Deliciously Dairy

If your family is strictly “meat and potatoes,” finding dairy recipes that will satisfy may present a challenge. Unless you prepare fish for dinner, many folks find dairy meals to be a lot less filling than fleishig. You may find yourself with your head in the refrigerator shortly after leaving the table — not great for dieters and those watching their weight.

To round out the meals, always include low-calorie soups and salads. Pasta dishes with added vegetables are nourishing and need not be loaded with fat. You can even try them with whole-wheat pasta for added fiber. Here are some ideas for you to try this week.

Pasta and Mushrooms with Parmesan Crumb Topping

For the crumbs

  • 3 cups coarse, fresh bread crumbs from leftover challah
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/3 cup parsley, checked and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided

For the mushrooms

  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1¼ pounds fresh white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, checked and chopped
  • ½ kosher teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch or other 3-quart glass or oven-to-tableware dish.

Spread out crumbs in a shallow baking pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, then toss with garlic, parsley, olive oil, pepper, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.

Soak porcini in boiling-hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes.

Drain porcini in a sieve set over a bowl and reserve soaking liquid, then rinse porcini. Pat dry and chop finely.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute onion and garlic, stirring, until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, oregano, parsley salt, and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in chopped porcini, reserved soaking liquid, and milk, and simmer 1 minute.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until al dente. Drain in a colander, then transfer to baking dish and stir in mushroom mixture and remaining cheese.

Sprinkle bread topping evenly over pasta and bake, uncovered, until crumbs are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Spinach-Stuffed Shells

  • 32 jumbo pasta shells
  • 32 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 15 ounces ricotta or farmer cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta shells in 6 quarts boiling water for 10 minutes or just al dente. Drain and rinse.

Squeeze spinach dry and place spinach in a large bowl. Add ricotta or farmer cheese, mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, nutmeg, basil, and garlic to bowl. Stir in salt and pepper, and mix well to blend all filling ingredients.

Spread ½ cup marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with 1½ to 2 tablespoons spinach mixture. Place shells, filling side up, in dish. Pour remaining marinara sauce over shells. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Cover loosely with foil and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Our last recipe is a classic pasta dish that never goes out of style! We’ve reprinted it from a previous column because we’re sure you’ll like our version better than any other.

Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 16 ounces fettuccine (medium egg noodles)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt to taste. Cook the fettuccine until al dente. Remove from heat and drain in a colander, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil.

Cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the butter-cream mixture and half of the Parmesan to the cooked pasta and toss to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.

You can also add your favorite vegetables to this dish by sauteing them briefly and tossing them with the pasta and sauce just before serving. Try broccoli florets, snow peas, peppers, or carrots.