Archive for the ‘Pasta’ category

Zucchini with anchovy sauce

July 1, 2020

Don’t let the mention of anchovies scare you off. The small amount in this recipe adds a wonderful depth and umami flavor to the sauce. Serve on long pasta, spaghetti is ideal.

4-6 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, 6-8 inches long
4 flat anchovy fillets, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, 1 clove minced, 2 cloves sliced into thirds
½ c olive oil
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes cut up, with juice
1 pound spaghetti
Parmesan or Romano cheese

Serves 4

Cut the stem off the squash and then cut each crosswise into 3 pieces. Stand each piece on end and make 2 vertical cuts to give you 4 wedges. Put into a colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp salt, and mix. Set aside for at least an hour.

Put minced garlic in a 2 qt saucepan with 3 TB of the oil. Heat over medium until the garlic is sizzling, then remove from heat. Let the pan cool down to almost room temperature. Put back on the burner at its lowest setting, add the anchovies, and stir/mash with a wooden spoon until the anchovies are reduced to a paste. Add the tomatoes/juice, a few grindings of pepper, and bring to a gentle simmer. Let simmer, partly covered, for 20-30 min until slightly reduced. The sauce may be done ahead of time. Correct salt if needed.

Put a large pan of water on the stove to heat (for the pasta).

While the sauce is cooking, quickly rinse the squash to remove excess salt, drain, and spread on paper towels. Pat with more towels to remove excess moisture. Heat (medium heat) the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet large enough to hold the squash in 1 layer (or use 2 skillets if necessary). Add the sliced garlic and sizzle until browned, a few minutes. Remove and discard the garlic–the idea is to flavor the oil. Add the squash and cook, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Turn off heat and leave squash in pan (but don’t let it overcook).

Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. If necessary, reheat the sauce. Put the pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix well. To serve, put ¼ of the pasta on each plate and top with ¼ of the zucchini. Serve with freshly grated cheese.

Somen (cold Japanese noodles)

July 19, 2015

This is a wonderful meal for the hot days of summer. Somen are a thin wheat noodle that can be found in oriental markets. In a pinch you can use angel hair pasta but the texture is not quite the same. The toppings are almost unlimited and can be a great way to use leftovers. This makes a full meal for 4 or a light meal for 6.


The noodles:

Cook 4 bundles of somen in plenty of unsalted water until soft, 2-3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and immerse in a bowl of cold water. Stir with your fingers for a moment then set aside (still in the water).

The sauce:

You can buy bottled dipping sauce at Asian markets but they are usually laden with salt and MSG. This is very easy to make and, I think, much tastier.

2 c water
2 large or 3 small dried shitake mushrooms
1 small piece konbu (dried kelp), perhaps 4 to 6 inches square
1 TB sugar
4 TB sake (Japanese rice wine)
6 TB Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman is widely available and is excellent)

Bring the water to the simmer in a small saucepan. Add the shitake and remove from heat. Let steep until the mushrooms are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, cut off and discard the stems, and chop the caps into small dice. Add the konbu to the mushroom soaking water (the konbu can be broken into a few smaller pieces if needed) and bring back to the simmer. If any foam comes to the surface, skim it off. After a few minutes, return the diced mushrooms to the pan along with all other ingredients. Bring back to a simmer, remove from heat, and discard the konbu. Let the sauce cool and then chill it in the fridge. You definitely want the sauce cold for this dish!

Egg Chiffonade

The goal here is to get an egg pancake that is about 1/8 inch thick. Thoroughly beat 3 large eggs with 2 tsp of soy sauce. Heat a 10 inch non-stick skillet over medium low heat and brush the surface with a small amount of oil. Pour in the eggs, cover, and let cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes or until the eggs are completely set. Remove the egg pancake to a cutting board. When cool, cut the egg into thin strips about 2 inches long.

Other Toppings

The possibilities are almost unlimited. Ham or chicken, cucumber, sweet red pepper, lettuce, firm tofu, celery, cherry tomatoes, carrots – just cut into slivers and chill.


Arrange the toppings on a communal serving plate. Drain the noodles and divide between individual bowls. Divide the sauce between smaller bowls. Some people like to also give each diner a small bowl of freshly grated ginger. Each diner adds toppings to their noodles then, using chopsticks of course, dips some noodles/toppings in the sauce and – down the hatch! Slurping is definitely OK.

Pasta alla Genovese

February 28, 2015

While the name suggests this dish originated in Genoa, it is actually a specialty of Naples and the origin of the name remains a bit of a mystery. There are many variations, with the common theme being beef and onions–lots of onions! This recipe cuts up the beef and leaves it as an integral part of the sauce, while other recipes have you cooking the beef as a single roast which is then removed from the sauce and served separately.  It’s a very rich dish and goes well with one of the larger tubular pastas such as rigatoni, ziti, or penne. This is modified from a NY Times recipe.

