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Posts tagged ‘pasta’

Beef And Eggplant Ragu


I love a good meaty pasta dish, it’s rich and perfect cold weather fare. This recipe couldn’t be easier, and has a surprise ingredient, eggplant which adds an amazing flavor and texture, it’s similar to a bolognese but not your traditional recipe.  I have posted recipes from Windy before, well, it was a few years ago and I posted her recipe for turkey meatballs in a cream sauce.  She doesn’t have a food blog but I think she should. Her recipes are delicious, nutritious and budget conscience. Whether making this for one or a family (it tastes even better the next day) you should give this recipe a try. You can use whatever type of pasta you like, whether long noodles or a substantial pasta like rigatoni it is wonderful, gnocchi would be great as well.

Beef and eggplant ragu

Serves 4 generously

4 garlic cloves chopped
1 shallot chopped
1/2 small onion (red or yellow)
1 lb 80% Lean ground beef
1 small Eggplant  peeled and cubed
1 28 oz can Tomato Puree
1 cup red wine
3 Bay Leaves
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Dice and sautée garlic, shallots and onion for about 3 min. Add ground beef. Cook until ground beef is browned then add eggplant and cook about 4 min longer. Add canned tomato, wine, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 min.
Cook pasta of your choice. I used fettuccine. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle pecorino Romano on top. Also good with a dollop of ricotta. 😋



Pappardelle Con Funghi With Truffles For Fiesta Friday #61

Pappardelle Con Funghi

Pappardelle Con Funghi

I had a dinner party last weekend and a very good friend brought me some truffle oil, good finishing olive oil and 2 black truffles. Quite a gift right, I am very grateful it is quite extravagent and wonderful. There is an Italian restaurant near me that I frequent and my favorite dish on the their menu is Fettucine con funghi. It’s rich and delicious and a staple whenever I eat there. I thought I would try to recreate this dish at home with some homemade (not by me) pappardelle, some shitake mushrooms from my CSA and finish with a grating of black truffles.



Since Fiesta Friday is in it’s new home, a site dedicated only to this party, and a fine home it is, I thought I would break out the truffles and celebrate. So for Fiesta Friday #61 I am bringing Pappardelle Con Funghi with black truffles. Angie@The Novice Gardener has been working hard getting our new place ready and thank goodness she has help this week from the wonderful co hosts Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole

I will make a confession, this is not really a recipe, I didn’t measure anything. For that reason I will list the ingredients and the approximate amounts. I have been cooking long enough that I can guesstimate. Honestly though, you really don’t need a recipe just eye ball the ingredients it will work out.

Waiting for the pasta

Waiting for the pasta

Pappardelle Con Funghi

Serves 3 generously 4 more modestly

1 small onion peeled and diced

mushrooms ( I used shiitake) approximate 2 cups of cleaned and sliced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

white wine (approximately 1/3 cup)

Stock – I used homemade mushroom stock you can use whatever you have- approximately 1/2 cup

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

heavy cream approx 1/4 cup

1 tbs butter

splash of olive oil for the pan

salt and pepper to taste


black truffle (optional)

parsley to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the butter and the diced onion, saute until soft and transluscent. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic softens. Add your mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are soft and lightly browned. Now add the wine, cook down for approximately 3-4 minutes and then add the stock and the thyme. Cook until reduced by about half, now add the cream and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning and keep on low/simmer.

Bring large pot of  generously salted water to a boil when the water comes to a rolling (vigorous)boil cook the pasta. Turn up the heat on the mushroom sauce and add the al dente pasta, cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl, garnish with parsley, sprinkle with cheese and serve.



Pasta e Fagiole

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli

I posted this in February 2012,  I did a week long tribute to my Italian heritage. This is my Mom’s recipe for Pasta Fagioli, she really made this her own and was known for this dish. It took years for me to pry the recipe from her, like so many cooks she never wrote anything down including amounts so it was hit or miss and it took me several years to get it right but my latest version was the closest I have ever gotten to my Mom’s fabulous recipe.

