Posts Tagged food

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.


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)


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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Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan

spaghetti squashLet’s talk about spaghetti squash, one of the eight wonders of the food world and really easy to cook. The one thing you’ll notice when you go to buy one is that they are all about the same size. That makes cooking them really easy.

The first thing you want to do is pierce the squash. Most recipes tell you to pierce them on all sides about an inch apart using a fork. Personally, I prefer to pierce them using a knife. The outside skin is really thick and tough when they are not cooked and I think using a knife works best.

Butter is used on the squash after it is cooked. I generally use the soft butter in a tub rather than squares. It’s a lot easier to mix.

This recipe calls for Parmesan Reggiano. People always ask what is the difference between regular Parmesan and Parmesan Reggiano. Simply stated, if it is regular Parmesan, it does not have to be made in Italy. There is a flavor difference as well. The Reggiano is nuttier and — how shall I say it — cheesier.  It also melts easier. I use both versions of Parmesan all the time for various recipes and meals, and I love them both. Try them side by side. You will understand once you do this.


1 spaghetti squash

1 cup water

4-5 tbsp butter

1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan Reggiano

Salt and Pepper


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the squash on all sides with a knife. Place in a baking pan with 1 cup of water on the bottom. Bake for 1-1/2 hours.

When done, remove the pan from the oven. You will cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds. This will, of course, require you to remove some of the squash as well. Trust me. It won’t be much. Then, use a fork to scrape the squash from the skin. It will look like spaghetti (hence the name).

Put the squash in a bowl, season with salt and pepper. I use rainbow pepper (which is black, white and pink). Add 4-5 tbsp of soft butter (I like the butter that is made with Canola or Olive Oil) and the Parmesan cheese.

Mix well and serve.

It’s amazingly good.

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