Category Archives: PASTA RECIPES

New Orleans-Style Shrimp Pasta w/ Creamy Basil-Mint Pesto Sauce

Prep: 45 minutes | Cook: 35 min | Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 pound linguine, recommended: DeCecco green spinach
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons essence creole, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon salt, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium size eggplants, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped mushroom
  • ½ cup halves grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup pesto, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese


Cook the pasta (in oiled water) until tender, but with a bit of resistance (al dente), about 12 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, season the shrimp with 1 ½ tablespoons of essence creole. Using a large skillet, set the heat to medium-high. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted, add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the shrimp until pink, about 1 minute, then turn over and cook for another minute. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and saute until softened and lightly caramelized, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the eggplants, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream, pesto, and the remaining ½ tablespoon of Essence. Season with black pepper and salt. Cook the sauce until the cream is reduced by 1/4, about 2 minutes. Add the linguine and shrimp to the pan. Simmer and tossing to incorporate for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the parsley, basil and parmesan cheese and toss to blend. Serve hot.

Essence Creole: Yield; ⅔ cup 

~Essence Creole/Seasoning~
~Essence Creole/Seasoning~
  • 2 ½ tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

In a small plastic container with lid, put all ingredients, shake well. Store the remaining seasoning in a cool dry place.

Basil-Mint Pesto: 

~Basil-Mint Pesto~
~Basil-Mint Pesto~
  • 1 ½ fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup olive oil, or more
  • 2 gloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Put the first 6 ingredients in a food processor, blend until finely chopped, or puréed. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: Make the essence and pesto ahead of time. 

P.S. To finish up the meal with a great tasting wine won’t be a bad idea at all. 😉


Cheesy Beef Manicotti


  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. (or 14pcs) manicotti
  • 1 (15 oz) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed


Marinara Sauce:
. ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
. 1 medium onion, chopped
. 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
. 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
. 1 carrots, peeled and finely chopped or finely grated
. ½ teaspoon salt
. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
. ½ teaspoon dried oregano
. ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
. 1 ½ (32 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
. 2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, oregano, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, if need be.

Meat Mixture:
-Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion, (mushrooms if using) and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

-Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling oiled  water until slightly softened, about 7 minutes. (The Manicotti should still slightly firm so it won’t be soft and over cooked after baking). Transfer the manicotti from the pot to the non-stick baking sheet and set to cool.

Cheese Mixture:
-Meanwhile, using large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 cup Parmesan, and the 2 tablespoons of parsley. Add the garlic, 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Add the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture and stir until well incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13×9-inch glass baking dish.

Manicotti Mixture:
-Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, then the 3 tablespoons parmesan and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper on top. Dot the entire dish with the cubed butter. Bake the manicotti uncovered until light-golden brown and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 35 minutes. Let the Manicotti cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Lasagna Rolls w/ Béchamel & Marinara Sauce


Béchamel Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

MC’s Note: Double the sauce to make sure you’ll have plenty. I always do.

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen or fresh chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread a large spoonful (about 3 tablespoons worth) of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Note: This recipe is ridiculously addictive! I’ve made it for quite several times already and last time, I’ve doubled the sauce plus I’ve added mushrooms to it and it was a big hit!

This is the best Lasagna we’ve ever had. Another MUST try recipe! 🙂