penne regate with garden fresh parsley pesto and tomato sauce

August 13, 2013 § 56 Comments

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We all have a “go to” dish we have perfected to our liking over time and repetition.  Perhaps if you have been checking in with this blog you would guess mine would involve pasta.  Cottage Grove House is still very new and there is already sixteen pasta recipes posted.  Today’s recipe is my “go to” pasta sauce.  When it seems as though there is nothing to eat or prepare in the kitchen I always find some parsley in the crisper (or in this occasion the garden) and a large can of tomatoes in the pantry, perfect to make both pesto and tomato sauce pasta.

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Our parsley plant needed a trim so I decided to make a pesto for lunch.  I discovered cutting parsley off the plant and promptly using it certainly intensifies the flavor of the pesto.  The freshly cut parsley really gave a distinctive flavor to the sauce, as though the herb was still very much alive.  For no particular reason I chose to leave out any type of nut for this pesto.   And using penne regate pasta was a very good idea seeing that the sauce found it way deep into the hollow center, as well as holding to the exterior ridges.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound of good quality penne regate

tomato sauce

  • 2 cups whole, peeled, canned San Marzano (if possible) plum tomatoes, with their juices (one 28-oz. can)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

pesto

  • handful fresh parsley (about 1 cup once it is finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

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m e t h o d

Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the crushed garlic and cook until aromatic.  Carefully add the tomatoes, and break them up with the back of a wooden spoon.  Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat to lowest setting and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Put the parsley, parmesan, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse again.  Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil.  Set aside while waiting for the pasta to cook.

Once your water is at a roaring boil add a tablespoon of coarse grain salt and drop your pasta in.  Cook until al dente, penne regate cooking time is approximately 9 minutes.  Drain the penne and return to the pot.  Toss with the pesto sauce until well coated,  then pour in the tomato sauce and continue to gently toss until well combined.

Serves 4.

polenta

June 26, 2013 § 57 Comments

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Polenta is one of my best loved dinners and I enjoy it served creamy and cheesy, delicate and sweet, as well as complex and hearty.   This polenta recipe is a bit hearty and crowned with a fresh parsley pesto and cherry tomato sauté.  I particularly enjoy Bramata polenta.  It is a rustic stone-milled corn which is moderately coarse for a thicker consistency.

My first polenta dinner was quite an experience.   I had a friend over who wanted to prepare a classic dish he had as a child growing up in Italy.  In my friend’s opinion the only way polenta should be eaten is with a rich meat sauce.  His plan was to prepare Polenta with Chicken Livers.  Once the polenta was cooked it was poured directly onto my dining table and topped with the chicken liver sauce.  Although I was very impressed by the presentation, I do not have the palate for chicken livers so I kept trying to scrape the edges where the sauce didn’t touch.  Even without the sauce, I was captivated by the creamy texture and tiny bits of corn meal similar to the grits my mom would prepare.

Throughout the years I have formed my own opinions about preparing and serving polenta.  When cooking polenta, for added flavor I like using broth rather than water.   Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of rosemary.  I always include butter and when I am preparing a savory polenta a nice grated parmesan.  To top it off…tomato sauce, pesto, honey and butter, or simply a handful of parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

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polenta with cherry tomatoes and parsley pesto

p o l e n t a

  • 1 cup good quality polenta
  • 6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

p e s t o

  • large handful of parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

t o m a t o   s a u t e’

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

In a large pot heat 6 cups of broth.  When the broth is about to boil, sprinkle in the polenta.  Stir continuously over a low heat until it is a thick smooth mass.  Continue cooking on low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring slowly and evenly.  If polenta starts to spatter turn your heat lower and stir continuously until it settles.  I usually stir once every 3-5 minutes until done.

While polenta is cooking prepare pesto.  Place all pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz until well combined.  Set aside.

Place a non stick skillet on the stove with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute’ tomatoes for 2 minutes until soft.  Season with a pinch of salt.

Once polenta is cooked add butter and parmesan, mix well and pour onto a large serving platter (or directly onto your table!).  Top with pesto, tomatoes, grated cheese of choice and serve right away.

Serves 4

buon appetite.

linguine with chicken sausage (linguine con salsiccia di pollo)

June 4, 2013 § 40 Comments

Pasta with a parsley pesto is sufficient for a midweek dinner.  However, with a strapping young lad at the dinner table I decided to add chicken sausage to give it a little substance.  Dinner does not get any easier than this.  Dinner is ready in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.  For us,  a one dish meal.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound of good quality linguine
  • 1 pound of italian chicken sausage
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • 4 scallions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • a shake or two of red pepper flakes

Place a large pot of water on the stove over high heat.  Cook the sausage and prepare the pesto while you are waiting for the water to boil.

If the sausage is in casings, remove the casing and break up the ground chicken in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add 3 smashed garlic cloves to the skillet.  Continue to cook until nice and brown.  Lower heat to keep warm.

For the parsley pesto, place all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until blended.  If you are not using a food processor, finely chop the parsley, scallions and garlic, place in a bowl with pecorino, olive oil and pepper flakes and stir well.

Once your water is at a roaring boil add a tablespoon of coarse grain salt and drop your pasta in. Cook until al dente,  linguine cooking time is approximately 9 minutes.

Drain pasta, return it to the pan (off the heat) and toss with pesto and sausage.

Divide into serving bowls and serve with freshly grated pecorino.

Serves 4

buon appetite.

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