Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Spaghetti Carbonara

July 18th, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

Just like pasta puttanesca, spaghetti carbonara has been on my “to cook” list for a while.  Again, I find it hard to believe it’s taken me this long to get around to it.  Tonight was  a perfect night to for this creamy, cozy dish: the weather is rain, thunder and more rain, with a chance of rain in the morning. I closed all the curtains to block out the dismal skies, turned on CBC just in time for Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap, and danced around the kitchen while making my stormy weather dinner.

1 serving whole wheat spaghetti
1 big pot of boiling water
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 strips of bacon, chopped into itty pieces
1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
lots of black pepper
a bit more Parmesan for finishing

Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until it hits your level of doneness.
While the pasta is cooking, beat the egg and cheese together in a bowl.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it – but reserve about a 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
Toss the bacon bits into the pasta pan, cooking over medium heat until slightly crisp.
To temper the eggs (in order to stop them from scrambling once they hit the hot pasta pot), whisk the egg and cheese like mad while slowly pouring in the reserved pasta water.
Add the garlic to the bacon along with a significant grinding of fresh black pepper.
Remove the pan from the heat, dump in the spaghetti and slowly stir in the egg mixture, letting it coat all the pasta.
Sprinkle on some more cheese and black pepper before serving.

Tomato Risotto

July 11th, 2010

Tomato risotto with asparagus

All last week I was craving risotto.  Yet I didn’t want the traditional creamy, white risotto – I wanted something a little different.  Something bolder, more summery.  Adding a cup of tomato sauce with basil was a simple change, but one that had quite the impact.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 white onion, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1/2 cup white wine
2-3 cups hot vegetable broth
1 cup tomato sauce
salt & pepper
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup Grana Padano cheese, shredded

1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced

In a large sauce pan, cook the onion in the olive oil and butter until just translucent.
Add the rice and garlic, stirring while toasting until the rice is a teensy bit golden.
Dump in the white wine and stir until absorbed.
Add the hot broth a half cup at a time, stirring gently until it absorbs.
While the risotto is cooking, cook the chicken in a frying pan until it is golden and cooked through.
When the risotto is almost finished cooking (pre-al dente) add the tomato sauce, asparagus, cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Keep stirring the risotto until the tomato sauce is mostly absorbed and the rice is tender yet firm.  (Stirring is especially important once the cheese and tomato sauce is added, as it will stick and burn easily.)
Stir in the cooked chicken and serve with additional cheese on top.

Note:  I used Italissima tomato sauce with basil in this dish.  It’s a beautifully simple tomato sauce – just tomatoes, basil and a bit of salt.  Nothing else to change the flavour of your cooking, and lovely even on its own over a bit of pasta.

Risotto for dinner

Seared Scallops over Pasta

January 24th, 2010

I wanted to do something non-traditional for Christmas Eve this year.  It was the first Christmas in my new house and it was just going to be me, my parents and my little sister.  I used my years in Halifax as inspiration, and while these scallops weren’t fresh from the morning’s market, they were still incredibly tasty.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 roma tomatoes, diced
handful fresh parsley, finely shredded
juice of half a lemon

24 big scallops
salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4 servings spaghettini or other long pasta
grated parmesan cheese

In a wide pan, cook the first 5 ingredients for about 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and juices have reduced.
Pat the scallops dry with a paper tower and lightly salt and pepper them.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until it’s just shy of smoking.  Working in batches, cook the scallops for 1-2 minutes a side, or until they are opaque on the inside and seared on the outside.
Top the pasta with the tomato sauce and scallops, and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and lemon wedges.

Notes:
Chopsticks work really well for turning over the scallops as they’re cooking, especially if you have mad chopsticking skills like my little sister.

Eggplant Parmesan

May 20th, 2008

I’d had an eggplant in my fridge for almost a week, and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. After running a quick Food Blog Search last night and seeing all the variations on this dish, I decided to give it a try. I’m very glad I went for it, because it was amazingly tasty. Proper Italian mozzarella is a must, and I’m looking forward to making it again in the summer with the addition of fresh basil leaves.

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch rounds
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced mozzarella

Pour the milk into a saucer or small plate. In another saucer, mix together the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
Dredge the eggplant slices in the milk, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.
Bake the eggplant slices on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes at 350°F. The coating should be golden brown and the eggplant slightly soft.
Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in a shallow baking pan. Arrange the eggplant on top of the sauce, touching but not overlapping.
Pour the rest of the sauce over the eggplant and smother the whole thing in cheese.
Bake for another 30 minutes at 350°F, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Notes:
I used a really nice basil/tomato sauce imported from Italy. It was nice and thick, with lots of herby flavour and whole cherry tomatoes. Highly recommended, as the better the sauce, the better this dish.

Rigatoni alla vodka

November 26th, 2007

I’m not what you would call a traditionalist. I’ve been dying to try making penne alla vodka all year, but when the actual day rolled around, I looked at the penne in the store and thought “Man, those are way too small.” Instead, I brought home a bag of nice fat rigatoni, all ready to soak up some tasty sauce. And tasty it was. This is quite possibly the best pasta sauce I’ve made in my life – and so simple, I might just start eating it all the time.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup vodka
juice of half a lemon
salt & pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
rigatoni, cooked al dente

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil.
Toss in the pancetta and fry until the edges start to crisp.
Add the garlic, stirring for just a minute or so.
Add the tomatoes, and bring to a light boil.
Pour in the vodka, squeeze in the lemon, and add the seasonings.
Keep at a strong simmer for about 15 minutes or so. (cook the pasta in the meantime)
Just before serving, add the cream, and stir to incorporate.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and toss gently to coat.
Serve with generous amounts of parmesan cheese.

Notes:
I don’t really mince my garlic anymore. I tend to just give it a nice coarse chopping, since I don’t mind some larger chunks in my sauces.
This stuff is fabulous as leftovers. Maybe even better than the night it’s made…

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