Rikku’s Mix

Rikku's Mix Overdrive“A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”

—Rikku, FFX-2

Do you have half-empty bags of egg noodles, brown rice, and elbow macaroni in your cupboard that never seem to get used up? Frozen hashbrowns that are heading towards freezer burn? Random cans of salmon, sardines, or tuna that just get pushed to the back? Use this recipe as a blueprint for fusing your stockable items to create something more delicious. You can include any cheeses you like, but if you’re having trouble deciding, a high-quality white cheddar is especially good. Grate it yourself instead of buying the pre-shredded kind, which is coated with additives to prevent clumping.

  • 12 ounces of dried pasta or rice, or 20 ounces frozen cooked potatoes, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2½ cups (20 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1¼ cup (10 ounces) half-and-half
  • 6 ounces cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 2 6-ounce cans of fish (such as salmon, tuna, or sardines), drained
  • 8 oz. frozen peas or other vegetables (about 1½ cups), thawed
  • 2 ounces panko, crushed potato  chips, or parsnip chips
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • A dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, washed well
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh chives

Prepare the pasta  or rice according to package directions but slightly undercooking it by a few minutes.

In a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slowly pour in wine and continue cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir until onion and leeks are coated. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in half-and-half. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is bubbling. Stir in cheese and hot sauce, then add fish and peas. Break the fish up with a spatula, add pasta, and stir until combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle evenly with panko or chips, Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Bake uncovered until bubbly around the edges, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then zest one-quarter of the lemon over the top. Use scissors to trim fresh dill and chives over the top. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

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Troia Pub Pasta

Troia Pub“Thanks to the ample supply of water here, we can grow fresh vegetables and even raise chocobos.”

—a man at the Black Chocobo Farm in Troia, FFIV

For a vegan version, omit the anchovies and substitute 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You can also make it gluten-free by using rice pasta.

  • 16 oz. uncooked linguine or other pasta
  • About 2 pounds fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 g.) drained capers
  • 4 ounces pitted olives
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon or 1 slice preserved lemon, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies packed in oil, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While the water is heating, stir together the tomatoes in a large bowl with the capers, olives, garlic, lemon, crushed red pepper,  and anchovies and their oil, until a chunky sauce forms. Stir in basil, sea salt, and black pepper. Divide the cooked pasta into bowls and top with sauce.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving (includes anchovy oil, about 1/4 tablespoon in each serving): 1,096 calories, 55 g. fat, 129 g. carbohydrates, 22 g. fiber, 30 g. protein, iron 63%

Quan’s Salmon and Pasta

Quan“To eat everything not true way of gourmand!”

—Quan, FFIX

With winter holidays on the way, now’s a great time to let your body relax and recharge with simple meals and high-quality ingredients.

  • 8 oz. uncooked brown rice pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 skin-on wild Pacific salmon fillets, about 8 oz. each
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • Chopped dill or other fresh herb

Cook pasta as per package directions. Drain and divide into two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon fillets skin side-down and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook until skin is rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook a little longer until it lifts easily.

Flip salmon, sprinkle skin with salt, and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer.

Place a salmon fillet in each bowl on top of the pasta, skin-side up, and garnish with fresh herbs. Instead of the traditional white wine, serve with a splash of blueberry or cranberry juice in a goblet, topped off with sparkling mineral water.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 1,028 calories, 50 g. fat, 86 g. carbohydrates, 4 g. fiber, 58 g. protein, iron 15%

Mandragora Sauce

Mandragoras“Upon consuming this vegetable, one loses interest in all, the will to act… quite gone. Recognized as a highly effective reagent for inducing languidness. The manner of its use is up to you. It is the lowly tomato stalk, and by all rights should be thrown away.”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 5 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well and stems removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1 fennel bulb, ends removed, halved, and sliced thickly
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large basil sprigs
  • 2 fresh oregano sprigs

Preheat smoker or oven to 425 degrees. Spread tomatoes, onion, fennel, and garlic on a baking sheet (you may need two) and cook for about 1 hour, until tomatoes are beginning to break down and onion is lightly browned. Let cool slightly before transferring to a blender or food processor (you might have to do this in batches). Blend until combined.

