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

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Tagliatelle with Fresh Tomato Sauce

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 15, 2012 0 Comments

Tagliatelle served with this sauce are to die for. And once you taste this fresh tomato sauce, you’ll never use canned tomatoes again. Don’t forget the red wine and buon appetito!

Make one recipe for Homemade Tagliatelle, previously published on this website.

Prep time: 55 to 60 mins for the tagliatelle & 25 mins for the tomato sauce
Serves: 4

8 to 10 large, vine-ripened tomatoes (boiled in water until skins crack; drained and cooled)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Next, prepare the tomato sauce:

1. Set a medium pot filled with 10 cups water to boil. Add tomatoes. When skins crack, tomatoes are cooked.

2. Drain tomatoes and cool. After the tomatoes have cooled, peel them.

2. Transfer the tomatoes in a blender and pulse blend to obtain either a coarsely chopped or puréed consistency; set aside.

3. In a 5-quart sauce pot, heat the oil. Add the garlic and onion to the oil and stir-fry on medium heat until onion is translucent.

4. Remove the sauce pot from the hot burner and carefully stir in the blended tomatoes (stand away from sauce pot so as to avoid hot splatters).

5. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer on medium-low heat, semi-covered.

6. As the sauce simmers, stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and sugar.

7. Simmer the sauce for 20 to 25 minutes; taste and adjust seasonings.

8. Cook tagliatelle in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired tenderness.

9. Set a bowl of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese on table and ask guests to serve themselves.

Red wine pairing suggestion: Aglianico, Barolo, Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Homemade Tagliatelle

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 7, 2012 0 Comments

Tagliatelle is a type of pasta rooted in the tradition of Italy’s northern region of Emilia Romagna. The term “tagliatelle” means “to cut”. After this pasta is cut into ¼-inch thick ribbons, it is cooked and combined with your favorite sauce.

In Italy, the women who taught me to make this truly spoiled me. I mean, I make and eat homemade pasta exclusively. Enjoy these divine tagliatelle, and your pasta palate will change forever.

Prep time: 55 to 60 minutes
Serves: 4

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup durum wheat semolina
4 large eggs

1. In an 8-quart glass or porcelain mixing bowl, stir to combine the flour and semolina. Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Add eggs to the well and beat with a fork. Gradually stir the flour mixture from the sides of the well into the eggs until almost all the flour is absorbed.

2. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and cover it with an inverted bowl; let it rest 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes, cut off 1/4 of the pasta dough and cover the remaining portion (it will be cut into 3 more pieces later).

4. Using slightly floured hands, pat the pasta dough to a ½-inch thickness.

5. With the pasta machine dial on Setting No. 1, slightly push the blob of pasta into the rollers while turning the handle. Stretch out the pasta.

6. Fold the pasta in in thirds; lightly flour the pasta.

7. On Setting No. 2*, roll out the pasta. Fold the dough in half and lightly flour it.

8. On Setting No. 3, roll out the pasta and lightly flour it.

9. On Setting No. 4, roll out the pasta and lightly flour it.

10. Lay the pasta sheet on work surface and, with a pasta wheel, cut the pasta crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces (6 to 8 inches long). Lightly flour the pasta sheet.

11. On Setting No. 5, roll out the pasta. Lay it out on lightly floured, flat surface to dry. Continue rolling instructions with remaining pasta dough, breaking off a piece three more times.

12. As you work with remaining pasta, flip over the previous pieces that have been laid out to dry and lightly dust them with flour. This will speed up the drying process.

13. After all the pasta has been laid out, take the first pieces you worked with and roll them through the ¼-inch wide “tagliatelle” cutter. Place them on a lightly floured surface to dry. Repeat the cutting process until all the pasta has been cut into tagliatelle. Lightly flour the tagliatelle, gently picking them up and arranging them to dry in wavy shapes on a flat surface with some spacing in between the pieces.

14. Meanwhile, prepare your favorite sauce and bring a 6-quart pot of water to boil. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water with 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes.

15. Drain the cooked tagliatelle in a colander and then transfer them to a large serving bowl. Add 2 to 3 ladles of sauce, gently toss.

16. Divide the tagliatelle among four pasta dishes. Place a bowl of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on table for your guests.

Serve with your favorite red or white wine.

*As the setting number of the rollers increases, the opening becomes narrower in order to stretch the pasta sheets.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Chitarra with Mushrooms, Peas & Parmigiano

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On May 17, 2012 0 Comments

This scrumptious pasta was presented to my husband while we were in Rome, Italy. It’s called chitarra, which means “guitar” because the freshly-made pasta sheet is placed on a cutter with strings. By pushing the sheet through strings, the result is a variety of pasta called chitarra. Its shape is long and slightly thicker than spaghetti. Chitarra can be purchased either in Italian grocery stores or from online gourmet food companies.

Typically from Lazio (Rome’s region), chitarra can be made with different sauces. This recipe combines mushrooms, peas, cream and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s not only a traditional dish, but it’s easy – and I’d say that this is the best part!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4

8 ounces white mushrooms (cultivated variety), rinsed and pat dry with paper towels
4 tablespoons fine quality olive oil
1 scallion, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound chitarra pasta variety (spaghetti can be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1. Fill a 6-quart sauce pot with water and set it on high heat.

2. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and set them aside in a bowl.

3. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and chopped scallion to the oil in skillet.

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir fry the mushroom mixture on medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, stir in the salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Continue cooking on medium heat until 3/4 of the mushroom liquid has been absorbed; set skillet with mushroom mixture aside.

