Tag Archives: pasta

Cavatappi with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes and Eggplant

This pasta dish, loosely based on a sausage and eggplant ragù from Sicily, is ideal for summer because it uses in-season tomatoes and eggplant. In addition, the pasta is cooked directly in the sauce so there’s no need to heat up the kitchen with another large pot of boiling water. And it was hot as blazes the night we made this for dinner.

Hot Italian sausage adds a little spiciness, but I know many of my peeps out there in foodland can’t tolerate much “heat” so go ahead and use sweet sausage if that’s your preference. However, to be frank, it was just mildly spicy even with the hot version. In fact, we doubled the amount of meat to almost a pound (8 ounces seemed rather paltry). No need for us to remove casings because we bought it in bulk, which is a time-saver if your local grocery store sells it that way.

Don’t stir the tomatoes more than just once or twice after adding them to the pot. Uncovering to stir releases heat and slows the rate at which the tomatoes burst and release their juices. However, do make sure to stir regularly after the pasta is added to prevent the starchy noodles from sticking to the pot.

The sauce came out nice and creamy, and with the extra meat—OK, and a few more tomatoes—there was definitely plenty of leftovers.

Cavatappi with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes and Eggplant

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 Pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 Small red onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 Oz. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 Qt. water
  • 1 Lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 Lb. cavatappi pasta; or campanelle or gemelli
  • ¾ Tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 Cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn if large
  • Finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano, to serve

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high, combine the oil, tomatoes, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Cover and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the tomatoes begin to burst, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the sausage and cook, uncovered and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat and tomatoes, until the sausage is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the eggplant. Add 1 quart water and bring to a boil. Stir in the cavatappi (or other pasta), nutmeg and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and maintaining a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the basil.
  5. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with cheese.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill from Milk Street

Cellentani with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

In our neck of the country, no food combo screams summer quite as loudly as the holy trinity of sweet, fresh corn, tomatoes and basil. The Hubs and I try to eat them as often as we can during the short growing season. So finding a version of this recipe from Milk Street was welcome news.

The ingredients in this summery pasta dish are few, so fresh corn and ripe tomatoes are key. To create a creamy sauce without cream, grate the corn kernels from the cobs. To reinforce the corn flavor, boil the cobs in the water that is later used to cook the pasta. Using a minimal amount of water—just 2½ quarts—means the flavors and starches are concentrated in the liquid, and you put some of this liquid to good use in the sauce.

Yellow corn gives the dish a golden hue, but white corn—which is what we had at the time—works jut as well. Whichever you use, make sure to remove as much of the silk as possible before grating.

Twisty, fluted, or frilly eye-catching pasta shapes are best here—if you can’t find cellentani (a delightful corkscrew-shaped pasta), look for gemelli, cavatappi or campanelle. With its tubular center and ridged surface, cellentani is perfect for a hearty pasta meal, capturing every drop of the flavorful sauce and trapping the grated corn kernels in every delicious forkful.

I know many of you may turn your nose when a habañero chili is listed in the ingredients. But do not fear. In this dish it does add a little heat (seeding the chili removes much of its burn), but it’s here mostly because its fruity notes are a nice complement to the corn, tomatoes and basil. Please do not omit it.

I made the mistake of using the entire one-pound box of cellentani instead of just 12 ounces which is what the recipe called for. The Hubs questioned me as I was making the dish, but at that point it was too late, I’d already cooked the pasta. I believe it would be best with the lesser amount.

Next time, I would also add another ear or two of corn, but with those, don’t grate, rather slice the kernels whole off of the cob and mix them in. It would give a bit more tooth to the overall texture. Finally, we also felt a garnish of grated Pecorino Ramono provided another layer of depth to the flavor profile and a hint of saltiness.

Cellentani with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 ears corn, husked
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 habañero chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 12 oz. cellentani (or gemelli, cavatappi, campanelle)
  • 2½ quarts water
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt; set aside. Set a box grater in a large bowl or pie plate. Using the grater’s large holes, grate the corn down to the cobs; reserve the cobs.
  2. In a large pot, bring 2½ quarts water to a boil. Add the corn cobs and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce to medium and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove and discard the cobs, then remove the pot from the heat.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the grated corn, shallots, chili and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1½ cups of the cooking water. Cook over medium-low, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (a spatula should leave a brief trail when drawn through the mixture), 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, return the remaining corn-infused water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the pasta is coated and the sauce is creamy, about 2 minutes; if needed, add the reserved cooking water 2 tablespoons at a time to reach proper consistency.
  5. Off heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the tomatoes with their juices and the basil, then toss until the butter has melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe found on Milk Street

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Chitalian Fusion is what we dubbed this pairing of satay like flavors with pasta and green herbs. Flavorful, but not too hot. You may not expect bright, Asian-inspired flavors to be paired with Italian rotini pasta, but it’s a great choice for holding onto the sauce. Like Pad Thai, although easier to eat than with the long noodles—yet where are the veggies?

