Tag Archives: pasta

Gina’s Penne Alla Vodka

Guanciale

Guanciale

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

If you are looking for some comfort food that is rich and satisfying, I’ve got this delicious pasta recipe that will make you smile from ear to ear. Penne alla Vodka is not a traditional dish and its origin is unknown. It’s popular in the Italian-American community, however, because of its richness, it is not part of my weekly repertoire. You can serve it with a protein and a veggie of your choice.  I used some guanciale that I brought back with me from Italy.  This pork fat is not available in most grocery stores in the USA (unless, you go to a specialty store) and it’s perfectly ok to substitute it with pancetta.  Let’s get cooking!  Put on your apron,  and follow me in the kitchen.

Serves: 6-8 Difficulty level: Easy to intermediate
Allow about 1 hour of prepping and cooking time

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup Vodka
  • 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 32 oz. jar, prepared sauce (meatless)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Italian parsley, rough-chopped
  • 1.5 lb. penne pasta
  • Parmigiano Reggiano,  (Parmesan cheese)Preparation:

    1) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, sauté the guanciale for 2-3 minutes, add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes, then the garlic, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the Vodka. Cook for about 2 minutes.
    2) Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the flame, simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
    3) In the meanwhile, bring pasta water to a boil, add salt and cook penne al dente or as per package directions. Drain well. Return to the pot. Drizzle some of the sauce on the pasta so it doesn’t clump up.
    4) At this time, the sauce should be almost done, slowly pour the cream into the tomato sauce, and gently stir it in one direction. Let it simmer on low for 5 minutes.
    5) Use a ladle to pour the sauce over the pasta. Mix it well until each pasta is drenched in the sauce. Serve it in a large decorative bowl.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and garnish with parsley.

    Buon Appetito!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
    Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
    Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Penne alla Vodka

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

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If you love pork chops but never had them in tomato sauce, you are in for a treat. I use the thin pork loin chops and a variety of tomatoes such as canned San Marzano whole, strained and chopped tomatoes, and a jar of my favorite meatless sauce.

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Allow 2.5 hours from start to finish – This recipe can easily be divided in half but why would you want to do that when the leftovers taste even better!

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta


Ingredients: 

  • 4 lbs. pork loin chops, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more if needed
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 -26.46 oz. container strained tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 26.46 oz. container chopped tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole, crushed by hand
  • 1 jar of Mid’s meatless tomato sauce (32 oz) or any of your choice
  • Garlic powder to taste, optional
  • 1.5 lb. spaghetti or any pasta shape of your choice
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, grated or shaved
  • Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnish

    Preparation:

    1) Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large heavy- bottom pot, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Sear the pork chops about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove them. Add more oil if necessary. Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
    2) Add more oil to pot, saute’ the garlic. Add the tomato paste, stir until it’s nicely caramelized. Add all the tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Add the pork chops to the sauce, bring to a boil. Lower the flame, and simmer on low heat for about 1.5 -2 hours covered with lid-tilted. Stir occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will become very thick and rich in flavors. This dish tastes even better the next day.
    3) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
    4) Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour some of the sauce over it. Mix well until every strand of pasta is covered with the sauce. Put it in a serving bowl. Arrange the pork chops on a platter. There will be plenty of sauce left for those who like extra sauce. Don’t forget the cheese and garnish with parsley. Your guests will be wowed by the richness of this dish, and will ask for seconds.
    My wine pairing suggestions: I recommend a nice Chianti, Rosso or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Of course, the choice is always yours.

    Cook’s notes: 1) Use whatever brand of sauce you like. If you feel the sauce is too watery, uncover it toward the end to let it reduce.
    Disclosure: I did not get monetary compensation for these products.
    Warning: There may be small bones in the sauce. Please let your guest or loved ones know.

    Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

     

    Recipe developed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    All rights reserved 2017

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina aka Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET- Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado

 

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata
Here is another one of my mouth-watering pasta recipes to include in your weekly repertoire. It is a classic southern Italian dish from the Puglia region. Some people use Pecorino Romano cheese and hot Italian sausage. This my variation of  an easy-to-follow recipe and super tasty. If you like spicy food, I recommend using the hot Italian sausage to add some kick to this dish. Let’s have some fun in Gina’s Kitchen.

