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

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When in Rome, Eat Spaghetti

When in Rome, Eat Spaghetti

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 25, 2010 4 Comments

There’s no doubt about it – the inspiration for publishing this family dish came from the movie, Eat, Pray, Love®. Spaghetti has never been high on my list of favorite pasta varieties. However, when I saw Julia Roberts slurping up that succulent spaghetti in Rome, “mi è venuta una gran voglia di mangiare spaghetti” or, “I suddenly got the craving for spaghetti”.

Here’s the spaghetti and sauce recipe I was raised with in Italy – it’s easy, fresh and sweet. Please promise that after making this tomato sauce, you’ll ignore all jarred, ready-made sauces forever!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
3 pounds large red heirloom tomatoes (about 10 to 12 count)
6 to 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, whole
Dash freshy grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 to 7 fresh basil leaves, whole or slivered
1 pound spaghetti
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

1. Quarter the tomatoes, remove and discard seeds.

2. In a food processor or by hand, coarsely chop the tomatoes and set them aside in a large bowl.

3. In a 2-quart saucepot, heat the oil and stir fry the garlic cloves until they turn golden brown.

4. Remove saucepot from heat. Pour the chopped tomatoes over garlic and oil in saucepot and bring to a boil. Stir in the grated nutmeg.

5. Cook tomato sauce on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the fresh basil, set aside and keep warm.

6. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart saucepot, bring water to a boil. Add spaghetti to boiling water.

7. Using tongs, push the pasta into the water as it softens. Set heat on medium and boil the pasta 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente or crunchy-tender.

8. Drain pasta and transfer it to a large glass or porcelain serving bowl. Add 3 ladles of tomato sauce and stir gently.

9. Serve pasta in individual bowls and top with some tomato sauce. Ask guests to add their own grated cheese.

Wine pairing: Fiano di Avellino (white); Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese (reds).

Buon Appetito!

Note: To avoid overcooking, begin tasting pasta after 6 minutes cooking time (since each pasta variety has a different density, cooking times will vary).

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mango Coconut Thai Rice

Mango Coconut Thai Rice

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 2, 2010 2 Comments

While lounging under a palm tree at the beach last week, I was suddenly overcome by the memory of a trip to Thailand. In my mind I was comparing the fruitless palms of Santa Monica to those bursting with coconuts on the shores of North Pattaya Beach. One of our meals on the beach had included a side of rice containing coconut and my favorite fruit, mango. Here’s the recipe that I recreated upon my return to Los Angeles.

Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, white parts finely sliced (green tips discarded)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup Jasmine rice, uncooked
2-1/2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala spice or curry powder
1/4 cup coconut milk combined with 1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mango (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 to 6 purple cabbage leaves (for garnish)

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Stir-fry the onions, bell pepper and rice on medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the coconut water, shredded coconut, salt, Garam Masala or curry powder.

3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 12 to 15 minutes or until rice looks dry.

4. Pour the coconut-water mixture evenly over the rice. Cover and continue cooking on low for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

5. After 3 to 5 minutes, uncover and gently stir in the cilantro, mango and red pepper flakes.

6. Divide rice evenly among cabbage leaves and serve as a side to poultry, seafood or meats.

Note: Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend and can be found in ethnic grocery stores or online.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pasta alla Messicana

Pasta alla Messicana

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On April 16, 2010 0 Comments

In the summer of 2007 I worked at my aunt’s restaurant, La Locandina, located in Southern Italy. Having been exposed to Mexican cuisine for many years in California, I decided to bring ingredients to make foods from south of the border. When I prepared and served Mexican food, the Italians went wild over new flavors such as cilantro, avocados and chiles, especially in this pasta dish that I created. Make my Mexican pasta and post comments to let me know how your guests liked it!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, rinsed and chopped (measure first, then chop)
1-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound any variety short pasta
2/3 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks)
1 large ripe avocado (peeled and cut into cubes or slices at serving time – this prevents blackening)
2 fresh Serrano chiles, finely chopped and set in a small serving bowl
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, set in a small serving bowl

1. In a 4-quart pot, bring 10 cups of cold water to a boil.

2. In the meantime, combine the tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, 3/4 teaspoon salt and olive oil in a large porcelain or glass serving bowl. Toss lightly and set aside.

3. Add pasta and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling water and cook on medium heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente (crunchy tender).

4. After 8 minutes, add the peas, corn and carrot to the pasta during the last minute of the boil (if softer pasta is preferred, cook another minute or two).

5. Drain the pasta, peas, corn and carrot in a colander.

6. Transfer the pasta and cooked vegetables to the bowl containing the tomato mixture. Toss lightly and taste.

7. Serve in individual bowls and garnish pasta with the avocado. Ask guests to add chiles and cheese, if desired.

Accompany this exciting pasta dish with your choice of red or white wine.

Buon Appetito!
Buen Provecho!

Tips:

To avoid overcooking pasta, begin tasting it after a 6-minute boil. Most pasta varieties require an 8 to 10 minute-boil.
When cooking pasta containing durum wheat semolina, there is no need to add oil to the water.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real