Posts Tagged pancetta

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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Baked Stuffed Clams

NorwayDeepClamShells-Legendary ShellsHere’s a mighty tasty recipe. This is one of those appetizers that people don’t think of making very often, mostly because they cringe when they think of having to shuck clams to make it. Actually, you don’t have to do any of that. In most supermarkets, you can purchase chopped clams in their broth. These are usually somewhere in front of the fish section in cold case. Or you can visit a seafood store and purchase them. Or, you can simply buy the snows chopped clams in the can. They work perfectly fine for this recipe. (Or, if you like the labor, you can buy clams and shuck them yourself.)

You can also go online and purchase clam shells for this recipe. These are durable, oven-resistant, dishwasher-safe, reusable clam shells that are made specifically for this purpose. Here’s a link to a good online source called Legendary Shells.

It says that the Pancetta or bacon is optional, but I wouldn’t leave it out. It adds great depth of flavor, particularly since the recipe calls for sage. People often ask me what the difference is between Pancetta and regular bacon. Pancetta is often called Italian bacon, and is essentially bacon without the smoky flavor, so it just depends upon which you prefer.

Ingredients

2.5 cups chopped clam meat (retain the clam juice)

Retained clam juice (if you are working with whole, fresh clams, purchase a bottle of Snow’s Clam Juice)

6 clam shells (for cooking; see note above)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups Italian style bread crumbs

1 tbsp dried broken-leaf sage

Kosher salt (to taste)

Fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)

Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 egg

3 tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup chopped Pancetta or bacon, chopped and cooked until crispy (optional, but not really)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

If you’re working with whole clams, you can chop them by hand or use a food processor.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir frequently so that the garlic does not burn.

Remove from heat and transfer everything to a bowl. Allow it to cool a bit. Then, add your bread crumbs, sage, salt and pepper (sparingly), red pepper flakes, and clams.

Whisk the egg with the retained clam juice. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix gently. If you are adding the Pancetta or bacon (and I strongly suggest you do), now is the time to add that to the mixture. If the mixture appears dry (and it probably will not with the addition of the meat), here’s where that bottle of Snow’s clam juice comes in handy.

Fill the shells with the clam mixture, and place a chunk of butter on the top of each one.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

My friend Bill says to serve this with lemon wedges and cold beer. Wine works too, if you’re not a beer drinker (like me).

 

 

 

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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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Wicked Good Burgers

eating-burgersWe’re not talking McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s here. In fact, have you watched television advertising from these slop shops? When you finally get there and order your burger, it rarely looks like it does on television. Ah, the beauty of food stylists. Let’s take it one step further here: We’re not even talking Fuddruckers or Five Guys (although anything you can get here is an improvement over other three). We’re talking homemade burgers. There’s nothing like it. I guarantee you can’t get these in a take-out place.

We’re also not talking just beef, but also ground chicken and turkey. Again, I urge you to think outside the culinary box. Cook them outdoors on the grill if you can but, if not, an indoor electric grill works as well (Breville makes a great product).

Following this little diatribe are six great burger recipes for you to try. This isn’t the entire repertoire, but it’s a great start. The recipes call for 1-1/3 lbs of ground meat. This should give you about four decent-sized burgers. I also do not buy the leanest cut, even with chicken and turkey. There’s nothing worse than a dried out burger. I am also giving you recipes for cheeseburgers because, well, what’s a burger without cheese on top? If you can’t eat cheese or do not like cheeseburgers, simply leave it off.

Lettuce or some kind of greens are always a welcome addition to burgers. Get creative here. Try baby spinach, baby kale or arugula for a switch.

Tuscan Blue Cheese Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs of ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp Italian or Tuscan Seasoning (I use McCormick’s)

1/2 lb crumbled blue cheese (or Gorgonzola, if you prefer)

Deli-sliced Pancetta (Italian bacon)

Italian Fontina Cheese (optional)

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Thomas’ Sandwich-sized English Muffins, toasted

Directions

The first thing you want to do is prepare the Pancetta. Deli-sliced pancetta should be sliced fairly thin. This is what you want. You should use 2-3 sliced per burger. Heat a pan and cook the pancetta until crisp, but not burned. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.

Mix together the first three ingredients, and divide into four equal parts. When forming the burgers, push some crumbled blue cheese into the center of the meat and form the burger around it.

Brush the burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Even though you are brushing oil on the burgers, I recommend using grill spray on outdoor grills as well.

On an outdoor grill, cook six inches from the coals with the cover down, or on a gas grill on medium-high heat with cover down for 6-7 minutes per side. On an indoor grill, preheat the grill on high and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Fontina just before the burgers are cooked. Melting should take less than a minute with the grill cover closed.

Serve the burgers on Thomas’ Sandwich-Sized English Muffins that have been lightly toasted. These burgers are delicious with a quick Garlic-Lemon Aioli. It’s simple to make.

Garlic-Lemon Aioli: Mix 3/4 cup light mayonnaise, 3 tbsp minced garlic, 2.5 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving your burgers.

Greek Feta Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs of ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

2 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Kasseri cheese (optional)

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Crusty rolls

Directions

Mix together the first four ingredients, and divide into four equal parts. When forming the burgers, push some crumbled Feta cheese into the center of each and form the burgers around it.

Brush the burgers with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. I recommend using grill spray on outdoor grills even though you are oiling the burgers.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Kasseri cheese just before the burgers are done.

These burgers are great on crusty sandwich rolls. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are great on top!

Santa Fe Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lb ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tbsp coriander

Handful of fresh, chopped cilantro

5-6 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut in strips

1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut in strips

1 tbsp minced garlic

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Pepper Jack Cheese (optional)

Burger rolls (get creative; not the ones you feed your kids because they won’t eat any other kind)

Directions

Before you start the burgers, prepare your toppings. Drizzle some oil in a pan, add the Jalapenos, onions and garlic. Sauté on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes and set aside.

Now, mix together the first four ingredients, and divide it into four equal portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Pepper Jack cheese just before the burgers are done.

Serve on rolls with the Jalapeno pepper, onion and garlic topping.

Mexicali Blues Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

3/4 cup chopped ancho, poblano or pasilla peppers

2 tbsp chili powder (hot or mild)

1 tbsp paprika

Coarse sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Guacamole

Burger buns

Monterey Jack Cheese or Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Directions

Mix together the first four ingredients and divide into four equal portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese just before the burgers are done.

Serve on burger buns topped with guacamole.

Cajun Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 tbsp Cayenne pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp oregano

Coarse sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Cabot Habanero Cheddar Cheese

Onion rolls

Directions

Mix together the first five ingredients, and divide into four separate portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Cabot Habanero Cheddar just before the burgers are done.

Serve on onion rolls.

Pesto Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

4 tbsp pesto

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and crushed red pepper

Mozarella cheese

Roma tomatoes (thinly sliced)

Crusty rolls

Directions

I like making pesto, but you really don’t need to for this recipe. You can simply buy the pesto in the jar. This version naturally has a fair amount of olive oil sitting on top. Pour most of this out and use just the pesto.

Mix together the first three ingredients, and divide into four equal portions. Form your burgers, but skip the brushing with olive oil step. There will be plenty of oil from the pesto. Season with salt and crushed red pepper.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Mozarella just before the burgers are done.

Serve on crusty rolls with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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