6. In the meantime, add the pasta and 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water.

7. Cook pasta for 6 to 7  minutes.

8. After 6 to 7 minutes, add peas to the pasta water.

9. Cook pasta and peas for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente (crunchy-tender).

10. While waiting for pasta to finish cooking, heat the skillet with mushroom mixture.

11. Drain the pasta and peas in a colander (reserve 1-1/2 cups pasta liquid).

12. Transfer the pasta and peas to the hot mushroom mixture in skillet. Stir in 1 cup of the pasta liquid.

13. Using two wooden spoons, gently toss the pasta-mushroom mixture as it simmers or boils.

14. Stir in the cream and 1/2 cup of the cheese.

15. Gently toss and cook until the cream has thickened and pasta has heated through.

16. If pasta seems a little dry, add remaining 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Stir in a little more cheese, to taste.

Serve immediately.

Wine pairing suggestion: Chilled Trebbiano or Pinot Grigio (whites).

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fiery Fettuccine & Meatballs (with Tomato-Chipotle Sauce)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On March 7, 2012 0 Comments

When I lived in the Campania region of Southern Italy, I was my Nonna Annunziata’s sous-chef. I was in charge of making meatballs that would be added to the traditional tomato sauce – every Sunday! At age 10, the kitchen was the last place I wanted to hang out in. And, I got so bored with the usual meatballs that I didn’t eat any for years.

Thanks to my husband, who is from Mexico, I’ve learned to combine a few “His-and-Hers” ingredients and invented this recipe. First, I make the “hot” tomato-chipotle sauce (yes, I add those smoky chiles to the tomatoes). Once the sauce is made, I stir some of it into the meatball mixture and “Ay-ay-ay – che pasta deliziosa!”

Prep time: 20 minutes (forTomato Chipotle Sauce); 30 minutes (for Meatballs)
Serves: 4 to 6

1 medium yellow or white onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
One 32-ounce can Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce*
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
1 pound fettuccine (to be cooked later)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 pounds ground dark turkey meat
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh oregano
3 tablespoons finely chopoped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup tomato-chipotle sauce (this was set aside earlier, to cool)


1. In a food processor, chop the onion and garlic; set aside.

2. Pour the oil in a 6-quart sauce pot set on high heat.

3. When oil is hot but not smoking, stir in the onion-garlic mixture and sauté on medium-high heat for 2 minutes until onion is translucent. Remove sauce pot from heat and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the tomatoes with one chipotle chile. Taste and, if more heat is desired, add another chipotle chile; purée.

5. Return the sauce pot to a hot burner set on medium-high. Stir in the puréed tomato-chiles, salt, black pepper, nutmeg and sugar.

6. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the leaves. Stir the sauce, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. After 15 minutes, turn off the burner.

8. In a glass or porcelain bowl, set aside 3/4 cup of the tomato-chipotle sauce to cool. Cover remaining sauce in sauce pot and set aside.

9. In a 6-quart sauce pot set on medium heat, bring 3-1/2 quarts water to boil. Lower heat and keep water at a gentle boil.


1. Wash and dry hands. In a large glass or porcelain mixing bowl, combine above ingredients and gently mix with clean hands.

2. Wash hands again. With slightly wet hands, shape meat into 2-inch balls. Set the meatballs on a platter.

3. Bring the water in pot to a high boil.

4. Gently drop each meatball into pot and cook or boil the meatballs approximately 8 minutes.

5. After 8 minutes, test one meatball by putting it on a plate and cutting it in half. If the inside of the meatball is no longer pink, but gray, it is done. If the meat is still pink, boil the meatballs another 3 to 4 minutes.

6. With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs from boiling water and transfer them to the tomato-chipotle sauce.

7. Bring the sauce with meatballs to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set sauce pot aside.


1. Fill another 6-quart sauce pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the fettuccine and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.

2. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

3. After 8 minutes, taste the pasta. If it is not tender enough, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Taste again to check doneness of pasta. Drain pasta in a colander.

4. Return the pasta to pot and stir in 2 to 3 ladles of the tomato-chipotle sauce. If more sauce is desired, add 1 to 2 more ladles of sauce to the pasta.

5. Serve pasta in individual bowls with 1 to 2 meatballs. Ask guests to add grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if desired.

Wine pairing suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti.

*Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are a canned product and carried in the international foods section of a supermarket or a Latin American specialty store.

Text & Photographs © 2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Butternut Squash Risotto

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On November 9, 2011 0 Comments

On Thanksgiving Day, while sipping some “vino” with my guests, we’ll make this risotto together. It’s so easy – every time a cup of broth is added to the rice, I’ll pass the wooden spoon to one of my friends so they can do the stirring, aka “all the hard work”.

By adding bits of butternut squash to this “delizioso” risotto, you’ll find a sweet surprise in every spoonful. And with a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, this first course is to die for. Buon Appetito!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a first course) / 8 to 10 (as an appetizer course)

3 cups freshly diced butternut squash (raw)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 pound Arborio rice*
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
0.250 grams saffron powder (not saffron threads)*
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1. In a 2 to 3-quart saucepot, combine squash with cold water (add enough water to cover the squash).

2. Bring to a boil. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and cook 7 to 8 minutes until squash is fork-tender.

3. Drain squash and set aside in a bowl.

4. Meanwhile, in an 8 to 10-quart stockpot, heat the oil. Add onion and garlic; sauté on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent.

5. Stir in the rice and 1 cup of broth. Cook, on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding one cup of broth at a time and cooking 2 minutes until broth is absorbed.

6. Stir in the wine and saffron; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until wine is absorbed.

7. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

8. Repeat broth addition and cooking instructions 5 to 6 more times or until rice is tender-firm (not overcooked).

9. Stir in the butter, salt and pepper. When butter has been absorbed, add the squash, stirring until warmed through.

Serve immediately in individual bowls. Ask guests to add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional).

Wine pairing suggestion: Chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio (whites).

*Arborio rice and Saffron powder can be found in most supermarkets or in specialty foods stores.

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real