Friday, October 26, 2012

Bucatini all'Amatriciana [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: the red sauce takes 30 minutes, the Amatriciana part takes 20 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Like Tom and June--and possibly all the guests from Lauren and Zack's tiny Italian wedding--Michael and I are already missing Asciano and all the great meals we had in Tuscany. Bucatini all'Amatriciana fills the void. It's based on the recipe in Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook, can easily be doubled to serve a big crowd, and freezes well.

Make the red sauce first.

Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Spanish onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine
6 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (be sure to use fresh, as it makes a big difference)
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
Four 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
Salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 5 more minutes. Pour the red wine over the onions and reduce  a bit. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until carrot is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes (drain some of their juice out), breaking them up into small chunks, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18 ounces thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta or good bacon (I used uncured bacon, cut into small pieces)
2 red onions, cut lengthwise in half and then into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Tomato sauce (see above recipe)
1 to 1/2 pounds bucatini
Freshly grated pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the bucatini.

Meanwhile, saute the bacon in a large saute pan (in batches) until done but not cripsy. Remove bacon from pan, retaining drippings. Pour off some of the drippings and cook the onions and garlic in the saute pan. Sprinkle with hot red pepper flakes. Stir onion mixture and reserved bacon into tomato sauce.

Cook bucatini (or fettucine in my case, since we were out of bucatini) to al dente. Drain. Mix a little of the sauce into the noodles, Stir. Plate. Add mounds of Amatriciana sauce to top the noodles, sprinkle the grated cheese over and serve.

Suggested soundtrack: Luciano Pavarotti's "Torna a Sorrento"
Come Back to Sorrento by Luciano Pavarotti on Grooveshark

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Soon after returning from a wonderful wedding trip, June and I were discussing the great food we enjoyed in Italia. We decided to keep the Tuscany theme going. When you cut the tomatoe it seems to explode into a pomodoro sauce. This is a light but highly flavorful meal. Add a salad or a chunk of bread or both. A glass of vino with this meal is highly recommended. This recipe is for 2 dinners.


~ 4 cloves Garlic
~ 1/3 cup EVOO
~ 8 leaves fresh Basil
~ 1/2 teaspoon fresh Rosemary
~  8 leaves fresh Italian Parsley
~ 2 tablespoons fresh Chives

Finely chop all the herbs and Garlic. In a cup mix into the oil and set aside


~ 1 Fennel bulb
~ 1 red or orange Pepper
~ 1 yellow Squash
~ 2 Tomatoes
~ 1 red Onion
~ 1 Eggplant
~ Salt and Pepper
~ chunk Parmesian Cheese cut into bit size pieces
~ 3 fresh Basil leaves
~ 3 fresh Italian Parsley leaves

Slice all the vegtables lenghtwise 1/3 - 1/2 of an inch thick except for the fennel and the tomatoe.
Slice the top of the tomatoe and cut the fennel bulb leaving a stalk for each cut. Fire-up the grill.
Liberally coat all the veggies on both sides. Salt and pepper to your liking. Grill the veggies on a medium fire until soft but not mushy. Do not turn the tomato. Plate and top with the chunks of cheese, basil and parsley.

Boun Appetito


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn Pasta with Butternut Squash and Bacon [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes cooking time
Serves: 2 to 3

When it's Tuesday night, you're just walking in the door, and feel the need for both veggies and comfort food, this might just be your go-to dish. It comes from a tattered recipe by Betty Rosbottom from years back, and can morph into an impromptu creation, depending on the vegetables in your fridge. With butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, caramelized onion and, yes, a bit of that bad-boy, bacon, it's a wonderful cool weather dish.

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chicken stock (go with homemade!), reduced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 pound uncooked penne pasta
Sea salt
Handful baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes

Saute the bacon, remove, and drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add butter to skillet, melt, add onions, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add butternut squash, cook a few more minutes. Add white wine and chicken stock, rosemary. Reduce slightly, remove squash and onions when squash is slightly tender but not mushy. Reduce sauce a little more, add lemon juice.

Boil a pot of water, cook penne to al dente. Drain pasta, salt the penne slightly, stir in the spinach leaves, then add the sauce and reserved bacon and squash. Stir in parmesan cheese. Garnish with parmesan shavings and serve.

Suggested soundtrack: Willie Nelson's "Moonlight in Vermont"
Moonlight in Vermont by Willie Nelson on Grooveshark