Christmas Pasta

Christmas is by far my favorite time of year.

Around Christmastime I’ll never complain about the cold and the snow.

The snow is the perfect backdrop to sparkling lights!

Christmas is sneaking up on us quickly, so I'd say it's time for some Christmas-themed pasta to warm our bellies on these cold nights.

The red sauce is simple but deeply "tomato-y"--and only takes minutes to make.

It starts with slowly simmering tangy olive oil and garlic until their flavors fuse together...

...And ends with tomato paste and canned tomatoes for a rich, but bright flavor.

And because we all know that you can't have the red without the green at Christmastime, we'll also whip up a green sauce with a Basil Pesto base.

To the traditional pesto, we'll add avocado and lemon--creating a creamy and colorful sauce that's the perfect counterpart.

Each is good on its own, but together they're incredible!

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Christmas Pasta

servings: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil + a splash
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup Basil Pesto
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions—or about 10 minutes. Then drain, toss with a splash of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the ¼ cup of olive oil and the garlic and cook until the oil has become infused with the garlic and the garlic is translucent and golden, but not browned—about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, salt, and chili flakes. Simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly and comes together— about 10 minutes.
  3. While the tomato sauce simmers, cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and use a soupspoon to scoop half of the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (reserve the other half for another use). Then add the Basil Pesto and lemon juice and puree this mixture until smooth.
  4. Transfer the basil mixture to a large bowl and toss it with half of the pasta. Toss the other half of the pasta in a separate bowl with the tomato sauce. To serve, place both the green and red pasta on each plate and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and parsley.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Sundried Tomato + Pesto Mac and Cheese Cups

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Why make your mac and cheese into a cup?

Baked Boxed Mac and Cheese Cups 1.jpg

Why not?!

It’s cute, your kids will be more likely to eat it no matter what is inside, and you can serve it at parties!

And did I mention how cute it is?!

Baked Boxed Mac and Cheese Cups 2.jpg

For this hacked version of mac and cheese, I'm adding sundried tomatoes and pesto.

Two easy-to-find, jarred ingredients that suddenly make mac and cheese feel elegant!

Baked Boxed Mac and Cheese Cups 3.jpg

All you need to do is make the mac, add the sundried tomatoes, top it with pesto and parm, bake and serve!

Baked Boxed Mac and Cheese Cups 4.jpg

The tomatoes deepen the flavor, while the zingy pesto adds a fresh note!

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It’s mac and cheese that you can suddenly serve to guests!

Or just devour standing in the kitchen on a Tuesday night.

Either way, you win.

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Sundried Tomato + Pesto Mac and Cheese Cups

makes: 10 cups

Ingredients:

  • One 14-ounce box of macaroni and cheese (with liquid cheese packet)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a non-stick muffin tin with cooking spray. Place a medium pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the macaroni. When the water boils, add the macaroni and cook until al dente—about 9 minutes; drain when finished. Return the cooked pasta to the pot and turn the heat down to medium, then stir in the cheese packet and tomatoes.
  2. Scoop ½ cup of the macaroni mixture into each of the prepared muffin cups, then top each cup with about 1 tablespoon of the pesto and about ½ teaspoon of the parmesan.
  3. Bake the cheese cups until the pasta on the top of each is lightly browned but not crunchy—about 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the cups to sit in the pan to cool for at least 10 minutes before unmolding them.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Baked Boxed Mac and Cheese Cups 1_SMALL.jpg
 

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½ cup olive oil

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