Category Archives: Pasta

Sausage and WInter Squash Ragu

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

I got this recipe from a northern friend (her grandparents are from Tuscany). You can use any kind of hard winter squash. I used butternut but acorn or even pumpkin would do it.
Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups peeled and diced squash
  • Olive oil for basting and frying
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. Italian hot or sweet pork sausage casing removed
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms – your choice
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. short pasta like ziti, rigatoni, etc.
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
Start a pot of salted water  for the pasta.
Heat the oven to 450o and roast the peeled and diced squash with oil and salt and pepper for 15 minutes.

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu
Sauté the mushrooms and onion in oil in a pot until they’re soft. Remove from the pot. Add the sausage and break it up and cook until it’s brown. Return the mushrooms and onion to the pot, then add the tomatoes and garlic. Cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes and then add 1 cup of water, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

Cook the pasta until almost done and add it to the pot and mix it with the sauce. Add some of the pasta water if it looks too dry. Now, add the roasted squash and parsley. Mix and serve. (My friend said it can be served with grated cheese but I think that would overpowers the sweetness of the squash.)

Sausage and Winter Squash Ragu

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Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

This is adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit.

Red Pesto Pasta.

Ingredients:
  • 6 anchovies
  • 3 smashed garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup raw walnuts
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced *
  • 3 oz. Parmigiana cheese
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsps. butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 lb. small pasta (ziti, penne, gemelli, etc.)
* If you like it spicy use red serranoes instead of a bell pepper.
Put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta. By the time the water boils and the pasta is cooked, the sauce will be ready.
Cook the anchovies, garlic, and walnuts in the oil until the garlic starts to color. Add the tomato paste and the sliced pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.Red Pesto Pasta.

Let the mixture cool for a few minutes and scrape it into a food processor or blender. Add the cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until smooth and pour the mixture into a heated serving bowl and add the butter.
When it’s done, add the pasta and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the bowl, more water if the sauce is too dry. Serve Red Pesto Pasta with Parmigiana cheese.Red Pesto Pasta.

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Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

I got this recipe from a friend who got it from a food page on Facebook. No amounts were given but what I’ve listed here works pretty well. Since the ingredients aren’t written in stone, I suggest that you adjust the amounts according to your taste. Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce is rich, thick, and hearty with some intense flavors.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion cut into ¼ moons
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • Olive oil – enough for frying
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms – your choice
  • 3 or 4 Italian sausage cut into small pieces*
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 lb. pasta – something small

*When you have to cut sausage or any soft meat, it helps to keep it in the freezer for 20 minutes first.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Start a pot of salted water on a burner for the pasta.
Sauté the pepper and onions in oil until they begin to soften. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the paste and blend. Continue cooking until peppers and onions just begin to brown and remove them from the pan.
Add some more oil and cook the mushrooms until they soften and brown. Remove them from the pan.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Add the sausage to the pan and brown. Add oil as you need it. When almost done add the garlic. Blend and add the puree and return the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning. Stir and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Drain and serve the pasta.  Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with grated parmigiana.

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Pisarei e Faso

Pisarei e Faso

Pisarei e faso’ is a traditional dish of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna. It’s small bits of pasta in a tomato sauce with beans. Sort of an Italian Chili.

Pisarei e Faso'

For the Pisarei:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • About ½ cup warm water
Place the flour and breadcrumbs in a large glass bowl and thoroughly mix.
Pour in enough warm water a little at a time and blend with your hand until dough is formed. Shape it into a ball, cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour.Pisarei e faso’
Cut off pieces of the dough and roll into thin cylinders with half an inch diameter.Pisarei e faso’
Slice the cylinders into small pieces and make an indentation in the middle of each by rolling it with your finger.Pisarei e faso’
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, chopped (or lard)
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce *
  • 16 oz. can white cannelloni beans, rinsed
* Tomato Sauce
 Lightly sauté the onion in the oil and then add the pancetta. When the onion is translucent and the pancetta fat renders, add the tomato sauce.
While the sauce is simmering bring water for the pasta to a boil in a large pot. Add the pisarei . Don’t crowd the pot or they’ll stick together. After about 8-9 minutes, when they float to the top they are ready.Pisarei e faso
Take them out of the water with a skimmer and place them in the pot with the sauce. Sauté’ for a few minutes and add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes and serve Pisarei e faso’ with parmigiana and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Pasta Primavera


Pasta Primavera

I’m pretty sure that Pasta Primavera is something that was made up in an Italian restaurant in America. My mother used to make pasta with various vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, squash) as a type of minestra. Usually she used only one vegetable but if she felt like it, she’d use a variety of what was available. She never included cream and cheese was only added at the table. My mother called it ‘Pasta with Vegetables.’ I’ll call it ‘primavera’ – that means Spring.Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Start a pot of salted boiling water that you’ll eventually use for the pasta. Boil the vegetables 1 or 2 at a time until almost tender and remove them to a bowl.Pasta Primavera
When the vegetables are done add some more salt to the boiling water and begin cooking the pasta. After cooking  the vegetables in that water it’s now like vegetable stock. While the pasta cooks in one pot, in a second pot sauté the garlic in the oil. Add some salt, black and red pepper and the parsley.
Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera
Add the cooked vegetables and toss to coat with the garlic, parsley and oil on low heat. When the pasta is almost done add it to the vegetables, mix and add 1 & 1/2 cups of pasta water and mix well. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and serve with grated Parmigiana cheese on the side.

