Category Archives: Pasta

Tinned Fish

Tinned Fish

It’s been around for a long time but suddenly it’s become a thing – tinned fish. When I was growing up if I wanted a snack, I could always open a can of sardines, squid, or tuna. It’s a very old way of preserving food. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and isn’t perishable until it’s opened.

Here’s an informative post from Epicurious

The Can of Food That Makes Dinner Parties Delicious, Easy, and Insanely Fast

The easiest dinner party you’ll ever throw is the one where all you do is make a few salads, open a few tins of fish and put out a few baguettes. The reason you aren’t throwing this party already is because you think that tinned fish is cheap, acrid, odorous stuff that you’d never serve to company, much less yourself. But that line of thinking stops now. 

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Tinned Fish Pasta

Here’s a recipe that works with almost any type of tinned fish. I used sardines. 

Tinned Fish PastaAdapted from Bon Appétit

Tinned Fish PastaIngredients:
  • 1 cup unseasoned toasted breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup. olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 cans sardines packed in olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. chopped capers
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguini
  • Chopped parsley for serving

Tinned Fish Pasta


Lightly sauté the garlic in olive oil in a small pan until it’s fragrant. Don’t let it brown.Tinned Fish Pasta

Put the garlic and oil it cooked in, sardines, lemon zest and juice, capers, salt, and pepper in a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl on top of a pot of boiling water to gently heat the ingredients. Remove the bowl and cook the pasta in the same boiling water.Tinned Fish Pasta

When the pasta is done add it to the bowl with 1 cup of the pasta water and the parsley. Mix and serve with a sprinkling of the toasted breadcrumbs.Tinned Fish Pasta

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Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and SausagePasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Simple ingredients and an easy preparation – this one is a classic. Whoever first put this combination together deserves a medal. You can get this in almost any Italian restaurant, hero shop and even in some pizzerias.
Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Ingredients:
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, black and red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 Italian sausages (sweet or hot) cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. short pasta
Start a pot of boiling salted water for pasta. Remove stems, cut into 2 inch pieces and wash the broccoli rabe.
Boil it in the pasta water for 8 – 10 minutes until tender. Remove and drain. Add 2 tablespoons more salt to the water and cook the pasta in the same pot until almost done.Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Fry the sausage in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Add garlic, salt, red, and black pepper and lower the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook for 5 minutes and add a half cup of pasta water and deglaze the pan. Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Add the prepared broccoli rabe and another half cup of pasta water. Blend and cook for 8 minutes. Add the drained pasta to the sausage and broccoli to finish cooking. Serve with grated Parmigiana cheese.Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

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Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

Pasta with mushroom sauce is an easy recipe for a rich tasting sauce.

Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 hot or sweet Italian sausages
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. short pasta (penne, fusilli, gemelli, etc.)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
Pasta with Mushroom SaucePut the chicken stock and dried mushrooms in a small pot and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the stove and set it aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the sausage meat and brown it.
Remove the mushrooms and save the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan with the onions and sausage meat.Pasta with Mushroom Sauce
Add the wine and cook for 5 minutes until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the mushroom/chicken stock, oregano, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes or so until it thickens. If it get’s to dry mix in some more chicken stock or pasta water.Pasta with Mushroom Sauce
While the sauce simmers cook the pasta until almost done. Drain it and add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Sprinkle with parsley and place the pasta in a serving dish. Serve with grated Parmigiana cheese.Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

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Marietta’s Tomato Sauce

Marietta’s Tomato Sauce

A friend I used to work with and had lunch with almost every day invited me home to dinner with him. He said his wife, Marietta, was Italian like me and a great cook. When I arrived and was introduced to Marietta, we made the standard exchange that Italian-Americans often do – “So, where in Italy are your people from?” Since we were both of Italian descent, instead of the general “Naples,” I more specifically said Salerno and instead of “Sicily,” Marietta said Trapani. And so, the inevitable cooking rivalry began. She knew her husband’s friend was coming for dinner but didn’t know I was Italian-American. She made, among other things, what she called simply ‘tomato sauce.’ She knew I would silently compare it to my family’s ‘tomato sauce.’ Before we started eating, I mentioned that my mother’s sister married a Sicilian and learned recipes from her mother-in- law which she introduced to our family. I made it clear that I was familiar with Sicilian cuisine and appreciated it. We put a love of cooking and good food before the old regional rivalry and had a great dinner. Before I left, Marietta wrote down her sauce recipe for me. Keep in mind that you only need just 5 ingredients for a simple tomato sauce – olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. This one has a lot more than that! That’s a ton of flavor.
Marietta's Tomato SauceMarietta’s Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of long pasta (ideally perciatelli or bucatini but spaghetti will work)
  • 1/2  cup olive oil
  • Salt, black, and red pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. chopped beef
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of basil
  • * Sachet – 10 black peppercorns, 1 dried chili, 2 bay leaves, 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 – 8 oz. can peas

