Penne alla Vodka Recipe

What happens when chef Lili Dagan combines her lifelong passion for cooking with her new found love of the Sopranos? A baked pasta dish for the ages.

baked pasta alla vodka

Every winter, I say I’m going to watch The Sopranos. Somehow, I never get around to it. Whenever my fellow test kitchen Chef Lauren asks me how it’s going, I have the same answer: “I’m waiting for a blizzard, so that I have time to really get into it.”  Well, here I am, the cherry blossoms in peak bloom outside my window, 40-odd hours into a blizzard with Tony, Paulie, Furio, and most importantly, my girl Carmela, who makes a mean ziti.

The eating doesn’t stop there, the entire show is full of culinary wisdom: “Well, when you’re married, you’ll understand the importance of fresh produce!” Tony exclaims to Meadow. Clairvoyant. Everywhere these guys eat, whether it’s at Vesuvio’s, or Sunday dinner with Father Intintola, Vodka sauce flows freely. Someone is in crisis? Baked Ziti makes an appearance. 

baked pasta alla vodka

What does it all mean? I am sure there is a small library somewhere filled with graduate theses about the food on The Sopranos underscoring themes of identity, masculinity, family, and culture. For me, it means I need to make a baked pasta right now.  

There are a few parts to this dish but when they come together, it’s worth it. Buon Appetito. 

Watch chef Lili in action below

Recipe: Baked Pasta Alla Vodka

For the vodka sauce and pasta:

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb pasta (penne, rigatoni, or shells would all be good choices here)
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds

For the herbed ricotta:

  • 8 oz fresh ricotta
  • ½ cups chopped parsley and basil (if you have chives, tarragon or other tender herbs, use those too)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • Salt and pepper

For the garlic breadcrumbs:

  • 1 tbsp butter 
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 garlic clove, grated

Make the vodka sauce:

1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until translucent. 

2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened and fragrant. 

3. Add the vodka and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands as you add. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4. Add the heavy cream, and blend the sauce with an immersion blender. Simmer for ten minutes more. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the puree to a blender or food processor and blend, then return to the pot to simmer. If you don’t have any of those things, the sauce will have more texture but will still be perfectly delicious. 

Make the herbed ricotta:

1. Using a rubber spatula, fold together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste.

Make your garlic breadcrumbs:

1. Heat butter over medium heat in a 6” skillet until melted.  

2. Add the panko and grated garlic. Stir to combine, and toss frequently until panko is golden brown. 

3. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 

Cook the pasta and assemble your bake:

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. 

2. Cook the pasta according to al dente package directions, then drain and add to the vodka sauce. Stir thoroughly to coat. 

3. Transfer pasta and sauce to a 11X7 baking dish, and top with the sliced mozzarella. 

Note: When Janice tries to pass a ziti off as her own, she’s outed because the dish carries Carmela’s signature—basil leaves under the mozzarella. Don’t forget to place a basil leaf under each mozzarella round.  

4. Dollop the herbed ricotta between the mozzarella rounds. 

5. Bake for ten minutes, or until mozzarella is golden brown. Top with breadcrumbs and broil for 1-2 minutes. 

6. Allow the baked pasta to cool for about 5 minutes. Top with fresh basil.  BUON APPETITO.

Take on a Challenge: Make Pasta al Limone

While stuck at home, Blue Apron’s Head Chef John Adler turned to an old favorite recipe. Keep reading for Chef John’s advice on how to master this occasionally tricky dish: Pasta al Limone.

pasta al limone

The thing that I love the most about this Pasta al Limone recipe is its deceptive simplicity. It’s just 5 familiar ingredients, but it can be tricky to pull them together into an elegant “simple” sauce. 

This dish is a Neopolitan classic, and there are dozens of versions. This is the Franny’s version, and in my unbiased opinion, it’s easily the best. During my time as the Head Chef at Franny’s, I had a list of customers I had to notify when this was coming back on the menu. The Meyer Lemon Spaghetti, in particular, had a dedicated fanbase. 

Franny’s Pasta al Limone

The mise en place is easy: 1 pound of dried pasta, 4 oz butter, 1/2 cup grated parm, zest and juice of 3 lemons, separated (if you can do this with meyer lemons it’s a whole different ball game), good olive oil, salt and pepper. 

pasta al limone ingredients
Pasta al limone ingredients

The secret, as they say, is in the sauce. Better stated, it’s in how you build the sauce. 

