Tag Archives: pasta

Grape Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Grape Tomato and Garlic PastaI have to write this quickly because Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is in town and the Peoples of the South are terrified! Jim Cantore only travels to the most dangerous and deadly weather events. It’s all over my Facebook page. Dammit, Jim Cantore chose Nashville over Minneapolis, where they’re getting 17 feet of snow. But it’s obviously going to be catastrophic because Jim Cantore has already announced that once the weather gets bad – buckets of rain and straight-line winds – he will broadcast inside the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jim Cantore never goes inside.

OMG, he just Tweeted: AT THIS TIME we are sub severe in middle TN. What does that mean – sub severe? Does that mean highly dangerous but not quite severe? I’d better get my Solo cup filled up with Chardonnay. This is going to be a long night.

By the way, if you want to see the greatest weather live shot ever, click here. It’s Jim Cantore applying his knee to a sensitive spot on a stupid kid running into his live shot in Charleston. It’s hilarious.

So this recipe is perfect because it only takes 20 minutes, which is about how much time you have until the power goes out. I have turned off all the computers but this one and am writing like the wind so I can shut this down. I have flashlights at all the vital stations in the house – bathrooms, bedroom and refrigerator so I can discern the box wine in the dark. I will turn on the Weather Channel and watch Jim Cantore valiantly risk his life in the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ya’ll take care.

 

Grape Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 ounces grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 large garlic cloves sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until they soften and their skins start to split.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic softens and begins to turn a golden color.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Combine and serve over pasta.

 

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Ciao from Italy – the recipes

The very kind Ashley Bartner from La Tavola Marche e-mailed me all the way from Italy (I’d like to think those e-mails take longer to get to Nashville than the ones from Knoxville) to say that she and Jason would be happy to let me post the links to the recipes I learned on Sunday (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, just scroll down one post).

So, here’s the recipe for Verdure Gratinate, which were those tasty baked vegetables (I’d eat the onions all day long) and the Pasta alla Norcina, which Jason said some people have told him looks like Hamburger Helper. It does not taste like Hamburger Helper, let me assure you.

Verdure Gratinate - Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs

Verdure Gratinate – Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs

So here are my notes on these recipes. First, I didn’t really love zucchini before this recipe and I don’t love it now. Too bland. BUT! The onions were friggin’ fantastic and I’ll do this recipe again with onions and peppers. I learned something about pasta and sauce for the Pasta alla Norcina. Jason practically crawled through the camera to implore us to cook the pasta until it’s almost done and then throw it in the sauce to finish it. I’ve always been scared to do that, but I did it because I didn’t want Jason to have a conniption fit. He was right. What a difference. That last little bit of cooking time in the sauce makes those noodles just drink it up. I don’t have a picture of the Pasta alla Norcina because King Daddy ate every last scrap of it before I could get the camera out.

FYI, the recipe calls for “sausage”, which is open to a lot of interpretation. Jason uses homemade sausage which, sadly, is not in my refrigerator. So I bought hot Italian sausage from my beloved Publix. The Italians are laughing at me right now. I know there’s no such thing as hot Italian sausage in Italy. If you really want to stay true to your roots, use Tennessee Pride.

If you want to sign up for a $5 cooking class, here’s the link. Jason and Ashley will send you the recipes so you can cook along with him.  The beauty of this concept is that you can diligently follow along, or have a leisurely glass of wine while you’re not. I did both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ciao from Italy!

Verdure Gratinate - Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs

Verdure Gratinate – Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs

That is a complete lie. I am not in Italy. But through the magic of the internet, I took an Italian cooking class today and the chef was in Italy. Live from his kitchen at La Tavola Marche, an agro-tourism inn and cooking school in Piobbico, Italy. Jason Bartner is the chef and his wife, Ashley, creates all their social media. I feel as though I know these two expats from the United States because they’ve kept me company in the car for three years. Their Podcast from Italy is an audio journal of their life in the rural Italian countryside (look it up on iTunes – it’s worth a listen).

Of course, right now King Daddy and I cannot afford to visit Jason and Ashley in person. We’ve almost got Dammit Boy out of college so the only travel we are doing is to the Daily’s for a pack of cigarettes and to the liquor store for box wine.

When I was a kid, long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive and rare. Today, I spent all of $5 to take a cooking class from a professional chef halfway around the world. And $14 for ingredients.  I made Verdure Gratinate and Pasta alla Norcina in my kitchen watching Jason live from Italy at 10 at night his time. He didn’t even yawn once. I would not be able to teach a cooking class at 10 at night due to excessive box wine consumption.

