Category Archives: Pasta

Spaghetti All’Amatriciana

My mom and dad got my hubby and I the pasta maker attachment for our Kitchen Aid this past Christmas.  I’ve been meaning to make fresh, homemade pasta for weeks (ok, maybe for 3 months), but just have not found the time to make it.  Each Sunday my family (me, hubby, sister, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law) take turns hosting Sunday dinner.  Since this week was my turn, I decided I was finally going to make fresh pasta.  To my surprise, making fresh pasta does not take long at all!  I made 2 pounds of spaghetti with a batch of white flour dough and a batch of whole-wheat dough.

Since I had to make a wonderful sauce to go with my fresh spaghetti, I decided to make a Roman sauce called Amatriciana (ugh-ma-tree-chon-ugh).  Amatriciana originated from a small town outside of Rome (Amatrice), but if you’ve ever been to Rome or hopefully ever go to Rome, you’ll see this sauce all over the city.  It’s usually served with spaghetti or bucatini and it’s amazing – what makes this sauce so wonderful is the pancetta.  If you can’t find pancetta, you can definitely use bacon too.  I like to add one finely diced carrot to my sauces.  Carrots add sweetness, and they also add a nice crunch that my hubby always notices and loves.  I made the sauce first and had it simmering on low while I was making my pasta.  Since your dough has to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, use this time to start boiling your water (unless you have one of those amazing stoves that boils water in less than 2 minutes… jealous!).  Fresh pasta cooks in a very short amount of time; you’ll see it’s finished when it begins to float on the top.  Drain and immediately serve the sauce on top.  I served my pasta in a beautiful hand-made Italian bowl from my mother-in-law (check out the first photo).  Enjoy Spaghetti All’Amatriciana!

Have you ever made fresh pasta?  What is your favorite kind of sauce to make?

Fresh Spaghetti:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Break the eggs into a glass measuring cup and add the water. Check to see that the total liquid is 3/4 cup.  If it isn’t, add teaspoons of water until that amount is reached.
  2. Place flour in bowl of Kitchen Aid and attach flat beater.  Turn to low speed and gradually add the egg mix and water and beat for 30 seconds.
  3. Stop the mixture and add the dough hook.  Turn on low speed and knead for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl and knead by hand for 1 minute.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before extruding through pasta maker.

*Yield: 1 pound

Amatriciana Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Sangiovese)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, for sprinkling
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti

Directions:

  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove the pancetta, allow to drain on paper towels, and set aside.
  2. Add the onions and carrot and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, oregano, sea salt, pepper, and pancetta.  Bring to a boil and cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes more or until sauce thickens.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water in a large stock pot.  Add fresh spaghetti and cook until spaghetti floats to the top.
  5. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese and season with salt and pepper.


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Sausage & Tortellini Soup

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  My weekend was great, but always seems too short. :-)  In my previous post, I talked about trying a yoga class.  Well I tried a beginner/intermediate yoga class at my gym and it was great!  I will definitely be going to a yoga class once a week now.  I felt great after and can definitely see why so many people love yoga.  Because I was feeling so great, I decided to buy some fresh whole wheat tortellini and make Sausage & Tortellini Soup.  I love this soup because it’s not heavy and since spring is here (and since I was feeling so great from yoga), I thought it was all too appropriate for the beautiful weather we’ve been having.  I love the flavors in this soup especially the addition of the fresh lemon juice – it reinforces that spring is finally here and also makes the soup taste great!  Hope you had a great weekend – what do you like to do to relax and/or feel better?

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 9 oz tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sausages and break up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until brown.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft, 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add the beans, tomatoes, and oregano and stir to combine.  Add the chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions, about 5 minutes.  One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach.
  6. Remove from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with grated Parmesan as desired.