You begin as you would for cacio e pepe, by toasting freshly cracked pepper in a dry pan over medium-low heat. The key here is the aroma; you want to unlock the fruity aromas that are bound up deep within all dried spices. 

When the pepper begins to smell floral and complex, you’re there. Add 1/2 cup tap water and turn off the heat.

Cook your pasta in heavily salted water. I favor long noodles here, mainly because this entire dish is an aromatic experience. When you slurp up long noodles, you get more of that. Cooking time will vary based on your noodle selection, but be sure to leave the noodles al dente so that you can finish them in the sauce. 

When the pasta is one minute away from being done, take out 3/4 cup water and pour 1/2 cup of it over the zest. This activates the zest, and also keeps it from clumping up in the pan.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan of pepper water. Turn the heat to medium.

Add your zest, butter, a few more cracks of paper, and a medium *glug* of oil to the pan of noodles. Stir constantly until it is glazed. If it starts to break, add a few drops of the reserved pasta water to bring it back together.

Add the parm and stir to incorporate. 

Turn off the heat and add in the lemon juice. Stir until fully incorporated and the pasta looks light and creamy. 

Divide between bowls (serves 2 in times of emotional eating, 3 if feeling reasonable, or 4 as a mid course) and finish with another drizzle of oil.

Want a little more instruction? Watch chef John Adler demonstrate how to make his family’s favorite dinner.

How To Finish Pasta Like a Pro

how to finish pasta on the stove

Today, we’re talking about improving your spaghetti endgame so that your pasta primavera tastes like it’s from the best Italian restaurant in the world. Learning how to finish pasta will help take your spaghetti dinners from good to great.

If you know how to cook, chances are you can make a plate of pasta just fine. If you love noodles, there are a few secret tips that separate your average bowl of penne with tomato sauce from a lip-smackingly delicious dish of Fresh Rigatoni with Spicy Pork Ragu.

Of course, there are tricks for cooking: use plenty of water, season adequately with salt, let it come to a roiling boil before you introduce the noodles, and then pair them with a delicious sauce. These steps are all crucial, but the most important step comes after the pasta is mostly cooked.

How to finish pasta in the pan

Here’s the trick: when the pasta is 90 percent cooked, remove it from the pot. But don’t toss the water! Reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water in a little bowl or cup. That water is no longer plain old H20. Now it’s salty and starchy and a key ingredient in its own right.

For this trick to work, you need to have your pasta sauce simmering on the stove in a separate pan. Transfer the mostly cooked pasta to the pan of sauce along with a little bit of pasta water. The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce. This does two things. First, as your noodles finish cooking each morsel will absorb more flavor from the sauce. Second, the starchiness of the pasta water will help thicken the sauce so it coats each bite of pasta instead of pooling in the bottom of your bowl.

You can watch this clever tip in action in our video about cooking pasta with heirloom tomatoes

Craving a noodle dinner? Learn about pasta shapes you need to know.

Types of Asian Noodles: Your Comprehensive Guide

Noodles are a pillar of many Asian cuisines, and the key to many beloved dishes across the continent. Attempting a full taxonomy would be nearly impossible: there are about as many types of noodles as there are uses for them, from simple breakfasts to celebratory dinners. Asian noodles are sold fresh, dried, or frozen, and range in color from bright yellow to completely translucent. Region-specific ingredients increase the selection even further, and unlike Italian pasta, for which an al dente texture is king across all shapes, some Asian noodles are tender and springy while others chewy and dense. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite varieties to help you discern the difference between soba and vermicelli in the grocery store, on a menu, or in your Blue Apron box. Slurp away!

Wheat Noodles

Wheat noodles are perhaps the first that come to mind when considering the world of Asian noodles. Rounded or flat, cut or hand-pulled, wheat noodles are the backbone of many soups and stir-fries, lending their sturdy chew to light broths and heavy sauces alike. 

Shanghai noodles

Also called cumian, which literally translates to “thick noodles,” Shanghai noodles are a chewy variety made from wheat flour and water. You’ll find them in soups and stir-fries, particularly in northern China.


A Japanese noodle variety that can be served hot or cold, udon is very thick and fat, occasionally flat but most often rounded, like super inflated spaghetti. Udon is chewy and dense, standing up to hot broths or stir-frying without falling apart. Buy this noodle fresh, frozen, or dried. Some fresh or frozen versions don’t even require boiling, and can be added straight to a pan of vegetables and sauce or a pot of hot broth to heat through. 

