Need a travel meal? Versatile pasta is it
Since we travel many miles every month I am always looking for something easy to eat in the car, and something the dog does not want. He loves cheese, turkey, and nuts! I have found some pasta dishes that do the trick. The dog does not want them and one can eat while the other one drives, and they are tasty. We do not stop for fast food if at all possible. If we do it is a sub from Subway!
I have done this parsley spaghetti over and over, but I find it so good and easy to do before the trip. It is just right served at room temperature, so after a few hours on the road it is perfect. It is easy to swap out flat-leaf parsley for basil, which is in your classic pesto sauce. We always have more parsley in the garden than basil it seems. It is also easier to find year round than basil also and it is cheaper. Parsley is a workhorse for salads, sauces, and even over sandwiches. Parsley pesto holds its vibrant color much longer than basil.
From June 2013 ‘bon appétit:’
Spaghetti with Parsley Sauce
1 lb. spaghetti
½ cup unsalted, roasted almonds
4 cups (packed) from fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¾ cup chopped fresh chives
¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta in a huge pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, pulse almonds in a food processor until smooth. Add parsley, chives, oil, and Parmesan; process until smooth. Season pesto with salt and pepper
Toss pasta and pesto in a large bowl, adding pasta cooking liquid by ¼-cupfuls until saucy. Season with salt and pepper.
Do ahead: Pesto can be made give days ahead. Cover surface directly; chill. Makes six servings.
There are many other ways to prepare a good “ travel” pasta. Here are some of them:
Tuna, Caper,and Basil
Cook ¾ pound penne, reserving ¼ cup water. In a medium skillet sauté ½ cup capers and 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest in ¼ cup olive oil, 1 minute. Add 2 cans tuna (6 ounces each) drained tuna in olive oil and cook until heated through. Add penne, pasta, water, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season, and stir in 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves. Serves four.
Cook ¾ pound penne, reserving ½ cup pasta water. In the food processor, pulse 8 ounces trimmed spinach, ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ cup olive oil, and 1 small garlic clove. Toss pesto with penne and pasta water; season. Can serve with ricotta. Serves four.
Cook ¾ pound penne, reserving ¼ cup pasta water. In a large skillet melt ½ stick butter over medium heat. Add 1 pound asparagus, cut into pieces, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Add ¼ cup dry white wine and cook until reduced by half, about 30 seconds. Add 1 ½ cups thawed peas and ½ cup thinly sliced fresh mint. Season, and toss with penne and pasta water. Top with grated Parmesan. Serves four.
I also make a spicy noodle dish that we love to eat on the road. You can use vermicelli instead of the thin ramen noodles. You can also create any addition to this recipe such as carrots, cucumbers or garlic.
Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions
4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sesame seeds
2 tsp. Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped
12 oz. thin ramen noodles or spaghettini
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.
Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 Tbsp. chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallions greens and drizzle with more chili oil.
Travel safely or just enjoy at home.