Bucatini with Spicy Tomato Sauce


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced  pancetta, cut into ¾” pieces
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • ½ medium onion, minced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 (28-oz.) can peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, undrained and puréed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti
  • cups grated Pecorino Romano

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high; add garlic, carrots, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add chile flakes; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and flavors meld, 20–25 minutes. Season with salt; keep warm.2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just al dente, 6–8 minutes. Reserve 1⁄2 cup pasta water; drain pasta. Heat reserved sauce over medium heat. Add pasta and reserved water; cook, tossing, until sauce clings to pasta, 2–3 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup Pecorino; toss. Divide between serving bowls; serve with remaining Pecorino.

Advertisements

Broccoli and Italian Sausage Ravioli


INGREDIENTS

  • FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 8 oz. rigatoni
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Olive oil, for greasing

  • FOR FILLING AND FRYING:
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 oz. hot or sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. broccoli rabe, cut into ½” pieces
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 2 hot cherry peppers, seeded and minced
  • 10 slices deli-style mozzarella
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Make the dough: Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan. Add pasta and reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is very soft, about 20 minutes. Let pasta cool in water; drain completely and transfer to a food processor. Add salt and purée into a smooth, sticky dough. Divide dough between 2 sheets of greased parchment paper. Top each with another sheet of greased parchment paper and flatten; chill 30 minutes.

2. Make the filling: Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high. Cook sausage, stirring and breaking up into small pieces, until browned, 4–6 minutes. Transfer sausage to a colander set over a bowl; set aside. Add remaining oil to skillet. Cook garlic until golden, 1–2 minutes. Stir in broccoli rabe, salt, and ¼ cup water; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, covered, until broccoli rabe is tender, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to colander with sausage and let filling cool. Transfer filling to a bowl; stir in parmesan and peppers.

3. Assemble the ravioli: Working with half the dough and using a rolling pin, roll dough ⅙” thick. Remove top sheet of parchment paper; using a 4½” round cutter, cut out 10 circles, gathering and rerolling scraps. Place 1 slice mozzarella over each circle and top with 2 tbsp. filling. Fold circle in half and pinch edges to seal in filling.

4. Fry the ravioli: Heat 2″ canola oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. Working with 1 ravioli at a time, dredge in flour, dip in eggs, and coat in bread crumbs; fry until golden and crisp, 2–3 minutes. Transfer ravioli to paper towels to drain; serve hot.

Colored Pasta.. can you do that?


Spinach Pasta


Squash instead of Pasta??


The fibrous flesh of spaghetti squash resembles long noodles after cooking and shredding. Although the squash noodles differ in flavor from traditional flour-based pasta noodles, you can use them in much the same way as pasta. The squash has a mild, nutty flavor that complements lighter pasta sauces, making it a healthful low-carbohydrate replacement for spaghetti in your favorite dishes. Use the squash as the focal point of a light meal or as pasta-like side dish.

Step 1

Cut a washed spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out of the center.

Step 2

Lay the squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Poke the rind all over with the tines of a fork. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the flesh is tender enough to pierce with a fork.

Step 3

Flip the cooled squash halves over to reveal the flesh. Scrape a fork down the length of each squash half, separating the spaghetti-like strands from the rind.

Step 4

Toss the squash strands in a tomato-based pasta sauce to create a meal similar to spaghetti. Alternatively, coat the strands in melted butter with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and crushed pepper. Most pasta sauces, except heavy cream sauces, complement the squash noodles well.

The Truth Behind Pasta


Pasta is a global favorite, but not all pasta is alike. Whole-grain pasta has a chewier texture than regular pasta, but it’s also more nutrient-rich. Whole-grain pasta wins out over regular pasta every time as your healthiest choice. If you’re having trouble making the switch to whole-grain pasta, start with a half-and-half blend of the two pastas and increase the percentage of whole-grain pasta each time you cook it.

Milled vs. Unmilled

All grains are whole before they are milled or refined. Whole grains contain an inner layer called the germ, a middle layer called the endosperm and an outer layer of bran. When whole grains go through the milling or refining process, the nutritious bran and germ are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm, which is what regular white pasta is made from. Check the ingredients list on the pasta food label to ensure the words “whole grain,” “whole wheat” or another whole grain is listed as the predominant ingredient.

