2 Recipes for These Times

This pasta dish from Lucca is simple, adaptable and gratifying.

By Wini Moranville

The call to #StayHome is definitely wreaking havoc on the lives of our restaurateurs and their employees. Fortunately, staying home doesn’t have to mean turning our backs on that community. We’re in this together, people.

Because most of us will be cooking at home in these times, I thought I’d offer two gratifying recipes that are very simple and can be mostly made with items with long shelf lives.

1. Lucca’s Pasta al Forno
I love this recipe not only because it’s simple and gratifying, but because it can be made with things that most cooks almost always have on hand: pasta, cheese, canned tomatoes, olive oil and basil.

It’s also infinitely adaptable: You don’t have to use rigatoni—honestly, any pasta will work. You don’t have to use provolone; any cheese that melts well will be great. (I’ve made this with cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Havarti, mozzarella, fontina, Comté, Swiss … you get the idea.) And if you’re out of canned crushed tomatoes, you’ll likely have something else that will work: marinara sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (whir in a blender to sauce-like consistency) or even tomato paste (dilute it to sauce-like consistency). And for heaven’s sake, don’t head to the store just for the fresh basil called for: A half-teaspoon dried basil (or oregano, or Italian herb blend, or nothing at all) will work just great.

2. My Easy Chicken-Macaroni Soup
This is what I make when someone I know is sick or blue. If you don’t have all the vegetables called for, make it anyway with the veggies you do have, just up the quantities a bit.

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup dried elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 tablespoon snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (if you have it)

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, combine the chicken broth, carrot, celery and onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until the macaroni is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken, parsley, and lemon juice. Heat to boiling. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 light main-dish servings.

Take good care, everyone. And if you have any cooking questions, feel free to reach out to me on my Facebook page at All Things Food DSM – Wini Moranville. I’m happy to help.

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