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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Ingredients

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

Directions

-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

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– 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.

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-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!!!

Rigatoni with Eggplant, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil

This dish reminds me of when I arrived in Venice 27 years ago.  I discovered this pasta dish at Do Forni, a famous local restaurant.  They are still making this eggplant pasta today and it is as good as ever.  Here is my easy version of one of my favorites!

Rigatoni with Eggplant Sauce and Buffalo Mozzarella

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 pound of eggplant (note I used 3 long Eggplants, sometimes called Japanese eggplant, slice if using long, cut in small cubes if using globe eggplant)

1/2 lb Buffalo Mozzarella cut into small cubes

1 lb artisan rigatoni

3/4 cup of chopped fresh basil

2 garlic cloves crushed

hot pepper flakes or fresh hot pepper to taste

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 large can of tomato sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

sea salt and pepper

parmesan cheese

Directions

-Slice or dice the eggplant place in a colander,  generously salt with sea salt (preferably course grain) allow eggplant to lose it’s water. At least 45 minutesIMG_0882

-Fill a Pasta pot with water and bring to boil

-In a wok style non stick skillet,  add olive oil ,garlic and hot pepper heat the oil and lightly brown the garlic,  add the eggplant and sauté ( I try not to use so much olive oil, the eggplant will absorb the oil then release it again just continue to stir, if it gets too dry feel free to add more oil) The eggplant will soften and start to brown about 10 minutes on med/ low heatIMG_0883

-add the tomato sauce, little salt (note- the eggplant was presalted) pepper to taste and the sugar turn the heat to low and simmer another 10 minutesIMG_0886

-while the sauce is cooking dice the mozzarella and chop the basilIMG_0887

-cook the rigatoni and time 1-1/2 minutes less than the package indicates (see pasta 101)

-With a slotted spoon and draining as you lift the pasta from the water mix the rigatoni into the sauce ( the heat of the sauce should be med) reserve the cooking water of the pasta in the event you need to elongate the mixture.  Add the mozzarella and the basil.  Serve with Parmesan cheeseFullSizeRender

 

Buon Appetito!

Meatless Monday….Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons

If you grew up in an Italian American home, you probably have eaten or are  familiar with “Greens and Beans”.  The greens, escarole or Swisschard  are cooked in a garlicky oil mixed with white beans.  I have taken this dish one step further making it into a soup, topping it with a garlic Parmesan crouton. It is a filling flavorful soup for lunch or dinner on a Meatless Monday!!

Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A soupy version of a favorite, Green’s and Beans

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs a of cleaned chopped Swisschard or Escarole

4 cups Cannellini Beans ( not dried)

1 hot pepper chopped (note- peppers have different heat this is to taste)

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

4 scallions finely diced

2 garlic cloves finely diced

6 cups of vegetable broth

sea salt

pepper

For the bread

1 loaf  of crusty bread Italian

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

3/4-1 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

-In a soup pot, add the olive oil, garlic, scallions and pepper sauté until garlic is lightly browned

-add the chopped greens, the beans and the brothIMG_0879

-add sea salt and pepper to taste

-bring to boil, and simmer for 35-45 minutes

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

-slice the bread in half or thirds depending on size

-in a prep bowl add olive oil and the crushed garlic stir

-with a pastry brush paint the bread with the oil mixture then dust with the parsleyIMG_0880

-Spread the Parmesan on the bread generously

-place the bread under the broiler until golden brown, let cool and cut into cubes

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-ladle the soup into bowls, add the Croutons and server

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Buon Appetito!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Thyme

Another favorite soup to welcome the season.  This Split pea soup  is a light vegetarian version, few ingredients,  easy to prepare and flavorful.  Great for lunch or dinner served with a sprig of fresh thyme… Spring is in the air!!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Fresh Thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
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A Fresh, light Springtime favorite

Ingredients

-1 cup of split peas

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1 garlic clove

-2 large carrots

-3 celery stalks

-4 spring onions

-2 scallions

-7 cups broth, vegetable or chicken

-course grind sea salt

-fresh ground pepper

-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

-In a deep soup pot add the olive oil, finely chop the spring onions, garlic and the scallions and add to the oil.  Saute on medium/low heat until the onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes careful not to burn.IMG_0837

-Dice the celery and carrotsIMG_0835

-add the chopped celery, carrots and the split peas to the onions

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Add the broth, sea salt, pepper and thyme cook simmer on a medium/low heat. (Note- unsoaked peas can take 1-2 hours to cook you need to watch the and maintain the broth level, if you presoak the peas cooking time is around 45 minutes.)    Cook the soup until the peas are soft to the bite.IMG_0843

-remove approximately 2 cups and blend with a immersion blender, mix the creamed soup back into the pot

-serve with a drizzle of olive oilIMG_0846

As always I look forward to your feedback!

Buon Appetito!!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy butternut squash soup you can make in 1 hour

Today it’s chilly and cloudy, the perfect day to make my favorite soup for lunch.  Spicy Butternut Squash is a light healthy soup packed with loads of flavor that you can make in less than an hour.  It is so easy and so so good!!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spicy, easy to make soup packed with tons of flavor

Ingredients

-2 lbs of uncooked butternut squash peeled and cubed (note-you can roast the squash in the oven to make it easier to peel, place on a lined cookie sheet, make a few knife incisions and bake until soft, scrape the seeds and use the pulp in place of the cubed pieces)

-2 inch piece of fresh ginger grated  (note- a microplane does a great job grating ginger)

-1 large sweet onion roughly chopped

-1 scallion chopped

-1/2 red pepper chopped

-3 garlic cloves smashed with a knife

-1 fresh red hot pepper split

-4 cups of vegetable broth

-grated lemon peel

-1 lime

-1 can of coconut milk

-fresh cilantro

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt and pepper

Directions

-In a soup pot, on medium heat add the olive oil, garlic, hot red pepper, grated ginger, scallion and a few grates of lemon peel, stir letting the flavors release.

-Add the chopped onion and red pepper

-Add the butternut squash, and the broth, sea salt and pepper to tasteimg_0787

-Cook for 45-50 minutes on medium-low heat until all vegetables are soft add the cilantro to your likingimg_0788

-Off the heat, add the juice of 1 lime blend with a immersion blender until you have a smooth creamy soupimg_0789

-Stir in the coconut milk

-Serve hot or at room temperature.  IMG_0791

Buon Appetito!!

Creamed Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Hopefully this creamy, healthy, spicy soup will keep  our friends warm in the cold weather….This soup is  fast, easy and  nutritional, with tons of veggies and lentils.  I like making it  a little spicy, and love using a fresh mexican salsa, avocado, tomato and cucumber salsa and/or  even shredded radicchio salad on top…a dollop of sour cream works too!!

Creamed Lentil and Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 1 pot
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

-2 1/2 cups of green lentils rinsed

-4 stalks of celery chopped in chunks

-1 large yellow onion cut in chunks

-3 scallions peeled and quartered

-5 carrots peeled and chopped in chunks

-2 cups of chopped mushrooms

-1 red bell pepper cut in chunks

-1 red hot pepper fresh chopped finely

-4 cloves of garlic, peeled whole and smashed

-1 ripe tomato cut in pieces or 1tbls tomato paste

-5 cups of broth vegetable, chicken of beef

-2 tbls olive oil extra virgin

-1 tsp cumin seeds

-1 tbls of chili powder

-1tsp of ground oregano

-sea salt and ground pepper

Directions

-in a soup pot add olive oil, garlic cloves and hot pepper, lightly brown the garlic to release it’s flavor

-add all the vegetables and lentils, stirring with the pepper and garlic

-add the broth and seasonings

-cook on low heat until all vegetable and lentils are soft 45-60 minutes (note-if lentils absorb cooking liquid add more broth at anytime during cooking)

-off of the heat, with an immersion blender puree the soup into a cream

-serve with chopped avocado, fresh salsas and or sour cream

Buon Appetito

 

Eggplant Parmesan, Melanzane Parmigiana

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Eggplant Parmesan, Melanzane Parmigiana

