Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Pasta with Clam Sauce from Coastal Living

Credit: Jean Allsop

I’ve been trolling the internet for low-cholesterol recipes and recently discovered that clams are heart-healthy, especially if you’re not restricting your sodium.  The following is a quick recipe that hits the spot when you don’t have $20 to drop on a restaurant dish.  It could be improved with a splash of white wine and fresh clams, but is still delicious in this shortcut preparation.  Plus, it’s a refreshingly cheap break from the jarred red sauce routine.


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fennel sausage pasta

I’ll be the first to admit: this is not the most photogenic dish to ever appear on Culinspiration. But although it’s not much to look at, this sauce is so good it had me pestering my friends Rachel and Julius for the recipe for weeks. Weeks! I couldn’t get the perfect melding of flavors out of my head: the caramelized shallot and fennel, the tender sausage, the kiss of tomato. I—who thought I didn’t like fennel!—was obsessed. And my pleading, borderline harassing e-mails requesting the recipe weren’t getting much response. Sheesh…you’d think they have a life or something.

Frankly, I was getting a little desperate. For pasta sauce.

Finally, I invited myself over we all sat down for dinner again, and I grilled my friends. Triumph! I got the recipe and am happy to share it with you. This is a brilliant dish to serve company— just a few ingredients, minimally prepped, which can simmer away while you uncork a bottle of wine. Just be prepared for the plaintive recipe requests from admirers later. 😉

fresh sage


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If you like lasagna, beef bolognese, or even Cincinnati chili, you’ll love this dish hailing from Greece.  Pastitsio is a layered casserole of tubular pasta tossed with hard cheese and topped off with meat sauce (spiced with cinnamon, clove, and oregano) and lightly browned bechamel sauce.  With so many delicious ingredients, how could it not be good?





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Ever since I saw a mouth-watering photograph of pastitsio, I’ve been more than a little preoccupied with Greek cooking.  I was trolling Recipezaar for ideas and stumbled across this incredible recipe for chicken pieces marianted in lemon juice and braised in a rich tomato sauce with white wine, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.  


Credit: John Carrington/Savannah Daily News


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Cooking for one is sometimes an (unexciting) necessity.  To me, it’s much more fun to cook imagining someone else groaning in pleasure after taking a bite.  (Hey, a girl can dream, right? 😉 )  But anyway, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to cook up a big pot of soup or whole roast when there’s just one mouth to feed—my own.   The dish that follows is perfect for small-scale cooking.  It’s quick and tasty, and even slightly redeems itself with the inclusion of roasted Brussel sprouts.

Vegetarians could omit the bacon without sacrificing too much flavor, esp. if the sprouts get nice and toasty.  Just toss in a little Baconnaise or something. (more…)

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My dear friend, Vicky, lives in Michigan, and every so often, I cajole her into visiting me in D.C.  She’s great company and a good cook, too!  One of the highlights of her last visit was this rich vodka penne.  (I swear, I don’t eat pasta all the time, despite my recent posts.)  Vicky sent in her recipe, which hopefully she’ll make again when she visits this February (maybe we’ll even remember to photograph the dish for you).  Here are her instructions: (more…)

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I think I’m in love:


Credit: jamieoliver.com

Kudos to Jamie Oliver’s food stylist/photographer.

Doesn’t this look scrumptious?  I don’t often use that word, but I’m pretty sure it fits this Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, and Parmesan.

Check out the list of ingredients:

-455 g/1lb. tagliatelle or spaghetti
-olive oil
-2 tsp. butter
-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
-a few pinches of nutmeg
-400 g/14 oz. fresh spinach, washed thoroughly and finely sliced
-sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
-120 ml/4 oz. double cream (or creme fraiche)
-150g/5 oz. mascarpone cheese
-2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Maybe it’s a symptom of my Western diet, but this dish appeals to me on a very primal level.  All the major food groups are represented: butter, cream, pasta, and cheese!

I’m just kidding (sort of), but it does look great.  My guess is, much like fettucini alfredo, this is too rich to eat a lot.  It would make a fantastic side dish served with some roasted fish and a nice vinegary or grapefruit salad.

