Baked pasta is typically made with red sauce. Baked pasta with peas is white and green with no mozzarella.
Butter 9” spring loaded pan and dust with Parmesan.
Sauce – Melt ½ stick of butter in a pot and add ¼ cup of flour and whisk until blended. Slowly whisk in quart of milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened – whisk occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup Fontina and 1 cup Parmesan. Add egg, whisk and taste for seasoning. Cover & keep warm.
Place rack in upper 1/3 of 375o oven.
Put ½ of pasta mix into 9“pan and dot with ½ of the ricotta. Put the rest of the pasta in the pan and dot with remaining ricotta and sprinkle with ¼ cup of Parmesan.
Bake for 30 min. then sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan and bake for another 10 minutes. Place under broiler, watching closely, for a minute or so to brown top.
Let it rest for 30 minutes before removing from pan so cheese can harden. Cut into wedges and sprinkle with parsley and mint.
(short ribs or flanken are beef ribs cut across the bone)
Short Ribs and Diced Tomato Sauce
This sauce has an intense flavor for two reasons – first, the ribs with their collagen and marrow and second, the fond created by the meat and then the onions and tomatoes. Le fond is French for the caramelized bits of food that stick to the bottom of the pan. There’s even a very good restaurant by the name Le Fond. Deglazing removes the fond and reincorporates its flavors back into the sauce.
Bring the ribs to room temperature and cut into pieces. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and brown in olive oil. Remove and set aside A fond should be beginning to form.
Add chopped onion to pan and sauté on low-medium heat. Add tomato paste and stir and coat the onions. Cook until softened and translucent.
Add diced tomatoes and simmer uncovered on medium until almost dry (more fond is formed). Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan.
That’s not burnt – it’s fond
Add enough pasta water to thin the sauce. Return the meat, add the bay leaf and simmer on low for fifteen minutes.
after deglazing with wine after thinning with pasta water
Cook the pasta until almost done, drain and add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Serve with grated Parmigiana.
Pasta Inchiummata (pasta with pine nuts, currants and tomatoes)
With currants, nuts and mint pasta inchiummata might seem like dessert but it’s very hardy Sicilian main course. It doesn’t take long to make and there’s no simmering.
Soak the currants in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain and discard the water; set the currants aside. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and red pepper. Stir in the garlic, pine nuts and currants. Cook for 3 minutes.
garlic, pine nuts, currants
Add the diced tomatoes, basil, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, and then cook for 3 more minutes.
tomatoes, basil, parsley, mint
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Cook until the pasta is coated with the sauce, about 2 to 3 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and black pepper. Toss the pasta in the pan with the bread crumbs and serve.
Pasta Rosso con Broccoli (Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli)
This recipe is a bit complicated, takes some time and can be expensive depending on the wine you use but it’s very pretty, tastes great and is worth the trouble. It’s also very spicy but it’s up to you how far you want to go with the pepperoncini. (if you don’t have whole dried pepperoncini, use dried red pepper flakes)
The pasta –
¼ cup olive oil
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 crumbled dried pepperoncini (stem, seeds and core removed)
3 or 4 anchovies
1 bottle red wine (a moderately priced Chianti would work)
1 tsp salt
1 lb short pasta
In one pot heat oil, garlic, pepperoncini and anchovies. Add 3 cups of wine and salt.
In another pot add pasta to salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes after it starts to boil again. Drain and add to pot with wine and bring to boil. Keep stirring until wine is absorbed and the pasta turns red– about 8-10 minutes. Add more wine as needed.
The pepperoncini –
¼ cup olive oil
3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
5 or 6 crumbled dried pepperoncini (stem, seeds and core removed)
1 tsp salt
Heat the oil, add the garlic and pepperoncini. Keep the heat low and don’t burn it.
When the peppers and garlic darken a little put everything, including the oil in a food processor (or mortar and pestle) with a teaspoon of salt and grind until it’s a paste.
Put it back in the pan and heat until it dries.
The broccoli –
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
¼ olive oil
1 clove thinly sliced garlic
Boil broccoli for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss over medium heat with garlic and oil.
Turn off the heat, add half of the pepperoncini paste and stir. If it’s too dry add more oil.
Put it all together –
Pour the broccoli and pepperoncini mixture over the pasta and add a little of the pasta cooking water to make it moist.
This is a quick sauce and should be ready in about the time it takes to make the pasta. Don’t overcook it and keep the fresh taste of the tomatoes. Simple ingredients and yet the result is a complex flavor. Colatura di Alici is an Italian fish sauce similar to the ancient Roman and Greek garum.
Add more oil to the pan and cook the anchovies until they dissolve. Add the garlic and cook until very lightly golden. Add the chilli and cook briefly. Then add cherry tomatoes and capers.