4-1/2 lb red onions
2 lb boneless chuck roast
1/4 lb pancetta or not-too-smoky bacon
2 carrots and 1 celery rib, diced
1/2 c dry white wine such as pinot grigio
1/2 c olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb pasta of your choice (see above)

Peel the onions and cook in a large pot of simmering water for 12-15 minutes. Drain, cool, and slice thinly. Discard the water.

Cut the meat into approximately 2-inch pieces. Pat dry with paper towels and brown in a heavy bottomed Dutch over medium high heat using 2 TB of the oil. Do this in 2 batches if necessary. Remove meat and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add the pancetta and stir for a moment. then add the carrots and celery and stir or a few more minutes. Return the meat to the pan, cover with the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle the wine and remaining oil over all. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook slowly for about 2 hours. Remove the lid, there will be a good deal of liquid that was released by the onions. Raise the heat and continue cooking, stirring as needed to prevent sticking. The goal is to cook off most of the liquid; the meat will be falling apart and the onions will reduce to an almost creamy consistency. Check for seasoning. Cook the pasta, drain, and toss with the sauce. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Pasta with asparagus and wild mushrooms

January 31, 2015

Simple and delicious! You really should have oysters mushrooms for this, and lately these can be found in some markets. Lacking these, the regular store-bought “button” mushrooms will do.

Oyster mushrooms cleaned and cit into bite-size pieces, about 2 cups.
One bunch asparagus.
Good quality olive oil, about 1/2 c
Salt and pepper
1/2 to 3/4 pound long pasta

While making the asparagus, cook the pasta in salted water per package directions. Try to time it so the pasta is done just a moment or two before the asparagus is ready.

Heat a couple of TB oil in a non-stick skillet and cook the mushrooms and a pinch of salt over medium heat until cooked through and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, trim the tough stem ends from the asparagus and discard (or save for soup). Cut the trimmed asparagus stalks into 3 pieces, keeping the tip pieces separate from the stem pieces. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Heat another couple of TB oil over medium heat and add the asparagus stem pieces. Sauté for about a minute and then add the tips. Continue cooking until just crisp-tender, return the mushrooms to the pan, and season to taste with S&P. Dress with the remaining oil, toss with the drained and still-hot pasta, and serve with Romano or Parmesan cheese to grate on top (no, NOT the pre-grated stuff!).

Pasta with chicken and mushrooms, risotto style

November 30, 2014

Inspired by a Mark Bittman recipe. Cooking pasta this way gives a very creamy, rich result.

1/2 lb raw pasta (see note below)
3 TB olive oil
1/2 c chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 c sliced mushrooms (shitake are more flavorful but the standard white ‘stools work fine too)
3-4 c chicken stock
2 c diced cooked chicken

Use a heavy 4 quart saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown. Add the pasta and stir for 1-2 minutes until the pasta is coated with the oil. Add 1/2 c stock and stir almost constantly until the liquid is almost gone. Continue adding stock 1/2 c at a time, stirring until the liquid is almost gone, then repeating. After 10 min, start testing the pasta for doneness – the total time will depend on the type of pasta used. Note that you may not use all the stock. When the pasta is done to your liking, stir in salt and pepper to taste and add the chicken. Cover and let sit for a few minutes, then serve (with grated Parmesan if desired).

Note: You can use pretty much any shape of pasta for this, including long pasta broken into short lengths. My favorite is fusilli. Use a good quality pasta such as de Cecco (of course!).

Summer pasta with squash and tomatoes

July 3, 2014

This is one of those lovely dishes that just shouts “summer.” Needless to say, you need the freshest squash and the ripest tomato. Serves 2.

1 small zucchini, about 6 inches
1 small yellow summer squash, same size
1 large or 2 medium lovely, luscious ripe tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1/3 c good olive oil
salt, pepper
1/2 pound linguini or spaghetti
1/2 c thinly sliced fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and then crossways into 1/3 inch slices.

Dice the tomato into 1/2 inch pieces and put in a strainer to drain, saving the juices.

Mince the garlic.

Start cooking the pasta.

In a 12 inch skillet, saute the garlic in the oil until just starting to brown. Add the squash and stir until crisp-tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, go gently! Drain the cooked pasta and while it is still hot add to the skillet followed by the tomatoes. Stir for a moment or two. Add the tomato juice if the dish seems too dry. Stir in the basil and serve, passing the cheese at the table.

Pasta with sausage, bitter greens, and mascarpone

January 5, 2014

This delightful and quick recipe is courtesy of my son, Benjamin. You want a short pasta for this such as orchiette, cavatelli, rotini, or penne rigate. For the bitter greens you have lots of choices – arugula, radish greens, mustard greens, and in fact a mix is nice. This serves 4 and makes excellent leftovers.

