let's do some meatless pasta since it can stand on its own.....with a little help from cheese and sauce..... Pasta Hoppin' John Serves 6-8 1 pound Bow Ties, Wagon Wheels or other medium pasta shape, uncooked 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried jalapeño flakes 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes 1 10-oz. package frozen black-eyed peas, prepared according to directions, or 1 16-oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained 1 tbsp. cider vinegar 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, or 1 tbsp. dried cilantro Salt and black pepper to taste Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, jalapeño, garlic and pepper until softened, about three minutes. Add tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes partially covered. Stir occasionally. Add the black-eyed peas, vinegar and cilantro. Cover and simmmer an additional 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Toss gently with cooked pasta and serve immediately. Baked Manicotti Serves 6 8 oz. Manicotti, uncooked 1 15-oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese, whipped until smooth 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 egg, beaten 1/4 cup sliced scallions 2 tsp. parsley flakes 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 26-oz. jar spaghetti sauce Grated Parmesan cheese for topping Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. In medium bowl, blend ricotta, Parmesan, egg and scallions. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper. Stuff pasta with cheese mixture. Arrange in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Cover. Bake in a 350-o F oven until hot, about 35 minutes. Sicilian Stuffed Shells Serves 4 8 ounces jumbo shells 1 medium onion, chopped 2 teaspoons olive oil 15 ounces ricotta cheese 1/2 cup yellow raisins 1/2 cup chopped green olives Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce 1/4 cup grated Parmesan 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese Cook the shells according to package directions. Rinse, drain and spread on a sheetpan while you prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saute pan, stir together the onion and olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the ricotta cheese, raisins, olives, and salt and pepper to taste. Fill each shell with some of the ricotta mixture. Arrange the shells, open-side-up, in a baking dish. Spoon the tomato sauce over the shells and then sprinkle them with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake, covered, until bubbling and hot, about 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot. Angel Hair with Pink Tomato Sauce, Peas and Roasted Peppers Serves 2 4 oz. Angel Hair or Cappellini, uncooked 3 medium or 2 large ripe plum tomatoes (about 1/2 pound), cored and quartered 1/2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced 1 large pinch hot red pepper flakes 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained 1/3 cup diced roasted red peppers 1/2 tsp. dried basil 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese Prepare pasta according to package directions. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth and light pink, about 1 minute. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the peas, roasted red peppers and basil and stir 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes and heat just to boiling. Remove sauce from heat. Drain the pasta and transfer to skillet. Stir over medium heat until pasta is well mixed with sauce. Divide pasta between two serving bowls. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Las Cruces Lasagne Rolls Serves 6 12 pieces of Lasagne, uncooked 1 15-oz. container part-skim Ricotta cheese 2 eggs or egg substitute 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped, or 1 tbsp. dried cilantro 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese Sauce: 1 medium onion, chopped 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped, or 2 tsp. dried 1 tbsp. chili powder 2 16-oz. cans low-sodium stewed tomatoes 1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 1 clove garlic, minced 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. pepper 1/2 tsp. oregano Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain. To prepare sauce, in a large skillet, sauté onion and minced garlic in oil. Add tomatoes, chiles and remaining sauce ingredients. Simmer slowly for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Reserve approximately 1 cup of sauce to accompany finished dish. To prepare filling, mix ricotta cheese, beaten eggs and cilantro in bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, add remainder to filling and combine well. To assemble, cover bottom of 10 x 6-inch or 1 1/2 quart oblong baking dish with 1/4 of sauce. Spread approximately 1/4 cup cheese filling on each noodle, and roll into a cylinder. Arrange rolls on top of sauce in baking dish. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Cover and bake at 350° F for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Pass reserved sauce to pour on as desired. Mini Noodle Kugels with Raspberry Filling Makes 9 4 oz. Medium or Wide Egg Noodles, uncooked 1/2 cup egg substitute 3 tbsp. white sugar 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon Pinch nutmeg 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese 1/3 cup applesauce 1/4 cup chopped dried apples or raisins Vegetable oil cooking spray 18 tsp. raspberry jam Preheat the oven to 350-o F. Prepare egg noodles according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, beat the egg substitute, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Fold in the cottage cheese, applesauce and chopped dried apple or raisins. Lightly spray a muffin tin (preferably non-stick) with the vegetable oil cooking spray. (Do not use baking cups.) Drain the noodles in a colander and immediately add them to the egg mixture. Fill each muffin tin 1/2 full. Add 2 teaspoons raspberry jam to each cup, then fill the muffin cups to full. Bake until firm and the tops are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm. Turtle Shells Serves 6 24 Jumbo Shells, uncooked 2 cups low-sodium canned tomato sauce 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed 8 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1 3/4 cup) 1 1/2 cups low-fat, part-skim ricotta cheese 3 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 2/3 cup) 3 egg whites 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper Large pinch ground nutmeg 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional) Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold water until completely cool. Drain thoroughly. Preheat oven to 350° F. Squeeze as much water as possible from the thawed spinach. In a large bowl, stir together the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, carrots, egg whites, pepper and nutmeg until thoroughly blended. Line the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Divide the ricotta mixture among the pasta shells, pressing the filling into the shells with spoon to completely fill each shell. Arrange the shells side by side in a baking dish. Coat the shells with an even layer of the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake until the center of the shells are heated through and the sauce is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Dessert Lasagne Third Place -- Dessert Category Search for "America's Signature Pasta Recipes" Contest Serves 8 12 pieces lasagne 4 cups ricotta cheese 1 cup sugar, divided 8 kiwis, peeled 4 cups strawberries, washed and trimmed, 8 reserved for garnishing 4 cups blackberries, washed 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds Mint sprigs, to garnish Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside. In the food processor, puree 4 kiwis with 2 tablespoons sugar. Transfer the puree to a bowl and set it aside. Rinse the processor bowl. In the processor, puree half the strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Strain the puree into a bowl and set it aside. Rinse the processor bowl. In the processor, puree half the blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Strain the puree and set it aside. Slice the kiwis into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Slice the strawberries into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Slice the blackberries in half. Reserve 1/4 cup of each of the purees to use as a garnish when serving. To assemble the lasagne, first cover the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking pan with 3 pieces of pasta. Spoon 1/3 of the ricotta on top and spread it evenly. Pour the kiwi puree over the cheese and arrange the kiwi slices on the puree. Lay on 3 more pieces of pasta and cover with 1/2 the remaining cheese. Pour the strawberry puree over the cheese and sprinkle with sliced strawberries. Lay on 3 more pieces of pasta and cover with the remaining cheese. Pour the blackberries puree over the cheese and sprinkle with blackberries. Top with a final layer of pasta. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle the lasagne with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and with the toasted almonds. Cut into 8 rectangles and use a spatula to set the pieces on dessert plates. Decorate the plates with dots of reserved purees. Garnish each piece of lasagne with a strawberry and a sprig of mint. Penne Pasta with Lemon Infused Vegetables and Ricotta Salata Grand Prize Winner -- Main Dish Category Search for "America's Signature Pasta Recipes" Contest Number of servings: 4 - 6 1 pound penne pasta 1 gallon water 2 tablespoons salt 4-6 ounces virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon garlic 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 1 lb. Shiitake mushrooms, quartered 1 cup red peppers, diced 1 pound broccoli, florets 1 each large fennel, cut into strips 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 1/4 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped 1 lb. ricotta salata cheese Parcook the broccoli and fennel by boiling for 3-4 minutes in salted water, drain and reserve. To cook the pasta, bring the salt and water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until the pasta is almost tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. Drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic, lemon zest, and the red pepper flakes in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes, being very careful not to brown the garlic. Add the red peppers and Shiitakes and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add the cooked broccoli, fennel and fresh thyme and continue to cook without browning. Add the cooked pasta, half of the parsley and season with salt and pepper. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Portion the pasta into heated bowls and garnish the tops with grated ricotta salata and the chopped parsley. Note: Ricotta salata is a dry salted ricotta cheese that has a sharp, almost tangy flavor; it is available in most Italian grocery stores. This is a vegetarian dish with large pieces of Shiitake mushrooms that help give this dish a hearty, meaty flavor.