Pesto Genovese…Basil Pesto

This is one of the most important pasta recipes ever! Really….. I was reading last months issue of the Italian food magazine Sale e Pepe where there happened to be a dedication to Basil.   Among the basil related recipes was “THE” recipe for Pesto Genovese, this is the recipe recognized by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese (yes there is a an actual consortium for pesto Genovese  and other Italian protected food types!).  I am so happy to have found, and to share this recipe with you  Pesto: The Magnificent  7 (ingredients). Let’s cook!


Pesto Genovese, Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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In the original recipe they use a mortar and pestle, feel free to use either a food processor or blender, I tried both and got great results



The Magnificent 7 

2 packed cups of basil leaves (just the leaves and the baby leaves work the best)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, if you can find oil from Riviera Ligure better yet!

6 Tbls parmesan reggiano

2 Tbls pecorino romano imported

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbls pignoli nuts

Sea Salt course grind

1 lb of pasta, linguine or trenette


With a mortar pestle, blender or food processor combine the above ingredients, mix or blend until creamy and ingredients are incorporated.  Set aside, if making ahead, cover or seal in an airtight container to keep the top layer from browningIMG_1333.JPG

-Add water to a pasta pot, bring to boil,  add the pasta cook to al dente indication on package….drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  In a pasta bowl, add the pasta and mix with the pesto, if necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy pasta.


Buon Appetito!





Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Peppers, Oh My!

A classic pasta dish in Italy, loved by all, quick, easy and made with few ingredients, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Olive oil and Hot Pepper).   It is hard to believe a plate so simple can be so full of flavor. For a different twist,  I added sweet peppers to the original recipe.  Nothing could be better to serve on a quiet Saturday night, open a bottle of red wine and your all set!  Lets cook!!

Linguini with Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple yet flavorful,  this pasta dish is always a big hit


1 lb imported linguine or spaghetti

3 cups of mixed sweet peppers, red and yellow finely diced

6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 hot pepper chopped *heat index as you prefer, note this is a spicy, snappy dish

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


    -Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce

    -Add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in a wok style skillet large enough to finish off your linguine, on low heat lightly brown the garlic


  • When the garlic is lightly brown, add the sweet peppers, stirring on a medium heat until the peppers start to break down and soften, add salt and freshly ground pepper
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    -Add the parsley, at this point you can take the sauce off the heat while you wait for your linguine


    -Add sea salt to the boiling water then add your package of linguine

    -Cook your linguine 1 minute less than package indicates, you will finish it off with the pepper sauce

    -With a spaghetti fork, lift the linguine out of its water, draining as you lift, and mix into the pepper sauce, on a lively heat continue mixing.  Once the linguine is in the pan, add the parmesan cheese, mix well, then serve

Buon Appetito




Fish on Friday….Spaghetti with Mussels

Its Friday, and we love fish on Friday, or maybe we just like to say it!.  Today’s recipe Spaghetti con le Cozze (Mussels), like it’s sister Spaghetti con le Vongole (Clams) is another one of our favorite dishes here in Venice.  Mussels, so versatile, can be prepared  so many ways, stuffed, fried, curried, or in seafood salads, but one of our favorite ways to cook mussels is to simply sauté them and use them as a sauce for spaghetti.  So, to honor Fish on Friday, here is a simple recipe for Spaghetti con le Cozze…let’s cook!!

Spaghetti with Mussels

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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If you like Mussels, then you will love this spaghetti!



6 lbs of fresh mussels

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

fresh hot pepper to taste

4 large ripe plum tomatoes

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

1 1/2 cups of dry white wine

Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

6 cloves of garlic

1 lb of imported high quality spaghetti


Step 1 Mussels

Fill your sink with cold water and place the mussels into the water. Scrub and de-beard the mussels by pulling the black string-like piece that is attached out carefully so as to not disturb the mussel inside.  Place in a colander.