Fiber Content

Whole-grain pasta beats regular pasta when it comes to fiber content. A 1-cup serving of cooked whole-grain pasta contains 3.9 total grams of fiber, while the same amount of white pasta contains 2.3 grams. Fiber is the part of a plant food that your body can’t digest. It is crucial to a healthy diet because it helps move food waste through your digestive tract, reducing constipation. It helps lower blood pressure and also helps keep your body’s blood sugar levels stable.

Nutrient Content

Regular pasta may be fortified with iron and other nutrients, which means that certain nutrients like B vitamins and folate that were removed during the refining process are added back into the pasta. While the carbohydrate and fat content of both pastas is similar, whole-wheat pasta provides the most protein, and the calcium content for whole-wheat pasta is double that of regular. While a 2-ounce serving of regular pasta contains 108 milligrams of phosphorus and 30 milligrams of magnesium, its whole-wheat counterpart contains 147 milligrams of phosphorus and 82 milligrams of magnesium. Phosphorus helps build and protect your bones and teeth. Magnesium is crucial for many chemical reactions in your body.

Resistant Starch Effects

When certain starch-rich foods, such as pasta, are cooked and then cooled, their starch changes form, making it more resistant to digestion. Resistant starch, which is a form of fiber, helps maintain good colon health and low blood cholesterol levels. To get the most benefits from nutrients and resistant starch, it’s best to choose whole-grain pasta instead of pasta made from refined white flour. A cold pasta salad makes an excellent resistant-starch choice.

Glycemic Index Rankings

While the glycemic index, which refers to the effect food has on your body’s blood sugar levels, ranks both regular pasta and whole-wheat pasta in the low range — under 50 — the whole-wheat variety still comes out the winner with a GI of 37 compared to regular pasta with a GI of 41. Overcooking your pasta swells and gelatinizes its starch grains, making them more available for digestive enzymes. This increases the food’s GI. Serve your pasta al dente — firm to the bite — so that it is digested more slowly, so about 7 mins.

An Italian Sunday..


For a crowd-pleasing weekend meal, serve this menu and plenty of red wine for a comforting Italian-American feast.

Braciola

The dish is a lean cut of beef pounded thin, then spread with a layer of grated cheese, fresh herbs, bits of prosciutto, raisins, and pine nuts, then rolled, tied, seared, and simmered for hours in tomato sauce.

INGREDIENTS

⅓ cup raisins
5 tbsp. chopped parsley
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 6″x 4″ slices boneless beef chuck, pounded to 116” thickness
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup red wine
½ tsp. red chile flakes
2 (28-oz.) cans whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
1 bay leaf
Garlic bread, for serving

Serves 6

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To make the filling, mix together raisins, 4 tbsp. parsley, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic in a bowl; set aside. Place a slice of beef on a work surface perpendicular to you, season with salt and pepper, and place about 1 tbsp. filling on the bottom half; starting with the filled half, roll beef up around the filling into a tight cylinder. Secure roll with toothpicks, and repeat with remaining beef and filling.

2. Heat oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef rolls, and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onion to pot, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook, stirring to scrape bottom of pot, until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in chile flakes, tomatoes, and bay leaf, and then return beef rolls to pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered partially and gently stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through and tender, about 2 hours.

3. Remove meat rolls from sauce, remove toothpicks, and transfer to a serving platter; continue cooking sauce until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Pour sauce over meat rolls, and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Potato Gnocchi: traditional and sweet potato


The secret to fluffy, tender gnocchi is to make the dough while the mashed potatoes are hot, add just enough liquid to hold it together, and work it as little as possible. To freeze: place cooked gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the freezer, freeze until gnocchi are hard, and transfer to resealable plastic bags. To reheat: add frozen gnocchi to boiling water, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with your favorite pasta sauce and cheese.

2 ½ lb. russet or Idaho potatoes
½ tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup potato starch

Directions…
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prick potatoes all over with fork, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until soft to touch. Slice open, and let cool 10 minutes.