Serves: 6 -8 Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Orecchiette, pasta shape (little ears)
  • 3 lbs. sweet Italian sausage with fennel, cut up in pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to drizzle
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, (rapini) rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup of garlic, chopped
  •  1/2 -3/4 cup  low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. Ricotta Salata cheese, cubed

    Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, boil the sausages for about 15 minutes. Drain well. Add 1/4 cup olive oil in same pot, and sear them on each side until they obtain a nice golden brown color. You may have to this in 2 batches. Remove, cut each link  in 2-3 pieces. Set aside.
  2. In the meanwhile, in another pot, bring salted pasta water to boil, and cook according to package directions. 5 minutes prior to cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe and cook in same water. This will save you time and less cleaning.  Drain well. Drizzle with a little oil to avoid clumping. Set aside.
  3.  In an extra large skillet, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, sautee the garlic, deglaze with chicken broth,  cook for 1 minute, add the pasta with the broccoli rabe, sausages, season with salt & pepper, and finish with the cheese. Add more chicken broth if necessary. Lower the heat, stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and serve at once.

    Wine pairing suggestions: A chilled Gavi, Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, or a Riesling if you are using the hot Italian sausage. Always cook with love and your food will love you back!

    Recipe written by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for FoodiewineloverFoodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine, & Travel Lifestyles
    Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

Easy Pasta Primavera

As you know by now, I love eating pasta. It is definitely my favorite starch and one of the most versatile food to prepare.  For us South Floridian, it feels like summer already but for most of you, it’s still springtime. The flowers are blooming, and some veggies are in season.  It’s Pasta Primavera time, a simple pasta dish made with fresh vegetables in a cream sauce. It’s easy and delicious.  You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but today I am using a small farfalle. They’re commonly known as bow-tie, and the meaning stands for butterfly in Italian.

Serves: 6-8 as a main meal Level of difficulty: Easy – It takes about 20  minutes from start to finish depending how fast you prep your ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. small farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 head of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 15 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, (reserved)
  • 3-4 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

    Preparation:

    1) In a large frying pan, on medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Sautee onions for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, and sautee until you smell the beautiful aroma. Set aside.

    2) Bring the pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. About 5 minutes or so before the time is up, add the asparagus and cook in the same pot to save time. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup or so of pasta water.

    3) Turn the burner back on with the onions and garlic on low, drop the pasta, season with Italian seasoning and black pepper. Add the tomatoes and  asparagus. Slowly incorporate the ricotta, pasta water and basil.  Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Garnish with some veggies on top to make it enticing. Drizzle with olive oil.  Voila! It’s that easy!

    Wine pairing suggestions: Verdicchio , Gavi or a Sauvignon Blanc will work beautifully with this spring dish.

    Cook’s Tips

    You can use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, green or red bell peppers. The choice is endless.  For a more flavorful version, roast the veggies in the oven, however, keep in mind, this recipe is meant to save you time. Put your own twist on it, and make it your signature dish.

    A recipe is to be used as a barometer, if you are on a salt-restricted or low-fat diet, cut back on the salt and use a part-skim ricotta cheese.

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Easy Pasta Primavera

Recipe by Foodiewinelover
Photo by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

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Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2 With a Twist

There’s nothing like having a no-fail recipe in your repertoire, because you know you can always count on the result being the same.  However, having been in the kitchen for so long, I like to challenge myself,  play around, and experiment to change things up a little. This is a spin-off to a dish that I made called Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish. The method is very similar, but I added some roasted red bell peppers. The result was equally as delicious. Follow me in My Kitchen!

Roasted bell peppers

Serves: 4-6
Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium

You will need a brown paper bag

Ingredients:  

  • 1.5 lb. sea scallops
  • 1/2 jug of clam juice – About 5-6 ounces
  • 1/2 cup of Chardonnay wine
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted/charred (the twist) rough chopped *
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, if needed *
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • Few leaves of basil, chopped in a chiffonade style
  • 1 lb. Linguine

Preparation:

1) Wash peppers, and broil them whole,  on high for about 10-15 minutes depending how close they are to the burner. Turn them occasionally, using a mitten. Once they are charred all around, remove them from the oven. Place them in a brown paper bag and close it. Let it sit in there for about 15 minutes. This step will make it easier to remove the skin. It should peel off easily. If not, use a knife to remove the skin. Set aside.

