Category Archives: Pasta

Shrimp Scampi Fra Diavolo


Good things happen when the hubby cooks dinner, like Shrimp Scampi Fra Diavolo.  My hubby cooked this for us this past weekend and it was amazing!  The hubby and I have a rule that each week we try a new cuisine or try cooking something new.  I couldn’t believe that we’d never tried making fra diavolo before, but I guess we hadn’t (or at least not in a long time).  Fra diavolo means “brother devil” in Italian so you can imagine that this sauce is spicey.  It’s a simple sauce – in its basic form it consists of tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  You can add onions, parsley, lemon juice, wine, etc. as well.  The scampi part of the dish was my favorite part!  The hubby fried some panko bread crumbs in olive oil and mixed them with fresh parsley that he sprinkled over the entire dish.  This was a great dish to end the long week!
Do you like to eat/cook new cuisines/dishes?  If so, what’s your favorite cuisine/dish?

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp butter, divide
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumb
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 lb. linguine

Directions:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add panko and stir until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to small bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons parsley.  Wipe out skillet.
  2. Heat a large stock pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook linguine according to directions.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper.  Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil in same skillet over high heat.  Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper and sauté 1 minute.  Add shrimp and sauté until barely opaque in center, about 1 minute per side.  Add white wine and lemon juice and simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in remaining 6 tablespoons parsley.
  4. Drain linguine, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  Mix linguine with shrimp.  If pasta is dry, add pasta water 1/2 cup at a time.  Sprinkle panko crumbs on top.  Serve immediately.

*Adapted from Epicurious

10 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Rigatoni w/Roasted Cauliflower & Breadcrumbs

Guess where I’m going tomorrow?  India!  I’m traveling to India for work, so as you can imagine, I did not cook this Rigatoni w/ Roasted Cauliflower & Breadcrumbs tonight for dinner.  I was too busy packing and going on date night with the hubby.  Instead, I made this dish a few days ago for dinner.  I love cauliflower and simple pasta dishes, so this was a win-win.  It’s the perfect dish to make after a busy day at work because it takes little time to prepare and tastes delicious.  I’m hoping to blog a few recipes that I’ve already made while traveling and maybe even post a few pics of India.  Enjoy and stay tuned!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt and cracker pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 box Rigatoni
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower, onion, and garlic with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast on lower rack until lightly browned and tender, 20 minutes, tossing once.
  3. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.  Add cauliflower mixture, Parmesan, and parsley to pasta and toss.  Add enough pasta water to form a thin sauce that coats pasta.  Serve topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

*Adapted from Martha Stewart

5 Comments

Filed under Pasta

Spaghetti w/ White Wine & Mussels

Since my hubby and I are new homeowners (as of the end of August), we’ve realized how much work goes in to maintaining and upkeeping an entire house.  Before, we lived in a townhouse that we rented and didn’t have to worry about anything that broke or needed replacing.  For example, our oven broke, so we called the owner and he bought us a brand new one.  Awesome right?  Well renting is fine and dandy because you don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn (what lawn?) or about painting walls or replacing leaky faucets.  However, down in the DC Metro area, renting is no joke; we’re basically paying around the same in our mortgage each month that we paid for our rent each month… and we OWN THE PLACE.  Owning a home is a lot of work, but it has been fun to decorate as we see fit.  This past weekend, the hubby and I got a TON of stuff done around our house, the biggest of which was painting two rooms.  Painting is really annoying especially putting all that tape up.  I never knew how tedious and time consuming it could be, but it’s done and it looks great!  To celebrate?  I made us this wonderful meal of Spaghetti w/White Wine & Mussels for dinner on Sunday.  It was a much-needed reward for all of our hard work.  So if you’re looking to hire a part-time painter…. haha no, definitely just kidding.  But if you do live in this area and have any recommendations for good painters, do share!  We have one large room with a lot of doorways and curves that would take the two of us probably 2 months to paint.  Would love to hear your recommendations!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4-inch-thick lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, reserve 1 tbsp for sprinkling
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed, debearded

Directions:

