Archive for category Pasta

Ma’s Pizza Macaroni

Pizza Pasta-1This is a really pretty simple, yet delicious pasta dish. We always called it “Pizza Macaroni” because that’s what our mother and grandmother called it, and they called it that because the spices used in its creation are the spices we use in pizza. There is no better pasta for this than Rigatoni, although Ziti is a good alternative if need be.

The recipe here calls for 2 pounds of pasta. This is a great dish for a crowd. It’s easy to adjust the quantities to meet your needs. And besides, it’s even better heated over.

The first thing will be to mix the seasonings together. The rest, as they say, is a breeze.

Ingredients

For Seasoning

4 tbsp granulated garlic

2 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp granulated onion powder

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp dried rosemary

4 tsp fennel seed (roughly crushed with mortar and pestle)

2 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp Sicilian sea salt

1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

For the Pasta

2 lbs Rigatoni

2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (I use the garlic, olive oil seasoned)

12 RIPE plum tomatoes, sliced

Olive oil

4 cups three cheese blend (Romano, Parmesan, Asiago)

Reggiano Parmesan (for serving)

Crushed red pepper (for serving)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350º.

While you’re mixing your spices bring a large pan of water to boil. Just before you add the pasta, salt the water. Don’t be shy about this. (If you add the salt at the beginning, it will take longer to boil.) Add your pasta to the boiling water. Return to the boil, and allow it to cook for about 9 minutes. The pasta should be al dente. Drain.

Pour both cans of diced tomatoes into the bottom of a large pan. Add half of the pasta to the pan (do not mix with the tomatoes on the bottom). Then add a layer of sliced tomatoes, the spice (to you taste; I’m heavy on the spice),  and a liberal dose of the three cheese blend. Sprinkle this layer with olive oil.

Add the second layer of pasta and repeat this process.

Don’t be shy with any of the ingredients, and definitely do not be shy with the olive oil.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake, UNCOVERED, for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with freshly ground Reggiano Parmesan and crushed red pepper.

Notes: Do not worry if some of the pieces are a bit crispy. This is part of the plan. These are actually delicious.

 

 

 

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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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Spaghetti Frittata

spaghetti frittataI grew up in a real Italian household. We never threw any food away. Leftovers were a big thing in my house, and my grandmother was a big believer that pasta (which we called macaroni) was better the second time around. To this day, Spaghetti Frittata is one of my favorite dishes. There’s nothing you can’t do with this to make it taste amazing.

Have some leftover spaghetti in your refrigerator? Do not throw it out. This is one of those recipes where you’re going to “wing it” because I’m making some assumptions and you’re going to have to “think outside the recipe.” There’s no other way to do it. This is not one of those dishes where you cook spaghetti fresh, and then make the frittata. It’s definitely made from leftovers.

So, for the sake of argument, we’re going to assume you have about a half pound of spaghetti with sauce left over in your refrigerator. We’ll go from there.

Ingredients

About 1/2 lb leftover spaghetti with sauce (okay, we also called this “gravy,” not sauce)

5 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup chopped Pancetta

12 oz baby spinach

1 tbsp Tuscan seasoning (I use McCormick’s)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp freshly-ground black pepper

olive oil (for rubbing on the skillet)

Directions

Cook the Pancetta in a small skillet until just browned. Whisk together the eggs, milk and Parmesan cheese.

Place everything in a large bowl and mix well. It is important that the spaghetti is thoroughly coated with the egg mixture.

Rub a large oven-proof, non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat on medium-high. Pour the mixture into the skillet, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. While this is going on, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

After 20 minutes, transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. This will ensure that the top of the frittata cooks.

Remove from the oven and allow it to sit on the stove, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Cut like a pizza and serve with a simple arugula salad.

 

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Orechiette with Peas, Garlic and Pancetta

Orechiette with Pancetta and PeasOrechiette (or pig’s ears) is undoubtedly the best pasta on the planet. They look like little space ships, for one. More importantly, they are like little “cups” that manage to hold whatever you’re combining it with. This means you miss none of the flavor of the dish.

Now, a word about Pancetta. It’s basically Italian bacon. What makes it different is that it is minus that smoky flavor, which is just perfect for several dishes, including this one. You can buy it several different ways. You can buy it as a big roll. You can have it sliced at the deli of your local grocery store, which is great when you want to put it on burgers. You can even buy it chopped, which is what I do for this particular dish.

This pasta dish is remarkably simple and comes together pretty quickly.

Ingredients

1 lb Orechiette pasta

1 cup chopped Pancetta

1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted and heated

6 tbsp olive oil

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Parmesan Reggiano (for serving)

1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes (for serving)

Directions 

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the Orechiette and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until al dente. You should check after 12 minutes.

While your pasta is cooking, add the Pancetta to a skillet and cook until just a bit crispy. You don’t need any oil for this. Remove and set aside. While this is going on, defrost and heat your peas in a microwave. Set the peas aside.

Add 6 tbsp oil to the pan you cooked the Pancetta in. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the oil is infused. Allow the garlic to cook, but do not allow the garlic to burn. Then add the Pancetta and peas to the pan with the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the black pepper and give it a stir.

Drain the Orechiette and return it to the cooking pan. Add the Pancetta, garlic, peas and oil from the pan and toss until mixed. Pour into a serving plate and top with grated Parmesan. Make sure you serve the pasta with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes on the side.

Now, all you need is a nice glass of red wine…

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