When the pasta is almost done move it from the pot to the pan, adding a bit of the pasta water to the sauce. Mix the pasta with the sauce adding water from the pot as necessary.
When almost done, add the colatura di alici, breadcrumbs, and chopped parsley and blend. Taste for seasoning. Anchovies and colature di alici can be salty and you may not need any more salt. No cheese on this one.
If you have lots of cherry or grape tomatoes to cut in half, here’s a simple and quick way to do it instead of cutting them one at a time.
(sorry about the siren in the background – we live in New York City and didn’t notice)
This is a quick and easy meal. I remember when my mother first made it. I unexpectedly came home with a friend at lunch time. This is what she fed us, made with a few things she happened to have on hand. A delicious cream sauce with only four ingredients. You really don’t need anything more, but I suppose that if you want to complicate it you can add garlic or onions or some other spices. What I like about cooking with sausage meat is that the butcher does all the work – grinding and spicing.
Put up a pot of water for the pasta. Fry the sausage meat in olive oil. You don’t need any garlic, onions or salt & pepper. The spice from the sausage is enough. When it’s lightly browned add a cup of the pasta water and the ricotta and blend. Throw in a good handful of chopped basil and stir. My mother sometimes used peas instead of basil.
When the pasta is almost done add it to the sauce and stir to coat it. If it’s too dry add a little more pasta water. Serve it with some freshly chopped basil. See, I told you it was quick and easy.
This is quick, easy, inexpensive and nutritious, vegan too if you don’t use cheese. Put a pot of water on the stove and by the time the pasta is done, you’ll be ready to eat.
Slice the mushrooms as thinly as possible. Use a mandolin if you have one. Put them in a large serving bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon (no pith) and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Either use a press or very finely chop the garlic and add it to the mushrooms. Mix thoroughly and be sure all of the mushrooms are coated with lemon juice. Add the parsley, salt, black and red pepper and oil and mix again. Let the mushroom mixture sit while you make the pasta or for at least 15 minutes.
You got it, the mushrooms will not be cooked. The salt and acid in the lemon juice are all they’ll need, sort of like ceviche.
When the spaghetti is done to your taste, drain it and add it to the serving bowl with the mushroom mixture, retaining some of the cooking water. Mix well and if it’s to dry add some of the reserved cooking water. Serve with the parmigiana.
Here’s another one Grandma made for my Calabrese grandfather – Calabrese Pork Ragu. It doesn’t take too long to prepare but there’s three hours of simmering so plan ahead. It’s so thick and meaty you can almost eat it as a stew without the pasta.
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and add the sausage. Break it up and brown it. Add the pork, mix and brown it.
This is a Sicilian recipe that my Aunt Lena, who married a Sicilian, used to make. She called it simply “rigatoni with eggplant.” I didn’t learn that it was formally known as “Pasta alla Norma” until I was an adult. It was named for the heroine in Bellini’s Norma.
* Ricotta salata comes in 2 types – fresh for eating and dry for grating. If you can’t get it, use parmigiana.
Slice the eggplant into about 1/2-inch rounds (don’t peel it). Salt and drain it. Cook it over medium-high heat in a pot, in olive oil adding more oil as needed. Do it in batches so it doesn’t crowd. Cook it until it’s browned and soft. Don’t worry about a few burnt edges – that adds flavor. Move it to a plate and don’t drain it or put it on paper towels.
Using the same pot the eggplant was cooked in, add some oil and on medium heat fry garlic with salt, black pepper and red pepper. After a few minutes when the garlic begins to color, add the tomatoes. Cook for about 20-25 minutes on medium. Taste for seasoning.
Cook the pasta until almost done. Cut the eggplant into approximately 1-inch pieces (they’ll be irregularly shaped and that’s OK) and add to the tomato sauce.
Gently stir it in. Drain the almost cooked pasta (saving a cup of pasta water in case the sauce is too dry) and toss it with the sauce. Again, gently, so the eggplant doesn’t break up too much. Serve with freshly grated ricotta salada.
My Salernitano grandmother used to make this for my Calabrese grandfather. I don’t really know if this was something that was common in Calabria or simply a dish that he liked. When my mother made it, she said we were having Calabrese pasta and that’s what I still call it.
I list precise measurments for ingredients but it’s not written in stone. If you like olives, add more. If you don’t like capers, use less. You get the idea.
This is a very quick sauce so put up the pasta water before you start anything else.
Lightly sauté the anchovies, olives, capers and garlic in olive oil.
When the anchovies dissolve and the garlic begins to turn golden, add the tuna, tomatoes, pepper and oregano. Taste for seasoning and let it simmer for no more than 8-10 minutes to keep a fresh taste.
Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve with grated cheese (no cheese if you use the tuna).