Pasta Salad Recipe

Today I am invited to a dinner on a boat and I was asked to bring a salad. I am not an expert on Cesar salads and dressings so I decided to make a pasta salad with roasted vegetables. Very summery and perfect to prepare ahead.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 zucchini
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • basil
  • salt
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. I took an eggplant, 3 zucchini, 2 red bell peppers (yellow ones would also be great) and 3 tomatoes. I sliced the eggplant, the zucchini and the tomatoes width-wise in slices about 2 inches thick and I placed the vegetable slices and the whole peppers on the barbecue to grill.
  2. I used the barbecue because I was already grilling something else for dinner, but you can as well use the oven or an iron grill pan on the stove with basically the same results. Obviously the different vegetables have different cooking times: 1 minute per side for the tomatoes slices, 3 to 5 minutes per side for the zucchini and the eggplant slices, 20 to 30 minutes for the peppers, turning it 3 or 4 times so that is roasted on all the sides.
  3. All the vegetable should be very soft when you get them off the grill: the pepper should collapse as soon as you take it out of the heat, the tomatoes should be almost the consistency of the ones in chunky tomato sauce and zucchini and eggplants should be soft.
  4. Once you are done grilling put the peppers in a paper bag to cool down (I don’t know why, but it makes it much easier to peel it), dice the eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes, and, once cooled down, peel, seed and dice the pepper.
  5. Season the vegetables with basil, 3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic (do not mince or cut the garlic), salt and a lot of olive oil. At this point you can let the vegetable sit in your fridge for up to a day before adding pasta.
  6. Now cook about 1 pound of pasta, short pasta like penne, rotini or bow-ties works best, in hot boiling salted water. Make it “al dente”, the cooling down and marinating process will make the past a little softer so if you overcook it by the time you eat your salad it will be very mushy.
  7. To cool the pasta down you can either rinse the hot pasta in running cold water (fast method, but it washes away some of the flavor) or let the pasta sit in a strainer and add a bit of olive oil (with this method the past will keep cooking until is cold, so make it extra al dente). When pasta is cold and you are almost ready to eat (if you let the past in the marinating vegetable for too long it will soften and become mushy) add it to the marinating vegetable and enjoy!
  8. This much past salad can serve a party of about 10-15 people at a potluck or 5-6 people as an entree at a seated dinner.

3.1

Other things you can add to the pasta salad, if you like them, are mozzarella (the one shaped like balls and preserved in water, not the Kraft mozzarella sticks), crushed red pepper, black pepper, and/or capers.

Pasta with chickpeas recipe

Today BF asked for pappardelle. Pappardelle is a fresh kind of pasta that is typically dressed with some reach meat based sauce, often from some kind of gamy meat like boar or hare. I did not have any meat, so I decided to do something different that would still be rich and satisfying and used chickpeas instead.

Ingredients

  • pappardelle pasta
  • chickpeas
  • tomato sauce
  • EVOO
  • garlic
  • rosemary

Directions

  1. First I heated up a bit of olive oil and added a crushed garlic clove and some rosemary. I let it brown up so that the oil would extract all the garlic and rosemary flavor and then I added some drained chickpeas form a can. I let the legumes warm up and then added a bit of tomato sauce. At this point I crushed the chickpeas so that some of them would be reduced to a nice puree. I let it cook while I cooked the pappardelle and then mixed the pasta and the sauce adding a generous jug of oil and a bit of water to prevent the pasta from becoming to dry.
  2. Served it up to my very skeptic BF, who ended up getting first, second and third helpings…

Pasta with broccoli recipe

One of my favorite winter dish is pasta with broccoli. I know it sounds boring and bland, but let me tell you how I spice it up.

Ingredients

  • short pasta like penne or ziti
  • 2 broccoli heads
  • anchovies or anchovies paste or bacon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • chili flakes

Directions

  1. First get some water to the boiling point, add salt and then the pasta (for this recipe use some short past like penne) and the broccoli divided in florets. Put some oil in a pan and add a couple of crushed garlic cloves, chili flakes and anchovies. Let them cook at a high temperature until the garlic is golden brown and the anchovies have melted in the oil. At this point fish the broccoli out of the boiling water with a ladle draining some but not necessarily all of the excess water and add them to the oil, sautee them and eventually add a bit of water to avoid broccoli from sticking to the pan or burning. When pasta is still very al dente drain it and add it to the broccoli. Sautee for a couple of minutes, eventually adding a bit of oil. Ready to serve.
  2. I love that it is a bit spicy from the chili and a bit salty from the anchovies, a bit crispy and a bit mushy, basically perfect! And, the more broccoli you put, the less pasta you will be eating!
  3. Note: You can substitute diced bacon for anchovies or add black olives. and or tomatoes.

