October 29, 2014

My Favorite Pasta Sauces



Of all the food, there is always one that I can go back to, as my favorite and if I can call it... comfort food.
It's pasta.
I must admit, I could eat pasta anytime anywhere.  
I tried good and bad recipes and developed over the years some good and really great pasta sauces and dishes. As my daughter started her journey with cooking recently, she asked about my pasta recipes, and complained that I have actually never put my best home pasta recipes on the blog.
I thought that those are too simple to write about?! Not too clever of me! 

When you make pasta, you must know few important facts and your pasta will rarely go bad!

So here are some tips, recipes and methods of the experienced pasta maker:



TIPS

To create the best possible pasta dish:

1. Have a good Italian (made in Italy) dried or homemade fresh pasta
2. For a sauce use good canned whole peeled Roma tomatoes (Italian recommended) or fresh ripened Roma tomatoes. People usually make a mistake by using canned crushed tomato or tomato paste or sauce.
3. Fresh basil enhance sauce and pasta, much more than dried basil. It can also be substitute with 1 tsp of pesto.
4. At the end of cooking of tomato sauce always add a little bit of cream, it will give a great silky texture and improve taste of cooked sauce.
5. Whenever possible, add wine when cooking sauce with tomato if you like stronger sauce, especially with meat and seafood added in.
6. 1LB OF DRY PASTA IS ENOUGH FOR FOUR REGULAR PEOPLE, 1 1/2 LB FOR VERY HUNGRY PEOPLE



6. Trow few dried hot pepper seeds at the beginning of sauce cooking, along with a loads of chopped garlic at the end of cooking.
 It really improves the taste.
7. Use good Parmesan or Romano grated cheese at the end.

So here are some of my most frequent and favorite pasta recipes, you can find more on my Pasta page...



MY FAVORITE SAUCES


BASICS:



Basic pasta sauce (with fresh tomatoes)


(for 4 people and 1lb of cooked pasta)
tomato should look like this after 1 min in boiling water


8 fresh Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano and basil mixed
salt, pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minutes. Take them out and put in cold water. Cool them and cut in pieces. Heat the olive oil and add tomatoes cut in pieces or crushed in the pot. Cook slowly on low for about 30 min. If it evaporates add spoon of water or if you prefer stronger taste, bit of vine. At the end add garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and cook for about 1 minutes. 

if wanted, cream can be added at the end.




Basic tomato sauce for pasta (without fresh tomatoes):

for 4 people:

1/2 small onion
1 large can of Italian peeled tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano and basil mixed
salt, pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

heat the olive oil and add chopped onion in. After 5 min, add whole jar of tomatoes cut in pieces or crushed in the pot. cook slowly on low for about 20 min- 30 min. If it evaporates add spoon of water or if you prefer stronger taste, bit of vine. At the end add garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and cook for about 1 minutes. 

If prefer more creamy and les acidic taste, add bit of cream at the end of cooking. 
Most of my sauces are finished with a spoon of cream at the end.



Bolognese sauce
(for 4 people and 1lb of cooked pasta)


2 cups canned tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped pancetta (or bacon)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1lb ground beef
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato paste (if needed)
3/4 cup (175ml) good-quality dry wine
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cups (155g) freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan


with penne
with linguine


PREPARATION:

Drain the tomatoes, reserving their juice. Chop the tomatoes and set aside with their juice. Warm the oil in a pan. Add the pancetta and saute until golden with onion, until softened, 10-12 minutes. 







Add to the vegetables in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Saute until the meat is lightly colored, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice and wine. Simmer until sauce is thick, about 1/2 hour. Check the seasoning and set aside. Spread over cooked pasta.




Fresh Seafood sauce:

1lb mussels
1/2 lb scallops
1/2 lb peeled shrimps
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup vine
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 tbsp cream (milk)

Regular tomato sauce (explained previously)

Clean mussels and shrimps in clean fresh water. Heat in large pan olive oil and add finely chopped garlic and parsley. Cook for about 5 min and add shrimps and cook on both sides for about 10 min and add scallops and mussels. Add vine and cook all until soft and mussels open. Meantime tomato sauce should be ready and you can add in seafood along with 3 tbsp of "seafood liquid". If sauce is too thick, add few tbsp of tomato paste and water. Cook for about 5 more min. At the end add 1 tbsp of cream or milk, more chopped garlic and basil and oregano. Mix well and spoon over cooked pasta.
  
Seafood sauce with frozen seafood:




1 1/2 pack of mixed frozen seafood (1 lb)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup vine
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 tbsp cream (milk)
Regular tomato sauce (explained earlier)
Feta goat cheese for topping at the end

Heat in large pan olive oil and add finely chopped garlic and parsley. Cook for about 1-2 min and add seafood and cook on both sides until defrosted. Add vine and cook all until soft. Meantime your tomato sauce should be ready and you can add in your seafood. If sauce is too thick, add few tbsp of tomato paste and water. Cook for about 5 more min. At the end add 1 tbsp of cream or milk, more chopped garlic and basil and oregano. Mix well and spoon over cooked pasta.  Add feta and chopped garlic.