  1. Bring a large stock pot with salted water to boil.  Once boiling, add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt and sauté until onion is light brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add wine, lemon slices and 1/4 cup parsley; bring to boil. Add mussels. Cover pot and cook until mussel shells open, stirring once to rearrange mussels, about 6 minutes.
  4. With a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a bowl. Discard any that do not open.
  5. Drain pasta and add mussels.  Pour sauce over and season to taste with salt.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

*Adapted from Bon Appétit

9 Comments

Filed under Pasta

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio w/ Broccoli Rabe

When I was little, I used to request that my mom and my grandma set aside some plain spaghetti for me before they poured the marinara sauce over the pasta for the rest of the family.  It’s not that I disliked marinara sauce, I just preferred to have garlic and olive oil on mine aka aglio e olio.  There is something that is so simple, but so delicious about a bowl of spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper.  It’s easy to make, but the flavors are just extraordinary together.  This is my holy food trinity: olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  90% of the meals that I cook start with this base.  By itself, you can’t beat the flavor combo, but it’s versatile enough to add onions, bread crumbs, mushrooms, any type of meat, spinach, broccoli, etc.  My hubby brought some broccoli rabe home from the grocery store, and I sat there trying to come up with some fancy schmancy dish that I could use the broccoli rabe in.  Then it hit me… this is the perfect dish for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio w/ Broccoli Rabe.  Nothing beats a simple, but delicious bowl of spaghetti!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • Sea salt for seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, cook broccoli rabe in boiling salted water until tender.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is lightly browned.
  4. Drain the broccoli rabe and add to the onion and garlic mix.  Toss to coat and remove pan from heat.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and place in a bowl for tossing and serving.  Add olive oil mixture and toss.  Add the reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry.
  6. Season with salt and Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

6 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Summer Orzo Salad

This past weekend, we celebrated my mom’s birthday by having a delicious BBQ. We grilled some Jamaican jerk-rubbed chicken and some Old Bay-seasoned shrimp. I also made this Summer Orzo Salad as a delicious side. I put a little bit of everything in this salad including some oranges. The oranges not only added a beautiful color to the salad, but they also added a fresh citrus flavor that complemented the fresh lime juice well. This salad is the perfect summer salad and you can add whatever ingredients you want to it. I love using orzo as well because even though the box looks small, it makes a ton of pasta. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 1 box orzo
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 2 oranges, peeled, divided into segments, and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper for seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil and cook orzo until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain orzo and allow to cool while preparing vegetables.
  2. Place red onion, oranges, pepper, and avocado in a large bowl and combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lime juice, and cumin and pour over salad. Mix to combine.
  4. Sprinkle cilantro over salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.

19 Comments

Filed under Pasta, Side Dishes

Cavatelli w/ Bacon & Eggs


This past Monday night I volunteered at the DC Taste of the Nation at the National Building Museum in DC.  Some of the best chefs and restaurants from the DC Metro Area came out to this tasting event to help raise money to end childhood hunger in America.  This event is part of Share Our Strength and it was awesome because 100% of the proceeds go directly to the cause.  I had an amazing time!  I tasted a beef panini from Top Chef runner-up Mike Isabella – he’s opening up his new restaurant in DC in May called Graffiato.  I will definitely be checking that out because the beef panini was outstanding and also because his infamous pepperoni sauce that was on the season finale is rumoured to be on his menu.  Yum!  Brian Voltaggio, also a Top Chef runner-up (to his bro Michael) was there with his Frederick, MD restaurant team Volt.  He was making liquid nitrogen lavendar ice cream.  What?  Yes, it was very cool to watch him make it.  I snuck a few pics too.

Some other amazing samples I had were Creme Caramel and Foie Gras Croquettes from Michel Richard’s restaurant Citronelle.  I had beef shoulder from Trummer’s on Main.  YUM!  I love Trummer’s on Main – we’ve been there before, and I’ve had their pork shoulder.  It’s amazing, and I just love their style of cooking; it’s comfort food that uses the freshest and most local ingredients.  I had sea salt gelato from DolceZZa.  It was amazing and was truly the real deal (sometimes “gelato” in the U.S. is not always representative of Italian gelato).  DolceZZa makes fresh batches of gelato every morning using local, seasonal ingredients.  Take a look at what kinds of gelato they’re offering at their store right now:  Grapefruit Campari, Ricotta Cardamom, Lime Cilantro, Kiwi, Honey Tangerine, etc.  Uhh YUM!!!!  Will definitely be stopping there soon.

