By Lois Rogers
High on the list of my family treasures are the splattered, beaten up cookbooks my mother kept on a shelf of her dry sink in the kitchen.
At key times during the year – Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and Easter – I love turning their dog-eared pages to search out once again the dinners and, often, lunches that she prepared for the family.
Reading her handwritten liner notes, I note her pronouncements on which recipes were good or sometimes even excellent and those best forgotten. During these wonderful “reads,” memories of family times around the wide oak table that still welcomes family and friends in my house come flooding back.
Since Mom had a particularly fine Lenten touch ranging from soups to macaroni dishes to fish, I seek out those books ritually each year as a personal Lenten exercise and am never disappointed.
Following her notations, it’s wonderful to recreate once again the modest, flavorful dishes she composed with the help of Betty Crocker or, in the case of these two favorites, a couple of her highly rated selections from “Great Recipes for Good Health,” an ’80s “cookery” book from the Reader’s Digest Association: “Fisherman’s Baked Shells” and “Macaroni with Chick Peas and Tomatoes.”
Back then, the writers of the cookbook said this recipe served 4 but times have changed. When I make this for family, I double it for sure.
Back then, the writers of the cookbook said these recipes each served four, but when I make them for family, I double them, for sure.
FISHERMAN’S BAKED SHELLS
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 large sweet onion, chopped
-1 medium-size carrot, peeled and chopped fine
-1 medium stalk celery, chopped fine
-1 small sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped fine
– ½ tsp each basil, marjoram and rosemary, dried or fresh, crumbled
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
-1 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
– 6 ounces medium-size pasta shells
– 1 can (6 ½ ounces) water-packed light tuna, trained and flaked
-3 tbsp grated Romano cheese
-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-1/4 cup minced parsley
Heat the olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat for one minute then add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, red pepper, basil, marjoram, rosemary and black pepper. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft – 5 to 8 minutes.
If using wine, add it to the skillet and boil uncovered for 3 minutes. Place the flour in a small bowl, add enough of the chicken broth to make a smooth paste. Blend in the rest of the chicken broth and add the mixture to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened for about 3 minutes. Lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover and simmer for 8 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350 degrees, cook the pasta shells according to package directions, drain well and place in an ungreased 2 ½ quart casserole. Add the tuna but do not mix.
Stir the cheese, lemon juice and half the parsley into the sauce. Pour over the tuna and pasta shells and toss to mix well. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with grated cheese and a green salad.
MACARONI WITH CHICK PEAS AND TOMATOES
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 (1 pound) can chopped tomatoes with their juice
– 2 tbsp minced parsley
– ½ tsp each dried basil and oregano, crumbled
– ¼ tsp black pepper
– 1 cup cooked and drained chick peas
– 8 ounces elbow macaroni, ditalini or small pasta shells
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat for 30 seconds; add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano and pepper and bring to a boil, lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Stir in the chick peas and simmer, uncovered 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to package directions, drain well and transfer to a heated bowl. Pour the chick pea mixture over all and toss well.