Blue Apron favorite: One Pan Beef & Udon Noodle Stir-Fry with Snow Peas & Sweet Peppers


A variety of very skinny wheat noodle in Japanese cuisine, somen preparation shifts with the seasons. In the winter, look for it in steaming soups; in summer, to help beat the heat, the noodles are served chilled with a cold dipping sauce, and sometimes even over ice. Somen is also the star of a fun Japanese culinary tradition called “flowing noodles,” or nagashi-somen, in which diners use chopsticks to pluck noodles out of a bamboo chute as they flow by in a rush of cold water.


A slight variation on the wheat noodle recipe — namely, subbing in all or part of the wheat flour for gluten-free buckwheat flour — yields soba, another Japanese favorite. Like udon, soba can be served hot or cold, but is slightly too tender for stir-fry preparations; its nutty flavor shines in soups, alongside a dipping sauce, or tossed with vegetables in a bright dressing. 

Blue Apron favorite: Soba Noodles with Snow Peas & Marinated Enoki Mushrooms


Ramen is a springy Japanese noodle served either in hot broths or flavorful sauces. Buy ramen dried (with a strong flavoring packet to create instant soup broth) or fresh; both forms require only a few minutes in boiling water. Ramen noodles contain wheat flour, water, and an alkaline agent called kansui, which helps the noodles maintain their tender texture while sitting in hot soup.

Blue Apron favorite: Mushroom Mazemen with Bok Choy & Soft-Boiled Eggs

Egg Noodles

Technically a sub-category of wheat noodles, egg noodles contain the same basic ingredients, but with the addition of — obviously — eggs. The resulting dough is yellow in color, but be warned: some brands simply add dye to their wheat noodles to approximate the look of egg noodles without actually adding any egg! Always check the ingredients list to ensure you have true egg noodles on your hands before buying.

Lo mein

Thick and dense, lo mein noodles hold their own against heavy sauces and rigorous cooking methods. A Chinese-American menu staple also called lo mein is a flavorful stir-fry dish featuring these noodles, vegetables, and your choice of protein.

Blue Apron favorite: Pork Lo Mein with Bok Choy & Celery

Chow mein

While they look similar to thinly-sliced wonton noodles, chow mein noodles get crispy in hot oil, lending an addictive texture to stir-fries. This is another noodle with which a Chinese-American menu item shares its name; though always studded with vegetables and protein, chow mein from a restaurant is either steamed and tender or fried and crispy.


Wonton noodles are made from the same dough as wonton wrappers, which means they’re springy and tender in texture. They’re sold in a variety of thicknesses, and you’ll most often find them in hot soups.

Blue Apron favorite: Sweet & Spicy Wonton Noodles with Soft-Boiled Eggs

Rice Noodles

The rice noodle section of your local Asian grocery store can be an overwhelming place; the range of sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and textures is vast, though most contain just rice flour and water, making them naturally gluten-free. Some are sold simply as “rice noodles” (like what you’d find in pad thai or khao soi) but two of our favorite more specific varieties are vermicelli and tteok-bokki.


While “vermicelli” is a term used to describe thin noodles across various global cuisines, rice vermicelli specifically (also called rice sticks) is a favorite in East and Southeast Asian cooking. The noodles are pale white, nearly translucent, and are most commonly sold dried in folded, crunchy bunches. Though you’ll often find rice vermicelli stir-fried or in soup, a traditional Vietnamese dish called bún chả features the noodles simply boiled, then topped with pork, sauce, and herbs.


Though technically not noodles, these Korean rice cakes warrant a mention for their super chewy texture and easy preparation. Look for tteok-bokki in the freezer section, either as little logs or oblong slices; they can be added to a pot of boiling water straight from frozen, and bob to the top in just a few minutes to indicate doneness. Very sturdy, tteok-bokki is delicious sautéed, coated and stir-fried until crispy, served in thick sauces, or dropped into hearty soups.

Blue Apron favorite: Korean Pork & Rice Cakes with Bok Choy

Starch Noodles

Alternative starches make up a significant segment of Asian noodles; most are thin and glassy, and can range in color from pale orange (sweet potato starch) to completely clear (mung bean starch).