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Red Wine Pasta

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Red Wine Pasta

This one is adapted from David Tanis, New York Times – City Kitchen. Don’t use a very expensive wine for this but one at least good enough to drink. You can use Chianti, Merlot or Pinot Noir.
Red Wine Pasta
Red Wine Pasta
Put on a pot of salted water to boil. Add a cup of the wine and lower the heat.

Red Wine Pasta

Sauté the pancetta in the oil. Remove it when it browns. Then add the onion, salt and pepper. Fry the onion until its softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste – stir and coat the onion. Then the bay leaf and the rest of the bottle of wine. Raise the heat and let it reduce – about 10 minutes.
Red Wine Pasta
Bring the pasta water back to a boil and cook the pasta until almost done. Reserve a cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir as it absorbs it. Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick.
Stir in the browned pancetta, the butter, parsley and Parmigiana. Check for seasoning. Serve with more grated Parmigiana.

Red Wine Pasta

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Minestra con Piselli Caiano

Minestra con Piselli Caiano 

Minestra con Piselli  Caiano

Minestra con Piselli  Caiano  translates to something like Soupy Pasta with Pigeon Peas. It sounds better in Italian.
Minestra con Piselli  Caiano

Piselli Caiano Minestra

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half or a large tomato roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. shells or other small pasta
  • 15 oz. can of pigeon peas
Minestra con Piselli  Caiano preparation –
Fry the garlic in oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until slightly soft.

Piselli Caiano Minestra

Add the broth, bay leaf, and the pasta. Keep adding heated water, maybe 2 or 3 cups, to keep a soupy consistency. When the pasta is almost done, add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Piselli Caiano Minestra

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Sauce vs. Gravy

Sauce vs. Gravy

It’s an argument that will probably go on forever among Italian-Americans. Is it sauce or gravy? Most non-Italians couldn’t care less and it doesn’t really bother me but I’m going to add my opinion anyway.
In any dictionary, gravy and sauce have almost identical definitions although it seems that to be called “gravy” there must be some meat, or meat juices or drippings involved.
In Italian, there’s sugo (thin sauce/gravy made with meat) and ragu (thick sauce/gravy made with meat). Then there’s salsa, not made with meat and which I would translate as sauce.
When people think of gravy it’s usually brown and often made with meat drippings and a bit of flour to thicken it. Well, why can’t it be red and made with meat drippings and tomatoes instead of flour?
When my mother had a pot of bubbling tomatoes on the stove filled with meatballs, braciole, and sausage she called it “gravy.” When she made marinara, that’s tomatoes with no meat, it was “sauce.”
So that’s my take on the unending sauce-gravy argument. And here’s a recipe for a ragu. You can call it what you like.

Sauce vs. Gravy


Pork Ragu

Sauce vs. Gravy

*Italian trinity

Sweat one cup of trinity in oil and then add and lightly brown the pork. Add the crushed tomatoes and sachet. Simmer for at least one hour.
Put on a pot of water for the pasta. Add the peas to the tomatoes and pork and simmer for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking. Taste for seasoning.
When the pasta is almost done drain and add it to the ragu to finish cooking. If it’s too dry add some pasta water.  Serve with grated cheese.

Sauce vs. Gravy


Sunday Gravy

There are a lot of variations for this one – but always meat and tomatoes. Here’s a simple, basic recipe which you can vary.

Sauce vs. Gravy

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • Sausage – hot or sweet
  • Oxtails
  • Dried sausage or soprasade
  • Garlic (2 chopped cloves)
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper

Sauce vs. Gravy

Brown the sausage and oxtails in oil. Do it in batches and don’t crowd the pan. Remove and add the dried sausage and garlic. Don’t burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat, taste for seasoning and simmer for at least one hour.

Sauce vs. Gravy

Sauce vs. Gravy

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Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis Cavatelli with Gorgonzola and Cherry Tomatoes  (Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes)
 
We had dinner with our nephews Stephen, Francesco and Doug. They put together a great meal but I loved the pasta most. I think maybe my niece Danielle had something to do with this too. They used a Giada DiLaurentis recipe.
So here it is – delicious. I used goat cheese instead of gorgonzola. Giada said that would be OK. (Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes)
PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY TOMATOES
Ingredients:
  • ½ lb. cavatelli (or something similar)
  • 8 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz. gorgonzola (or goat cheese)
  • 5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped

Start a pot of boiling water for the pasta.

Add the pancetta and olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often until the pancetta is crispy, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and cook another minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook, stirring often until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

When the pasta is almost done (reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta water) add it to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Scatter the cheese over the pasta and stir to combine. Continue to stir, adding pasta water as needed, until a light creamy sauce is formed. Add the spinach and toss until it wilts.

PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY TOMATOES

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