recipes from the box: spicy-sweet linguine alla vodka.

Do you try recipes that are printed on things like boxes of pasta, soup cans or in this case, Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt? I never do. Really, never. Until a few weeks ago, I cooked up two things from a box. Very unlike me.
And, it seems as though I've been passing over some weeknight-friendly and very delicious recipes, because in three weeks, I've made this pasta three times. And I'll probably make it this week, too.

Found on the back of the kosher salt box is this Rocco DiSpirito Spicy-Sweet Linguine alla Vodka, sans Vodka. It's from his Now Eat This! diet, and it's a great, quick weeknight meal that walks on the healthier side, made with whole wheat pasta and as a cream-substitute, greek yogurt.

Here's the best thing about this dish: you probably have everything on-hand at home, with the exception of fresh basil (ah, hem, remember that 2012 intention? Working on it, promise). Buy a jar of roasted red peppers on your next market stop, and if you're like me, and crave protein (and a bit of naughty), some organic chicken sausage as an add-on, too.

Rocco DiSpirito's Spicy-Sweet Linguine alla Vodka via the Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt box
Serves 4

8 ounces whole wheat linguine
1 1/2 cups low-fat, store-bought marinara
3/4 cup fire-roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, bring marinara and sliced peppers to a simmer in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from heat.

Put yogurt in a small bowl and stir about a 1/2 cup of the warmed sauce into the yogurt until smooth (a whisk did the job nicely for me). This technique is called tempering and it keeps the yogurt from curdling. Then whisk the yogurt mixture into the marinara and peppers. Keep sauce off the heat, and cover to keep warm.

Drain the pasta and and add it to the marinara sauce, tossing to thoroughly combine. Add the basil and hot sauce and then salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan cheese before serving.

To add chicken sausage, I start by browning 1 pound of mild Italian chicken sausage, casings removed and slightly broken up, in a nonstick saute pan, before making the sauce. Once browned, I remove from pan and set aside in a small bowl (or plate, whatever). I immediately add the marinara sauce and peppers to the same pan, scraping the yummy sausage bits as I stir, and make the sauce according to directions. Once the sauce is done, I add the sausage back to the pan and let it sit, off the heat, to get acquainted with the sauce, before adding the drained pasta.

A quick note on store-bought marinara: I had just about given up on jarred sauces, until I stumbled upon San Marzano at Whole Foods. For years, I've heard The BC recommend it and just never found it at our local market. Let me just say: San Marzano has changed pasta night in our house, and I'm not sure anything else will ever do.

Photo disclaimer: the pasta pictured is angel hair, because it was all I had on-hand. I actually enjoy this dish with Rocco's recommended whole wheat  pasta, so try it first with that, if you can. Also, my pasta got a good shower of parm post-photo. I was a bit too excited to photograph before I lost sunlight, so if it looks a little naked, it is.

Recipe-from-the-box number two to come.


mary said...

gonna be trying this at our house soon! my grandmother (wonderful cook) swears by the on the box recipe. she said if it was bad, people would stop buying the product! so true!

Karen said...

Hi Alison,
I've only used box recipes a couple of times and actually found them to be quite good, don't know why I reach for the cookbook each time I want a new recipe. I'll have to give this one a try...I love pasta!

Terry said...

To answer your question, yes I do sometimes make back-of-box recipes, but not often. Like you, I initially skipped past this one but fortunately, it takes us a bit of time to use up an entire box of salt! I used the recipe as a springboard to create our own family favorite sweet-spicy pasta alla vodka, and it gets rave reviews from my carnivorous family: http://wp.me/p2a38G-Cy

I thoroughly enjoyed spotting your blogpost today - great minds think alike and all that :-)

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you still have this box of salt but check out what it says right above the ingredients "You'll quickly notice that there is no vodka in this recipe. It adds calories but not a lot of flavor" lol