Jason in the kitchen - that lamp-like looking thing is a second camera for close-ups of the cutting board

Jason in the kitchen – that lamp-like looking thing is a second camera for close-ups of the cutting board

The menu was simple, as I am learning most other cultures prefer to the over-wrought, ingredient-laden dishes we like to make in America. I would give you the recipes but I paid my five bucks and you did not. It wouldn’t be fair. And King Daddy will not like the fact that his Pasta alla Norcina (Pasta with Sausages and Cream) only has 6 ounces of meat to a pound of pasta. That is not the King Daddy way, but it is the Italian way and, dammit, King Daddy will just have to adapt.

Ashley - she's from Seattle so she's all excited about the Super Bowl

Ashley – she’s from Seattle so she’s all excited about the Super Bowl

So I like these two crazy kids who ventured to far-off Piobbico. I do want to visit them some day and make homemade pasta, feed the chickens, pick vegetables in their garden and go with them to the festival of the week (there’s one every week in Italy; one more reason to move there). If you want to visit them, check out their blog or visit their cooking class page on tumblr.

Ciao from Italy!

 


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Spaghetti with Lemon Cream Sauce

Spaghetti with Lemon Cream Sauce

King Daddy is not a pasta person. He’ll eat pasta if it’s put in front of him. But he won’t smile very much. Me – I could live in Italy and eat nothing but pasta three meals a day. In which case I would look like Luciano Pavarotti. To me, the real key to great pasta is to not glop on a bunch of sauce. In Italy, sauce is a mere suggestion.

The next key is to cook the pasta al dente. I know I have shared Harold McGee’s revolutionary way to cook spaghetti before, but it bears repeating. You don’t need to boil the water. You don’t need six gallons of water, either. Al dente just means “to the tooth” – the spaghetti just needs to be slightly chewy and definitely not mushy.  That’s so Franco-American.

 

Spaghetti with Lemon Cream Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti

Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté them until they are deeply browned. Add the cream, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In another saucepan, add enough water to cover the dried pasta along with a teaspoon of salt. Heat the water over medium high heat and add the pasta (no need for the water to boil). Gently move the pasta around with tongs as the water heats up. The pasta will cook as the water heats, approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce and combine thoroughly.

 

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Tortellini with mushrooms and white wine butter sauce

Tortellini with Mushrooms and White Wine Butter Sauce

King Daddy is not a good teacher when it comes to things he knows a lot about, such as computer technology and leather working and carpentry. He tends to jump ahead a few steps and then gets a tad frustrated when the student – usually me – ends up confused and slightly defensive.

I realized the other night that I may not be the best teacher either when it comes to the few things I know a lot about, like cooking. King Daddy is always kind to want to help in the kitchen. He likes chopping and he does it with great gusto. Sometimes I leave a few steps out. Like a few weeks ago I was making a stir fry and I gave him examples of how to slice the zucchini and crookneck squash (okay, it’s a Southern stir fry). I assumed he would follow the same general shape when he did the onions as everything in a stir fry should be chopped into equal sizes. I didn’t turn around for 30 seconds before he’d chopped that onion into infinitesimally tiny pieces.

So a couple nights ago, I had some mushrooms and a package of tortellini and I told him to saute the mushrooms in a little butter. To King Daddy, a little butter is…oh…a stick. Once again, I had just turned around for 30 seconds. I considered offering my thoughts. But all I said was, “You’d better crank up the heat.” King Daddy did alright. He added some white wine and I advised him to throw in some garlic and lemon juice. And then, so I could write a recipe, I made it again today. With half the butter. But King Daddy’s version sure was good.

 

Tortellini with mushrooms and white wine butter sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces of Portobello mushrooms, ends trimmed and sliced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 9-ounce package of fresh three-cheese tortellini (such as Buitoni)
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
  1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté them until they begin to release their juices. Add the white wine and garlic. Continue cooking until the mushrooms have given up all their liquid. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring two quarts of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the tortellini and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain and add the mushroom mixture to the tortellini. Serve and top with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes
Don’t follow the package directions, which say to boil for 7-9 minutes. Four minutes is enough. The tortellini will be mushy if you boil them longer.

 

 

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Arugula Pesto

 

Pasta with arugula pesto and Parmesan cheese

Pasta with arugula pesto and Parmesan cheese

King Daddy is not a pesto person. He’s not a pasta person, either. Now that I’m thinking about it I have no idea why I married the man. What do we have in common? In fact, and this is the truth, he just looked at the photo above without reading a single word I had written, and said: “You can have mine.”

