Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fairy Tale Cooking

 There is a wonderful cookbook out there - still available from private sellers on Amazon and available at my local library, so check yours - called The Fairy Tale Cookbook, by Carol MacGregor, c1982
I purchased this book when I was working as a elementary school librarian and was enthralled with the recipes..."Jack's Favorite Bean Casserole", "Cinderella's Wedding Cake", and many others.   My favorite - and often made recipe as you can see from the tattered card that I copied the recipe on to - is Strega Nona's Magic Pasta.
Strega Nona, written and illustrated by Tomie De Paola in 1975, is the story of a "Grandmother Witch" in Italy. Strega Nona's meddling assistant Big Anthony is determined to prove to the townspeople his knowledge of the magic secrets contained in the pasta pot of Strega Nona. In so doing, he unleashes a torrent of pasta which threatens to engulf their little Italian town.
This is a great pasta dish and is a great way to use up leftover ham from a holiday dinner or even sliced ham from the deli counter.  This dish is filling, easy to make, and delicious.   I have altered the recipe over the years... here is how I make it:

 Chop enough onion to equal 2 tablespoons...or more if you like a lot of onion.  
Then chop about 1/4 pound of ham...once again - ham chunks leftover from a ham dinner, deli ham, etc.
Brown the ham and onion in butter until the onion is golden brown.
Add the salt, pepper, and frozen peas.   Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

I will post the entire original recipe below....but over the years I have stopped using butter and use Smart Balance to make it a little healthy.   The same with the heavy cream....I use Half&Half.
Add 1/2 cup of cream ( or half&half) to pan and cover and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the cream is slightly thick. 
OK...this is where the recipe says to set aside - so you can boil and drain the fettucini.  I NEVER do that.  I always use whatever kind of leftover pasta I have on hand...and usually it is what I had leftover and frozen in a container in the freezer.  If I am hungry for this and don't have a stash of frozen pasta I have used the new "ready made" pasta available from Barilla....any shape.
Here is my leftover spaghetti that I put into a dish and popped in the microwave to defrost.   This is too much pasta, but I was cleaning out the freezer and thought "what the heck!"
Add the pasta, the other 1/2 cup of cream, and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan....mix well and heat through.
Top with extra cheese and enjoy.   We usually have this meal without bread and a salad because it is filling...

It is fabulous with a glass of white wine - enjoy!  
I have posted the recipe below...it says it serves 4.  Not really...maybe they meant 4 children.  
If you have little children in your home ( and even if you don't) it is fun to read the Strega Nona book before or after dinner!
Thanks so much for stopping by Our New Vista - please leave a message and share your favorite pasta recipe!

Strega Nona's Magic Pasta
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 pound ham, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1/2 of 9oz pkg. of frozen peas
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz fettuccini
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Brown onion and ham in butter until onion is golden.  Add salt, pepper, peas and cook for 5 min.  Add 1/2  cup of cream and cook for 5 more minutes.  Set aside, boil and drain pasta.  Add the pasta to the ham and peas mixture, stir.   Stir in butter, the rest of the cream, and cheese...toss until blended and heated through.   Serve hot. 
 Serves 4???

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