Spaghetti Sauce…Also, Gluten Free Meatballs

There you go, plain and simple.

Spaghetti sauce.

Conjures up a plate of steaming pasta, a deep red sauce, some cheese-snow sprinkled on top, perhaps a meatball or three.

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I think we know someone with their own wonderful special sauce, some takes all day, some are handed down from your mother-in-laws cousins grandma in Sicily. Continue reading “Spaghetti Sauce…Also, Gluten Free Meatballs”

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Spaghetti Carbonara

(I noticed that this recipe is 4 years old and needs to be taken out for a dusting. We had some tonight and so I am updating the pics and the recipe just a little.) (I also added a wonderful discovery at the end, unrelated to this dish.)

If you have never heard of this, you would not believe it. Spaghetti with bacon and eggs. Ewww! I pictured a plate of spaghetti with a fried egg on top and maybe some boingy bacon in it.

Then one day I was having dinner out with hubby and friends at a nice Italian place. He ordered Fettuccine Carbonera. hmm, looked good. Creamy with bits of pancetta. He graciously let me have a bite, then two, then…he started body blocking me with his arm and shoulder. I turned to bribery and blatant flirting. Turns out this Roman dish is quite wonderful and so easy to make, it’s just silly. Here are the list of main characters:

Bacon, my pancetta substitute

You need some pasta, like spaghetti or fettuccine.

You need some eggs, lets say 2, cracked into a bowl and beat until mixed.

You need about 4-6 slices of good bacon. I use thick sliced. Or Pancetta if you can get it. It’ s the Italian equivalent to our bacon.

2 cloves of garlic, whole.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, or just buy a bend of the 2, like at Trader Joes. Sometimes I use the block of cheese and grate myself. Just not this time.

This dish does not take long to make.

You do not need cream. Some versions use cream, but that makes it a different dish.Good maybe, but different.

Here is what you do:

Boil the water for the pasta. Add salt when it is boiling.

Put a little olive oil in a skillet, maybe brushing it around with a basting brush, and heat on medium heat.

Dice the bacon or pancetta and put into the pan with the oil.

Put the garlic cloves in too.

When the bacon is just crisp, not overdone, take a slotted spoon and lift it out onto a paper towel lined plate. Take out the garlic too and set aside or discard. Leave the bacon fat in the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, I hope you started boiling your pasta. (I actually made 2 pots of pasta, one regular and one corn pasta which is gluten free. Hubby prefers it.)  Read the directions on the package and don’t  over cook. Probably not more that 8 minutes or so. You don’t want mushy noodles for this. One of the things Roman dishes are noted for is their almost crunch pasta. I’m  not saying to make it like that, but time it and taste it. You want it just done, not over. Save some of the pasta water in a mug before you drain it.

Mix half the cheese in with the eggs. Stir it up good. You are about to undertake the only  tricky part…

 

And that is mixing the raw eggs with the hot pasta. You do NOT want to cook the eggs and end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta. That’s what I got when I ordered this dish in Venice. I could not believe it!  I would have thought in Italy of all places you would get good Carbonara. But it is a Roman dish, not a, um, Vesuvian?

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First, I put the drained pasta in the skillet that I cooked the bacon in and mix it around. The pasta picks up the bacon fat. This gives it a silky texture. If the pan is cool,  you can work right from there. If it is still hot, pour the pasta into a mixing bowl at this point. (Remember, we don’t want the eggs to set and became scrambled.

Add the cheesy egg mixture to it and stir it up quick!  Toss-toss-toss.Add the rest of the cheese and the bacon. If it looks too dry add some of the pasta water to it. You want it a creamy sauce. Mix it all up. Taste. Mmmm. Need a little salt? Probably not. Both the bacon and the cheese are pretty salty already.

What you will not see in this old picture is peas. I thawed out some frozen peas this time and added them in at the end, both for color and because it’s a veg. Now see a new picture with our new pasta bowls:

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That’s it! Once you get the hang of it you will start making it regular like. Impress your friends. Add a Cesar salad and bread sticks. A side of Parmesan Asparagus maybe? Enjoy!

I was at a Pampered Chef meeting (fun stuff, really.) and the guy from Chicago (used to be a policeman, got injured and was strong armed by sister to sell Pampered Chef. Now he loves it and does great!) showed us how he uses the apple wedger to cut his onions for fajitas!

Wow, just never occurred to me to use it for anything other than apples. I am so an ‘in-the-box’ thinking girl.

So, trying to break out of my box, I thought of what else you could cut with the apple wedger. I was making beef stew that night. I got out the little red potatoes and…

Voila!
Voila!

So now we know they work for apples, onions and little red potatoes. Anything else you can think of?

Love L

New Creamy Pesto Pasta

Hubby was sitting on his recliner and I mentioned that I had no plans for dinner. So he says “How about some of that pesto pasta sauce.”

Now  to me, saying “some of that”  implies that I have made it before. I have never ever made pesto sauce before.

Never.

I have not even had it at a restaurant. So I am not sure what he was exactly thinking of. If he had said, “some of that garlic butter pasta” then I would have had a clue what he meant.

But it got me to thinking. I did have a jar of Trader Giottos Pesto alla Genovese sauce sitting in my pantry. It had a thick layer of dust on it. I must have seen a recipe at some time that used a pesto sauce and thought I might utilize it. But then I never did. (Now don’t tell me you never did that. Haven’t you had something in your pantry that you bought for a recipe and then later wondered what the heck that was for?)

So I got on the internet, looked again in my pantry and refrigerator and this is what I came up with. Easy-peasy!

Well, I cooked the Trader Joes pasta, raviolis & tortellinis  that I happen to have on hand. (I had to make some plain spaghetti pasta for Mr. picky pants). I also  had some TJ’s cream. (Guess where I like to shop?)

Round up the usual suspects

When the pasta was cooked, I drained it and put the empty pan back on the stove. I added some cream and a dollop of butter. To that I added 2 heaping Tbsp. of the Pesto sauce, some diced garden tomatoes and some grated parmesan. This took about 3 minutes.

Or less!

I put the pasta back in and tossed gently. (Why gently? Because I don’t want the raviolis and tortellinis getting busted open. Messy and wasteful.)

It came out creamy, with green specks and bits of pine nuts, little red balls of tiny tomatoes and shreds of cheese on top. I have to describe it to you because we were so busy eating it (and I was so busy dishing it out) that I forgot to take a picture until it was just a few cold tortellinis in the bottom of the pan. Who needs to see that?

So just use your imagination. It was warm, simple, stove-top and quick. All that we love in a summer time meal.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Thank you Jori and Glenn for the great pictures!!

Oh, they look good enough to gobble them up.

Thank you, Ina Garten! I never could stand asparagus until your cookbook “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” showed me how to make it right.  Now it is my favorite vegetable. This is how I make asparagus now, and there is no looking back.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Take your stalks of asparagus, cut off the hard bottom parts. (She peels the bottom thick parts, if you want, help yourself).

Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan, a stonewear roasting pan or similar. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss a bit. Make sure they are laying flat again.

Olive oil with garlic sea salt, and in the same stonewear baker I use!

Put into the oven for about 15 minutes. (depends on how thin your stalks are). Take out and sprinkle parmesan cheese over them. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup and also is using 2 1/2 lbs of asparagus. But if you are cooking less, for fewer people, just eyeball it.  Cover as much as you want basically. I usually have about a pound of asgaragus and maybe 1/4 cup cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until tender.

Spears of Beauty

 

Thats it!

Great finger food, lovely, crispy, salty, cheese sticks of green.