2) On Medium-high heat, drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of a 6-quart pan.  Sautee the garlic, as soon as it releases its aroma, drop the scallops and deglaze with the wine. This should take a couple of minutes.

3)   Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, clam juice and season with salt, pepper, oregano. Slowly add the heavy cream and stir.  Lower the heat and bring to a quick simmer. This does not take long as you do NOT want to overcook the scallops. They will become chewy. Remove from burner. 

4) Simultaneously,  bring water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions. I like to cook it al dente, (to the bite).  Once pasta is cooked, drain it, and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Drop pasta  into the scallop sauce, and add pasta water if necessary.  Put the pan back on the burner, swirl in the butter for some added richness, and give it a good stir. This is all done at very low heat to warm it up. Garnish with the basil at the end so they don’t wilt.  Now, it’s time to plate. Sprinkle with cheese and voilà, the result is a lip smacking delicious pasta dish.

I hope you will try this delectable recipe that will have your loved ones begging for seconds.  Have a fantastic new week!

Wine pairing suggestions: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. For a special occasion, pair this dish with a nice Viognier, and you will wow your guests.

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish

*Cook’s tips:

1) You can grill, roast or broil the peppers. The broiler was the most convenient for me.

2) You probably won’t need the pasta water in this version. There should be plenty of sauce to coat the linguine. Use your judgment.

3) As you can see, I didn’t use all the seafood that I used in the original dish. You are more than welcome to use them, if you want.

Happy Cooking and Cheers from Gina’s Kitchen! 

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Aglio E Olio With Broccoli Rabe & Roasted Tomatoes

Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Tomatoes

Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Tomatoes

 

There are literally a thousand ways to make pasta, and I love to create dishes using different pasta shapes.  Sometimes, I plan ahead, but there are other times, I try to use whatever I have in the fridge and in the pantry. It’s a bit challenging but it can be fun.  I also get inspired while I am shopping, and I see the different ingredients. I start  visualizing how I can combine them together in a dish.  Today’s recipe is a perfect example of that. I grabbed the ingredients at the grocery store and put them together very quickly.  I fed my family, and everyone was smiling while savoring the pasta.  Aglio e Olio in Italian means garlic and oil, and traditionally used with spaghetti. I developed this dish, and take full credit for the recipe and the method of cooking.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy – Medium 

Time: from start to finish 35 minutes (fast-paced) allow yourself 45 minutes in total. You will be juggling but you can do it, I promise you. You will have the oven and two burners going at one point. Just pay attention, and  do not use your cell phone. (LOL) 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 – 16 oz  pasta Gigi Flowers, (Flora’s Brand) *
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb of pancetta, chopped *
  • 1/3 cup of garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • sea salt and pepper to taste (pepper is optional)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (reserve)
  • 1/2 -3/4 Grana Padano cheese for grating *Preparation:

    1) Place tomatoes on a tray, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree F. oven for 30 -35 minutes.  Give them one good stir, at the half-way point.

    2) In the meanwhile, bring the salted pasta water to a boil.

    3) On another burner, in a very large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil, sautee the pancetta for 2 minutes, add the garlic. Once you smell the aroma, set this pan aside. (away from the burner)

    4) The pasta should be in the boiling water by now. 5-7 minutes prior to pasta being done, drop the broccoli rabe in there to avoid using another pot.  Check for doneness, and drain the pasta and broccoli rabe. Be sure to reserve some pasta water.

    5) Place the large skillet with pancetta and garlic back on the burner on very low flame, drop the rest of the olive oil, the pasta, 1/4 cup pasta water, broccoli rabe, roasted tomatoes, grated cheese. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Season with more salt if necessary. Mix well, and serve at once.

    Cook’s Tips:

    1) Use any short pasta you have in your pantry
    2) you can substitute pancetta with bacon
    3) Use as much or as little cheese as you want. You can also use a different cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan)
    4) Always cook pasta according to package directions, unless you like it al dente. In that case, deduct 2 minutes from the cooking time.  The best way to know if the pasta is cooked to your liking is simply taste it.

    As you can see from my notes, pasta is very versatile and can be prepared according to your taste. You can use any meats, pasta shapes or veggies of your choice, and stamp your name on it!

    Wine suggestions: Any white wine of your choice. Make sure it’s nicely chilled but not overly so you can taste the aromas of the wine.