Heat olive oil in the pot over medium heat until it begins to shimmer, then add red pepper and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour the tomato puree back into the pot and add ½ cup water, salt, sugar, and pepper. Stir well, tuck in basil and oregano sprigs, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Check flavor and add more salt if necessary. Continue simmering for about 1 more hour until the consistency is as thick as you like it.

Remove basil and oregano. Let the sauce cool, then pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 4 months. Can be used as a pasta or pizza sauce.

Alexandria Castle Chili

Alexandria Castle Kitchen“Whew! I’m gonna cry!”

—Onionmeister, FFIX

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (chuck), 85% lean
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 25-oz. jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 15-oz. cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup Chianti or Sangiovese wine
  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Finely diced white onion
  • Oyster crackers

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the ground beef, use a spatula to break into bite-sized pieces, and sprinkle with chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, paprika, cumin, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes. Add tomato sauce, cocoa powder, beans, and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes. Drain and divide between six bowls. Top with chili, cheese, and onions. Serve hot, with oyster crackers on the side.

Makes 6 servings; each serving is about 7 ounces of cooked spaghetti plus 1 heaping cup of chili. Per serving (includes spaghetti; does not include cheese, onion, or crackers): 843 calories, 32.1 g. fat, 10.1 g. saturated fat, 1.1 g. poly. fat, 13.2 g. mono. fat, 92.9 mg. cholesterol, 1185.3 mg. sodium, 468.9 mg. potassium, 88.9 g. carbohydrates, 10.9 g. fiber, 45.4 g. protein, vitamin A 5%, vitamin C 20%, calcium 15%, iron 32%

Balamb Pasta Salad

Balamb Gas Station“A country on the world’s smallest continent. Known for its temperate climate and warm people.”

—FFVIII Info Corner

  • 16 oz. whole-wheat fusilli pasta or brown rice pasta
  • 5 oz. baby kale
  • 3 tomatoes, washed and chopped
  • ½ red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 6½ oz. pitted kalamata olives (1 12-oz. jar), drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz. tofu, cut into ½” cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes

Bring water to boil in a large soup pot. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Remove ¼ cup pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta into a colander.

Return pasta and the reserved pasta water to the pot. (The heat should be off; you’re just reusing the pot so you don’t have to get a bowl dirty.)

Add kale, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, olives, tofu, oil, lime juice, salt, and red pepper, and toss well to mix. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors combine.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 406 calories, 17.8 g. fat, 1.6 g. saturated fat, 0.8 g. poly. fat, 4.9 g. mono. fat, 823.1 mg. sodium, 186.2 mg. potassium, 49.7 g. carbohydrates, 8.4 g. fiber, 13.8 g. protein, vitamin A 28%, vitamin C 31%, calcium 14%, iron 20%

Café Carta Chicken Fettuccine

Café Carta in Treno“I purchased a life-sized griffon statue the other day…”

“How wonderful! I bet it’s gorgeous.”

“Indeed, it is. I had to add a room to my mansion for it!”

—Nobles in Treno, FFIX

  • 1 16-oz. box of fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup Chianti or Sangiovese wine
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Start boiling the water for the fettuccine. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add onion to the skillet and cook until tender, about 2 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to avoid burning. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts crosswise into slices, about ½” thick. The water should be boiling by now; prepare fettuccine as per package directions.

Add wine to the mushrooms and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and the mustard. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

Divide the fettuccine between six bowls. Remove the skillet from heat, stir in the parsley, and divide the chicken mixture evenly between the six bowls.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 652 calories, 28.4 g. fat, 14.5 g. saturated fat, 1.2 g. poly. fat, 5.2 g. mono. fat, 121 mg. cholesterol, 346.7 mg. sodium, 551.1 mg. potassium, 62.7 g. carbohydrates, 3.5 g. fiber, 35.1 g. protein, vitamin A 12%, vitamin C 4%, calcium 6%, iron 19%