Ingredients and Directions:

1 1/4  cup great northern beans
1 clove garlic smashed
salt pork (about the size of a deck of cards)
8 cups water
Bring beans, garlic. pork and water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for approximately 2 hours until beans are tender. I did not soak the beans overnight but if you do reduce cooking time by at least half.
1 28 oz can whole italian plum tomatoes (Blended until smooth)
1 can (28 oz) water – just fill the tomato can with water
1 clove garlic minced
1 shallot minced
salt and pepper to taste
4-5 fresh basil leaves
In dutch oven or large saucepan heat some olive oil, add garlic and shallot cook until they are soft and cooked through, add tomatoes, 3 basil leaves and water and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.
When beans are done add to the tomato sauce (add beans and water they cooked in). Simmer on low for 20 minutes, the sauce will be thin, that is the way its supposed to be,adjust seasoning. Remove salt pork and add the cooked pasta, add 2 or 3 torn basil leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes and serve with grated parmigiano or romano cheese. NOTE: You can judge how much pasta to add I like about 2-3 cups of cooked pasta, it expands in the soup and you want to retain most of the broth.
2 1/2 cups AP flour
4 large eggs
1 tbs water
2 tsp olive oil
On work surface dump flour and make a well in the middle, add the eggs, water and olive oil and beat with a fork, working in a circle incorporate the flour until you have a cohesive dough, add more flour if your dough is too sticky. Knead until dough is smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Or by food processor (which I did)  place flour in bowl then add the eggs, oil and water and pulse until it comes together into a ball. Turn onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
If rolling by hand roll dough with rolling pin as thin as you can, the dough should be almost translucent. Fold and cut into thin strips like linguine. If using a pasta machine follow manufacturers directions. NOTE: You will only need half of the pasta for this, wrap the other half of the dough well and freeze for later use).
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, when water is boiling add salt (the water should be salty like sea water) Add the pasta stirring to make sure each piece is separated and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and add to the bean and tomato sauce.

Dough Resting

Rolling paper thin ready to become linguine

Re-Purposing Leftovers-Salmon,Asparagus And Whole Wheat Pappardelle

A Bowl of pasta

bowl of pasta

I refuse to waste food and love re-purposing leftovers. It’s a challenge to try to come up with a creative and delicious dish that puts a fresh spin on your leftover food. I had a small piece of salmon and a few stalks of asparagus left over from dinner the other night, I also have some whole wheat pappardelle in the pantry that I bought (by accident) and need to start using (not a fan of whole wheat pasta). This dish came together in a flash and was really delicious, all I did was saute some shallot in a little olive oil, add a little white wine, then some heavy cream, a little dijon mustard, lemon zest, salt and pepper and reduced until it started to thicken. At the end I added the asparagus and salmon and the cooked pappardelle. This is not the type of dish that needs precise measuring, I basically ad libbed, a little of this and that until it came together. Use what you have, peas come to mind, chicken, or without any meat or fish. The pasta in the cream sauce with vegetables is wonderful on it’s own.

The amounts are approximate

Serves 1-2

1 lobe of a shallot chopped

Olive oil for pan

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

1 small salmon fillet

4 stalks asparagus

Pappardelle (small handful)

Fill large pan with water add salt and bring to a rolling boil. Heat olive oil in pan, add the shallot and saute until translucent. Add the wine and reduce by half. Now add the cream, dijon,lemon zest, salt and pepper and cook until it’s reduced by half. It should be nicely thick. While the cream sauce is reducing add the pasta to the boiling water, now I used whole wheat pappardelle, it took a good 10 minutes for an al dente pasta.

When the cream sauce is reduced add the asparagus and salmon, toss in the pappardelle and gently stir until it is coated with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Pasta Piselli

Pasta Piselli

Pasta Piselli

I first tasted this when I lived in Naples Italy, it was served as a first course at a friends house where I went for lunch. Lunch in Italy lasted 2 or 3 hours and was the main meal of the day. There were several courses and it was eaten leisurely over the space of about 2 hours. Very different from the quickie lunches we have here in the US.  I watched my friends Grandmother make this soup and was taken first by it’s simplicity, only a few ingredients but there was something about it that was so warm and comforting and delicious. My recipe is basically the same as what I observed the only thing that I do differently is that I add a pinch of lemon zest, it brightens the flavors and adds so much to the dish IMHO. I like to use fresh pasta but you can use dried it’s perfectly fine and works just as well. Feel free to use whatever type of pasta you like, for this I like long pasta, linguine is my favorite. You can also feel free to use parmigiano instead of romano if you like or mix them. It’s all good!!

