Holiday bow-ties, turkey with penne, and Waldorf pasta salad

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Recipes for a trio of colorful, quickly made pasta dishes could be a boon for the cook to grab during the holiday season, as options for Christmas or party buffets, or even to use up some day-after ingredients, such as cooked turkey.

These recipes are from Mark Prece, Kansas City-based corporate executive chef for Mueller's and Golden Grain Pasta. He says they are traditional family favorites, dishes he grew up with.

"My dad was a chef, and he cooked a lot for us all during the holidays," Prece said. "We always had pasta around. And now I cook for my boys." There's always a big crowd of family at his home, too, he added "especially when they know I'm cooking."

All these dishes can be prepared in 30 minutes. The bright dish of bow-ties with Asiago cheese and spinach will give the table a festive air with seasonal red and green. The recipe for turkey with dried cranberries and whole-wheat penne is a wholesome way to transform leftover Christmas turkey, and Waldorf salad gets an extra layer of texture with pasta, as a refresher among the richer dishes.

Holiday Bow-Ties With Asiago Cheese and Spinach

(Start to finish 30 minutes)

3 cups boiling water

4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, about 1/4 cup

12 ounces bow-tie pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

10-ounce bag fresh spinach, torn

1 1/2 cups Asiago cheese, grated

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Combine boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl; let stand for 25 minutes. Cook pasta while sun-dried tomatoes are standing in boiling water. Drain and chop tomatoes. Combine tomatoes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a large bowl. Add hot pasta and spinach; toss gently (spinach will wilt). Sprinkle with cheeses, toss gently, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings, as first course or side dish.

Turkey With Dried Cranberries and Whole-Wheat Penne

(Start to finish 25 minutes)

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup peeled, diced onion (about 1 medium onion)

1 cup peeled, diced carrot (1 to 2 medium carrots)

1 cup diced celery (about 4 ribs)

1/4 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound whole-wheat penne rigate (penne with ridged sides), cooked according to package directions

1 pound boneless, skinless roasted turkey breast (leftovers or from the deli counter), diced in 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

Melt butter over medium heat. Add the cranberries, onion, carrot and celery, and cook until tender. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly add the broth while stirring. After simmering 2 minutes, stir in the cooked turkey and the penne. Season to taste with salt and pepper and return to simmering, just to heat through.

Makes 6 servings.

Cook's tips:

--If the sauce is too thick, add more chicken broth to get the desired consistency.

--Regular pasta can be substituted for whole-wheat pasta.

Waldorf Pasta Salad

(Start to finish 25 minutes)

1 pound medium shell pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions, drained and cooled

2 cups seedless grapes, red or white, cut in half, lengthwise

1 cup diced Granny Smith apples (about 1 large)

1 cup diced Red Delicious apples (about 1 large)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups diced celery (about 6 ribs)

2 cups mayonnaise

3/4 cup honey

Combine all ingredients and toss gently until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Cook's tip:

--If you prepare diced apples ahead of time, rinse them in lemon juice and drain well before mixing in the salad, to prevent browning.

--Add additional mayonnaise and honey, to make more dressing, if desired.

(Recipes from chef Mark Prece, courtesy Mueller's and Golden Grain Pasta)

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