Tag Archives: Pasta

Pasta Party: Fresh Tomato Sauce with Beef and Lamb

7 Sep

I recently went to visit my family and welcome my newborn niece Claire into the world.  In my estimation, all newborns can do is eat and sleep, so our activities were kept pretty close to the house.  Luckily, my two-year old niece Gia puts on quite the show; singing original songs, dancing on the back porch, etc.  She especially loves helping in the kitchen.

So my brother and I had a homemade pasta-making competition; he would probably disagree, but I was the clear winner.  But he did whip up a delicious meat sauce to cover the strands of fettucine, so he got major points for that.  While the photos I took are mostly of the homemade pasta, the sauce at the end is the money shot.

Prepping the pasta

Someone loves to knead

This recipe is pretty simple and fun to make when you’re just hanging out in the kitchen all day.  If you’re having an ethical dilemma or entertaining vegetarians, you can omit the veal or meat altogether.  But we like it this way.

TOMATO SAUCE WITH BEEF AND LAMB
4lbs. ripe fresh tomatoes
1/4C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped (or more to taste)
1t sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix of ground beef, veal and lamb, equaling 1lb.

Cut tomatoes into small pieces and cook in a large pot for 10 minutes over medium heat until tomatoes are soft.  Cool and put through food mill, or blend with immersion blender.  Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until onion is translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cook in a covered pot over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If sauce is too thick, add a little water.  If it’s too thin, cook a little longer uncovered (or add a tablespoon of tomato paste if you have it).  Once sauce is cooked to your liking, saute meat in a pan until it is mostly cooked, then add to sauce.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

Working the machine

“I want pasta!!!”

As the sauce cooks, prepare the pasta (homemade or otherwise).  You can also do what my mother does, and sneakily dip a piece of bread into the sauce and snack all day long.  She thinks we don’t know about this habit.  But we do.  Mangia!

Ta da!

Lazy Weekend: Rigatoni with Fontina Cheese

14 May

It’s been a crazy month here at For Antonina central, with out-of-town visitors, travel, work and activity-filled weekends.  So I was happy to slow down and plan just a few things over the past few days, one of those things being a dinner in with a gal pal.

Yep, it’s another variation on macaroni and cheese from T’s cookbook (there are several recipes for it, which is just fine by me, as a self-proclaimed mac and cheese expert).  This recipe is simple, portable, easy to re-heat, good hot or at room-temperature, and, for the more adventurous types, easy to modify to your tastes and preferences (that’s what I did).  So the next time you have the chance, sit back, relax, hang out with the ones you love and serve up something that’s always a culinary favorite.

Lazy weekend, T and me

RIGATONI WITH FONTINA CHEESE (Serves 6)
1lb rigatoni (or preferred tube-shaped pasta)
6T butter
1/2lb Fontina cheese, shredded
2 pinches freshly-ground nutmeg
1C grated Parmesan cheese
Generous cranks freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until LESS THAN al dente (it should be really firm, about four minutes cooking time).  Drain and place in large bowl.  Add 4T of the butter, 1/2 of the grated Parmesan, the nutmeg and pepper; toss until all of the pasta is coated, then add almost all of the Fontina cheese, reserving a few handfuls.  Pour mixture into a buttered baking dish, sprinkle remaining cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly (don’t panic if it takes longer– more time to hang out!).

I varied the recipe by doing a mix of equal parts Fontina, extra sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.  I also mixed in one head of cleaned, chopped, uncooked broccoli, just before I popped it into the oven.  Finally, I used pipette, since I couldn’t find rigatoni at the store.

It was so easy, and so perfect for a lazy Saturday night dinner, with a bunch of store-bought appetizers and bakery cupcakes for dessert.

And it turned out so delish, my friend’s first words after her first bite were simply, “Holy shit.”  Mangia!

Proposal Pasta: Penne with Squid and Eggplant Sauce

29 Feb

Love is in the air at For Antonina headquarters.  Within the past few months, not one, not two, but ALL THREE of my younger girl cousins (we’ll call them “The Capassoettes”) have become engaged.  Robin first, followed by Margaret a few weeks ago and topped off with little Gina, just this past weekend.  Three lucky fellows are getting into this fabulous family, indeed!

Robin and Gus, sweet and happy

Margie and... her fiance is German, so, Europe!

Gina and Josh (Gina is clearly bored by the whole thing)

In celebration, I present to you a fancy pasta dish, capable of warming the heart of even the coldest spinster residing in me… uh, all of us.  Perfect for a proposal, a hot date or a night watching movies and drinking excessively with your sexy single pals.

PASTA WITH SQUID AND EGGPLANT SAUCE (Serves 6 to 8)
1lb eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2C olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2lbs small squid, cleaned, bodies cut into 1/8 inch rings and tentacles chopped (you can usually find these already prepped at the grocery fish counter)
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1C dry red wine
1/4t dried thyme
1/4t oregano
1/3C parsley, chopped
1t salt
1/4t red pepper flakes
1lb penne pasta

Heat the oil and saute the eggplant, onion and garlic over moderate heat in a 2-quart pot until golden.  Add the squid, tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

Cook penne is salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain and toss with sauce.

The sauce simmers for a while so, while you wait, you can shop for wedding gifts online.  Congratulations, Capassoettes!  Now who’s ready for their fondue pot?  Mangia!