A light non breaded version of this favorite dish

Ingredients

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-2 large round eggplants

-1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese (note- please try not to use the string type pizza mozzarella)

-1 cup Parmesan cheese

-Tomato Sauce, see recipe  simple tomato sauce

-fresh basil leaves chopped

-sea salt

Directions

-Slice the egglplant into thin slices, place in a colander and generously salt.  Let rest for 45 minutes, eggplant will release it’s water.IMG_0732dry with paper towel

-Prepare the Simple Tomato Sauce Recipe (see above) and set aside

 

-Heat the grill, medium direct heat, place the eggplant on the grill and lightly grill carefully turning  (note- I do not salt the eggplant again since we salted it to release it’s water).   When grate marks appear on each side the eggplant will be done. Transfer to a plate.

-Preheat oven to 350◦

-Cut the mozzarella into slicesIMG_0737

-Smear the bottom of a oven proof dish with the tomato sauceIMG_0739

-Place a layer of the grilled eggplant IMG_0740

-add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan and basil, then add another layer of the same until you have finished your eggplant, feel free to overlap the eggplant.  Finish the top layer with parmesan and mozzarella.IMG_0741IMG_0747

-bake for 35-45 minutes until top is crusty and goldenIMG_0751

-let the eggplant parm set up for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

-can be served hot or at room temperature

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Buon Appetito !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta 101

Before we go any further,  I think it is time to get down to some basics and one of them is Pasta.  Pasta….is a basic here in Italy.  Sometimes the easiest dishes are the hardest to get perfect.  Pasta seems easy, but when not cooked properly it  can end up a soggy, starchy mess.   The following recipe Pasta 101, will walk you through a step by step method for cooking dried pasta and ensuring it is al dente (firm to the bite) every time !

I will accompany the Pasta 101 recipe with a nice,  Springtime  fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme.  

Lets get started!!

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Pasta 101

  • Servings: 2-3
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This is one of my Basic recipes and can be used  for all types and sizes of pastas.

Ingredients

-1/2 pound or 250 grams of pasta

-water

-sea salt

-sauce to accompany pasta

Directions

-In a large pot fill 3/4 with cold water and place on high heat burner, bring to rolling boil, add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of gross grain sea salt (note- salt is our friend in Italian cooking, and we aren’t afraid of it!! )

-Add the pasta, stirring.   Please respect the time indicated on the pasta package.  (note- pasta companies are not misleading you, they are pretty accurate with their cooking times so use your timer)

-Set time for 1 minute less than  time indicated, you will finish  cooking your pasta in the  hot skillet with it’s accompanying sauce. (note- keep the pasta water until you have finished the dish, we will use the water to elongate the sauce if needed)…..Cold sauces and  sauces mixed with drained pasta we will discuss later!!

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-depending on the type,  use one of these tools to take the pasta out of it’s boiling water and into the sauce of choice.FullSizeRender 7

The fork for all your long pastas, spaghetti, fettucini, bucatini etc… and the draining spoons for penne, rigatoni, and those types.

-When the timer sounds, pick the pasta out of the water,  give it a few seconds to drain over the pot…. you don’t want to carry lots of excess water  into the sauce.

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-with a lively flame or on a medium setting ,stir the pasta with it’s sauce for another minute, if you need more liquid use the hot pasta  water, taste for doneness, it should be al dente.  (note- the cheese can be added while the pasta is cooking to combine all of your flavors)IMG_0717

Buon Appetito!!

 

Springtime fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe can be easily adjusted just add more tomatoes and thyme!!

Ingredients

1-2 large ripe tomatoes chopped

-1 clove of garlic

-1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt and pepper

-2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

-In a wok style skillet, large enough to hold your quantity of pasta add the olive oil and garlic clove. On a low heat lightly brown the garlic.IMG_0710

-Add the chopped tomatoes,   sea salt, pepper and thyme.   Stir and let simmer while your pasta is boiling.FullSizeRender copy 2

-When the pasta is ready (see above) add to the skillet and stir cooking for 1 minute with a lively heat…adding pasta water if the sauce seems to be dry…. taste for salt.  Either add cheese on or off flame.

Buon Appetito !!