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Every day that I post another pasta recipe especially one that isn’t one with gravy, the traditional tomato sauce served with meatballs and/or sausage, I marvel at the seemingly endless ways there are to  incorporate two great food groups;  Pasta, that filling carbohydrate, whose very lack of flavor (except for Barilla), lends itself as a base canvas upon which we can create delicious vegetable dishes from nature’s own colorful palette.  And to think, growing up in my Italian household, I never had any pasta that didn’t have tomato sauce on it except for Friday’s Aglio e Olio, a recipe that I must post – maybe next Friday.

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS EV Olive oil

1 medium yellow onion diced medium

2 medium zucchini, diced medium

1/2 lb cemini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (28 oz) tomato purée

coarse salt and ground pepper

2 TBS fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped

1 lb rigatoni**

DIRECTIONS:

In medium pot or braising pan, heat oil over medium-high.  Add onion and cook till translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add tomato purée, season with salt and pepper, and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 8 mintues.  Stir in oregano.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta.  Serve immediately.

** You can substitute ziti or penne rigate for the rigatoni. Also dicing the vegetables rather small allows them to tuck into the tube pasta.

Recipe from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

Of late, I’ve been blue or maybe gray is a better color description;  Not because I went to see Fifty Shades of Gray, but rather because there are so many things going on in my life.  Work has been troublesome and the immediate future in that arena doesn’t look very promising.  I seem to be in a time and place where if it can go wrong, it does AND it always costs $$$.

Then there’s the fact that it’s February and it’s been so cold here for so long that I can’t imagine we are actually going to have Spring next month.  The gray days of January and February are bad enough but when you live in The City, it can be downright depressing.  Imagine walking to walk when the wind is blowing and the temperature is in single digits.  Then imagine how it is to walk on sidewalks slick with frozen slush or cross streets where each corner is either a black pool or frozen lumps worn slippery by the hundreds of people walking on them.  OK, OK, enough already right?  NO! When the sun comes out and it does, the slick stuff melts and is black slush, something you would never ever walk in and the edges of the sidewalks are lined with piles of snow in Fifty Shades of Gray and Black and are embedded with trash.  This is NOT a criticism of the Sanitation Workers, because for 3 weeks alternate side parking rules have been suspended which means the streets have not been cleaned!

So now that I’ve painted the ugliest picture of NYC and haven’t begun to complain about the forced hot air heat that every apartment has, I will.   I hate the dry hot air which makes my hair fly around with electricity and my face crack, not to mention getting a bloody nose as all my nasal passages dry out.  Yuk that’s awful!! SORRY!

BUT THEN, there’s this…We left the apartment about 5:00 this evening and took the bus up to Fifth Avenue and walked over the Metropolitan Museum.  This IS a world treasure, there’s no doubt about it.  I take it way too much for granted and don’t visit the museum often enough.  We had in mind a few exhibits we wanted to see but of course walking through the museum on your way to one hall or another you are surrounded by art, sculpture, etchings, and artifacts from around the world!  Literally if you have never been to the MET, then you really can’t imagine  how big it is, how chock full of treasures it is and how accessible it is!  We marveled at Byzantine carvings, admired paintings by Jackson Pollack, Seurat, Pissaro, Van Gogh and more AND we hadn’t even gotten to the exhibits. 

We saw drawings and sketches by Paul Cezanne and the complete set of his portraits of Madame Cezanne.  Hortense Fiquet, (Madame Cezanne) was Cezanne’s favorite model, who he eventually married to legitimize his bastard son.  She posed for 29 portraits, never moving an inch and not talking since Paul Cezanne preferred his models to be silent.  This is the first time that the set of paintings known as Madame Cezanne in a Red Chair have ever been exhibited all together and in fact, they have never been together since they left Cezanne’s studio.  Then we were off to see the Caravaggio’s or at least that’s what we thought.  The exhibit was not exactly paintings done by him, it was more about the origin and evolution of musical instruments popular in the time of Caravaggio. However, we did get to view priceless Tintoretto’s and other Italian Renaissance painters.  The paintings were very religious and very beautiful.

We saved the best for last and headed to the American Wing where the fabulous mural, America Today painted by Thomas Hart Benton was displayed.  It’s a breath-taking,  wall-to-wall panorama of life in America in the 1920’s. The palette is rich in primary colors as befitting the strength of the muscled boxers, workers and the whole work itself.  Below is just one of the ten panels that make up this epic work.

AMERICA TODAY

AMERICA TODAY

But before we went into the room that housed these magnificent panels, we spent considerable time viewing his preliminary sketches, his models which were drawings and even small paintings of future sections of the mural-to-be.  There were practice sketches of hands in different poses, of complicated parts of machinery cobbled together and of many characters who would appear in the mural.  This is where I saw beautiful, sexy women just oozing femininity and each with the sparkle of life in the 20’s in their eyes.  They reminded me of my friend, the gorgeous Grace Gotham.  She exudes sensuality when she performs and was surely born in this era before her more recent incarnation.  Her burlesque performances are stellar with her as the shining star;  lithe, graceful and luscious, Grace could have been one of Benton’s models!  But don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself at http://www.gracegotham.com.   Meet Grace!

Grace Gotham

Grace Gotham

 

 

Classic Spaghetti Puttanesca

Classic Spaghetti Puttanesca

Growing up in an Italian Catholic family, Fridays were meatless in our house, and I don’t just mean during Lent!  However, since it is Lent and today is Friday, I thought I’d post a typical Italian Friday pasta dish.  Of course I wouldn’t eat it because I don’t like anchovies, at least not in my pasta or on my pizza. It’s been only in the last two years that I’ve actually used anchovies in a dish and that’s because if you put one or two in a skillet with some heated olive oil, the anchovy will melt leave a subtle flavor behind.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup EV olive oil

1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

2 TBS capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped

3 anchovy fillets, minced

1/3 cup pitted Kalamata or other brined black olives, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups tomato purée (from 15oz can)

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 lb spaghetti

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add grape tomatoes, capers, anchovies, olives, and garlic and cook until fragrant and tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes  Add tomato purée and season with salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes (sauce with be separated).

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water;  drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

Broccoli Pesto and Pasta

Broccoli Pesto and Pasta

If you love broccoli and really who doesn’t unless you’re President Bush or under the age of 18, you will think this recipe for pasta sauce is the greatest thing! Though this sauce is made with broccoli, it resembles pesto because it calls for garlic, basil and pine nuts.  Its color is as pretty s anything pesto has to offer and it has far less fat.  The only step in this recipe that takes much time is the boiling of the water for the pasta.  The broccoli cooks in 5 minutes and is then tossed in the food processor with all the other sauce ingredients.  You could use the broccoli pesto for a dip but it’s so good you will want to eat it in large quantities on linguine.  A plate of sliced tomatoes would  be lovely as a side dish…BUT since there are no plump red juicy tomatoes available at this time of the year, my advice is to skip that idea because it will only detract from the freshness and flavor of your pesto.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb whole broccoli or 8 oz (4 cups) broccoli florets

2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano grated  cheese

1/2 cup packed basil leaves

1 medium clove of garlic

2 TBS olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts

8 oz fresh egg-less linguine (I will surely use dry)

1/8 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Bring water for pasta to boil.

Trim stems from broccoli and cut into florets.  Steam for about 5 minutes, until  tender but firm.  Reserve 6 TBS  cooking liquid. 

Wash and dry basil leaves and pack into measuring cup.

Mince garlic in food processor.  Add basil, olive oil and pine nuts to the food processor, and process until minced.

Cook linguine to package directions

Add steamed broccoli to the other sauce ingredients and process until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, add another TBS or so of water.  Add cheese and process to blend.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Serve over freshly drained pasta.

Recipe from Marian Burros, New York Times

 

Shells with Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, ricotta

Shells with Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, ricotta

This vegetarian pasta dish has the added nutritional value of chickpeas, giving a protein punch to the meal.  Just simple ingredients which nestle nicely into a small curvaceous pasta shape.  In just under an hour, you can prepare the heart-warming and heart-healthy pasta.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup EV olive oil plus more for serving

1 head of cauliflower (about 2#) cut into florets

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

coarse salt and ground pepper

5 ounces crusty bread, cut into 1/2″ pieces (2 cups)

1 lb medium shells or campanelle

3 TBS chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup fresh ricotta Preheat oven to 425º, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together, 2 TBS oil, cauliflower, and chickpeas; season with salt and pepper.  Arrange cauliflower, and chickpeas in a single layer and roast until cauliflower is tender and chickpeas are crunchy, 25 minutes.  On another rimmed baking sheet, arrange bread in a single layer and toast until golden and crisp. 10 minutes.

Meanwhile,in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add cauliflower mixture, 2 TBS oil, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  To serve, top with croutons and ricotta, then drizzle with oil.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

Pasta alla Genovese

Pasta alla Genovese

The temperature at 8:00 am this morning was 8 degrees in Manhattan and baby that’s cold outside when you’re walking to work!  I’ve been posting a lot of vegetarian pasta recipes lately but today calls for a heartier dish.  It would make a delicious  meal this evening BUT only if you’re home from work early or are lucky enough to be home all day.  If that’s the case, this is more of weekend dish because of the amount of time required.  This recipe is decidedly different from some other versions I’ve come across.  Perhaps I’ll post another incarnation tomorrow.

INGREDIENTS:

4 1/4 lb. red onions

1/3 cup EV olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 celery rib, trimmed and roughly chopped

1/4 lb bacon or pancetta

2 1/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 2 inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup dry white wine, plus more if desired

1 lb pasta like ziti, rigatoni or tortiglioni

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Place the onions in the boiling water, and cook, covered, 15 minutes.  Drain the onions, and let cool a bit, then slice very thinly.

Heat half the oil in a large heavy pot (braising pan) over medium heat; stir in the carrots, celery and bacon, and cook 4 minutes.  Add the beef, then cover with the onions.  Pour the remaining oil over the onions, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper.  cover, bring to a simmer and cook gently until the beef is tender, about 2 hours;  the onions will release a good deal of liquid.

Uncover the pot and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring more frequently as the liquid reduces and lowering the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until the meat has fallen apart and the sauce is creamy, about 45 minutes.  Stir in the white wine and taste, adding more wine if desired.  Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook stirring frequently, until the sauce is glossy and quite thick, about 15 minutes more.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and toss with the sauce.  Stir in Parmesan to taste, then serve.

Recipe by Mark Bittman NY Times

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula

What could be more appropriate for this season than a pasta dish that uses ingredients that are fresh and readily available?  This is another quick dish to serve on a busy weekday evening.  And the ingredients are simple enough to find, I might even send the hubby to the store while I’m at work today and whip this up later!

INGREDIENTS:

2 pints grape tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 shallots, cut into eighths

2 TBS fresh thyme leaves

2 TBS EV olive oil

coarse salt and ground pepper

8 oz rigatoni pasta

1/3 cup pitted olives such as Niçoise, coarsely chopped

3 cups baby arugula or spinach

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450º.  Place tomatoes, garlic, shallots and thyme on rimmed baking sheet.  Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until tomatoes burst, shallots are browned and garlic is soft, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta and return to pot.

Peel roasted garlic and mash flat with knife.  Add to pasta pot along with vegetables, olives and pasta water.  Cook over medium-high until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then toss in arugula

Recipe from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

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