Recipe developed by Gina over at Foodiewinelover
Photos: By Gina for Foodiewinelover

Buon Appetito From My Kitchen to Yours!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

Braciole, A Gourmet Italian meat, in Tomato Sauce

It’s the holiday season, and Christmas is literally around the corner. I am hosting Christmas Day, and need to work on a menu, and finish my shopping. This time of the year is overwhelming for me, but there is a joyous feeling in the air, that goes with the madness of the season. I recently made a dish called:  Braciole, pronounced brajole, or brashole, and is the plural for braciola. It is considered a thinly sliced of meat, stuffed with garlic, parsley, and salami or prosciutto. Most grocery stores have it pre-sliced, or you can have the butcher slice it for you. Some people use flank steak, but I always use top round.  In Italy, this dish is called involtini, and the stuffing/filling can vary depending on the region. If you are still wondering what to make for Christmas, or your holiday dinner, this is the perfect and festive dish for you. It is a bit time-consuming, but the good news is, you can make it 1 or 2 days ahead of time. Please keep in mind, some people do not consume red meat, be sure to have chicken, fish and veggies grace your holiday table.

Serves: 9-12 for a seat-down dinner or 10-15 for buffet style dinner, served with other food.  Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult  Time from start to finish: 2.5 – 3 hours, depending how fast you do all your  prepping.

Making Braciole

Making Braciole

Stuffing braciole

Stuffing braciole

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Searing the braciole

Searing the braciole

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

 

Ingredients for the meat:

  • Olive oil for pan frying
  • 3 lbs. top round steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 – 6 oz  jar of peeled garlic, chopped *
  • one large bunch of flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 lb. prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper *
  • Butcher twine *

    Preparation for the meat:
     

    1) Place the meat on a butcher block, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the seasonings lightly, depending on your sodium diet, on both sides of meat. Keep in mind, the prosciutto is salty. I recommend you use less than more. You can always add more later, but if it’s over salted, the food will be ruined.  It’s hard for me to give you measurements, since I use my fingers to sprinkle the seasonings.
    2) Next, with the tip of your fingers, grab some garlic, parsley, and prosciutto, one at a time, and place at the end of the meat, as shown on the picture. Roll it, like a jelly roll, and repeat the same process. You will work an assembly line, and use the butcher twine later.
    3) Once, your meats are rolled up, it’s time to tie them up with the butcher twine, by securing both ends.  There may be some leftovers, garlic, parsley, and prosciutto. Save to use in the sauce.
    4) In a large pot, on medium high heat, heat up olive oil, Sear the meat on both sides to obtain a nice brown color, about 5-7 minutes. Do this in batches, and set aside.

    Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 container Pomi, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container Pomi, strained tomatoes
  • 1 large jar of Mids, prepared tomato sauce, meatless*
  • 1/4 cup of water, put in jar and shake it to get all the sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar, optional

    Preparation for the sauce:

    Using the same pot, add more oil, if necessary, brown the tomato paste, add all the tomatoes, water, leftover fillings, salt & pepper, sugar, and put the meat in the sauce. Bring to a boil, simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, uncovered, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally, to make sure the pot doesn’t burn on the bottom.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, add very little water, and continue cooking.

    Pasta
    1) 2 lbs. of Rigatoni, or any pasta shape of your choice.
    2) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil for pasta. Add salt, and cook as per package directions, or al dente, to the bite.
    3) Drain pasta, drizzle with olive and some sauce to prevent clumping. Set aside. The sauce should be done, and the meat tender by this time.
    4)Remove the braciole from the sauce, and use a pair of shears to cut the twines. (You will need some patience, while I was doing this, my guests were having their salad.)  Arrange them in a nice rectangle platter. This presentation is ideal for a seat-down dinner party like I had.  Serve with the pasta. However for a buffet-style, or for a holiday table, slice them, and arrange them on a beautiful platter. It is more decorative, and appealing.

Braciole

Cook’s notes:

1) Some people use toothpicks to secure the meat, but I prefer using the twine.

2) Freshly ground pepper goes so nicely with the meat.

3) If you don’t want to use garlic from the jar, go ahead and use fresh, just allow more time for peeling.  Nothing wrong with fresh ingredients, I actually encourage it, whenever possible.

4) Some recipes add cheese to the filling, but, I prefer grated  Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan cheese), on top of the pasta.