Another memorable thing I tried was a beef tongue grilled cheese sandwhich.  Yes, you heard me correctly… beef tongue.  It was amazing!  It was so tender and flavorful, not to mention it was smothered with gruyere cheese.  All in all, it was a fabulous night.  I bid on a dinner and wine pairing to a restaurant in Old Town that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time called Vermilion.  I sampled some incredible food and most importantly, they raised a lot of money for a great cause!!!

Since I did not have the culinary gusto on Tuesday night to prepare some beef tongue or liquid nitrogen ice cream, I decided to make cavatelli with eggs and bacon – one of our favorite comfort foods.  This is a simple and comforting recipe from Lidia Bastianich.  It’s delicious and hails from the Province of Molise where my great-grandparents are from.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for the pasta pot
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • 2 large eggs, 2 egg whites
  • 1 bag fresh cavatelli (I buy mine frozen)
  • 2 cups Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper to season

Directions:

  1. Fill a stock pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
  2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon for 5 minutes or until it’s crisp and caramelized. Remove the bacon and allow to drain over paper towels.  Once the bacon is cool, chop into small pieces and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl until well blended.
  4. When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the cavatelli and return the water to a boil. Cook for 4 -5 minutes or until it floats to the top.  Remove from the water and place in the skillet.
  5. Over medium heat, toss the cavatelli with the bacon pieces. Pour the beaten eggs over the pasta, stirring and scraping the egg from the sides and bottom of the pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes or just until the egg is lightly cooked and scrambled into the cavatelli.
  6. Remove skillet from the heat, and toss the cheese over the pasta and eggs, mixing to combine.
  7. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and serve immediately.

20 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Cappellini with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil

This recipe for Cappellini with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil is such a simple, but delicious dish – I love the fresh flavors of the mozzarella, olive oil, tomatoes, and basil.  The key to making this dish taste exceptional is using the best fresh ingredients you have on hand.  I love fresh mozzarella b/c I love the texture and the taste.  Adding the mozzarella on top of the hot pasta slightly melts the cheese, but not all the way, so you still have the wonderful cubes of cheese.  I love cubes of cheese.  I could polish off an entire cheese tray with no problem. 🙂  The addition of the fresh basil leaves also makes the dish taste fresh and adds some nice color.  This dish is perfect on a weeknight after a busy day since it has very few ingredients and a short prep time.  Buon Appetito!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box whole wheat cappellini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and saute until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Add the cheese and basil, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

*Adapted from Everyday Italian


14 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Spaghetti All’Amatriciana

My mom and dad got my hubby and I the pasta maker attachment for our Kitchen Aid this past Christmas.  I’ve been meaning to make fresh, homemade pasta for weeks (ok, maybe for 3 months), but just have not found the time to make it.  Each Sunday my family (me, hubby, sister, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law) take turns hosting Sunday dinner.  Since this week was my turn, I decided I was finally going to make fresh pasta.  To my surprise, making fresh pasta does not take long at all!  I made 2 pounds of spaghetti with a batch of white flour dough and a batch of whole-wheat dough.

Since I had to make a wonderful sauce to go with my fresh spaghetti, I decided to make a Roman sauce called Amatriciana (ugh-ma-tree-chon-ugh).  Amatriciana originated from a small town outside of Rome (Amatrice), but if you’ve ever been to Rome or hopefully ever go to Rome, you’ll see this sauce all over the city.  It’s usually served with spaghetti or bucatini and it’s amazing – what makes this sauce so wonderful is the pancetta.  If you can’t find pancetta, you can definitely use bacon too.  I like to add one finely diced carrot to my sauces.  Carrots add sweetness, and they also add a nice crunch that my hubby always notices and loves.  I made the sauce first and had it simmering on low while I was making my pasta.  Since your dough has to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, use this time to start boiling your water (unless you have one of those amazing stoves that boils water in less than 2 minutes… jealous!).  Fresh pasta cooks in a very short amount of time; you’ll see it’s finished when it begins to float on the top.  Drain and immediately serve the sauce on top.  I served my pasta in a beautiful hand-made Italian bowl from my mother-in-law (check out the first photo).  Enjoy Spaghetti All’Amatriciana!