4 links mild Italian sausage, casings removed (about 1 lb)
1/2 c diced onion
1 lb pasta as described above
8 oz greens, torn up if needed, washed and shaken dry, setting a cup or so aside for garnish if desired.
1 c mascarpone cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta “al dente” per package directions. Drain  (keep hot) and reserve some of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, use a wide skillet to saute the sausage and onions in a little bit of olive oil, crumbling the sausage, until cooked through and just starting to brown. If the sausage has rendered more fat than you want, remove it (the fat, not the sausage! See note below). Add the oregano and greens and cook for another couple of minutes. Add a cup of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add pasta and marscapone, stirring so the cheese blends in to form a light sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in individual serving bowls and, if  desired, garnish with the reserved uncooked greens.

Note: A quick way to remove excess fat from a skillet is to push to food to one side and tip the pan so the fat collects opposite the food. Ball up a napkin or paper towel, hold it with tongs or chopsticks, and use it to soak up the excess fat.

Chicken with oyster mushrooms

February 23, 2013


If you are lucky enough to have access to an oyster mushroom-producing stump, you are indeed lucky. They are available in some stores, and in a pinch the standard button mushrooms can be used (with inferior results). I prefer using chicken thighs; the drumstick is tasty but has too many tendons for easy eating, and the breast has less flavor and can be dry. I like to serve this over pasta.

Oyster mushrooms (see below)
6 to 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into half-rings
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
big pinch dried sage
1/4c olive oil plus an additional, optional 1/4c
1/2c dry white wine or dry vermouth (or use water)

Trim and clean the mushrooms, then cut into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide (no need to be fussy). When cleaning, do not be afraid to rinse; the cooking will get rid of any extra water that clings to the mushrooms. You want 2-3 cups of mushrooms, it’s not critical (but more is better!).

Heat 1/4c olive oil in a skillet (preferably nonstick) that is large enough to hold the chicken comfortably in 1 layer. Over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms, stirring. In almost all cases, the mushrooms will release their liquid – this is OK, just keep cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt, lower heat to medium, and continue cooking, with occasional stirring, until the onions and mushrooms have just started to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pat the thighs dry with paper towels and place skin side down in the pan. Cook undisturbed over medium heat for 10 minutes. Start checking at this time – the skin will develop a lovely browning. Turn the thighs over, season with S & P and sprinkle the sage over. Return the mushroom mixture to the pan, distributing evenly, and add the wine along with 1/2c water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes. Check now and then and add a bit of water if needed. The goal is to have about a cup of sauce at the end of cooking. When done, remove from heat and if desired drizzle the remaining 1/4c olive oil over, then serve.

Pasta with white clam sauce

April 30, 2011

In Italy, this is pasta con vongole. We ate it many times when traveling in Italy, the Adriatic clams are supposed to be special. Even so, you can make a surprisingly good sauce with canned clams (but see below for fresh clams). This is a version I developed over many years. There are many variations possible. You can replace the parsley with fresh basil, replace the wine with bottled clam juice and a squeeze of lemon, etc. Also, if you have fresh clams, you can leave the clams in the shell and serve for each diner to pick out their own. But in my opinion this is solely for appearance and just makes the dish harder to eat while saving the cooks some work.

Two 7 ounce cans of minced or whole clams (your preference)
1/2 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1″ piece of dried hot red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 c dry white wine or 1/3 c dry white vermouth
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 c minced fresh parsley

Using Fresh Clams: Put a couple of dozen clams in a big pot with 1/2 c of water or dry white wine. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam until all or at least most of the clams open. Discard unopened clams. Remove the clams from the shells and set aside (chop if desired). Strain the steaming liquid thru a coffee filter of paper towel to remove any grit. The use in the following recipe in place of canned clams.

Put garlic and oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan and put over low heat. Let cook slowly for 15-20 minutes – the garlic should sizzle slowly but not brown at all, or maybe just slightly. Drain the clams and add the clam juice, the wine, red and white pepper, and parsley and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and stir in the clams.

While the sauce is simmering cook 3/4 lb of imported Italian pasta (I like the De Cecco brand). As for shape, I think that regular spaghetti or thin spaghetti goes well with this sauce. Linguini is also a classic accompaniment. Cook the pasta until it is about 15-20 seconds shy of being done to your liking. Drain and return to the pan. Add the sauce and stir to mix. Let sit covered over very low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Crusty bread, a mixed green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and a dry Italian white (such as a soave or pinot grigio) are great accompaniments.

Pasta with swordfish

April 30, 2011

This is delightful recipe that has its origins in Sicily. I have modified this from a recipe in Giuliano Bugialli’s Bugialli On Pasta (a terrific cookbook).

1/2 c Italian parsley leaves
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 stalks of celery, with leaves
6 large fresh basil leaves
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
4 TB capers packed in wine vinegar
15 pitted green olive in brine
3/4 lb swordfish steak
1 lb penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop first 5 ingredients together (1/8-1/4 inch pieces). Sauté together in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 c water. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if needed to maintain a thick sauce. Drain and rinse briefly the capers and olives, and add to the pan, Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any skin from the fish, cut into 3/4 inch pieces, and add to the sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Correct seasoning. Cook the pasta al dente and stir into the sauce.

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