5) This recipe yields 9 meat rolls, but, some people shared one. There were leftovers, and, it was even better the next day.

6) For a small dinner gathering, I recommend you ask your guests if they consume meat or shellfish. Let’s not forget about gluten-free pasta for those who cannot have regular pasta. This may create extra work, but if you are having guests, it’s important to accommodate their diet, and ensure they enjoy their meal.

Wine pairing suggestions: My lovely aunt and  cousin were visiting from abroad, I decided to go all out. I paired this delectable dish with a Barolo, the king of Italian wines. The pairing was magical, and everyone was pleased with my culinary creation. You can also pair this dish with a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon of your choice. You want a big wine to stand up to the meat.

Buon Appetito!

Recipe by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Images by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Wine pairing suggestions by Gina for Foodiewinelover

This will probably be my last post before Christmas, therefore, I would like to wish all of you, a happy holiday season, and a Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

In closing, I would like to share this quote: “Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given–when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.”

Gina, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rustic Style Pasta with Veal, Porcini Mushrooms and Spinach

This flavorful dish is inspired by the mountainous region of Abruzzo, where you will find an abundance of porcini mushrooms.  The recipe was developed, and written by Mario Batali. I have followed his method, and prepared it many times in my kitchen. He recommends using Farfalle, a pasta shape, commonly known as bow-ties, but it literally means, butterflies in Italian.  You can also use other short pastas, such as Rotini, corkscrew-shaped as shown on my featured image. They both work well, and absorb the sauce nicely.  It’s always a big hit in my kitchen, and perfect for feeding a small crowd.  The name of the original recipe is: Farfalle Abruzzese With Veal, Porcini and Spinach.  Mario brilliantly combines veal, double concentrated tomato paste, and porcini mushrooms to create this culinary masterpiece. Make sure you caramelize the tomato paste to get a rust color, and the result will be a stupendous rustic dish packed with layers of deep flavors. Make it for a dinner party, and your guests will think that the sauce has simmered for hours.

Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini and Spinach

Excerpted from “Molto Batali” (ecco, 2011)

Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main
Level of difficulty – medium

Ingredients: 

3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 ½ pounds ground veal shoulder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup double-concentrated tomato paste *

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup basic tomato sauce (for quick results, try my Mario Batali pasta sauces)

1 ½ pounds farfalle pasta (butterfly shaped pasta)

8 ounces baby spinach, trimmed

½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Preparation: 

1. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, and set it aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

3. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

4. Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture. Stir the baby spinach into the veal mixture.

5. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.

From “Molto Batali”

* You can find the double concentrated tomato paste at Italian specialty stores. If not, use 1/2 cup of regular tomato paste, but remember, the secret is to caramelize it on high flame to obtain that deep rust color. (My notes)

My wine suggestion: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a delightful red wine from the Abruzzo region of Italy.

Rustic Style Pasta with Veal, Porcini Mushrooms and Spinach

Rustic Style Pasta with Veal, Porcini Mushrooms and Spinach

Recipe: Adaptation of Mario Batali’s:  Farfalle Abruzzese With Veal, Porcini and Spinach

Photo credit: Foodiewinelover

Pasta Salad

pasta salad

veggies

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In my house, we love our pasta in all shapes and forms. Most of the time, I make it as a hot dish, but with summer upon us, (at least for us, South Floridians), I decided to make a killer Pasta Salad. I normally use the elbow shape just for cold pasta salads, since it’s the perfect size to blend well with all the chopped ingredients. You will never see me use this shape with any kind of red sauce, except for macaroni & cheese. LOL! I know, it’s an American thing!  This time, I served it as an accompaniment to some grilled New York strips. My family went crazy over it, and ate, and ate, and ate to their heart’s content.

This recipe will yield a very large bowl of pasta salad, but it can easily be divided in half.

Serves: 10 – 15 as a side dish
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium
Prepping time from start to finish: 1 hour
Chilling time: Minimum of 4 hours in the fridge

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 lb. pasta, elbow shape, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 lb. of bacon, crumbled
  • 4 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup  mayo*
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Mrs. Dash, Italian Medley, no sodium
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Lots of extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Preparation:

1) Cook bacon, crumble it and set aside.

2) Chop up all your veggies.

3) Get all your ingredients, condiments, and spices ready.