Have you ever made fresh pasta?  What is your favorite kind of sauce to make?

Fresh Spaghetti:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Break the eggs into a glass measuring cup and add the water. Check to see that the total liquid is 3/4 cup.  If it isn’t, add teaspoons of water until that amount is reached.
  2. Place flour in bowl of Kitchen Aid and attach flat beater.  Turn to low speed and gradually add the egg mix and water and beat for 30 seconds.
  3. Stop the mixture and add the dough hook.  Turn on low speed and knead for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl and knead by hand for 1 minute.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before extruding through pasta maker.

*Yield: 1 pound

Amatriciana Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Sangiovese)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, for sprinkling
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti

Directions:

  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove the pancetta, allow to drain on paper towels, and set aside.
  2. Add the onions and carrot and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, oregano, sea salt, pepper, and pancetta.  Bring to a boil and cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes more or until sauce thickens.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water in a large stock pot.  Add fresh spaghetti and cook until spaghetti floats to the top.
  5. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese and season with salt and pepper.


23 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Sausage & Tortellini Soup

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  My weekend was great, but always seems too short. 🙂  In my previous post, I talked about trying a yoga class.  Well I tried a beginner/intermediate yoga class at my gym and it was great!  I will definitely be going to a yoga class once a week now.  I felt great after and can definitely see why so many people love yoga.  Because I was feeling so great, I decided to buy some fresh whole wheat tortellini and make Sausage & Tortellini Soup.  I love this soup because it’s not heavy and since spring is here (and since I was feeling so great from yoga), I thought it was all too appropriate for the beautiful weather we’ve been having.  I love the flavors in this soup especially the addition of the fresh lemon juice – it reinforces that spring is finally here and also makes the soup taste great!  Hope you had a great weekend – what do you like to do to relax and/or feel better?

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 9 oz tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sausages and break up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until brown.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft, 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add the beans, tomatoes, and oregano and stir to combine.  Add the chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions, about 5 minutes.  One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach.
  6. Remove from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with grated Parmesan as desired.

16 Comments

Filed under Pasta, Soup & Salad

Chicken Riggies

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s — I can’t believe it’s 2011!  How was your 2010?  Does 2011 look to be better than last year?  I had a great 2010, but 2011 may look to be even better!!  One of the dishes I had over the weekend was Chicken Riggies aka Chicken Rigatoni.  By searching for “chicken riggies” on Google, there’s an entry for it on Wikepedia (haha): “Chicken Riggies or Utica Riggies is an Italian-American pasta dish native to the Utica-Rome area of New York State. It is a pasta-based dish usually consisting of chicken, rigatoni and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce, although many variations exist”.  With that being said, it makes sense that you can find Chicken Riggies at various Italian restaurants in Syracuse.  In fact, I can’t take any credit for this recipe since my mother is the one who made it and whose recipe is from one of the local Italian restaurants.  You’ll notice that it calls for 5 pounds of chicken and 3 pounds of rigatoni.  Don’t fret!  One of the joys of cooking (rather than baking) is that you can easily change recipes to your liking and/or serving size without ruining the dish (what, you don’t want to cook this dish for 15 people?).  Happy New Year… enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs.. of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • flour & melted butter, enough to coat chicken cubes (about 1/2 cup of each)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 white onions chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock base
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 3 lbs. cooked rigatoni
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Toss cubed chicken with flour and melted butter to coat lightly.  Place chicken on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. In a pan, saute onions, garlic, and cherry peppers in oil.
  4. Deglaze pan with sweet vermouth and add hot sauce, chicken base, and black pepper.
  5. In a separate pot, melt butter and add marinara sauce and grated cheese.  Add chicken and heavy cream.
  6. Add the onion and sweet vermouth mix to the chicken mix.
  7. Blend chicken mixture with rigatoni and serve warm.

14 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta