Pantry Creamy Pasta Salad

I made this from some leftover pasta shells I had from the Shells with a Tomato Vodka Sauce. The ingredients are what I had on hand, but I think bacon, fresh peas, or diced tomatoes would make some great add ins. This serves 2 or 1 if you are really hungry. You can also double it if this going to be used as a side dish.

Here’s what you need:

*2 C. Cooked shell pasta, or any other pasta you prefer; cooled..

*1/2 mayo

*1/4 c sour cream

*2Tbs grated Parmesan

*1 tsp white wine vinegar

*Cracked pepper

*2 tsp dried parsley

*1 tsp dried dill

*Salt to taste

In a bowl, add mayonnaise and sour cream.

Add rest of ingredients and carefully stir until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Refrigerate if you like it chilled.

Serve as a light lunch or as a side.

Enjoy!

Shells with a Tomato Vodka Sauce

Fresh tomatoes are so good during the summer aren’t they? I wanted to take advantage and use them in this sauce over some pasta shells that I had in my pantry. I did use one can of diced tomatoes as well paired with some vodka, basil, a hint of heat from some chili flakes, Parmesan and a little bit of cream to give this a slight creaminess. This turned out to be a very nice sauce that makes me think of these remaining days of summer.

Here’s what you need:

*1 small onion

*2 large garlic cloves

*4 Roma tomatoes, or any other tomato you might prefer

*salt to taste + 1/2 tsp for the sauce

*olive oil

*15 oz can diced tomatoes

*1 tsp. dried Basil or 1 TBS fresh, chopped Basil

*1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried parsley or 1 1/2 TBS fresh chopped parsley

*1/4 C. Vodka

*1/4 C. Parmesan cheese, grated

*1/2 C. heavy cream

*1 box of shell pasta

Preheat broiler.

Cut tomatoes in half; cut the onion into quarters. Place on a baking sheet along with the whole cloves of garlic; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Broil until the tomatoes and onion starts to brown a bit; take out the garlic cloves if they start to burn.

Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic and a can of diced tomatoes into a blender.

Yes, I did use canned tomatoes also in this sauce because I like the combination of using the fresh and the canned. The freshness and flavor of the garden tomatoes still comes thru.

Pulse the blender until everything is mixed and the vegetables are finely chopped; set aside.

Start cooking the pasta according to the direction of the package.

Heat a large sauce pan on medium high heat. Pour the tomato mixture into the pan.

Add in basil, chili flakes and vodka.

Stir ingredients together and turn down the heat to medium. Simmer while pasta is cooking, at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

and if you feel the need to save some vodka for yourself while cooking, go ahead, cooking can be a celebration after all.

Take pan off of the heat; stir in the heavy cream, Parmesan and parsley.

Drain the pasta and spoon into serving dishes; add desired amount of the tomato vodka sauce on top and serve.

Cheesy Beef and Shells

Does anyone remember the old commercials for Hamburger Helper with the Helping Hand? I’m still not sure if I find that it was cute or creepy…. the wavy hand that is, not the dinner. Mom made hamburger helper every once in a while, but she mainly made up her own pasta meals. I’ve made them a few times for hubby and me, they are pretty good, but I kind of find them lacking a little. So I came up with my own version of sorts. It’s pasta shells nestled in a cheesy, beef sauce that tastes like it had been simmering on the stove for hours. It’s simple to make, especially if you use my Shortcut Meat Sauce and there is no cooking the shells ahead of time….it cooks as it simmers in the sauce.

Here’s what you need:

*4 C. meat sauce; I used my Shortcut Meat Sauce

*a splash of Worcestershire sauce

*1/2 C. beef broth

*2 C. dried medium pasta shells

*1 1/2 C. shredded cheese; divided

*1/2 C. milk or heavy cream

Heat a large pan to medium high heat and add the meat sauce, stirring occasionally until the sauce starts to gently bubble.

Turn the heat to medium and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

Next, add in the shells and the beef broth.

Stir until all of the shells are covered in the sauce.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the shells are tender; stir occasionally.

Take off of the heat and stir in the milk and 1 cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining 1/2 Cup of cheese right before serving.