Arugula truffle penne




2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
250 gr (1/2 lb) pancetta or prosciutto diced
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, cut 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp black truffle paste (cream) in a jar
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano, plus extra for serving
1 bunch of baby arugula
500 gr (1 lb) big shaped dry pasta (penne, farfalle, macaroni) 


Bring  salted water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan or big oval clay pot dish, heat the olive oil over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add prosciutto and cook for 5 more minutes.


 Add cherry tomatoes cut in halves and cook five more minutes until tomato skin starts to peel off.Remove from the heat. Take the skin of tomatoes out. Cook the pasta, drain, reserving little bit of cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the reserved cooking water to the pan. Add the arugula and toss for about 30 more seconds.


 Add the truffle paste and the grated cheese; mix well and toss over high heat for one minute.






VARIATIONS:
If you prefer tomato taste here, add 1/2 l of cherry tomatoes or opt out for more dry version.
If you love wild mushrooms, add along truffle paste, previously bake 1 lb of wild mushrooms in oven with a bit of olive oil and basil, salt and pepper and add to the sauce.


Pasta carbonara


A true carbonara has no cream. The key is to toss and thoroughly mix the cooked pasta off the heat with the cheese, eggs, pepper, and pasta water, to create a creamy yet not overly thick sauce.


3 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
150 g Pancetta, or good Bacon
1 lb Spaghetti or fettuccine
1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano
4 large Eggs, separated
Freshly ground Black Pepper

pesto- optional

Bring large pot of water to boil, and add 2 tbsp salt.



Combine the olive oil and bacon in a pan set over medium heat, and cook unit the pancetta/bacon has rendered its fat and is crispy and golden. Remove from the heat and set aside (do not drain the fat).
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until just al dente. Scoop out ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the bacon, and then toss in the pasta and heat, shaking the pan, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add 1 cup of the Parmigiano, the egg whites, and pepper to taste, and toss until thoroughly mixed.
Divide the pasta among four warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center of each one, and gently drop an egg yolk into each nest. Season the egg yolks with more pepper and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup Parmigiano over the top. Serve immediately.

TIPS: It is OK if you just add whole eggs together immediately without previously separate them. Separation is only for better presentation.

Real carbonara does not include pesto, but I just love amazing aroma of basil so I add that at the end for my plate.


Mac and cheese

This is my kids favorite. Tried many recipes and this one is more like Italian style of this popular American pasta, since I add prosciutto and chopped fresh basil before I bake it in the oven. better cheese you mix inn, the better taste of your macaroni will be at the end. 
If you want fancy dish, add truffle paste in the cheese mix.


Ingredients 
  
Sauce 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
3 tbsp all-purpose flour 
1 - 1 1/2 cups whole milk 
1 1/2 cups of grated variety of hard and medium hard cheese ( Mozzarella, edam, gouda, cheddar, jack, crubled goat feta)
2 tbsp cream cheese
½ teaspoon salt 
pinch of chili powder 
black pepper freshly ground (1/2 tsp)
100 g chopped prosciutto
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

300 g elbow macaroni

breadcrumbs for topping
2 tsp truffle paste (optional)

To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili powder. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or oil an small or medium sized baking dish (clay preferably). Cook macaroni very al dente (not soft). (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well. 
Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix carefully but thoroughly. Add in prosciutto and basil. Mix well. Scrape the pasta mix into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheeses, basil and breadcrumbs. 

Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving .



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FRESH PASTA MAKING:





















Regular pasta dough:

1 1/2  cups white flour (best 00 type)
2 extra large  eggs

Break the eggs into the flour well, and start working with a fork. Continue by hand until a dough is no long sticky. Leave it rest for an hour if possible. Roll out by hand or machine, as shown on pictures.



Green pasta

This is pasta, traditionally made with spinach.

3/4 cup cookies fresh spinach, or frozen spinach thawed and cooked for 5 minutes
1 1/2 cups white flour (Italian or any other type 00 works the best)
2 large eggs

Squeeze all the liquid out of spinach. Chop it finely. Add it to the flour with eggs, knead and roll out as normal pasta.




Red pasta

This pasta dough is made with tomato, and is called for that reason Pasta Rossa - Red pasta.

4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs
11/2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste

Mix all ingredients together and rest for an hour. Dry ten minutes before cooking because this dough is more soft than a regular one.




STEPS:

prepare pasta dough




 Split the dough in four or more pieces and start developing on a a pasta machine on lowest setting (1). 




When the dough is out take it and put back on higher setting (2). If you want really thin pasta, last setting should be (6).




Take your long dough strip out and lay over floured surface. Continue developing until last dough is used. 



Start cutting the dough into narrow strips. Leave it to dry a bit and mix with some flour.



Cook in large pot of boiling water until they are ready (3 min- 5 min)



Spread over some freshly made sauces from the list.


Unusual Pasta, Gniochi, Timpano, Lasagna, Soup dumplings
(go to my Pasta page..)

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