Archive for category Pasta Sauce

White Clam Sauce

Linguine with White Clam SauceThere’s nothing like a good white clam sauce to go with your linguine (or any other kind of pasta you might choose. My favorite food store actually carries shucked fresh clams, so I generally buy  a tub of these for this recipe. However, if yours doesn’t, you can buy baby clams in a can. They work just fine. However, that’s not quite enough for me. I also buy a couple of cans of chopped clams as well. The more the merrier.

This recipe is for 1 lb. of pasta. It calls for a cup of clam juice or chicken stock. The clam juice will make the sauce stronger, while the chicken stock will make it a bit more mellow and buttery flavored. The choice is yours, or you can even use half and half if you’d like.

Ingredients

1 can (or tub) of whole baby clams

2 cans of chopped clams

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1.5 tsp. dried thyme

1 cup clam juice (or chicken stock)

1 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, zested

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Coarse ground black pepper and coarse salt

Italian bread (for mopping up extra sauce; optional)

Shaved Parmesan cheese (for serving)

1 lb. pasta, slightly undercooked

Directions

In a large, deep skillet add the olive oil and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until the oil becomes fragrant and the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and white wine. Cook for a few minutes until the concoction is slightly reduced. Add the clam juice or chicken stock (or a combination of the two). Allow it to simmer for a minute.

Stir in your clams and your lemon zest. Drain your pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss with the sauce for 2-3 minutes until it becomes al denté. Add the chives, pepper and salt to taste. Toss it a couple of times and you’re good to go!

It goes without saying that you should top this with some shaved Parmesan cheese!

 

 

 

 

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Summer Veggie Pasta Sauce

raw-zucchiniI spent my childhood eating traditional tomato-based pasta sauce. When I finally moved out of my family home and started to enjoy cooking, I decided I wanted to explore a bigger variety of sauces for my pasta. This sauce is especially nice in the summer, using zucchini, pancetta, and peas. Combine these delicious vegetables with butter, dry white wine and parmesan cheese, and it’s a real feast.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked pasta

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 oz. pancetta

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for serving (I like to use the grated in the sauce and the shaved for serving)

Directions

The first order of business is to bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, cook until al denté (most of the time this runs from 7-10 minutes after the rolling boil has started). Then drain and set aside. While this process is going on, you can work on your sauce.

Add the chopped pancetta to a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the chopped zucchini, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until it begins to soften. Add the thawed peas at the very end of this process and sauté for about 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until it turns golden and becomes fragrant. Then add the white wine, lemon juice, butter, thyme and basil. Cook for another two minutes or until the butter is completely melted.

Return the vegetables to the pan with the sauce and sauté for an additional minute or two. Then, add the pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese to heat through.

This is a good time to give it a taste test for saltiness (the pancetta is salted and the cheese will also add a bit of saltiness to the dish). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You are ready to enjoy!

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Della Piana’s Homemade Gravy with Meatballs

I grew up in an Italian household, and every Sunday we had ‘macaroni and gravy.’ We never called it ‘pasta sauce.’ There’s also the false belief that you absolutely have to use fresh tomatoes. You do not. With canned tomatoes, someone else does all the hard work. This is not marinara; this is thick. It cooks slowly for about 8+ hours. So, here’s my original recipe for ‘gravy.’

Ingredients

4 tbsp. olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 can tomato puree

2 can crushed tomatoes

1 can whole tomatoes

4 cans tomato paste

8 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped

6 Italian sausages (I prefer hot; you can use sweet or hot, or a combination of both)

3 boneless country-style pork ribs

Homemade meatballs (recipe follows)

4 tbsp. dried oregano

4 tbsp. dried basil

2 tbsp. dried parsley

6 bay leaves

1 tsp. salt (I prefer sea salt)

1/2 cup ‘old’ red wine or 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Directions

Put olive oil in a very large sauce pan (and I’m not kidding about the size) over medium high heat. Add chopped garlic cloves and chopped onion. Sauté until transparent and/or slightly browned and you get the aroma. Add Italian sausages and boneless country-style pork ribs. Brown on all sides, turning intermittently. Add ‘old’ red wine or red wine vinegar. (I don’t know about you folks, but I can rarely down a bottle of red wine in a couple of days. However, it doesn’t have to  go to waste. Set it aside. It will age and develop a bit of a ‘vinegar’ essence. I keep all my old red wine and routinely use it for cooking.)

Allow this concoction to simmer for about 15-20 minutes over low heat, then it’s time to add the canned tomatoes. Add all four cans plus one can of water. Start simmering over medium heat, but move it to low and simmer for about an hour. It’s important that you stir this continuously so that nothing gets stuck and burns on the bottom of the pan.After an hour, you’ll add the meatballs (recipe follows this) and simmer for another 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, add the first two cans of tomato paste. Again, you’ll add one can of water after. You can use the water to rinse all of the paste out of the two cans. Simmer for 20 minutes more, then add the last two cans of tomato paste, repeating the rinsing process. All in all, you’ll be adding two cans of water to four cans of paste. Then, please taste the gravy and adjust the seasonings. I’m giving you measurements for the seasonings (parsley, oregano, etc.), but you should add more to suit your flavor preference. There is no magic formula here.

Once the paste is added, you’re going to put the cover on and leave the gravy and meatballs on a low simmer for a few more hours. Again, it’s not necessary to simmer for the full 8 hours, but I made this at Christmas and basically let it simmer on low for the full 8 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns to the bottom. It’s worth it. As it cooks, the paste helps it to thicken. Remember, this is not marinara. Thick is better. I always buy an extra can of paste in the event that I want to add more. That’s a good policy.

By the way, it’s a good idea to taste your gravy several times during it’s creation. It’s never too late to adjust your seasonings.

Now, here are a couple of myth busters: It is not necessary to add sugar to your gravy. I never do. Some people insist this takes the acidity out of the tomatoes. Not necessary. The process of simmering will take care of that. And, when it’s time to cook your pasta, you absolutely should not put a teaspoon of olive oil in the water. A lot of people recommend this to prevent the pasta from sticking together. This doesn’t happen if your water is at a high rolling boil and you keep stirring it (or if making spaghetti, moving it around the pan with a spaghetti implement). Adding oil will prevent the gravy from sticking to the pasta. That’s not what you want. If using commercial pasta, I love Orichiette (often referred to as ‘pigs ears’), Cavitappi (often called ‘corkscrew’), Farfalle (or ‘bow ties’) or Medium Shells. On the ‘spaghetti’ side, I love Fusilli (the long version; not the short) and Linguine. They hold the gravy so well..

Homemade Meatballs

Meatballs can be made with ground beef, a combination of ground,beef and ground pork, turkey or chicken. For Christmas, I made mine with ground turkey.

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef, pork, turkey or chicken or any combination of the four

3 tbsp. minced garlic (feel free to buy this in the jar)

1 tbsp. oregano

1 tbsp. thyme

1 tbsp. dried basil

1 tbsp ground parsley

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs

2 large eggs (add more if needed)

Directions

This is an uncomplicated recipe. Simply mix all these things together in a big bowl. Yes, use your hands (but wash them first). Size is relative. I don’t like mine too small or too large. The ones in this photo are the right attitude.

Many people bake their meatballs in the over before putting them in the gravy. I only do this if I’m making them to be added to ready-made gravy for the kids. Otherwise, carefully put them in the gravy you’re making on the stove and allow them to cook slowly. Nothing special needs to be done. They will be absolutely delicious.

Cook’s Note: In the next few days, I’ll be putting up several recipes for home made pasta. Keep an eye out!

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