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Filed under Pasta, Soup & Salad

Chicken Riggies

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s — I can’t believe it’s 2011!  How was your 2010?  Does 2011 look to be better than last year?  I had a great 2010, but 2011 may look to be even better!!  One of the dishes I had over the weekend was Chicken Riggies aka Chicken Rigatoni.  By searching for “chicken riggies” on Google, there’s an entry for it on Wikepedia (haha): “Chicken Riggies or Utica Riggies is an Italian-American pasta dish native to the Utica-Rome area of New York State. It is a pasta-based dish usually consisting of chicken, rigatoni and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce, although many variations exist”.  With that being said, it makes sense that you can find Chicken Riggies at various Italian restaurants in Syracuse.  In fact, I can’t take any credit for this recipe since my mother is the one who made it and whose recipe is from one of the local Italian restaurants.  You’ll notice that it calls for 5 pounds of chicken and 3 pounds of rigatoni.  Don’t fret!  One of the joys of cooking (rather than baking) is that you can easily change recipes to your liking and/or serving size without ruining the dish (what, you don’t want to cook this dish for 15 people?).  Happy New Year… enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs.. of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • flour & melted butter, enough to coat chicken cubes (about 1/2 cup of each)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 white onions chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock base
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 3 lbs. cooked rigatoni
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Toss cubed chicken with flour and melted butter to coat lightly.  Place chicken on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. In a pan, saute onions, garlic, and cherry peppers in oil.
  4. Deglaze pan with sweet vermouth and add hot sauce, chicken base, and black pepper.
  5. In a separate pot, melt butter and add marinara sauce and grated cheese.  Add chicken and heavy cream.
  6. Add the onion and sweet vermouth mix to the chicken mix.
  7. Blend chicken mixture with rigatoni and serve warm.

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Macaroni & Cheese with Fresh Sage & Garlic Bread Crumbs

This past weekend, my husband and I made a date to sit in front of our TV at 5:30 p.m to watch our favorite college basketball team (Go Cuse!) on ESPN 2.  Watching college basketball in our house is a big deal and since this game would begin and end during dinner time, I decided to make something conducive to throwing in the oven to cook while watching the game and then eating easily on the couch.  I love homemade macaroni and cheese, but honestly do not make it enough.  It’s not the healthiest thing for you, and it’s just one of those easy recipes that I often overlook.  But it’s gooey and delicious, and I decided it was the perfect meal to make — I could prepare it before the game started and then during one of the time-outs, throw it in the oven to bake.  I spiced up the breadcrumbs with some sautéed garlic and added some fresh sage to the milk, cheese, and onion mix.  Instead of using heavy cream, I used milk and also used Barilla whole wheat shells to make it a tad bit healthier.  This dish is so creamy and comforting — Syracuse won too, so it was a good night!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shells
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 1 small, yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 3 cups white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to season

Bread Crumb Topping:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and stir it for 2 for about 3 minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps.
  4. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and sage. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
  5. Stir in cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan and add the garlic.  Let cook 1 minute.
  8. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat.
  9. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes or until bread crumb topping is golden brown.

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Fettuccine w/ Fresh Oregano Cream Sauce

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween weekend!  My husband and I were spaghetti and meatballs for Halloween (see photo below).  My husband found the costume on Friday night and it’s super cute and very comfortable as well!  I’m sure we’ll be reusing this costume several more times.

My husband loves cream sauces, so for our Sunday, Halloween dinner he decided to cook me fettuccine with a fresh, oregano cream sauce.  It was delicious and very satisfying.  Most cream sauces usually leave me feeling very full, but this dish was rather light and made enough for lunch today!  I am fortunate that my husband not only loves to cook with me, but for me as well.  Food is definitely something that we both love and appreciate.  We’re always looking for new and unique restaurants to go to as well! 

Do you like to cook with your significant other?  What are your favorite dishes to make?

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1 box of Fettuccine

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and sauté until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the squash, oregano, and red pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the squash is  soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour in the cream, stir to coat the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Stir in the cheese and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine until al dente.
  6. Using tongs, transfer the pasta directly into the sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  7. Remove the pasta and sauce from heat and toss with tongs to coat the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water by the tablespoon to reach the desired sauce consistency.
  8. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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Cavatelli con Zucca (Squash)


Cavatelli con zucca (squash/pumpkin) is a dish from Campobasso, Molise, Italy [COM-POH-BAH-SO].  Campobassani actually hand-roll the cavatelli making the dough from squash and potato and then topping with a butter sauce or a pomodoro sauce.  Instead of hand-rolling the cavatelli, I found a recipe via Mario Batali that mixes the cavatelli with butternut squash.  This dish is amazing and probably one of my favorite pasta dishes.  It’s perfect for the fall; hearty and satisfying, sometimes a big bowl of pasta after a long day at work is just what you need.  Pair it with a glass of sweet, white wine (Pinot Grigio) to offset the spiciness of the red pepper flakes.