Noah is a pesto and pasta person, bless his heart. He still calls them “green noodles” because that’s what he labeled basil pesto and pasta as a kid. But Noah has now selfishly moved away to begin his own life instead of living upstairs in his room forever. I would like to digress for a moment to say it would be totally pathetic if my son came down from his room to get a Dirty Martini and then went back up to play World of Warcraft. I miss him terribly but I am a realist.

Flat iron steak with arugula pesto

Flat iron steak with arugula pesto

So I am now the only one in the house who loves this combination. Which brings me to arugula, which makes an even better pesto than basil and I discovered it completely by accident. You know how you buy a whole bunch of something to use 1/4 cup in a recipe you’re trying and then you realize you have a bushel of whatever it is left? I did that with arugula. Waste not, want not and I made arugula pesto. If you like a slightly bitter, spicy green, this is for you. I combined it with pasta for one Meal for One (I hope King Daddy reads this and feels sorry for me). And then I added it as an accent to flat iron steak because King Daddy will eat dog poo with steak.

But don’t be like King Daddy, hating on the pesto. Be like me. I’m more fun.

Arugula Pesto
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Arugula pesto – a different twist on the usual basil version.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups arugula stems removed
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
  1. Combine the arugula, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. If the mixture looks too dry, continue adding additional olive oil until the mixture turns into a sauce.
  2. Put the pesto in a bowl and add the sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the Parmesan cheese. This pesto can be refrigerated for several days.

 

 

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Pasta with cherry tomatoes

TomatoesI seriously would have paid $1 million for these a week ago. That’s how starved I was for a real homegrown tomato.

This has just been a horrifying summer so far. I am having tomato disasters everywhere I turn. So, it started when I couldn’t find my beloved black cherry tomato plants at the Home Depot. I looked at Lowe’s, too. Nothing. So I decided to order some black cherry tomato seeds from the Internet. I will just start my own plants from seed! No. Actually, I did. OMG, does it take a long time to grow a tomato from seed. So, after about a month, I had six plants the size of sewing needles in my handy dandy seed starter sitting by the window near the kitchen. And I left the plastic top off one day, just for a few seconds. The cat ate them.

Plan B. Forget the black cherry tomatoes. I will just plant some regular tomatoes. I buy beautiful strong tomato plants. I plant them. Within days, some horrifying fungal material has sprouted around the plants. They die. Plan C. I will plant more tomatoes. Surely this could not happen twice. It does. Oh, well. Never mind. I will not grow tomatoes this year because now it is late June and surely there will be some at the farmer’s market. There are not. How can there be no tomatoes in late June?

tomato sandwichFinally. I found them on Saturday at the Franklin Farmer’s Market. I practically elbowed an elderly woman using a cane aside to get to them. I had no shame. None at all. And I wasn’t alone. Long lines formed at the few stands that had tomatoes. The anxiety was palpable. What if I get to the head of the line just as the last tomato vanishes? I bought more than I needed. So far, I have had three tomato sandwiches, an entire basket of cherry tomatoes and just some plain and delicious slices with a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

Next up: Pasta with cherry tomatoes. And then roasted tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. And a caprese salad. And…

Pasta with cherry tomatoes

Pasta with cherry tomatoes
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Showcase this summer’s tomato beauty in a simple pasta dish.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one medium lemon
  • 1 ½ cups sugar plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup additional extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup crushed garlic-flavored croutons
  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti

Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add lemon juice, tomatoes and mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute the tomatoes until their skins begin to split and the mushrooms until well browned. Take off heat and add additional olive oil.
  2. To prepare pasta, heat a large enough sauté pan to hold the spaghetti plus water to generously cover. Salt water liberally and heat over medium high heat. When water is hot, add pasta, stirring frequently to separate strands of spaghetti. Continue cooking until pasta is cooked to al dente. The water need not boil for the pasta to be cooked through.
  3. Combine pasta with tomato mixture and sprinkle crushed croutons over the top.

 

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Baked spaghetti

I have been cogitating over what to say about casseroles and, after a half a glass of red wine, I have come to this: Casseroles are a lot of damn work. And the recipients of the end product never appreciate this fact.

Casseroles are great on the back end. They yield multiple leftovers which, generally speaking, are better the next day. On the front end, though, they are time consuming and labor intensive. I don’t want to turn you off to baked spaghetti because it is truly yummy and the ONLY time I ever combine spaghetti or sauce with Cheddar cheese.

But here’s how the prep goes:

1. Haul out your biggest pot to make the sauce, chop up the veg, brown the ground chuck, add the rest of the ingredients, cook for about 30 minutes while watching the Ellen DeGeneres show and drinking a glass of wine. That’s about an hour total.

