Category Archives: Pasta

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.
Put on a pot of salted water to boil. Add a cup of the wine and lower the heat.

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.
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.

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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.

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
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
 
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
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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Pasta cu Mudica

 A village in the Alburni Mountains of Salerno


 

 

 

Pasta cu Muddica – adapted from Lidia’s recipe

Here’s another good example of Cucina Povera.  Stale bread and pasta with a little garlic and oil – simple and cheap but delicious.

Pasta cu Muddica

Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
For the breadcrumbs – Cut off the crust of a loaf of day-old Italian bread and break what’s left into irregular shreds about 1/4-inch or a bit larger. Leave it on a kitchen towel for a few hours to dry and get crisp.

Pasta cu Muddica

Once you start cooking the pasta put the torn bread crumbs into a pan with ½ cup of oil seasoned with salt, black and red pepper. Be sure the oil is hot enough so that the crumbs fry and don’t get soggy. Stir and coat the crumbs with the oil until they just start to toast and then add the garlic slices. Continue stirring and tossing and don’t let the garlic get brown. Remove the crumbs and garlic from the pan.
If the pan looks too dry add some more oil and toss the cooked pasta in it until it’s coated. Add the oregano. If the pasta seems dry, drizzle over more oil and/or a little pasta water but not too much water because the crumbs will get soggy.
Return the toasted breadcrumbs to the pan and add the parsley.  Toss well and serve.

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Venison Ragu

Still Life with Dead Game by Frans Snyders 1579-1657

Venison Ragu

Venison Ragu

My friend Susan gave me some ground venison for my birthday. This is the first recipe I tried with it. Venison ragu is a hardy winter dish. If you can’t get venison use pork. If you do use pork, you can leave out the duck fat. That’s only necessary with lean venison.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Italian trinity
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. duck fat
  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 15 basil leaves cut chiffonade
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. short pasta
Put on a pot of water for the pasta.
Sweat one cup of trinity in oil, then add 2 tablespoons of duck fat and lightly brown the venison. Add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the basil to the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking.Venison Ragu
When the pasta is almost done drain and add it to the sauce to finish cooking. If the sauce is too dry add some pasta water.  Serve with optional grated cheese.

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Spaghettata con Limone e Tonno

Spaghettata con Limone e Tonno

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I don’t use packaged food products – until now. I was browsing in a grocery store in Amalfi in Southern Italy and noticed a clear cellophane package of dried lemon, onions, capers and other things called, “Spaghettata con Limone e Tonno.”

Spaghetttata con Limone e Tonno

It was only 2 Euros so I bought it. The English translation of the preparation was a little confusing but I figured it out.

Spaghetttata con Limone e Tonno

All I had to do was add 3 ingredients – water, olive oil, and tuna.

Spaghetttata con Limone e Tonno

The preparation was easy and it was delicious. I tried to Google a location where I could buy some more but no luck. I guess next time I want it, I’ll have to go back to Amalfi or make it from scratch.

From scratch –
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsps. chopped capers
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 – 8 oz. jar of imported tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
Start a pot of water for the pasta.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add garlic, zest, lemon juice, and capers and sauté for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add tuna and the oil it was packed in and break into bite-sized pieces.
When the pasta is almost done add it to the sauce to finish cooking.

Spaghetttata con Limone e Tonno


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Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

I adapted this from I recipe by Rhonda Carano that I saw in a Ferrari-Carano wine ad. It works for me.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Instructions:

In a small pot, heat chicken broth to a boil. Add porcini mushrooms and take it off the stove.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic. Remove the casings from the sausages, break them up and cook until lightly browned.

Remove porcini mushrooms from broth and reserve the liquid. Chop mushrooms and add them to skillet with rest of the ingredients. Add the Marsala, stir and deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and the reserved chicken/mushroom broth. Add oregano, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Cook the pasta until it’s almost done. Strain it and add it to the pan where the sauce is cooking. Remove bay leaf and turn off the heat. If necessary, add some pasta cooking water to thin the sauce. Add cheese and chopped parsley, blend and serve

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms


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Filomena’s Fettuccine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

Filomena’s Fettuccine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Anchovy Tomato Sauce that I got from a pizzeria chef I know.  I thought it was pretty good. A friend of mine showed it to his Sicilian grandmother who, to put it mildly, didn’t approve of it. The differences in the two recipes don’t seem too extreme to me but to her, there’s a world of difference. Out of respect for Nona Filomena, I’m posting her recipe. I tried them both and prefer Nona’s.Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce
Filomena didn’t exactly give me a breakdown of ingredients and preparation so I’ll paraphrase our phone conversation and fill in a few blanks.

Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

“You start with a small can of alici (anchovies) in a frying pan with some oil (olive). When they start to dissolve, put in your garlic (2 cloves) finely chopped so you don’t mistake it for a pinole. You cook that a little bit (5 minutes)and then put in a small can of paste (6 oz.). Stir it until it absorbs the oil and then a little of the pasta water to thin it, but not too much. Put in the pinoles (pine nuts) and currants (about 1/3 cup each). Now, a little sugar (two teaspoons) to cut the acid of the tomatoes. Let it cook until it’s done (about 20 minutes) and maybe if you need it, a little more pasta water. You should taste it then. There’s probably enough salt from the alici but if you like it salty you might want more. No cheese with this but you put a bowl of fried breadcrumbs on the table and people help themselves.”
A few of Nona Filomena’s comments:
  • No parsley in this sauce. It doesn’t belong.
  • You make this with fettuccine. No other kind of pasta.
  • You don’t put the toasted breadcrumbs in the sauce as it’s cooking because they get soggy. You want them crisp.
  • It’s all right to finish cooking the fettuccine in the sauce but if you’re making two or three pounds when the whole family is coming, you don’t have to do that.
  • No red pepper in this – just black.

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