your chopped veg. I use a food processor to chop the jalapeño & garlic. I remove the jalapeño & garlic, and then I chop the green onion in the food processor. Saves time and we like the texture.
- Return the pot to the stove and heat to medium. Add butter. Once melted and bubbling a bit, add the jalapeño & garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add in the green onion and seasonings. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the sliced mushroom and lemon juice. Sauté for 2-3 more minutes.
- Return the pasta to the pot of vegetables. Stir to coat the pasta.
- Serve topped with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.
- Add grilled chicken, if desired.
This is an incredibly easy dish to put together and it’s so flavorful. The creole seasoning really elevates this pasta. It’s just a great diversion from the typical Italian pasta dish. You’ll love this New Orleans inspired meal!
Creole Pasta w/Andouille Sausage
- 1 (12 oz) package of ribbed elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions minus 1 minute (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
- 2 links of andouille sausage, thin sliced
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning
- Olive oil for cooking
- 1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp chicken base
- 2 cups jalapeño Jack cheese
- Chopped green onions for garnish
- In a large cast iron pot heat 1 TBS olive oil. Add sliced sausage, onion, garlic & red pepper. Sauté until sausage is lightly browned and vegetables are cooked down.
- Add can of tomatoes. Sauté until heated through.
- Add in heavy cream, reserved pasta water & chicken base. Bring to a low boil, until it thickens.
- Return drained pasta and mix thoroughly.
- Add in cheese and lightly toss. Cover the pot & leave heat on low for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! This simple & comforting pasta goulash is perfect for a little Irish celebration. Just add an Irish kiss for the cook!
- 1 (16 oz package) elbow macaroni, prepared according to package directions minus 1 minute (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ onion, diced
- Sea salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 (4 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 (12 oz) petite diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- In a large pot, brown ground beef & onions. Season with sea salt & pepper.
- Add in minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Turn heat to low, and add in in all other ingredients, except peas & pasta. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add in prepared pasta & frozen peas. Stir on low heat until heated through. Add a bit of reserved pasta water, if needed.
- Serve immediately in a bowl & enjoy!
This is a one of our go-to leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipes. It travels really well, so it’s something I make to deliver to our kids. Simple to prepare and it feeds a crowd. Whether you use turkey or chicken, it’s a super satisfying and cozy meal.
Chicken (or Turkey) Spaghetti Casserole
- 4 cups shredded chicken or turkey
- 12 oz package of spaghetti, cooked 1 minute less than recommended & drained
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 (8 oz.) light sour cream
- 4 TBS melted butter
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 TBS melted butter
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs or chickpea crumbs
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Combine everything except the topping.
- To make topping, combine the melted butter & bread crumbs.
- Top the casserole with 1 cup cheddar cheese & then the butter & bread crumb mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly.
I made this for a family gathering and everyone went crazy over this dish. It’s great as a side dish or as the main meal. It has a few steps, but it is well worth it. The best part is that I used cherry tomatoes from my garden! This is gonna be a permanent fixture on our table. The original recipe is from Half Baked Harvest and was made with gnocchi. In addition to using pasta, I made a few other tweaks for my taste. The link to the original recipe is on the recipe.
Summer Pasta w/Roasted Tomato Pesto, Corn, Zucchini & Feta
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 TBS lemon zest
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 package of gemelli pasta (I used a 17.6 oz package)
- 4 zucchini, quartered
- 4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
- 1 (8 oz) block of feta cheese cut into small cubes
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- Fresh basil & red pepper flakes for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a roasting pan, drizzle tomatoes with olive oil & season with sea salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until they start to blister & split. Remove from oven & let cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions & subtracting 1 minute from suggested cooking time. Before draining reserve 1 cup of pasta liquid.
- When done, drain pasta and return pot to stove. Add 2 TBS olive oil and sauté fresh corn niblets for 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add 1 pint of the roasted tomatoes and the toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, garlic, cheese, & olive oil to a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Set aside.
- Add the remaining roasted tomatoes (and any liquid from roasting), zucchini & reserved pasta water to the sautéed corn. Add sea salt & pepper to taste.
- Add in the drained pasta, feta cheese cubes and the tomato pesto sauce. Toss until everything is coated.
- Garnish with fresh basil & red pepper flakes. Serve warm.
I was inspired to make this dish after seeing something similar posted by a fellow foodie. These meatballs are tender and filling. One will do; maybe even just half. My hubs loved this dish and the hearty red sauce is what makes it. I hope you try it!
XL Meatballs & Pasta in Hearty Red Sauce
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup bread crumbs (I used leftover Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix I had in the freezer)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1 (15 oz) jar of good marinara or homemade red sauce (See link in notes)
- 1 lb linguine, cooked al dente
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and parchment paper.
- Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg and salt & pepper in a large bowl. Form beef mixture into 4-5 large meatballs.
- Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Turn the meat balls over and bake for another 8-10 minutes. I use a temperature prob and remove them when they are at 165 degrees internal temperature.
- While your meatballs are baking, heat your red sauce & prepare your linguine.
- Add the prepared linguine to the red sauce and toss.
- Place a serving of linguine tossed in the red in a bowl. Top with 1 or 2 meatballs. Garnish with additional Parmesan & green herbs.
If you’re looking for a fancilious holiday dinner idea, I highly recommend this easy meal. I promise you can do it! The hardest thing is peeling & deveining the shrimp. I sautéed the shrimp with a homemade tomato sauce, but you could certainly use store bought. To make it extra special I topped it with lightly browned Italian chickpea crumbs and lemon zest. Amazing flavors and so festive!
Creamy Saffron Linguine & Prawns
- 1 lb linguine prepared according to package directions (minus 1 minute)
- 4 TBS water
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
- 2 TBS grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 egg yolks
- Sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste
- 12 large prawns, deveined with tails left on
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs or chickpea crumbs mixed with 1 TBS lemon zest
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. If the package says to cook 10-12 minutes, subtract 1 minute (cooking for 9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, bring 4 TBS of filtered water to boil in a small dish in the microwave. Place saffron in the water. Let steep for several minutes.
- Add the cream to the saffron & water. Cook over medium heat until it is at a simmer. Add the Parmesan & lemon zest. Lower heat & simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Heat 1 TBS of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the prawns & cook on both sides. Add marinara & cook until it bubbles a little. Toss the shrimp and sauce together. Turn heat to a low simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove cream from heat. While whisking, add the eggs yolks. Return the saucepan to the stove & turn heat to low simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken.
- Add the drained pasta to cream mixture and toss. Use cooking water to thin, if needed. The pasta is going to soak up the sauce.
- Heat the bread or chickpea crumbs & lemon zest in a sauté pan, until lightly browned.
- Place portions of the creamy linguine in pasta bowl. Place 3 of the prawns on the side of the pasta. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of prepared bread crumbs on top. Garnish with Italian parsley.
Fresh, easy and delicious! This pasta is great in its own or as a side dish. I serve this with salmon or other fish, and it is a wonderful compliment. It was also an awesome opportunity for me to use basil from my herb garden. Another hint: Keep a small block of Parmesan in your freezer & you’ll always have it in hand, when needed. Enjoy!
Lemon Spaghetti w/Parmesan & Basil
- 1/2 lb spaghetti, prepared according to directions (reserve 1 cup of pasta liquid)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan
- Lemon zest from 1 lemon
- Juice of 1-2 lemons
- Sea salt & cracked pepper
- Fresh basil chiffonade (about 1/3 cup)
- Fresh Parmesan to shave for garnish
- Prepare pasta and return to the cooking pot.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and grated Parmesan. Add to cooked pasta and toss.
- Add 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to the pasta to moisten. Add more, if needed.
- Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with shaved Parmesan & the basil chiffonade.
This yummy meal has all the required elements – grilled beef, a creamy avocado and this awesome chickpea pasta. The rich meat was perfect with this light, yet flavorful pasta! I’m gonna squeeze every last minute out of this summer & this al fresco meal hit the mark!
Rotini w/Boursin Cheese, Peas & Mushrooms
- 1 box pasta (I used the 8 oz. Banza rotini)
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid
- 1 package Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese (5.2 oz.)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms, sautéed & browned
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta liquid and then drain cooked pasta. Return to cooking pot.
- Brown mushrooms and set aside.
- Add cheese, pasta water & lemon zest to prepared pasta. Mix well.
- Add browned mushrooms and toss.
- Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve warm.
This super easy pasta dish is made from chickpea penne pasta, a jar of your favorite marinara, lean ground beef and plenty of cheese! This is one of my family’s most requested meals. My granddaughter has asked for it for two years straight for her first day of school dinner. Enjoy!
Creamy Chickpea Pasta Bake
- 16 oz chickpea penne pasta (I used 2 (8 oz) boxes of Eat Banza penne), prepared according to package directions
- 1/2 jar of your favorite marinara (Most smaller jars of marinara come in the 15.5 oz size – I use half & freeze the rest. For this recipe I used Rao’s)
- 3/4 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 4 cups shredded Monterrey Jack & Cheddar
- Cook the pasta in a large pot. Drain the pasta, and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
- Brown ground beef and onion in the same pot you used to cook the pasta. Break apart into to small pieces. Drain excess liquid.
- Add the marinara to beef mixture. Mix thoroughly.
- Add 1 cup of the cheese, the reserved pasta water and the drained pasta to the beef mixture. Fold together.
- Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Place mixture in the dish and top with remaining cheese. Refrigerate, if making ahead. Can be store for 1-2 days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If baking immediately, bake for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes, or until top is slightly browned. If making after it is refrigerated, let it sit out for 30-45 minutes and then bake. You may have to bake it a bit longer if refrigerated.