Pasta alla carbonara recipe

So carbonara is like my favorite dish and here I have seen recipes that more often than not butcher this awesome dish with the addition of anything but the kitchen sink. Now, is not like you cannot modify the dish, but onions, shallots, garlic, chili pepper or flakes do not belong in there. Never. Under no circumstances.
I have to confess I am not from Rome, so technically speaking I am not entitled to say anything about carbonara. but I cooked my carbonara to people from Rome, and although skeptical at the beginning, they were pretty happy with my dish after they tried it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cups total of grated pecorino and parmesan cheese
  • 5 oz. bacon and/or zucchini
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • pepper
  • salt

Directions

  1. So start out by bringing water to a boil for the pasta. While water warms up start on the sauce. Ideally you should use diced guanciale (almost impossible to fine in the US), next best is pancetta (you can find it at specialty stores and good supermarkets) and finally you can always use bacon. Dice the cured meat you are using and put it in a hot pan with no fats. Let the meat render the fat and drain the drippings.
  2. In a separate bowl mix one egg per person with grated pecorino cheese, a bit of grated parmesan cheese, a spoon of milk, pepper and salt. Go easy on the salt as cheeses and bacon are already pretty salty.
  3. For the cheeses the proportion should be at least half pecorino half parmesan, but you’ll se versions with pecorino only, I usually do something like 80% pecorino 20% parmesan. In total it should be about 1/3 cup of grated cheese per person and the mixture should be pretty thick.
  4. The milk I add to make the sauce a bit creamier, but it shouldn’t be more than a couple of spoons, definitely you don’t want more milk than egg or even the same amount of eggs as milk.
  5. Drop the bacon and a teaspoon or so of its drippings in the egg mixture.
  6. At this point the water should be boiling: add salt and pasta. Traditional shapes are bucatini or rigatoni, but spaghetti (better if thick) and penne work well too. When it is ready drain the pasta and while it is still super hot mix the pasta well in the egg mixture so that the pasta is throughly coated in the egg mixture.
  7. If you are wary about not perfectly cooked eggs what you can do is to mix the pasta and the egg mixture in the hot pan, you used to boil pasta. The heat from the pasta, combined with the heat from the pot, is usually enough to cook the eggs through.
  8. A pretty common and perfectly acceptable variation of this dish is substituting bacon for zucchini or adding zucchini to the bacon. What you do in this case is to cook sliced zucchini with the bacon (or instead of the bacon) and then add those to the egg mixture, the same way you did with the bacon. Of course if you substitute the bacon you should add some oil to cook your veggies. Occasionally I would do savoy cabbage instead of zucchini, and that works pretty well too.
  9. Awesome dish, someone believes it is the perfect hangover fix.

Pasta in saffron cream recipe

I bought this new shape of pasta called schiaffoni. It is a bit like manicotti but shorter and wider. For some reason I decided that it would be good with a saffron cream kind of sauce and I kept thinking about it until today I finally had the right occasion to cook it.

It’s a simple dish and works well for a quick lunch or dinner.

Pasta in saffron cream

Ingredients

  • pasta
  • 2 oz. diced ham
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • saffron
  • flour
  • – 1 yolk

Directions

  1. I started out as usual by boiling the water and preparing my pasta. While the water was warming up, I started on the sauce. I diced an onion and some ham and put them in a pan with a bit of melted butter.
  2. When the onion was soft I added the milk and the saffron. I also added a yolk and 1/2 a spoon or so of flour to the milk to keep it from separating and to thicken up the sauce. I seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. When the pasta was ready, I dressed it with the sauce and sauteed everything briefly so that the pasta would be uniformly covered in sauce. I used schiaffoni, but this sauce would work well with short smooth pasta like mostaccioli, or with long wide pasta like pappardelle.
  4. It turned out exactly as I imagined it!