2. Scoop out potato flesh (it will still be hot); reserve skins for another use. Mash potato flesh in bowl or put through potato ricer. Stir in salt, then egg with fork. Stir in potato starch until dough comes together and no longer sticks to fork or your hands.

3. Scoop out 1/2 cup dough, and roll into 3/4-inch-thick rope on work surface dusted with potato starch. Cut rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Set back of fork atop 1 gnocchi, and use fork to roll gnocchi toward you, making light indentations with fork tines. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi, and cook 2 minutes, or until gnocchi float to top. Drain, and serve.

Serves 6

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients

For the gnocchi:
1 lb / 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (plus about 1/2 cup more for rolling out the dough)
1/4 cup of chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil

Directions

Start by roasting the sweet potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 400º. On a baking sheet, roast the sweet potatoes until they are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove and let them cool.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Place the peeled potatoes in a food processor and puree until they are smooth.
Place the potato puree on a well floured counter. Add in both flours and the salt and gently knead until all of the ingredients are combined. The dough should be soft, but not too sticky. If it is sticky, add in a small amount of flour until it is not too sticky to handle.
Do a test piece:
Pinch off a small piece and roll it lightly in flour. Drop it into the boiling water. When it starts to float cook it for 30 seconds more. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and allow it to cool slightly. If it fell apart in the pot or it is falling apart or melting after it is cooked, knead more flour into the dough. The goal is to use the smallest amount of flour possible because too much flour makes the gnocchi tough. If it was not right the first time, keep on testing until you have it right.

Cook the gnocchi: see the previous directions.

Toast the gnocchi (optional step):

In a large frying pan, heat up the grapseed oil. Place the gnocchi in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. You want them to be a nice golden brown color.

Spinaci alla Romana


This is a recipe I learned during culinary school. We were able to use golden raisins once at school, and I thought it gave a Je ne sais qua to the overall color of the dish. The raisins and pine nuts are there for texture, and in my opinion are Optional.

Ingredients ..
1.5 lbs Spinach. Trimmed, rinsed, and de-stemmed
2 T Olive oil
2 slices Bacon – fat rendered
handful Pine nuts – Optional
handful Raisins
Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions.
1. Trim and wash spinach. Blanch. Rinse. Pat dry.
2. Heat oil, render fat from bacon. Eat bacon.
3. Add spinach, pine nuts, and raisins. Saute. The pine nuts and raisins only need to be heated, and the spinach will cook down quickly. Once you get to this step, dont take your eyes off the spinach as it will be okay one second and overcooked the next.

Season to taste

Serves 4-5
Roman-style Spinach (Rome, Italy)

Variations:
Chopped garlic may be sautéed in the fat before the spinach is added.
Lean prosciutto, sliced thin, then diced, may be added.

Easy Cheese Ravioli with Mild Mushroom Sauce:


Cheese Ravioli Ingredients

2 T Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp from the jar)
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (fresh herbs are more potent so an 1/8th)
1/4 tsp salt
64 wonton wrappers

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sweat onion and garlic.
2. Blend together 1/3 cup Parm, ricotta, rosemary and salt until smooth. Then add to the onion garlic mixture.
3. Place about 1 T cheese mixture in center of each wrapper. Brush edges with water, then place another wrapper over filling and press edges together to seal. (I have found that in a home kitchen, doing 8 at a time saves time and a headache).
4. Cook Ravioli in batches 3-4 mins or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with Wild Mushroom Sauce. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Wild Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients

3 T olive oil
12 ounces shittake or porcini mushrooms, sliced
6 ounces cremini or button, sliced
1.5 cups sliced green onion
1 T dried basil
3/4 tsp dried thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
1 T cornstarch
2 T parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 dashes tabasco (Optional)

Directions:
1. Sautee mushrooms, green onions. Add basil and thyme, 2 3/4 cup broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat (to low) and simmer until broth is reduced by one third. (This process intensifies the flavor of the broth and sauce).

2. Add cornstarch to remaining broth. This will become your thickening agent. Add to mushroom mixture and bring to a boil. If you do not boil this the sauce will not thicken. Stir constantly.

3. Before serving, stir in parsley, salt and tabasco.