-In a lidded pot large enough to contain the mussels, add 2 tbls of olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic sliced or smashed lightly, brown the garlic on a lively heat

-Carefully pour the mussels into the pot with the hot oil and garlic, add the white wine, stir the mussel, place the lid and cook until all the mussels open, stirring occasionally, the cooking time is less than 10 minutes, keep your eye on the mussels

-When all mussels open take the pot off the heat and let the mussels cool


-When the mussels are cool enough to touch, take them out of their shell, place in a bowl, discard the shell… Important, Do not discard the cooking liquid.   Note-mussels that do not open, do not force them open, discard them.

-With a paper towel inside of  a strainer, strain the cooking liquid of the mussels and set aside

Step 2- The Sauce

-Bring  a small pot of water to boil

-Make an X on the stem top of the tomatoes, when the water boils, drop the tomatoes into the water for 1 minute, remove, let cool, peel off the tomato’s skin, cut the tomato in half, remove the seeds, chop the tomatoes into cubes


-In a wok style skillet, large enough to cook off the spaghetti, add 4 tbls olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic either diced or pressed, and hot pepper to your heat preference,  lightly brown the garlic, add the tomatoes, cook until the tomatoes start to break down, salt and pepper to taste.


-Add  1 1/2 cup of the strained mussel cooking liquid, cook along with the tomatoes until the liquid reduces, add the mussels into the sauce stir well and let rest while you cook the spaghettiIMG_0697.JPG

Step 3 – The Spaghetti

-In a pasta pot bring water to boil

-Add Sea Salt, the Spaghetti, and cook for 1 minute less than package indicates

-Place the sauce back on a lively heat

-With a pasta fork, scoop the pasta out of its water, drain each forkful well on top of the pasta water

-Add the pasta to the mussel sauce incorporating the sauce with the pasta, over a lively heat, stirring,  add the chopped parsley (note-if sauce seems dry, add more of the mussel cooking broth)

Serve and Enjoy


Buon Appetito!!








Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas in a White Creamy Sauce (in Bianco)

Taking advantage the season, here is another pasta recipe showcasing fresh Spring Peas.  If you are lucky enough to find fresh peas, this is an easy, delicious way to use them.  The combination of peas and prosciutto, well, it is a marriage made in food heaven!!

If you are not lucky and cannot find fresh peas, frozen high quality spring peas will work too.  Let’s get cooking!

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas in Bianco

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Creamy pea sauce with a large size pasta to capture all the peas and prosciutto



1 lb artisan pasta large shape, i.e. rigatoni, large penne, large shell

2 cups of fresh shucked peas (frozen work too)

2 scallions finely chopped

1/2 lb prosciutto (imported either Parma or San Danieli) sliced and chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tbls of unsalted butter

2 tbls of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbls finely chopped flat leaf parsley

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese grated

Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


-In a large sauce pot, large enough to finish off the cooked pasta, add olive oil, chopped scallions, on medium low heat, saute until the scallions become transparent

-Cut the prosciutto in fine strips, cut again into little squares, add to the olive oil and scallions,  saute for a few minutes, you do not want the prosciutto to brown.

-Add the Peas,  parsley and 1 cup of water,  cook on medium low heat (note-you are also cooking the fresh peas at this point). Salt carefully, (prosciutto is already salty ) add fresh ground pepper.  Cook until peas are tender the time will differ depending on your peas.  If the liquid evaporates and the peas are not yet tender just add more water

-Bring water to boil in a pasta pot

-When peas are tender, add cream and butter,  remove from  heat until the pasta is ready

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-Add pasta to the salted boiling  water (Pasta 101) Cook 1 minute less that package indicates.

-On a lively flame, with a large slotted spoon, scoop the pasta out of the water, drain over the pasta water, add to the sauce mixture stir, add parmesan cheese continue stiring  Pasta should have a creamy texture

Serve immediately


Buon Appetito!!




Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

The Lovely fresh clams from the area are a mainstay in La Cucina Veneziana.  I think that Spaghetti with Clam Sauce is probably one of the most popular dishes here in Venice.  Our Vongole Verace  (local clams) are so good, you can taste the sea.  We try not to complicate this recipe, letting the clams have center stage.

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Baby clams will work well with this recipe, if not you can chop larger sized clams into bite sized pieces



3 1/2 lbs of fresh clams the smaller the better (note- this will yield about 1 1/5-2 cups of cooked clams

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

fresh hot pepper or hot pepper flakes to taste

1 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

1 lb spaghetti (high quality)

1 cup dry white wine

4 large garlic cloves

sea salt and ground pepper


Step 1

-Place the clams in the sink in cold lightly salted water let sit for at least an hour, drain until ready to cookIMG_1075.JPG


-In a large skillet, add 2 tbls olive oil, 2 large garlic cloves smashed or sliced and hot pepper or hot pepper flakes,  on a lively heat, lightly  brown the garlic,  carefully add the clams, and the white wine, stir well and place a lid on the skillet…. checking occasionally and stirring keep cooking the clams until they all open, this takes approx 5-10 minutes.  Turn of the heat and let cool.IMG_1090.JPG

-When the clams are cool enough to touch, take them out of their shell and place them in a bowl, discard shells….. IMPORTANT reserve all the liquid in the panIMG_1083.JPG

-Using a strainer, place paper towel inside and filter the clam broth liquid from the cooked clams.  This will filter the  sand, pepper and garlic.  Place broth aside.



Step 2

-In a pasta pot bring water to boil for the spaghetti

-In a skillet large enough to mix the spaghetti clam mixture, add 4 tbls olive oil, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, additional hot pepper,lightly brown the garlic, add the clams and 1 cup of the broth and cook reducing the broth by 1/2. If sauce look dry use more of the clam broth, add parsleyIMG_1087


-When pasta water boils, add sea salt and spaghetti cook 1 minutes less than indicated on package.  With a Pasta fork, drain each scoop over the water pot, add the spaghetti to the clam sauce and with a lively flame incorporate the spaghetti with the clams sauce mix well

Serve hot

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Buon Appetito!!



Rigatoni Amatriciana in Bianco

Yesterday while lunching at Harry’s Bar, one of the most famous restaurants in Venice, I opened the menu and saw something that I have wanted to make forever, Amatriciana in Bianco.


This recipe is  similar to a recipe I shared with you  a while ago on the blog, Bucatini Amatriciana.   Today’s version,  apart from using Rigatoni,  is made without any tomato.   I like to think of it as a cross between an Amatriciana and a Cacio e Pepe,  you get the bacon onion fusion, along with the creaminess of the Pecorino Romano….It is yummy and easy, try it and  let me know what you think!!!!

Rigatoni Amatriciana in Bianco...Rigatoni with Spicy Bacon Sauce

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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A little spicy, creamy and yummy….Fast and easy to make


3/4 lb of Rigatoni

3/4 cup pancetta, guanciale, or center cut bacon chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

3/4 cup of finely chopped sweet yellow onion

3/4 cup of Imported Pecorino Romano Cheese

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Hot Pepper flakes or fresh red hot pepper to taste

Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste



-Put your pasta pot on to boil

-In a wok style pan, add the olive oil, the hot pepper, pancetta, and the chopped onion.  On a medium low, heat render the pancetta and saute the onions until they are both golden…. being very careful not to burn the onions.  My personal preference, I like my bacon or pancetta slightly crunchy, others  like it lightly cooked, you decide by taste.IMG_1013.JPG



-When water boils, add the sea salt, then the rigatoni, stir.  Time the pasta for 1 minute less than the  package indicates see Pasta 101… reserve the pasta water

-With a slotted spoon, add the rigatoni to the cooked pancetta onion mixture and on a medium heat stir the mixture,  add the cheese and if necessary for creaminess, add a little of the pasta water. Stir over the heat to incorporate all the ingredients.IMG_1018

-When finished stirring, the sauce should be smooth and creamy.IMG_1020

-Serve hot, if desired add more Pecorino Cheese and ground black pepper

Buon Appetito!!



Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

Spring is here and what better way to welcome the season than with Farm Fresh Spring Peas.  If you are able to find peas at the Farmers Market buy them, shell them and put them in the freezer, no need to precook the peas.  I am still using mine from last year!  (No need to worry if you cannot find fresh, frozen peas will work too).  Peas are  easily used in so many dishes, let’s start with this,  Pasta made with a creamed fresh pea sauce.  This dish will be a great addition to your Easter menu.

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Shell pasta captures the peas inside their shape, so every bite has peas with some creamy sauce


This dish works  well as an Easter first course


4-5 cups of Fresh shelled Peas (frozen works too)

1 sweet yellow onion finely diced

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cups fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

2 Tbls unsalted butter

1/4 cup of fresh cream

Parmesan cheese to taste

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 1/4 lb Artisan Pasta in a shape that will capture the peas (Rigatoni, Shells, Penne,  if you use a fettuccine or fresh long pasta note that it will need more liquid for the sauce)



-In a high sided pan add the olive oil and the chopped onion, on low heat saute until onion becomes transparent careful not to burn or brown the onionIMG_0957

-Add the peas,  white wine,  the vegetable broth, salt and pepper toss in the parsley.

-On medium heat, cook the peas ( fresh) for at least 30 minutes, pay attention to the liquid, it will reduce, add water if the liquid reduces too much and peas are not cooked. Taste the peas they should be tender to the bite….continue cooking until the peas are tender adjusting the liquid as necessary.IMG_0959

-Off the heat, in a mixing bowl add 2 cups of the cooked peas, add the cream and with an immersion blender mix until blended. (note- if you do not have an immersion blender, use a normal blender)

-Add the creamed peas back into the solid peas and let sit off  heat while  pasta is cookingIMG_0962

-In a pasta pot, fill with water and bring to boil add sea salt, then pasta.

-Cook pasta as indicated on package 1 minute less (see Pasta 101).

-Reheat the pea sauce add the butterIMG_0965

-Using a large slotted spoon, draining each spoonful, add the pasta to the pea sauce, on a lively heat mix the pasta with the sauce (remember you are still finishing off the pasta) If necessary, add liquid from the pasta water ….the sauce should be creamy not dry.  Add the parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.fullsizeoutput_10

Buon Appetito!!

Meatless Monday…Pasta with Arugula, Garlicy Fresh Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese Petals

This pasta dish is a great go-to when you have fresh ripe tomatoes.  It has lots of flavor, the spicy crunch of the arugula,   the garlic infused tomatoes,  and the fresh petals of  shaved parmesan cheese.  It is an easy, fast, pasta.  Fun to make with those artisan pasta shapes that you have always wanted to try!!

Pasta with Arugula, Garlic Infused Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese Petals

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 lb of Artisan Pasta (I used Fusilloni- large Fusilli)

2 Cups of fresh, ripe plum tomatoes chopped

2 large cloves of garlic pressed

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1-2 cups of fresh Arugula washed and dried

Parmesan Reggiano Cheese shaved to taste

Sea Salt and ground fresh pepper to taste


-Fill a pasta pot with water to boil

-add olive oil and garlic to a wok style pan and brown the garlic on low heat

-add the tomatoes, sea salt and ground pepper stir and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium/low heat  (note- you want the tomatoes to break down a bit, but still retain some shape, the goal is to infuse the garlic flavor)IMG_0906.JPG



– Salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook 1 minute less that the package indicates, you. will finish the pasta off with the tomatoes for it’s last minute of cooking.


-Mix well and continue cooking on a lively flame incorporating the tomatoes with the pastaIMG_0913

-Spoon the pasta onto the bed of Arugula and top with petals of parmesan cheese that you will make with a vegetable peelerIMG_0910

Serve and Enjoy FullSizeRender

Buon Appetito!!!