orecchiette with potatoes and arugula

August 2, 2013 § 33 Comments

I could not be happier about this pasta recipe.   Years ago, on a number of occasions I frequented an Italian restaurant called La Vecchia Verace and was so enamored by this particular pasta dish.  I ordered it every time I visited.  Occasionally I think about this pasta and living hundreds of miles away from La Vecchia Verace showing up is not an option.  Having said that, the other day I was thumbing through a pasta cookbook “Four Seasons Pasta” by Janet Fletcher and there it was, a recipe for my favorite pasta dish served at La Vecchia Verace restaurant!

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This sauce is garden fresh and the end result is a texturally thick somewhat starchy bowl of summer comfort.  Potatoes are boiled in with the pasta until al dente and gently tossed in a fresh tomato sauce with wilted arugula.  The potatoes break up just enough to nicely coat the orecchiette.   In this cookbook I learned how to use fresh grated roma tomatoes to create a thick, tasty sauce. Roma’s are used because of their high proportion of flesh to juice and they are grated to produce a skinless, seedless pulp.   A considerable alternative using fresh tomatoes while in season, rather than open a can of puréed tomatoes.

To grate tomatoes,  cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds and juice with your fingers.  Holding the cut side of a tomato half against the grater’s holes,  grate until only the thin skin remains in your palm.

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Here is a bit of useful information. I read this recently in a Bon Appetit article: “Don’t dump the pasta water. Starchy, salty pasta water is the secret ingredient in most sauces. Scoop out some of the cloudy water (it’s supposed to look like that) with a coffee mug or measuring cup, and pour a few splashes into the sauce. Save the rest; you might need more than you’d expect. Then simmer until the water and oil emulsify and begin to form a slightly creamy sauce. It’s a little like deglazing a pan with stock or wine, a simple step that gives a dish body and flavor.”

For this recipe reserve a cup or two of the pasta water before draining and use it after tossing with the sauce to help the sauce adhere to the pasta.  It brings the flavors together and helps moisten the pasta without adding more oil.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • tablespoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe roma tomatoes, grated
  • salt
  • 6 ounces (large handful) arugula, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 pound orecchiettte
  • freshly grated grana padano or parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute to release the garlic fragrance.  Add the tomatoes and salt to taste.  Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes soften and become sauce-like, 15 to 20 minutes, adding water if the tomatoes threaten to cook dry.  Stir the arugula into the sauce and cook just until it wilts, about one minute (once the pasta is al dente).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the potatoes and pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  Set aside at least one cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and potatoes and return them to the warm pot over low heat.  Add the sauce and stir gently to avoid breaking up the potatoes.  Moisten with some of the reserved pasta water as needed.  Divide among warm bowls, top with freshly grated grana padano and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

roquette salad

May 6, 2013 § 16 Comments

Here is a very nice salad recipe I think you will enjoy.  This tangy dressing was a satisfying alternative to my usual “go to” olive oil and balsamic blend.   I think any seed or nut would work well as long as they are roasted and salted first.  I had both sunflower seeds and pine nuts in my cache, so I chose sunflower seeds.  I kept imagining pumpkin seeds would have been perfect, roasted and salted.

And, of course, along with my new obsession of “putting an egg on top”  I just had to include one.DSCN0372

served with a nice glass of dry rose”…

Ingredients

  • 3 large handfuls of spring greens….I used arugula
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • sea salt
  • olive oil for coating
  • 4 eggs

dressing

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons  sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • sea salt / pepper

Method

Heat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scatter your seeds, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, scrape around with a spatula until well coated.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let them cool.

Make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Divide your salad greens among serving plates, top with seeds and drizzle dressing over each.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick skillet.  Fry your eggs according to your preference.

Top each plate with a fried egg and serve with dressing on the side.

Serves 4.

buon appetite.

simple arugula salad

March 17, 2013 § 3 Comments

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Serve this salad next time you make a steak. It’s perfect.  I buy baby arugula in the little clear box, already cleaned and ready to eat.  You can either use a sweet yellow or red onion. And always use freshly grated parmesan cheese!

What you will need for this dish:

  •  2 big handfuls of arugula
  • two tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 red or sweet yellow onion, sliced very thin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • good sprinkling freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese
  • pinch salt

Using a non stick skillet on medium high heat, toast the pine nuts.   Give the skillet an occasional  shake to brown all sides.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Place the arugula in a large salad serving bowl.  Spread the onion on top.  Next sprinkle the pine nuts and a generous amount of grated or shaved parmesan.  When you are ready to sit down, drizzle the olive oil on top, salt a little and toss well.

Serves 2

buon appetite

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