Cellophane noodles, aka glass noodles

A skinny, semi-transparent variety, cellophane noodles are made from water and a starch, such as mung bean, potato, or tapioca. Look for them in dried bunches, which need only to be soaked in water to rehydrate, rather than boiled. In Korean cuisine, cellophane noodles feature prominently; a variety made from sweet potato starch becomes a popular stir-fry called jap chae, while an acorn starch-based variety is made into soup, called dotori guksu.


The product of Japanese konjac yams, shirataki noodles are gummy and gelatinous and come packed in liquid in refrigerated bags. Often marketed as a health food due to their low carb and calorie count, shirataki come in a variety of shapes, sometimes mimicking Italian pasta shapes.

For more Asian dishes to cook today — noodles and beyond! — check out our recipe archive.

13 Hearty Recipes for Pasta with Meat Sauce 

We dare you to find a picky eater who doesn’t love pasta. These meat sauce recipes for pasta are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. From classic spaghetti bolognese, to a spicy beef bucatini, there’s a recipe here that everyone will love. 

Penne Pasta & Beef Bolognese with Pecorino Cheese

Bolognese is a classic Italian meat sauce. Our quick-cooking version is built on beef, celery, onions, and carrots, and topped with Pecorino Romano for a salty kick.

Penne Pasta & Beef Bolognese with Pecorino Cheese

Pasta & Chicken Bolognese with Kale

Try a twist on tradition! In this lighter meat sauce, we swapped chicken in for beef and added a helping of kale.

Pasta & Chicken Bolognese with Kale & Parmesan Cheese

Cavatelli Pasta & Pork Ragù with Parmesan

Top cavatelli pasta with rich pork ragù—a classic Italian meat sauce—for a warming but simple dinner. We added currants to this version for a sweet-savory twist.

Cavatelli Pasta  & Pork Ragù with Parmesan Cheese

Spiced Beef & Bucatini Pasta with Zucchini

Calabrian chile past brings a fruity kick to this comforting beef and bucatini dish.

bucatini pasta with meat sauce no tomatoes

Pasta Bolognese with Garlic Ricotta

Add creamy contrast to the hearty flavors of this dish by topping it with a generous dollop of garlic ricotta.

Pene pasta with meat sauce and garlic ricotta

Bucatini Bolognese with Brussels Sprouts

Tender leaves of Brussels sprouts, stirred in with the pasta, add a fall touch to the dish. Fresh basil lends its sweet, peppery fragrance.

Bucatini Bolognese pasta with meat sauce

Beef Bolognese with Cheesy Garlic Bread

Lumaca Rigata is the perfect pasta for Bolognese. Its ridges and pockets hold on to plenty of meat sauce.

Beef Bolognese pasta with meat sauce and Cheesy Garlic Bread

Simple Spaghetti Bolognese

It doesn’t get much more satisfying and comforting than spaghetti bolognese. Our aromatic tomato and meat sauce gets its classic richness (and heft) from ground pork.

meat sauce on spaghetti

Creamy Beef Ragù with Spinach and Cheddar Cheese

Bold beef and cheddar are balanced by the tang of tomatoes in this rich ragù.

Creamy Beef Ragù & Elicoidali Pasta with Spinach & Cheddar Cheese

Cavatappi & Beef Ragù with Sweet Peppers

This ragù gets its vibrant flavor from garlic, red pepper flakes, and piquant capers. For a silky texture, it’s finished with butter, stirred in just before serving.

Cavatappi  pasta with meat sauce

Ditali Pasta & Beef Ragù with Eggplant

In this recipe, fresh cherry tomatoes (red or yellow) and eggplant lend a seasonal touch to beef ragù.

Ditali Pasta & Beef Ragù with Eggplant & Cherry Tomato Sauce

Beyond Beef™ Vegetarian Bolognese

Sauté carrots and red onion with plant-based ground Beyond Beef™ to create a meat-free bolognese sauce.

Beyond Beef™ Bolognese with Lumaca Rigata

Pasta & Pork Bolognese with Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, browned on the stovetop before adding, bring out a subtle nutty sweetness in this pork meat sauce.

Pasta & Pork Bolognese with Brussels Sprouts & Grana Padano Cheese

Still craving pasta? Try making our chef’s favorite Pasta al Limone.