Serves 2-4 depending on serving size

32 oz chicken broth or stock

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1/2 pound fresh or dried pasta

1 large egg at room temperature beaten

1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of lemon zest (Optional)

Bring your broth or stock to a boil in a large saucepan, add the peas and cook for 3 minutes, add the pasta (If using fresh it only takes about 3 minutes to cook, dried takes longer 8 minutes approximately) NOTE: If using dried pasta it takes much longer to cook and you don’t want to over cook the peas. Dried pasta depending on the type can take 8-10 minutes so add the peas the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Beat the egg and add the grated cheese to the egg, combine. Remove pot from the heat and pour the egg in slowly stirring as you add. Add salt and pepper if you like, I like to add a pinch of lemon zest also, its optional. Serve with more cheese grated on top.

Pasta With Half The Carbs

Half the carbs pasta

Half the carbs pasta

Part of my resolution this year is to lose some weight and  try to eat more healthful foods. I respond really well to low carb diets and do lose weight pretty quickly but I am a carb addict, I love bread and pasta and rice. Once I get used to eliminating or lowering my carb intake it becomes easy but the first week or so is a bit difficult. I created this dish to ease myself into a reduced carb lifestyle. It’s fresh and very simple to prepare. I use less than half the amount of pasta that I normally would and replaced it with julienned zucchini. The hot pasta is tossed with the zucchini (raw), oven roasted (caramelized) cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic and a nice handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Finish with the grated or shaved cheese of your choice, I used peccorino romano.

Serves 2-3

10 cherry tomatoes halved

2 cloves garlic

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 medium zucchini julienned

1/4 lb pasta (dry or fresh)

2 tbs olive oil plus more to drizzle on tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese of your choice

Heat oven to 350 degree’s place cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves on parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes, garlic will be soft and tomatoes soft and caramelized, remove from oven and place in serving bowl mashing the garlic, be sure to include the juice from the tomatoes and any caramelized bits of tomato.

Put a large pot of water to boil, julienne the zucchini and add to the tomato and garlic, add the chopped parsley, olive oil and season. When water has come to a full boil add enough salt so that water tastes salty (about 1 – 2 tbs) depending on how much water you have in the pot, add the pasta and cook until done (al dente), remove from pot and add directly to the zucchini and tomatoes, toss to combine, sprinkle with cheese and serve. If it seems too dry add a little pasta water and/or olive oil to moisten.

A Bowl Of Pasta

A Bowl of Pasta

I had a very busy day, no time to cook and I really wanted pasta for dinner, but I wanted a quick fix. This bowl of pasta took me 25 minutes to put together and is satisfying and delicious. I had some really interesting pasta called Calamarata in the pantry, it’s a dried semolina pasta, almost a full pint of grape tomatoes, some Italian parsley and some mascarpone and that’s what went into this dish, I also added a generous grating of pecorino romano cheese. My pasta craving was satisfied and all in less than 30 minutes. I would normally put ricotta on this and that would be delicious, I was out of ricotta but had the mascarpone that needed to be used and when combined with romano cheese it was just the right amount of creamy sharpness. You can use whatever kind of pasta you happen to love and have in your pantry, I think this dish lends itself to the substantial pasta like rigatoni or even penne. This is a dish for one, and really there is no wrong way to make it, you can add as much or as little of each ingredient. I used parsley, because I happen to like it but spinach would also be a lovely addition.

1/3 pound pasta (I used calamarata)

Pint of grape tomatoes cut in half

generous splash of olive oil for cooking

1 clove garlic thinly sliced

generous handful of parsley chopped

mascarpone (A generous dollop)

Pecorino romano grated

Put large pot with a generous amount of well salted water on to boil.