* Sachet – little cloth bags are available in supermarkets or Google, If you can’t find them, cut a white handkerchief into quarters, wrap the ingredients and tie it with a string.


Sauté the chopped onion in olive oil, salt, black and red pepper. Don’t brown it, just cook until it’s translucent. Add the chopped beef and brown it. Add the tomato paste, blend well, and cook about 8 minutes.Marietta's Tomato Sauce

Start a pot of salted water and cook the pasta.
Add the red wine to the sauce and deglaze the pan. Add the can of San Marzano tomatoes, a sprig of fresh basil, the sachet, and simmer for 30 minutes. Marietta's Tomato Sauce
At the end of 30 minutes add the 8 oz. can of drained peas to the sauce, simmer 5 minutes and serve. Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of basil chiffonade, and pass grated Parmigiana around the table.

Marietta's Tomato Sauce

Variations:
  • It you intend to add additional meat to the sauce (sausage, meatballs, braciole) brown it in a separate pan, deglaze the pan with some wine and add it all to the sauce for that last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • If you make Sicilian pizza try this sauce without the chopped beef. When the sauce is cool mix in ¾ cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs.

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Pasta with Fried Lemons

PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONSPasta with Fried Lemons

This is adapted from a Melissa Clark recipe in the New York Times. No garlic or onion – the lemon acts as an aromatic for this simple sauce.
PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. linguini
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 2/3 cup of grated Parmigiano cheese
Start a large pot of salted water for the pasta.
Finely zest one of the lemons and set aside. Cut the tops and bottoms off the remaining two lemons and stand on end. Cut them into four quarters and thinly slice each quarter into triangles. Blanch the lemon slices for two minutes in a small pot of boiling water. Set them aside on paper towels and blot dry.PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the dry lemon slices. Add salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cook for a few minutes until the edges brown and remove them.PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS

Add the butter, lemon zest, red pepper and a half cup of pasta water to the pan. Mix in the drained pasta and coat with the sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley, lemon wedges and cheese. Serve with additional cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS

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Basilicata Style Pasta

Basilicata Style Pasta

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I encourage you to not limit yourself to using just grated Parmigiana or Loccatelli type cheese on your pasta. For this recipe it’s grated fresh horse radish. The use of ground walnuts and breadcrumbs in the sauce and a good sprinkle of grated horse radish is typical of Basilicata, where my paternal grandparents are from. Fresh horse radish is common in Basilicata but not so much in New York expect around Passover. It’s the bitter herb in the Seder meal that represents the bitterness of slavery.Basilicata Style Pasta

Basilicata Style PastaIngredients:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • Salt, black pepper & red pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. short pasta – fusilli, gameli, rotini, cavatappi,
  • Fresh horse radish
Start a pot of salted water for the pasta and lay out your ingredients.Basilicata Style Pasta
Basilicata Style PastaHeat the oil in a large pot and cook the onions on medium low. Add one tablespoon of tomato paste, salt, black, and red pepper. Cook low and slow until the onions are soft and translucent – don’t brown. The onions add a little sweetness to the sauce which is a nice counterpoint to the horse radish.

Basilicata Style PastaAdd the tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste to check for seasoning. If you want a meat sauce, now is the time to add some nicely browned sausage or braciole.

Cook the pasta until almost done, drain it and add it to the sauce where it will finish cooking. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water if the sauce is too dry. Pour in the walnuts and breadcrumbs, stir to thoroughly combine and serve. This is still a very good sauce even if you don’t have fresh horse radish.
Basilicata Style PastaCut about an inch of the end of the horse radish and remove some of the bark with a potato peeler. Pass the horse radish and a grater at the table and top each dish with a good amount of horse radish. Sometimes when the horseradish hits the hot steamy pasta it can make your eyes tear. Don’t let it bother you.

Basilicata Style Pasta


Cover the cut end of the horse radish with some foil and refrigerate.  Basilicata Style Pasta

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Sautéed Tomato Sauce

Sautéed Tomato Sauce

When most people think of tomato sauce they think ‘simmering.’ For this recipe you start by sautéing the tomatoes. This gives them a rich hearty flavor and it’s ready to eat in about a half an hour.
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup olive oil divided
  • Salt, black, and red pepper
  • 10 – 12 plum tomatoes
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 lb. short pasta (ziti, penne, rotelle, etc.)
Start a pot of salted water for the pasta.
Sautéed Tomato SauceHeat ¼ cup of the oil in a large frying pan and season it with salt, black and red pepper. Cut the stem end off the tomatoes, cut them in half lengthwise and place then cut side down in the pan. Cook on medium-high heat until they begin to soften and color. Depending on their ripeness and thickness they might take 8 – 12 minutes. 
Sautéed Tomato Sauce
Season the top side and then turn them and cook for another 8 – 12 minutes. Start cooking the pasta in the boiling water.
Sautéed Tomato Sauce
The tomatoes should be soft now so add the minced garlic, basil, and parsley and the remaining ¼ cup of oil.

Sautéed Tomato Sauce

Add some of the pasta water to the sauce, blend and deglaze the pan. A ½ cup might be enough but add more if needed to get a saucy consistency.

Sautéed Tomato Sauce
When the pasta is almost al dente add it to the sauce and mix to finish cooking. Serve with grated Parmigiana.

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Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans

Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans

 

Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans can also be made with broccoli or broccoli rape. There’s an informative article about their differences here.


Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ lb. broccolini, washed & stems removed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or sweet, skins removed
  • 2 gloves, minced garlic
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 – 15 oz. can white beans strained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiana cheese
  • ½ lemon – zest & juice
Start a pot of salted water for the broccolini and later the pasta.
Remove the rough stem tips and roughly chop the broccolini and boil on high for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove the broccolini and add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in another pot add the olive oil and break up and cook the sausage meat. When it’s lightly browned, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the wine and deglaze the pot and stir for a few minutes.

Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans
Add the cooked broccolini and the beans. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and a cup of the pasta cooking water and toss.
Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans
Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter, cheese, juice of ½ the lemon and zest. Mix until the butter is melted and serve with additional cheese.

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Pasta alla Bottarga

Pasta alla Bottarga

Pasta alla Bottarga
Don’t expect an assertive taste like caviar or anchovies. Bottarga is subtle. It’s the roe sac of a fish, usually mullet or tuna, which is salted, pressed, and dried.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp. grated bottarga divided
  • red pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chopped parsley divided
  • ½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
Start with boiling the water for pasta.
Add the oil, garlic, red pepper and ½ the parsley to a pan over medium heat. Fry for a few minutes. Don’t brown the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and add a tablespoon of bottarga. Stir and simmer for few minutes.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Save a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta and another tablespoon of the bottarga to the pan with the sauce and some pasta water if needed.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Turn off the heat and add the toasted breadcrumbs and remaining parsley. Serve, topping individual plate with the remaining bottarga.

 

Pasta alla Bottarga

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Swiss Chard Pasta

Swiss Chard Pasta

Swiss chard pasta – it’s just a few simple ingredients and easy to prepare. 

Swiss chard pasta

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. short pasta
  • ¼ cup Parmigiana cheese
Swiss chard pasta
Start a pot of salted boiling water. You’ll use this for both the Swiss chard and then for the pasta. While the water is heating, lightly sauté the garlic in oil in a pan with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.
Swiss chard pastaSwiss chard pastaWhen the water in the pot comes to a boil, add the Swiss chard, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the Swiss chard and without draining it, place it right in a blender. Add the sautéed garlic and oil. Blend until it’s a fine thick puree. Check for seasoning.
Add the pasta to the still boiling water and cook until almost done. Drain it, saving one cup of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the Swiss chard sauce and coat the pasta while it finishes cooking. Add more of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.

Swiss chard pastaServe with additional Parmigiana.

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