spaghetti carbonara

June 17, 2013 § 36 Comments

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And yet, another pasta recipe.  You see I have a thing about pasta.  I would eat it everyday if I wasn’t thinking too hard about all the carbs I don’t need.  After an extra long commute home the other day, I arrived, said my hello’s and headed to the kitchen.  I didn’t have a dinner plan whatsoever.  Looking through the refrigerator I found a little log of chavrie goat cheese, a little pancetta, a handful of parsley, a shallot and by this time a pasta sauce was formulating in my mind.  I thought if I had Parmesan instead of goat cheese I could make Carbonara.  Then I remembered I do have some Grana Padano!   Realizing I have never made carbonara I took my copy of Marcella Hazen’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking off the shelf.

Now let just say when I was “with child” spaghetti carbonara was “my dish”.  I craved it everyday and dined on it at least once a week for a good six months!  And to imagine I have never made carbonara is quite nonsensical.   I left it up to the chef at my favorite trattoria.  I didn’t even want to try to prepare it because I knew I could never match the quality of La Trattoria’s carbonara.  Well…Eureka!  Success in the kitchen.  Here it is, in my humble opinion, a most delicious carbonara.  Of course in the spirit of improv I made a few very minor adjustments to Marcella’s recipe due to not having all of her listed ingredients.  In place of the Grana Padana you could use a good quality Parmesan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 4 ounces of diced pancetta
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti

M e t h o d

Place a large pot of water on the stove over high heat.  Once your water is at a roaring boil add a tablespoon of coarse grain salt and drop your pasta in. Cook until al dente,  spaghetti cooking time is approximately 9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile…

Put the garlic and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Sauté until the garlic is golden.  Remove and discard garlic.  Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until crispy, then add the shallot.  Continue to cook until shallots are soft and turn off the heat.

Using a fork lightly beat two eggs in a medium size bowl.   Add 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano, a grinding of black pepper and the chopped parsley. Once the spaghetti is cooked, slowly drizzle in reserved pasta water until smooth. Mix thoroughly, using something like these!

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Briefly reheat the pancetta over medium high heat, turn off the pan and add spaghetti, toss to combine well.  Add the egg mixture and continue to toss to combine and allow the egg to set without scrambling.  Serve right away with freshly grated Grana Padano cheese.

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.

spaghetti aglio e olio stuffed tomatoes (ripieni di pomodoro)

April 26, 2013 § 10 Comments

Long ago I had a friend from from Vicenza Italy who was one of my greatest cooking influences. Every sunday several of us would gather around his table to enjoy perfectly prepared northern italian meals.  Undoubtedly I was inspired by his delectable dinners, however, he didn’t “teach” me a thing about cooking.  As a young aspiring cook I wanted so badly to be involved in his kitchen.  I think he wanted to keep his ingredients secret because he wouldn’t allow anyone near while he was cooking.  He would chase you out as soon as you made an appearance.  Although he didn’t teach me about cooking, I learned a great deal about food and cookery just by being present around his table.

This recipe features spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, also known as spaghetti aglio e olio.  I vividly remember having spaghetti aglio e olio for the first time.  I was mesmerized.  Up until that point spaghetti for me was tomato sauce with ground meat either cooked in the sauce or made into meatballs.   The simplicity of this sauce makes it so easy to throw together.  Most of the time I already have all the ingredients in house.  In my opinion, the sauce relies on a good quality spaghetti.   Try to buy the best brand from Italy you can find.

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Aglio e olio is profoundly satisfying served in a large bowl with freshly grated parmesan.  Or, ripieni di pomodoro is a pleasing arrangement for guests as a side dish.  If you choose to make the tomato stuffed recipe it is best to buy capellini, also know as “angel hair” pasta.

Agio e olio

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a few pinches of red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of fine parmigiano-reggiano

Method

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat and add the spaghetti.  Cook for 9 minutes stirring occasionally.

While spaghetti is cooking, Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and chili flakes.  Cook until golden and turn off the heat.

Drain the spaghetti and place it into the skillet.  Carefully toss the pasta until every strand is coated well.  Add the parsley and continue to toss until well incorporated.

Divide into large serving bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and serve right away.

Serves 4.

Follow this recipe if you choose to make the stuffed tomato version.

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ripieni di pomodoro

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound capellini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a few pinches of red chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of fine parmigiano-reggiano
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes

Method

Heat the oven to 300°.

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat .

While you are waiting for the water to boil chop all your ingredients and set aside.  Cut the tops of the tomato off 1/4 way down.  Scoop out the inside. Set aside.

When the water boils and before you add the capellini, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and chili flakes.  Cook until golden and turn off the heat.

Now add the capellini to the water and boil for 2 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Drain the capellini and place into the skillet.  Carefully toss the pasta until every strand is coated well.  Add the parsley and continue to toss until well incorporated.  If your pasta seems to be dry add a little of the cooking water to loosen it up and to moisten.

Fill each beefsteak tomato with your capellini aglio e olio. Put the tops back on and bake for 15 -20 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and cooked.  Serve promptly with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 4.

buon appetite.

spaghetti puttanesca

March 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

Years ago I had a friend from Vicenza Italy who cooked remarkable spaghetti dinners. Every Sunday for years I was lucky enough to sit at his table.  He prepared sauces using unimaginable ingredients. Always surprising. Always delicious.  However, as an aspiring cook it was very frustrating for me.  He would never allow me to directly observe his cooking!  He was very secretive.  I would sneak as many peeks as I could.  There was always “something missing” when I tried to put together my own sauces at home.  I learned to develop my own versions of his creations.  Here’s one I love.  Spaghetti Puttanesca “the kitchen sink sauce”.  Only the tomato sauce is cooked.  I think it adds more flavor by keeping the “kitchen sink” uncooked.

 Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 whole garlic cloves-peeled
  • 28oz. can diced tomatoes
  • salt to taste

 “Kitchen Sink”:

  • 8 oz. of pimento stuffed green olives-chopped
  • 3 tbsp. large capers
  • large handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic-pressed

Pasta

  • 1 lb. of good quality spaghetti – DeCecco’s is great.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

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For the tomato sauce, heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan. Cook until you can smell the garlic, add tomatoes and a pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for an hour.  You can either puree the sauce or leave it chunky.

To make the “kitchen sink” combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Boil a large pot of salted water, add pasta and cook according to package instructions.

Drain pasta and return it to the large pot.  Pour in the tomato sauce and “kitchen sink” ingredients. Toss well.

Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 4

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Here’s a variation to this recipe.  A certain someone did not want pasta tonight.  So, I reserved some of the pureed red sauce and presented a soup!  I added a few spoonfuls of the kitchen sink and some parmesan on the top.  Lovely.  He loved it.

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buon appetite!

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