My initial issue was the overall drab color of the dish. Cooked pork, with regular pasta, peanut butter and scallions—where’s the color? So I started with tri-colored rotini, and added snow peas and three small, different colored baby bell peppers. Now it was a fiesta on a plate, visually appealing enough to want to dive in.

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz. tri-colored rotini
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 8 oz. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal
  • 3 baby bell peppers, stems removed, seeded, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 6 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro as garnish

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, when hot toss in the snow peas and bell pepper strips. Cook about 2 minutes and remove to another dish.
  3. Add the scallion whites to the hot pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
  5. Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
  7. Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta. Add the pasta and the snow pea mix to the pork and scallions.
  9. Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough from Fine Cooking

Funghi Ragoût with Mushroom Agnolotti

Mushroom lovers unite! Not only is the pasta filled with the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of macrofungi (OK, maybe a little too scientific sounding), but the mushroom is the star of the show in the topping. Though delicious made with cremini mushrooms alone, this one-pan sauce is even more spectacular if you use a mix of mushrooms.

Luscious Mushrooms

My inspiration recipe from Fine Cooking used cheese ravioli, but mushrooms were the name of the game for me, so I chose agnolotti. It is a type of pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over a filling of roasted meat or vegetables—in this case, mushrooms.

Funghi Ragoût with Mushroom Agnolotti

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 2-1/2 to 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 12 oz. cremini mushrooms (or mixed wild), sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup lower-salt vegetable or chicken broth
  • 10 oz. fresh or frozen mushroom stuffed agnolotti
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine, then spread the mushrooms out in the pan and cook, undisturbed, until well browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir and continue to cook until well browned all over and any liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. (if the mushrooms are dry and the pan begins to scorch, add a drizzle of oil.) Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  4. Add 1 Tbs. of the remaining oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Return the mushrooms and any liquid to the pan. Add the flour, thyme, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the wine, and stir until thickened. Add the broth, and simmer until the liquid reduces to a light sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente, drain, and add to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir to coat over low heat. Serve topped with the parsley and cheese.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Original recipe by Lynne Curry from Fine Cooking

Orecchiette with Broccolini

There’s been numerous indications, due to the COVID-19 spread and the shutdown of meat processing plants, we’ll likely see meat and poultry shortages in the near future. With foresight, we are starting to compile a reservoir of meatless dishes that could come in handy. For those of you who follow a plant-based diet, you are already ahead of the curve.

Taken from the MilkStreet.com website, it is noted orecchiette with broccoli rabe (orecchiette con cime di rapa) is a signature pasta dish from the Puglia region of southern Italy. The bitterness of rabe is challenging for some palates, so using sweeter, milder broccolini addresses that. However, if you like the assertiveness of rabe, it can easily be used in place of the broccolini, though rabe will cook a little more quickly.

The pasta gets boiled in a minimal amount of water, then the starchy liquid that remains becomes the base for the sauce that marries the orecchiette and broccolini. A finishing sprinkle of toasted seasoned breadcrumbs adds a crisp texture. But don’t use fine dried breadcrumbs in place of panko. Their sandy, powdery texture doesn’t offer the light, delicate crispness of panko.

I decided to adjust the ratio of pasta versus the other ingredients by only using 2/3 the amount of orecchiette, 8 ounces instead of 12. Of course this decision necessitated that the amount of water be reduced also, from 5 cups to 3 cups + 2 ounces. (The original recipe amounts are listed below.) As an additional topper, we sprinkled on some grated Pecorino Romano cheese along with those fabulous bread crumbs. In the end, we loved this dish. There was so much flavor with so few ingredients!

Orecchiette with Broccolini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 Medium garlic cloves, 4 minced, 4 thinly sliced
  • 8 Oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
  • ¾ Cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1½ Lbs. broccolini, trimmed and cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
  • ½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 12 Oz. orecchiette pasta
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • Grated cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the minced garlic and half the anchovies, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  2. Add the panko and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside; wipe out the pot.
  3. In the same pot over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil until shimmering. Add the broccolini, pepper flakes, sliced garlic, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccolini is crisp-tender and the garlic is golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup water and continue to cook, stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated and the broccolini is fully tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. In the same pot over medium-high, boil 5 cups water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
  6. Stir in the broccolini mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the remaining anchovies. Continue to cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until the liquid has thickened enough to cling lightly to the pasta and broccolini, about 1 minute.
  7. Remove from the heat, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and grated parmesan if desired.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street