All About Banza Chickpea Pasta

A delicious dish of pasta should be something that everyone can enjoy, right? That’s what the team at Banza thinks. Their Banza chickpea pasta noodles are designed to fit gluten-free and low-carb lifestyles, while satisfying the noodle lover in all of us. 

banza chickpea pasta

Co-founders and brothers Brian and Scott Rudolph first launched Banza in 2014. Brian describes himself as a lifelong fan of carbs. As he grew older, he slowly realized that this diet of pizza and bagel wasn’t working for him. Eventually, he learned that he felt better with less gluten in his life, but there was no way he was going to give up pasta.  

Is Banza Pasta Gluten Free? 

Casarecce al limone

Yes! Banza-pasta is a great gluten-free option. After looking, Brian wasn’t satisfied with the gluten-free pasta on the market. The flavors and textures were all wrong, and they didn’t bring any added health benefits to the party. Brian began experimenting with chickpea flour with the goal of creating a gluten-free noodle that was truly healthy. The batches of what would become Banza pasta were created in Brian’s Detroit kitchen, and rolled out with a wine bottle. After some experimentation, the Rudolph brothers found a recipe that ticks all of the boxes.

Banza Chickpea Pasta Nutrition

Their line of gluten-free pasta packs a powerful nutritional punch, with 22 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving. 

banza chickpea pasta pomodoro
Clove pomodoro pasta

Today, Banza pasta is available in 17 different shapes. The company is expanding, and just launched a line of gluten-free pizza made with chickpeas. Most importantly, their product passes the taste test. After sampling a range of alternative pastas, the Blue Apron test kitchen is proud to offer Banza as a gluten-free noodle. Customers looking to avoid traditional pasta can now find Banza featured in Blue Apron’s customization options, along with plenty of ways to choose your own protein.

10 Takes On Fall Squash Recipes

fall squash

One of the season’s most versatile vegetables is back and better than ever! Here are our ten favorite ways to cook with fall squash.  

Fall squash recipes

1. Penne Pasta & Delicata Squash with Kale & Ricotta Cheese

Unlike many cool-weather squash, delicata squash has skin that is tender enough to eat, which makes for easy prep.

squash pasta

2. Butternut Squash Pasta with Romaine & Apple Salad

Fresh rosemary, fried until deliciously fragrant and crispy, contrasts wonderfully with the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash in this satisfying pasta dish.

fall squash pasta

3. Stuffed Delicata Squash with Quinoa, Broccoli & Pickled Raisins

Here, we’re roasting and stuffing delicata squash (a particularly sweet, tender variety) with a nutty, savory filling of red quinoa, sautéed broccoli, and tangy goat cheese.

butternut squash risotto

4. Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Mushrooms & Garlic Knots

Spaghetti squash is a culinary wonder: once cooked, its flesh transforms into delicately sweet, spaghetti-like strands perfectly suited for a savory red sauce.

acorn squash recipe

5. Fall Squash Risotto with Brussels Sprouts & Chestnuts

This easy autumn risotto is one of our favorite butternut squash recipes for fall. It pairs the dish’s rustic northern Italian roots with a few sophisticated, seasonal touches.

fall squash ideas

6. Roasted Acorn Squash with Couscous Salad & Dressed Pea Shoots

Top off a delicious grain or pasta with roasted acorn squash. In this dish, dried apricots and carrots sautéed with vibrant Aleppo pepper lend the fluffy couscous welcome texture and pops of delicious flavor.

roasted fall squash

7. Spicy Butternut Squash Empanadas with Green Tomato Salsa & Lime Crema

A Mexican street-food favorite turns into an autumnal delight with these tasty butternut squash-filled empanadas.

squash empanada

8. Shokichi Squash Pasta with Walnuts, Sage & Kale

We’re warmly welcoming fall with this recipe, which combines two comfort food staples: hearty pasta and robust, cool-weather squash.


9. Butternut Squash & Gouda Casserole with Rigatoni, Brussels Sprouts & Chestnut Breadcrumbs

On top, a crispy crust made with Parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs and—for a seasonal twist—sweet roasted chestnuts adds delicious crunch and flavor.


10. Squash & Spinach Pizza with Caramelized Onion & Honey-Black Pepper Ricotta

This sophisticated veggie pie has it all—including some of the fall’s best produce.

squash pizza

Check out our guide to spaghetti squash for even more recipe ideas.

A Classic Italian Bolognese Recipe

Classic Italian Bolognese Recipe
A nice dish of pasta

Ragù alla Bolognese is the most iconic meat-based sauce in Italy. In the US, this term is often used as a catch all term for any meaty pasta sauce. This is a traditional Italian Bolognese recipe: well-spiced and creamy, light on the tomatoes. 

This deeply-flavored sauce is made with dry white wine. This addition gives the sauce a layer of complexity, and complements the tomatoes perfectly. The finished dish is packed with hearty meat and vegetables that make it perfect to enjoy alongside a bottle of red. Take the guesswork out of shopping with our Italian Favorites wine bundle. Use the Vermentino to cook, and pop open another bottle when it’s time for dinner. 

This sauce is a time investment, so consider doubling the recipe and freezing half of it for another time. You’ll thank yourself when you’re eating a warm bowl of rigatoni on a busy weeknight.

Classic Bolognese Recipe

Makes 5 cups

Cook time: 4 hours

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and small diced
  • 2 stalks celery, small diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 500ml bottle of dry white wine (such as Vermentino)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, liquid reserved
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano

1. In a Dutch oven or medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 16 to 18 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.

2. Add the pork and beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meat is very lightly browned and cooked through.

3. Add the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the milk has evaporated. Add the nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until thoroughly combined.

4. Add the wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 9 to 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced in volume by three-quarters.

5. Add the tomatoes, including their liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add the water and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. Check the sauce about every 30 minutes and stir the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. If the sauce needs additional water, particularly in the last hour, add 1⁄4 cup at a time.

6. Uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the marjoram and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until the remaining liquid is almost completely cooked off. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool before using or storing. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Corn, Bacon, and Pasta: A Love Story

Chef Alex Saggiomo always cooks for a crowd, even when it’s just two people at the table. Here’s his recipe for a celebratory summer corn pasta that’s light and indulgent at the same time.

summery corn carbonara
Summery, light, and lovely

There are few things that make me as happy as cooking for someone, and when that someone is my fiancé, AND it’s his birthday…well, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Normally, when planning a grand feast to prepare for someone I love, I start dreaming of rich braises and lavish desserts, but a few years ago a simple request stopped me in my tracks; “do you think you can make something healthy?”

Healthy? For your birthday?! I guess we love our partners in spite of their flaws. The gauntlet had been thrown, and I was ready to accept. 

Instead of turning to classic “health foods,” I looked to dishes that I knew he loved, and tried to find ways to lighten them up. He’s an unyielding pasta fan, I knew that would be a good place to start. A stroll around the farmers market led me to a bounty of fresh corn, and inspiration hit: borrow the structure of pasta carbonara, but add richness with corn to keep it light. I gathered the rest of my goods and ran back to the kitchen, ready to get to work.

The pasta turned out exactly as I’d hoped: rich and pork-spiked like a carbonara, but bright and herbaceous like a new dish in its own right. A shower of fresh herbs and lemon zest helped it pop, and judging by the look on my fiancé’s face, it was a hit. Since then, this dish has become a birthday tradition, but as easy as it is, you’ll find yourself whipping it up in no time for a weeknight dinner. 

Summer Corn and Bacon Pasta Recipe

Serves: 4

  • 1 Lb spaghetti
  • 6-7 Ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 Tbsps butter, unsalted
  • 4 Oz pancetta or bacon, small diced
  • 2 Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsps tarragon, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 3 Tbsps basil, plus more for garnish
  1. Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board; stand the corn on its flat side, and cut the corn kernels off the cob (the towel will keep all the kernels from flying about, and make them easier to transport). Transfer the corn kernels to a blender; puree until smooth. 
corn carbonara
Use a towel for easy kernel removal
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water, and drain the pasta.
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and the fat has rendered (6 to 7 minutes). Add the shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Add the cooked spaghetti, corn puree, half of the pasta cooking water, and the lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated and the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the tarragon, and 2 tablespoons of the basil (tear just before adding). Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and garnish with the remaining herbs. 

Hiyashi Chuka Is the Perfect Cold Ramen Dish for Summer

Think it’s too hot for ramen? Think again. There’s a whole world of Japanese noodle preparations, and one cold ramen dish is perfect for summer: hiyashi chuka.

Hiyashi chuka uses the same delicious ramen noodles as a traditional tonkatsu soup, but dresses them up for summer. In this chilled dish the noodles are cooked quickly in boiling water, then tossed in a simple sauce. There’s no hot broth, and no need to turn on the oven. From there the noodles can be a canvas to show off your most beautiful summer produce and favorite proteins. 

Hiyashi chuka dressings are typically made from a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Some recipes incorporate blended spices or seeds for additional crunch and flavor. When it comes to the toppings, it’s time to get creative. Cooked proteins, marinated vegetables, and soft boiled eggs are all great choices. 

Check out the recipes below for inspiration: 

A summery chilled ramen with chicken, corn, and tomatoes 

cold ramen with chicken
This version is topped with sesame seeds and poppy seeds for extra crunch and flavor

Get the recipe.

Cold ramen topped with crunchy cucumbers, a soft boiled egg, and green beans 

Marinated cucumbers add crunch and zip to this dish

Get the recipe.

Bright and light noodles with tomatoes, corn, and arugula 

chilled ramen with arugula
This chilled ramen dish shows off the best of summer produce

Get the recipe.

How Your Ramen Gets Made: Sun Noodle & Blue Apron

How Ramen Noodles Are Made

Sun noodle is the secret ingredient that powers all of New York City’s top ramen restaurants. They manufacture noodles for Momofuku, Ivan Ramen, Chuko, and many many more. 

This family-owned business got its start in Hawaii in 1981, back when ramen in the U.S. was mostly instant. Today, ramen is beloved and revered from coast to coast, and Sun Noodle deserves some of the credit. Over the past 30 years, Sun Noodle has partnered with hundreds of restaurants. They produce over 90,000 servings of noodles per day, and make 300 variations on their original ramen recipe. That way, every chef can work with the noodle that best suits their cooking. Chances are, if you’ve slurped a bowl of noodles in a big city, they came from Sun Noodle

Luckily, high-end ramen restaurants aren’t the only place to try Sun Noodle manufactured noodles. Blue Apron uses Sun Noodle ramen in dishes like Beef Ramen Soup with Choy Sum and Enoki Mushrooms, and Chicken Tsukune Ramen, Spring Vegetable Ramen with Garlic Scapes and Soft-Boiled Eggs. This Crispy Pan-Fried Ramen is one of Blue Apron’s top-rated recipes

Want to learn more about the incredible thought and craftsmanship that goes into every packet of Sun Noodles? Watch the video below to see how Sun Noodle’s East coast facility churns out ramen.

Tuna Noodle Casserole is a Bowl of Comfort Topped with Crackers

This week, the extra time at home inspired chef Lisa Appleton to revive a childhood classic. Luckily for all of us, her mom’s traditional tuna noodle casserole is a pantry-friendly dish of nostalgia. 

Tuna noodle casserole ingredients
A pantry specialty

Comfort food, comfort food, comfort food. I can keep cooking it, but I always want more. As a native midwesterner, nothing says comfort for me like a casserole. 

Growing up, my favorite version of this dish was tuna noodle casserole. It’s incredibly simple to make, and comes together with just a few ingredients. As an adult, it’s not something I prepare regularly. Recently, I’ve been having a craving. Something about spending all this time at home contemplating the contents of my pantry made me feel like it was the perfect time to revive a childhood classic. 

Although there are many recipes to choose from online and in cookbooks, this particular version comes from my mother’s memory. The original source is unknown, but to me that makes it more special. You could sauté some onions and celery to add into the mix, or even some fresh mushrooms, but I wanted to stick to the original. 

After tasting, I can definitely say it lived up to the hype. This dish is nostalgia at its finest. In the future, I may jazz it up with more fresh ingredients, or create an even crunchier topping, but for now it was just the comfort I was looking for. 

A few cans of soup and a little magic

Recipe: The Appleton Family’s Tuna Noodle Casserole 

  • 1 16oz bag egg noodles (fresh or dried, either works)
  • 10 to 20 Ritz crackers (amount is to your liking, can even add more)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can tuna, drained (packed in water)
  • Frozen peas, defrosted (amount is to your liking)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, crush the Ritz crackers with a rolling pin to the size of breadcrumbs. Stir the crushed ritz into the melted butter. 

tuna noodle casserole topping
Future casserole topping

3.Drain the noodles and return to the pot. Stir in the 3 cans of soup and tuna. Fold in the peas. Transfer to a 13×9 baking dish. 

4.Top with the buttered Ritz breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the Ritz have browned, and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. Let stand for about 5 minute to cool slightly. Enjoy!