Tasty Tuesday: Rachael Ray's Cheesy Pasta Presto

I like to cook. I've always enjoyed cooking, but I think it was the new pots my hubby bought me for Christmas that made me really want to cook. They are so shiny! They get so hot so fast! They look nice in photos! I like my pots. (Thanks Babe!)

So, the more I got into cooking, the more I tried recipes (and tweaked recipes). Most of my recipes so far have come from Real Simple Magazine, The Pioneer Woman or Giada DiLaurentis of Everyday Italian. Sometimes if I know specifically what I want, I just google an ingredient or recipe name and then look for the highest rated recipes and go from there. BUT... tonight, it was time to branch out- and put my trust in a new queen of cuisine. Ok, I know she's not new, but her recipes and her food preferences and tastes are new to ME. And, when I make a new recipe for dinner- I am expecting to really enjoy the final product. Especially when I invest in ingredients I don't normally keep on hand. So.... please..... come with me...... join me on my journey into the realm of Rachael Ray with my first recipe of hers, Cheesy Pasta Presto.

One of the first things you have to do, is boil the water to cook the pasta. Now, growing up in an Italian family- you cook pasta often. Really often. And everytime I boil water to cook pasta, I can hear my Noni's (grandma in Italian) voice telling me "a watchpot never boils!". So tonight, I tried to stall time. I refused to watch the pot. See? I looked at the pretty flowers my pretty cousin Jaymi sent to cheer me up after she found out I was having a tough time.... isn't she the sweetest? Everyone should have a cousin as awesome as she is. Also, everyone should have a cousin who loses two four wheelers off the back of their truck, that are searched for by helicopters and found and returned safely the following day. Yup- same cousin- yup true story! But I digress..... (see good stalling for the pot watching though right????)

I also admired the craftsmanship of the painted magic putty my mom used to thoughtfully repair my oven door handle...and then I marveled at the flower that my Dad gave me for Valentine's Day that I have miraculously NOT killed somehow, that graces my kitchen windowand then, miracle of miracles, the stalling worked! The water boiled!!!Amazing right? Pay no attention to the woman in the headband and T-shirt. Hey, what's wrong with workout headbands around the house? No one likes hair in their food anyway! ;-)
Rachael said to put the oil "twice around the pan". Ummmmm.... I made circles. Hope that works. This is where I try to get crafty with my camera and pretend I know how to use different modes. Maybe it would be better if I paid closer attention to my ragged cuticles first next time! Eek!Oh yeah, and here's where I add the onions. I know. Exciting right?Now this.... THISwas the climactic moment where I started to really question Rachael Ray. Ms. Ray, do you REALLY think these ingredients are going to come together and mix and combine well? I'm having some doubts... but, alas, I decided I'd come this far.... why not.and I gotta tell you, woman KNOWS her stuff. This dish was DEEEEE-lish! The hubby liked it too! My only complaint was it was listed as a 15 min. recipe- and I'm no snail in the kitchen and it still took me 32 minutes. So, you've been warned- don't schedule to the 15 min. mark ok? But DO make this delicious recipe and share it with someone you want to see again (because they are going to want you to make it for them again, ya know?! :-)Cheesy Pasta Presto
1 lb. short cut pasta (such as penne) *I used gluten-free spiral pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or EVOO for those of you that are cool and know the lingo
1 package diced pancetta
1 small onion, chopped *I recommend learning how to easily chop an onion here
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes *I used 1/2 tsp.
1 lemon
1 orange *I just used one GIANT lemon
3/4 cup chicken stock
20 leaves fresh basil
4 cups arugula *this was my first time using arugula, so I just used 2 cups
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan + more to top servings with if you like

^^ The Cast of Characters ^^

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Salt the water liberally, and the pasta and cook al dente. Heads up: right before draining, remove and reserve one cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Once the water is almost ready for the pasta, place a large skillet over medium-high heat *if you use stainless steel like I do- keep to heat closer to medium, they get really hot fast and you don't want to burn your garlic*. Add the olive oil and pancetta and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Zest the lemon into the pan, and then squeeze the juice into the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring it up to a bubble, then turn off the heat. Coarsely chop the basil and arugula. Drain the pasta and add it and the reserved cooking liquid to the skillet. Stir in the ricotta, parm, basil and arugula. Transfer to serving dishes and top with additional parmesan cheese if desired.


  1. I love Rachael Ray! I have one of her cookbooks (365 No Repeats) and it's one that we use at least once a week around here!

  2. Rachael Ray always has "no fail recipes". Since it is Spring time I have been using her hamburger recipes. They are fabulous, and they spice up a normal "plain" burger.

  3. That was a fun way to explain a recipe. I also love her recipes, and have I think 4 cookbooks. Lots of good ideas to make your own, or follow exactly, whatever your mood. :)

  4. Made this tonight...just with a few last minute alterations. We used ham instead of pancetta and spinach instead of arugula, because apparently the commissary on base doesn't carry those two items (and it was raining so I didn't want to have to make more than one stop). It was good though! Thanks!

  5. That looks SO freaking good! Great job on the step by step post... I'd never be able to pull that off without having something go horribly wrong, but you obviously have the coordination, haha! :)


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