Friday, June 5, 2015

Peggy's Pasta Nests

slave's friend Peggy brought him a zipper bag full of pasta nests to fix. So the challenge was ON! What we have here is an easy way to do some very fancy cooking. Now don't panic! We can get through this, just follow step by step.
At first the recipe slave put together called for Sausages, Cherry Tomatoes, and Broccoli Florets. Then I found one of the guests can not digest green vegetables, so – thinking on the feet, we substituted carrots, they just have to be pre-cooked. That led to doing a sauce of Roasted Garlic! Yes, it sounds hard but it will not be.

The most difficult part is cooking the pasta nests, which usually come apart as soon as you cook them. Have faith, slave will show you a great trick to create this fancy restaurant offering and impress the hell out of guests!

12 nested style pasta
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 chicken apple sausages cut into 1 inch       pieces
Grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 heads of garlic, (to roast)
Olive oil
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 6 pieces
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken broth
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
3 tbs flour


Do your cutting. Peel and cut the carrots into 1 inch pieces, toss with 1 tbs olive oil and ½ tsp basil into an oven safe dish.

Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the sausages into 1 inch pieces, cover and refrigerate until needed.

To roast the garlic: do this earlier in the day or even the night before. Tear off a square of aluminum foil. Place a can in center and wrap up the sides half way with the foil.

This makes a cup for the head of garlic.

 Pour 1½ tbs olive oil over the head and finish wrapping it up to seal.

This will get placed directly on the oven rack to roast for 30 minutes. Go ahead and put in the carrots at the same time.

Let cool until needed. This imparts a fantastic taste to both the garlic and the carrots and softens them just right for the pasta nests.

When ready to fix dinner:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
Put water on to boil for the pasta.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat with about 1 tbs olive oil. Add chicken sausage to the hot pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes.

Let that cook, when the water boils, turn the heat down to a simmer. Slide in the nests in only cooking four at a time, (try to keep nest together, they will come apart as they cook) about 3 minutes in a slight simmer;

Using a slotted spoon or “spider” carefully remove the nests drain well. Place enough noodles in a muffin cup to fill it.

Whisk an egg, then with a pastry brush – brush this onto the nests using it up among the nests. You want the egg to be on and in there to help the pasta form/bake better but at the same time you don't want the egg to cook separately on top of the noodles so make sure the egg is brushed on rather than a little puddle on top.

Add the carrots to the pan with sausages and cherry tomatoes, tossing to combine. Let them warm on low while you make your sauce.


Making the sauce:
Squeeze roasted garlic into a saute pan along with olive oil. The individual cloves of garlic should be soft enough that you can squeeze them right of their skins and into the pan. This will be like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter with the remaining olive oil and heat a minute over medium heat.

Make a roux. Add the flour to the saute pan and stir well, making sure to reach all areas of the pan so that the flour is completely incorporated. Continue to stir while cooking the mixture, or roux. It should start to darken a bit in color.

Heat 1 cup of chicken stock. You can simply microwave it while your roux is cooking, or you can heat the stock in a pot on the stove. Don't let it boil.

Very gradually pour the heated stock into your roux while whisking with your other hand. This should be a slow process so that the stock has a chance to be absorbed into the roux without separating into clumps.

Keep stirring: the temperature should be around medium, don't let it boil. The sauce will start to thicken up pretty quickly.
You should notice the sauce reduces as it thickens. Stirring frequently will help prevent scorching, or burning. 
Slowly add the cream.
Add the cream cheese, then the cup of cream. Stir until well mixed and smooth. Remove the saute pan from heat.

Blending the sauce will also smooth out any lumps. Use either a regular blender or immersion blender if you have it. Otherwise whip!
You might consider grating the zest of a lemon into your sauce. This will add a citrus note and cut some of the richness.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency. You want a slightly thin sauce, because the starch from the cooking pasta will thicken the sauce.

Spoon equal mixtures of the sausage, carrots and tomatoes into cups with the pasta.

Spoon 2 tbs of sauce onto each cup slowly letting it sink in. If you pour it quickly, it will run over the edge.

Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sides and tops are just starting to brown.

Remove from oven and allow the Nests to rest for 5 minutes, use a table knife to run around the edges of each muffin cup. Then a spoon will help get each pasta cup out of the pan and onto a plate. Give them 2 nests per serving.

Slave also roasted some “California mix” vegetables. Angie fixed deviled eggs and Peggy got some cheesy bread to heat in the oven.

It should be noted that the community oven just doesn't work right. Warming the cheesy bread caused the fire alarms to go off, emptying the building and summoning our favorite fire fighters! LOL.

If slave had known they would be there, much more food would have been fixed!

Serve a small dish of fruit to start the meal. Simply spoon this out of a can of peach or pear halves (use only the kind in juice not syrup). Sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on top, cover with plastic wrap and let chill in refrigerator while you cook.

For a festive touch, after the meal, some fancy boxed cookies!

Slave always closes with a statement of how much he enjoys serving his Master Indy. It just grows stronger with every day.


To satisfy and restore.
To nourish, support and maintain.
To gratify, spoil, comfort and please,
to nurture, assist, and sustain
..I cook!

Please buy slave's cookbook:

The Little Black Book of Indiscreet Recipes 
by Dan White via @amazon

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