Here’s the rest of Jamie’s instructions, in his inimitable prose:

“Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile get a frying pan or wok warm, add a drizzle of olive oil, the butter, garlic and nutmeg. When the butter melts, add the spinach. After 5 minutes it will have wilted down and will be nice and dark. A lot of the liquid will have cooked away and you’ll have wonderful intensely flavoured spinach. At this point season with salt and pepper until it tastes good, then add the cream, mascarpone and a little ladle of cooking water from the pasta. Let this come to a simmer and then season again.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, then stir it into the spinach sauce. Add the Parmesan and toss everything together. Loosen to a nice silky consistency with some of the reserved cooking water, so it doesn’t become too claggy. Check once more for seasoning and serve straight away.”

Claggy!  Hah!

Thanks to Fraser for the recipe tip!

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If you haven’t guessed, I’m a food blog junkie, so it’s no surprise this recipe started with one from a charming blogger, The Wednesday Chef.  Chopped, sauteed zucchini might make a nice addition.

-1/2 c. olive oil, divided
-1 lb. good canned plum tomatoes (or whole, peeled plum tomatoes), halved lengthwise, seeded
-1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
-scant 1/2 tsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt, dash of Cayenne, black pepper to taste
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1 garlic glove, quartered
-1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
-1 lb. penne (pref. whole wheat)
-1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
-1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 250°F. Pour 1/4 c. oil into 13x9x2 in. glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes cut side up with the quartered garlic in the dish. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 c. oil.  Season with salt, pepper, Cayenne and Italian seasoning.

2.  Sprinkle with oregano, sugar, and salt. Bake 1 hour. Flip, bake 1 hour longer, or until deep red and very tender.

3.  Gently chop tomatoes and transfer them with some of their oil to a large serving bowl. Stir in the olives.

4.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne to al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 c. of the hot pasta water.

5.  Add the raw garlic and parsley to the tomatoes and mix. Stir the pasta into the tomatoes, adding a little pasta water and remaining tomato oil as needed to smooth the sauce. Fold in the the feta cheese.

Serve immediately with crusty bread and a green salad.

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My good friend, Chris, recently made these for her husband’s birthday.  He loved them so much, he uttered that treacherous phrase for an Italian boy, “Better than mama’s!”

I haven’t had the chance to make them yet, but isn’t his reaction inspiring?

The recipe essentially follows one by Giada de Laurentiis, except substitutes regular for smoked mozzarella.

-1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
-1/2 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/4 cup
-2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup
-1/3 c. Italian-style bread crumbs
-1 large egg
-2 Tbsp. ketchup
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
-1 lb. meatloaf mix (beef, pork, and veal)
-2 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes

1. Position oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and veal. Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly.

3. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture.

4. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.

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This is the real deal: beef ragu with tomatoes (not tomato sauce that happens to have a little beef in it). Delicious, and one of my favorite recipes to cook AND eat.

-1T olive oil
-3T butter
-1/2 c. finely diced onion
-2/3 c. finely diced celery
-2/3 c. finely diced carrot
-3/4 lb. ground meat–meatloaf blend (beef+pork+veal). Omit veal if that’s how you roll.
-1 c. milk (not less than 2%)
-1 c. dry white wine
-1 1/2 c. canned plum tomatoes and juice (Cento are good)
-1/2 c. minced mushrooms
-1 beef bullion cube or 1 c. beef broth

season to taste:

-hot pepper flake
-minced garlic
-minced shallot
-chopped fresh parsley
-chopped fresh basil, if you have it
-dash nutmeg, optional

1. Fry onion in butter and oil over low heat. Add garlic, shallot, carrot and celery

2. Add meat, pinch of S&P, cook until pink.

3. Add milk, let bubble away.

4. Add wine and bullion, simmer til evaporated.

5. Crush the tomatoes and add to the sauce, along with the mushrooms. Season to taste.

6. Simmer for at least 45 min.

Serve with a hearty pasta such as tagliatelle or rigatoni. Or go classic American with spaghetti.

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