Category:  Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains)

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Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta with Beans)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Soups and Stews On January 3, 2014 0 Comments

Now that the holidays are over, we’re still running around. Whether paying up on our credit cards or returning gifts at department stores, we need to take time to unwind and enjoy some good eats.

From my days in Italy, pasta e fagioli or pasta with beans, has always been comforting during the most stressful times. Since we Italians always have a can of beans and one of tomatoes in our pantries, it takes no time to serve this classic, peasant fare with some robust red wine.

Don’t forget that sprinkle of cheese over your pasta e fagioli. Can a last-minute meal get any better than this?

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
One 15-ounce (or 1-1/2 cups) whole, peeled tomatoes (puréed in a blender)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground pepper
Dash ground nutmeg (optional)
One 15-ounce can Cannellini or Great Northern beans
1 pound (16 ounces) small pasta shells
5 to 6 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. In a 2 to 3-quart sauce pot, heat the oil.

2. When oil is hot, add the garlic cloves. Stir-fry on medium heat until the cloves are light golden.

3. Add the puréed tomatoes, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the garlic; simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart sauce pot filled with water to a boil.

5. Stir in the pasta shells into the boiling water. Follow package directions for cooking time.

6. As the pasta cooks for the last 2 to 3 minutes, drain and rinse the beans.

7. Immediately add the rinsed beans to the tomato sauce and warm through.

8. In the meantime, when the pasta has cooked (preferably al dente or crunchy-tender, drain it and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

9. Return the cooked and drained pasta to its sauce pot. Add 2 ladles of the sauce and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

10. Warm the pasta e fagiolithrough. Adjust sauce level and pasta water, to taste (some people like a more watery soup, while others prefer more tomato sauce).

11. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. Ask guests to add some grated cheese to their individual pasta e fagioli.

Red wine suggestion: Chianti or Aglianico.
Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fusilli with Broccolini

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Vegetables On November 15, 2013 0 Comments

Today, I bought fresh broccolini at a local farmers’ market. After cooking it for a few minutes, I decided to add it to some fusilli (Italian for “corkscrew pasta”). With a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, it turned out to be quite good – especially with Hot Calabrese Pepper Preserves (previously published on this website on October 18). This pasta dish is simple but good – enjoy.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
12 to 16 ounces fresh broccolini, boiled to desired tenderness and drained
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound fusilli or other short pasta variety
1 teaspoon salt

1. Transfer the drained and cooled broccolini to a large serving bowl.

2. Stir in some extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup), salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart sauce pot filled with water to a boil.

4. Add the fusilli or other short pasta variety to the boiling water, 1 teaspoon salt and stir.

5. Cook, uncovered (medium-high heat), stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until pasta is al dente or crunchy-tender. Different types of pasta will vary in cooking times).

6. When pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the serving bowl with broccolini.

7. Toss the pasta and broccolini. Taste and adjust seasonings, including the olive oil level.

8. Serve immediately.

9. Ask guests to add some Hot Calabrese Pepper Preserves and/or some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese to their individual pasta bowls.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Couscous with Zucchini, Yellow Squash & Chili Peppers (Vegan)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Vegetables On October 25, 2013 1 Comment

When I was introduced to Moroccan cuisine, I became addicted to couscous. It is a perfect side to meat or poultry – especially stews. Like rice, couscous is neutral, acquiring flavors from added ingredients or foods it is paired with.

Try this fantastic vegetarian couscous, made with stir-fried zucchini, squash, onions and chili peppers.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced green zucchini
1/2 cup minced yellow squash
1/2 red chili, minced
1/3 cup minced yellow or white onion
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried, uncooked couscous

1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 4 tablespoons oil.

2. Add the minced zucchini, squash, chili and onion.

3. Stir fry the squash-onion mixture over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.

4. Transfer the cooked mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepot, bring 1 cup water to a boil.

6. When water is boiling, stir in the oil, salt and couscous.

7. Remove saucepot with couscous from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

8. After 5 minutes, fluff up the couscous with a fork.

9. Serve couscous immediately as a side to meat, chicken, lamb or fish. For vegetarian or vegan diets, pair the couscous with salads or other vegetables.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Summer Spaghetti

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 10, 2013 2 Comments

These days we’re all workin’ hard and getting home tired and hungry. Takeout is always a lifesaver, but after a while, it all tastes the same. For a quick one-dish dinner, all you need is a pound of spaghetti, peppers, onion, and one or two other seasonal veggies. Oh – and don’t forget to pour in some of that white wine you opened last night!

Treat yourself to this gourmet pasta in a quarter hour and … Buon Appetito!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 yellow summer squash, tips cut and discarded & flesh cut into chunks
1 zucchini, tips cut and discarded & flesh cut into chunks
1 medium yellow or white onion, quartered
1 medium green bell pepper, stem discarded, seeded and flesh cut into chunks
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, stem discarded, seeded and flesh cut into chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (good olive oil brands are found at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup water (to thin out the sauce as it cooks down)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghetti (you can substitute this with long or short pasta variety)

1. In a food processor, grind (but do not liquify) together the squash, zucchini, onion and bell pepper chunks. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a 4 to 6-quart pot of water to a boil and set aside; keep it at a low boil.

3. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil.

4. When oil is hot, stir in the ground vegetables and sauté them, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes.

5. After 2 to 3 minutes and when sauce begins to cook down, stir in the wine.

6. Saute the sauce on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.

7. After 2 minutes, add 1/2 cup of the water and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

8. Stir in the salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. If the sauce looks too dense or dry, stir in a little more water.

9. Turn off the stove burner, but keep the sauce warm.

10. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. When pasta is cooked, drain it.

11. Stir the drained pasta immediately into the sauce in skillet and heat through.

Serve Summer Spaghetti with grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fresh Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On October 1, 2012 0 Comments

On my September 2012 culinary trip to Italy, my husband and I enjoyed freshly made pasta with porcini mushrooms at a favorite hotel/restaurant close to the medieval hilltop town of Spoleto in Umbria.

Because dried porcini mushrooms have a bold flavor, they’re simply sautéed in olive oil – that’s it! Make this and enjoy true Italian flavors at home. The only problem is that you’ll think twice before spending $25+ for pasta in a restaurant. Buon appetito!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes (cooking the pasta and making sauce)
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
One pound ready made tagliatelle or fettuccine
2 cups dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 3 cups boiling water for 8 minutes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup cold water, set aside
Salt, to taste

1. Set a 6-quart sauce pot with water on stove burner and bring to a boil; set aside on simmer/boil.
2. Meanwhile, drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high setting. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the soaking liquid and simmer on low.

4. In the meantime, add pasta and 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until pasta is al dente (crunchy-tender).

5. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the porcini sauce in skillet. Stir the pasta while raising heat to high.

6. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pasta in skillet, stirring and gently lifting the pasta with tongs. If pasta mixture looks too dry, add a little more of the mushroom soaking liquid. The sauce should lightly adhere to the pasta and it should not be too runny.

7. Add salt, and if desired, a little more olive oil. Taste and serve immediately, dividing the pasta into 4 portions. Do not add any cheese, as it will conflict with the porcini mushroom flavors.

*If using the Homemade Tagliatelle recipe, add 55 to 60 minutes to prep time.

Wine pairing suggestion: Chianti or Barolo.

Note: Pappardelle variety pasta was used in photograph.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real