Campanelle al Pomodoro e Basilico

20th September, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta, vegetarian

Campanelle, little bells, are just so much fun, but even better than that, their funnel-like shape hangs onto a lot of this sugo fresco, so every bite will be a little explosion of fresh flavors. Campanelle are also sometimes known as Gigli, (lilies). If you can’t find campanelle, use fusilli or any pasta corta, like ziti, penne, or mostaccioli.

This is one of those things that isn’t really a recipe, but a place from which to jump off, to start riffing. It’s fabulous, fresh, delicious and quick, and perfect for improvisation. If you grow your own tomatoes and basil, even better, as you can build it right from the garden, and really experience the freshness. Add other greens for variety – fresh and peppery arugula is especially nice. Read more…»

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

7th September, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta

I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but I will anyway, just in case there is one single reader holding out for “convenience” at the expense of flavor and aroma: Throw away the jar (or, worse, the tin) of pre-ground pepper that’s been sitting on the shelf since great aunt Maude gave it to you as a house-warming present when you got your first apartment. It was as useless as a unicycle to an earthworm when it was “fresh,” and after it had seen the dawn of the new millennium, it became even more so. Bin it. Buy a decent pepper mill, some fresh peppercorns, and never, ever look back. Really.

Now that that’s sorted (and the single holdout has either stopped reading, or has gone on a quick spending expedition to get a shiny new Peugeot mill and a glass bottle of tellicherry peppercorns), we can talk about Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper), a classic Roman dish that’s almost as old as Rome itself, and universally loved. It’s quick, delicious, satisfying, and cheap as old chips to make. Go wild! Read more…»

Orecchiette with Sausage & Grapes

26th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta

I was describing this dish to a friend the other day, explaining that, yes, grapes and Italian sausages really do work wonderfully together, and found myself getting hungry for it. I knew what was going to be for dinner!

The sweet, slightly tart grapes really enhance the flavors of the sausage, and add a wonderful textural element to the dish. It’s a fairly quick dish to put together, especially if all the preparation is done prior to turning on the gas.

To my palate, sweet sausage, adding in some heat by toasting red pepper flakes in the oil, offers a better balance of flavors than using hot sausage, and brings more life to the party. The orecchiette (little ears) pasta is a perfect vehicle for the sauce, and makes a lovely presentation. The yellow bells add wonderful flavor – red or orange will do just as well. It’s a great dish for a spring supper, and the kids will love the grapes! Read more…»

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Fusili with Tomato Cream

3rd April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate, pasta

Tomato cream sauces can be wonderful, and are a great addition to the culinary repertoire, but often, they end up a little lacking in that wonderful tomato flavor that we crave. My approach is to turn the knobs to eleven, amping everything up, so that when the cream is added in the final steps, there’s still lots of tomato goodness, tons of flavor and amazing mouth-watering aromas. And, we’ll do it without tomato paste.

The method is simple, but requires a little attention. We’ll cook down and caramelize the tomatoes, add some sun-dried to amplify the flavors, and use an unexpected ingredient. (Even if you think you hate anchovies, try it my way. They add some body and depth, and amp everything up, but won’t make the sauce fishy; you won’t really taste them, but you’d notice if they weren’t there.) Read more…»