In saute pan add the olive oil, when its hot add the garlic and cook until you can smell it, don’t let it brown, Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften and release some of their juices. Remove from heat and set aside until the pasta is done,

When water boils add the pasta and cook until its just softened for a substantial pasta like calamarata it took approximately 5 minutes, you don’t want it to be cooked so that its soft. Place the tomatoes back on med/high flame and with spyder or slotted spoon add the pasta to the tomatoes, cook stirring frequently adding a little of the pasta water to create a sauce. When pasta and tomatoes are beautifully cooked add the parsley, cook another minute or two. Grate some of the romano on top and toss to combine. Serve in a bowl with a nice dollop of mascarpone and another grating of romano cheese.

Featured Recipes: Olive Oil Poached Fish/Shellfish and Lobster Diavolo

This week I am featuring two recipes, both seafood dishes and I am honored to have permission to bring them to you. The recipes are from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs the founders of Food52. I discovered food52 a little over a year ago and it has been life changing for me. Amanda and Merrill brought their brilliant plan to start a website celebrating home cooks (like myself) to life a little over two years ago,  and it’s now one of the most popular food related websites available on the internet. They have already published one cookbook,  with a second coming out in October of this year as well as an IPad holiday App. Check out Amanda’s recipes and Merrill’s recipes on Food52.

Poaching fish or shellfish in olive oil is simple, and delicious. Add your favorite herbs and aromatics to the oil. The fish or shellfish are tender and and flavorful. I poached some shrimp and lobster tails. I didn’t use whole live lobsters (phobia) instead,  I decided to poach lobster tails in olive oil a la Amanda for Merrills Lobster Diavolo. This is a variation of the famous Lobster Fra Diavolo.  The dish is finished with fresh mint (my mint went bad and I was only able to salvage a few leaves so I mixed it with parsley to garnish the dish),  which in  my opinion makes this such a stand out recipe, adding a fresh twist to a classic. I used canned tomatoes instead of the fresh since seasonal fresh tomatoes are not available yet. I poached half of the shrimp in the oven and the other half on the stovetop with the lobster. I set the oven to 200 degrees and it took about 20 minutes. Both methods turned out fantastic. I invited a friend over for dinner and he gave both dishes two thumbs up!

Stovetop poaching

Olive Oil Poached Fish – By Amanda Hesser

To Poach Any Kind of Fish

Lay the fillets in a shallow, oven-proof casserole dish or skillet, just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Cover the fish with a 1/8-inch thick layer of olive oil (a good brand, but not your best), season with a flakey sea salt and any other herb or spice you like, then send it into a 275-degree oven, basting it often, until it’s cooked through. For a 1-inch thick fish fillet, it takes about 30 minutes.

To Poach Shellfish

I like to cook them on the stovetop. Place them in a single layer in a saucepan and pour in enough oil to just cover them. My default aromatics are thyme and lightly smashed garlic cloves (see photo above). Then set the pan over low heat, letting it warm enough so that tiny bubbles begin emerging on the sides of the pan, but none of the shellfish are bouncing around. Baste often and you’ll see the shellfish slowly turn opaque and constrict. When they’re cooked properly, they’ll be bouncy and light and not at all tough.

Lobster Diavolo

Lobster Diavolo- by Merrill Stubbs

Serves 2

2 pounds Roma tomatoes (or 28 ounces canned tomatoes with their juices)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing

2 fat cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


2 1 1/2-pound live lobsters

1/2 pound spaghetti

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and cut a shallow “x” through the skin of the non-core end of each tomato with a sharp knife. Working in batches, gently lower the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, until the skin begins to peel away from the cuts you made. Remove the tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside until they are cool enough to touch.

Peel and then roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside. Pour the olive oil in a shallow, heavy saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, until fragrant and softened, but not browned. Add the chili flakes (start with half if you’re not sure about the heat – you can add more later) and cook for another minute or two.

Add the tomatoes and any juices, along with a few generous pinches of salt and stir through. Raise the heat to medium and let the tomatoes come to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours, until the tomatoes have completely broken down, adding water as needed to keep the sauce from drying out. When the sauce is ready, taste for salt and add more necessary. Cover and set aside.

Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the lobsters to the pot and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lobster’s antennae can be easily pulled off. Remove the lobsters from the pot and set aside for a few minutes to cool a little

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until still quite al dente. Reserving about half a cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta in a large colander and set it aside while you finish up with the lobster.