Italy is made up of various regions (20 to be exact) that have their own capital city.  For example, Tuscany is probably one of the most famous regions, and its capital is Florence.  Campobasso is the capital of the region of Molise.  However, Molise is probably one of the least known regions as well as the most rural; it’s the second smallest province in Italy and home to about 300,000 residents.  The reason I’m talking about Molise and more specifically about Campobasso is because it’s where this dish originated from and also where my maternal grandfather’s relatives are from.

Even though Campobasso is such a small city, what is ironic, is that there are numerous people in Syracuse that have relatives from Campobasso (two of my friends’ families (ACV & LDN)).  Is it possible that even though Campobasso was so small and the internet was nowhere near existence, people in small Italian towns (via word of mouth) heard where their neighbors and friends were settling in the US and decided to move there?  Since there were other Campobassani in Syracuse, NY, maybe that’s why Frank and Carmella Farinacci (my great-grandparents) decided to move there; they had a connection and even the possibility of work.

I’ve been to Italy three different times now: the first time, I was studying abroad in Florence and actually met my future husband there; the second time, I was there for 2 weeks running a marathon in Florence with my future husband; and the third time, I was there for 1 month doing graduate school work and getting engaged to my future husband.  Even though I’ve traveled around various regions and cities in Italy, I never made my way down to Campobasso.  My mom went there when she was 16 to visit her cousins and relatives.  They are still there in Campobasso, so next trip to Italy will be to the south and more specifically, to Campobasso, to visit my relatives.

Do you have family in Italy?  If so, have you visited them?  What unique and local dishes did they make?  What is their regional cuisine like?

Molisian cuisine consists of rustic peasant fare – vegetables and game (rabbit, lamb, suckling pig, etc.)  They are also known for their sheep’s milk cheeses like Pecorino, Scamorza, Caciocavallo, and Provolone.

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper for seasoning
  • 1 package of cavatelli
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Peel, seed, and dice butternut squash and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and crushed red pepper. Cook over med-high heat about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the squash, thyme, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Cover sauté pan and cook over low heat, about 8 more minutes or until squash is tender.
  6. Meanwhile, add the cavatelli to the boiling water and cook until al dente (Cavatelli cooks extremely quickly because it is fresh pasta, so do not overcook or they will become mushy.).
  7. Drain cavatelli, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  8. Add the cavatelli to the squash mixture in the skillet, then stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta water and toss gently to combine.
  9. Add the Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add more pasta water if too dry.
  10. Serve the pasta with more Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.

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Cavatelli w/ Sun-dried Tomatoes & Summer Squash

Late yesterday afternoon, the DC Metro Area had a thunderstorm that knocked down several trees and caused some flooding in various locations. That being said, traffic was atrocious; it took us 1.5 hours to drive about 10 miles. Once we finally got home, we were both hungry and not in the mood to cook something elaborate or that would take a long time. I had a large yellow squash that I diced into small cubes. I sauteed it in olive oil with some red pepper flakes. I then added some sliced garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. I decided to go with Cavatelli pasta because it cooks quickly; its frozen and literally cooks in a couple minutes. This recipe was quick and delicious; perfect for an evening when traffic was anything but easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow squash, diced into small cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, fill with water and heat until water comes to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, heat olive oil over medium heat and add red pepper flakes and squash.  Saute the squash for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened.
  3. Add the sliced garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts to the pan and saute for another 3 minutes.
  4. Season squash mix with salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, once the water comes to a boil, add the cavatelli and cook until the cavatelli becomes al dente and starts floating on the surface.
  6. Drain the cavatelli and add to the sauteed squash mix. Add 1 more tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper.
  7. Serve cavatelli immediately and top with basil and parmesan cheese.

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