4) Boil eggs, chop them up set aside.

5) Boil salted water for pasta, and cook according to package directions.

6) Drain pasta well, and pour it in a very large mixing bowl.

7) Add all the ingredients and mix well.

8) Drizzle with olive oil. Mix again, cover and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. The colder the salad, the tastier it will be. This will allow the flavors to infuse nicely.

Right before serving, remove from the fridge, and drizzle more olive oil to moisten the salad.

* Notice that my salad is not saturated with mayonnaise, however if you don’t like mayonnaise at all, just substitute it with more olive oil, and add some red wine vinegar. It will be similar to a vinaigrette dressing. Taste, and adjust the spices as needed.

My son Matthew is a very picky eater, and he said, he’s never had such a good pasta salad before. The compliments were pouring in, as I sat and watch the bowl of pasta salad slowly disappearing before my eyes.  This was a good sign that I had prepared a wonderful culinary creation. My job was done in the kitchen, and I was happy with the results.

I hope the next time you get invited to a picnic, you will offer to make this very refreshing pasta salad.

Happy Cooking From My Kitchen To Yours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rigatoni with Italian Sausage & Red Bell Peppers

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Browning the sausage

 

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Red bell peppers cut in Julienne

 

 

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Assembling all the ingredients

 

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Voila, It’s done!

 

If you know me well enough, you should know by now, I usually cook for a minimum of 4, (but living with three men) It’s like cooking for 6. Wait, that’s not all, on Thursday nights, my brother and parents come over for dinner, and I generally make a pasta dish which is always a good idea when feeding a crowd. It’s easy, filling and delicious. Today, I will share with you, My Rigatoni with Sweet Italian Sausage and Red Bell Peppers. I was inspired many years ago, when I had a similar dish at the Italian chain restaurant Carrabba’s. I recreated it and the result was delightful.

Serves: 8 – 10 Degree of difficulty: Medium.  This recipe can easily be divided in half.

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 lb. Rigatoni or Ziti
  • 1 container of chopped Tomato, Pomi or any brand 26.46 oz
  •  2 containers of strained tomato, Pomi or any brand 26.46 oz
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil for sauce, oil for frying the sausage, and more to drizzle
  • 3 lbs. sweet Italian Sausage with fennel
  • 1.5 red bell peppers cut in Julienne
  •  Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 16 oz shredded Mozzarella *
  • 3/4 – 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Preparation:

1) In a large pot, heat up some olive oil and brown sausage in batches, until they obtain a nice golden brown color. Do not attempt to taste them as the inside will still be raw. Cut each link into three or four pieces, and set aside.

2) In the meantime, over med-high heat, in the same pot, heat up olive oil, saute’ the onions until translucent, then add garlic, saute’ an extra minute.  Add tomato paste, cook until it caremelizes into a nice brownish red color, stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the heat is too high, adjust the setting. Next, add the water, the tomatoes, oregano, bell peppers, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the flame to low, and simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 45 minutes. DO NOT OVER-COOK, as the peppers will fall apart.

3) On another burner, bring the pasta water to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta to the halfway point, as it will continue to cook in the oven.

4) Now, that you have prepped everything, it’s time to put it all together. In a very large, deep baking pan, drop the pasta, add the sausage, a few ladles of sauce with the peppers, the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Mix well until all the pasta is nicely coated with the sauce. There may be some sauce left, save it, you may need it later. Bake covered with foil, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until pasta is cooked. If you choose to, you can broil it uncovered for the last 5 minutes to get a nice crust. Serve it in a nice pasta bowl, and garnish with parsley! Voila!

* I like to use fresh mozzarella, and break it with my hands, but you can use whatever works for you.  I also like to freshly grate the parmesan cheese.

Next time, you’re having a small gathering, I hope you will try this delicious meal. If you are pressed for time, you can prepare the sauce the day before, but be sure to warm it up on low flame before mixing it with the pasta. You may have to add some water to liquefy the sauce as it will thicken in the refrigerator.

I love the way the flavors work harmoniously in this scrumptious pasta dish. I suggest you pair it with any of these Italian reds, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Rosso di Montalcino, Sangiovese, or a Super Tuscan.

Buon Appetito! Happy Cooking from Gina’s Kitchen to yours!

Rigatoni with sausage and peppers

 

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