To remove the lobster meat, twist both claws off the body at the shoulder joint. Use a lobster cracker or the back of a chef’s knife to crack the shell and remove the claw meat. Use a pick or a small fork to pry the meat from the knuckles, twisting at the joints to separate one knuckle from the next. Twist the lobster body from the tail and discard. Twist off the fans at the tail, and then gently insert your finger into the opening, pushing the tail meat out the other end (it should come out in one beautiful piece). Clean off any roe, fat and green goo, and remove the vein if you like by peeling back the strip of meat on the top of the tail.

Keep the lobster meat in a warm place while you finish up the pasta: Turn the heat to medium underneath the pan with the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and some of the pasta water, using tongs to toss the pasta in the sauce. Add a splash or two of olive oil if you like. When the pasta is well-coated in the sauce and warm, arrange it among two shallow, warm bowls. Slice the lobster tails into ½-inch medallions and arrange these, along with the claw and knuckle meat, on top of the spaghetti. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle generously with mint. Serve immediately.

Olive oil poached shrimp and Lobster Diavolo

Featured Recipe:Toasted Orzo with Citrus and Olives

Toasted Orzo with Citrus and Olives

I love this recipe for so many reasons, its really delicious, the simplicity, has ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator, and how quick and easy it is to prepare and I can’t forget what a revelation it was to toast the orzo, it gives this little pasta an incredible depth of flavor.  I first saw this recipe on food52 when Emily entered it in the citrus contest and have been wanting to try it ever since. First let me talk about Emily (EmilyC is her cooks name on food52), she is a busy Mother of an adorable toddler, has won two contests on Food52 and will be published in the second food52 cookbook coming out in October of this year. Her recipes are full of flavor using readily available ingredients and are so easy to prepare. Try her contest winning shrimp burgers with roasted garlic-orange aioli or her crispy cream braised potato and fennel.  I chose to feature this recipe thinking how great it would be with grilled fish, the toasted orzo with bright citrus, fresh herbs and earthy olives is the perfect accompaniment for my wild chilean sea bass. You can view Emily’s other recipes on food52

Serves: 4

1 ¼ cups orzo

2 cups water or low-sodium broth (or combination of both)

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional to taste)

finely grated zest from 1 large lemon or orange (reserving juice)

Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper

¼ to ½ cup of your favorite olives

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chives, flat-leaf parsley, or herb of choice

  1. In large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add orzo; stir to evenly coat all of the orzo with olive oil; cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add water and zest, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until orzo is al dente and liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. If orzo is cooked but liquid remains, drain the orzo, return to pan, and cook about 30 seconds longer over low heat to dry the orzo.
  2. Stir in olives and chopped herbs, and add kosher salt, pepper, citrus juice and olive oil to taste. Enjoy!

I prepared the fish using Eric Riperts recipe  that was featured on food52  and made a parsley, lemon, caper gremolata.

Mediterranean Inspired Flavors

White Pasta With Parmigiano Garlic Breadrumbs

For a quick dinner I took an idea from my childhood and put my own spin on it, pasta of your choice (I use linguine) with ricotta and milk and a crumb topping, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, butter and parmigiano. Take the ricotta out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you prepare the dish, it will need to be room temperature. You don’t have to be exact with the measurements tailor it to suite your taste.

Makes: 2 servings

1/2 lb linguine (or whatever pasta you like)


2 cup ricotta (at room temperature)

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup  grated parmigiano

Salt and pepper to taste

Crumb Topping:

1 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmigiano

pinch of lemon zest

handful parsley chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs butter

splash of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In skillet melt butter with a splash of olive oil, add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown. Add the bread crumbs and continue to cook until the crumbs are lightly browned. Take off heat and pour into mixing bowl, add the parmigiano, parsley and lemon zest stir to combine and set aside.

Putting it all together:

Bring large pot of water to a boil, when there is a rolling boil add a lot of salt, taste the water it should taste salty. Put the pasta in and stir.

While the pasta is cooking heat your milk until its hot to the touch,(I used the microwave, 45 seconds) put the ricotta and parmigiano in your serving bowl and add the hot milk, mix it up and season to taste. When pasta is done, (al dente) drain and add to the bowl with the ricotta milk mixture, toss to combine, top with the breadcrumbs a little more grated parmigiano and serve.