2. Haul out your widest pan to cook the pasta. If you don’t know Harold McGee’s revolutionary way to cook pasta, read it here. That’s maybe 15 minutes.

3. Assemble the casserole. And here’s the irritating part: CLEAN UP ALL THE POTS, SPOONS, KNIVES, CUTTING BOARDS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT YOU’VE USED. Am I yelling? Apparently, I am. Sadly, at this point, the Ellen show has ended and I must resort to watching four-year-old episodes of Paula Deen while washing, drying and putting away all the dirty stuff. It’s kind of hard watching Paula plow through a cake with two sticks of butter, hamburgers served on Krispy Kreme doughnuts and fried ice cream now that we all know she has diabetes. But I digress.

4. Serve casserole and try to bite your tongue when the kitchen help only has one pan to wash. It’s not their fault. They don’t even know that the rash from your dishpan hands started two hours ago.

That said, this is a great casserole for cold weather. By the way, it has come to my attention that I never offer up how many servings a recipe makes. I don’t want to make value judgments. You decide. That’s not on me.

Baked spaghetti

8 ounces thin spaghetti

1 egg, beaten

2 ½ tablespoons butter

I recipe spaghetti sauce (recipe follows)

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Cook pasta in heavily salted water in a large pan over medium high heat until the pasta is al dente. The water does not need to be boiling when you add the pasta. Just make sure you swirl it around with tongs to keep the strands separate as the water heats up.

Drain the pasta and combine it with the egg and butter in a bowl.

In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer the bottom with some of the sauce. Add half the spaghetti and a third of the cheese.  Add another layer of the sauce, the rest of the spaghetti and another third of the cheese. Top with one more layer of sauce and the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is beginning to brown.

Spaghetti sauce:

2 pounds ground chuck

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup finely diced carrot

½ cup finely diced onion

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup dry red wine

1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste.

Brown the chuck in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, adding the 2 teaspoons salt. About halfway through browning, add the carrot and onion. Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft and translucent, the grease has disappeared and the meat is liberally browned. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Add the crushed tomatoes, red wine, oregano and paprika. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Note: You will have some spaghetti sauce left over. It freezes beautiful for you to pull out on a busy weeknight.

 

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The best spaghetti sauce ever

Betsy, Kim and I were having a conversation today over our horseradish Cheddar, apple and bacon sandwiches at CRC about spaghetti sauce. Kim’s mom used tomato paste in hers, Betsy’s grandmother used the juice from the jars of tomatoes she put up every fall and I use canned crushed tomatoes. There is no “best spaghetti sauce ever” because the best spaghetti sauce is the one your mom or grandma made.

I got on here tonight to post a really good recipe for baked spaghetti, but when I went back to find the sauce recipe in the archives I figured out I’d never actually posted it. Here I have the “best spaghetti sauce ever” and I haven’t even posted the recipe. What a moron.

So here’s why this is the best spaghetti sauce in our family. We are meaty sauce people. We like a hint of tomato as a background note to meat, specifically ground chuck. We like the depth of flavor a good dose of dry red wine gives the sauce. I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food. And we like a lot of oregano. This may not be your cup of tea, but I am an award-winning spaghetti sauce cook at 5117.

Tomorrow, the baked spaghetti. Tonight, the sauce. And do I need to remind you how to cook the pasta? Here you go.

Spaghetti Sauce

2 pounds ground chuck

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup finely diced carrot

½ cup finely diced onion

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup dry red wine

1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste.

Brown the chuck in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, adding the 2 teaspoons salt. About halfway through browning, add the carrot and onion. Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft and translucent, the grease has disappeared and the meat is liberally browned. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Add the crushed tomatoes, red wine, oregano and paprika. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

 

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Pasta with smoked tomatoes and garlic

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, it’s the dressing, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie. Forget the turkey. It’s healthy. We crave the sides. Our bellies will be busting. And we will be happy. And sleepy.

But tonight, virtue.  Hold the thought.

Pasta with smoked dried tomatoes and garlic

8 ounces pasta

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

½ cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup smoked dried tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of ½ lemon

1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Heat enough water, well salted, in a large pan to accommodate the pasta. Add the pasta, swirl with tongs and continue to cook until the pasta is done. The water will continue to heat, but does not need to come to a boil. Just move the pasta about every once in a while to keep it separate.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the peppers and onions and sauté until tender and beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Continue sautéing for another minute.  Add the lemon juice.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, the remaining olive oil and the cheese. Combine and serve!

 

 

 

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