Tag Archives: pasta

Sardine Pasta

imageI’ve been on a mission lately to work my way through some of the recipes I’ve clipped from newspapers and magazines and stashed away, sometimes for years.  I sorted through my collection the other day and couldn’t part with any of them.  Apparently, there was a reason why each recipe was clipped and saved.  Of course, they serve little purpose if I don’t actually make any of the recipes.  That’s why I decide to make one recipe a week – or at least that is my stated goal – and try out some of these cool recipes.

imageLast night, I made a sardine pasta recipe that I clipped from the Chicago Tribune.  Oddly enough, my nine year loves sardines and will happily eat them on crackers for a snack after school.  When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.

imageSardines have really gone out of fashion, similar to canned tuna.  Once a staple of all pantries, most people find sardines fishy, oily and all around unappealing.  When I was growing up in Maine, sardine plants packing plants were a part of the working waterfront.  No longer.  The sardines for sale at the grocery store are all packed abroad and imported into the U.S.

imageRegardless, I think people should give sardines another chance.  They are a healthy fish that are affordable and sustainably fished.  I think they are pretty tasty too.  Tough to find many fish with those qualities and I love the idea of having a can on hand to make a quick meal.

imageThis recipe is called Pasta chi sari a mari, or “pasta with sardines that are still in the sea” and was based on a recipe by the late actor Vincent Schiavelli.  Admittedly, I have no idea who this actor is but the recipe was simple and delicious.

The only real change I’ve made is to add course salt to the recipe. Surprisingly, the recipe was lacking in that department, since I thought the sardines would take care of the saltiness.  Dig in!

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Pasta chi sari a mari

  • Servings: 4-6
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1/4 C golden raisins
1/2 C fresh breadcrumbs
1 can (120 grams) sardines in olive oil
3 T olive oil
1 whole clove garlic
1 t fennel seeds
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/4 C chopped fennel fronds
2 T chopped parsley
1 pound pasta
course salt
freshly ground pepper

Cover the raisins in boiling water; set aside to soften.  Fill large pot with water, cover and put over high heat.  Heat skillet over medium heat, add breadcrumbs, sprinkle liberally with course salt and drizzle with oil from sardines to moisten.  Toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

When the water comes to a rapid boil, add about a teaspoon of salt and cook al dente according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, over medium heat put 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot that will hold the pasta.  Add the garlic clove, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic.

Put the sardines and remaining oil into the skillet and break the fish into bite sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  When the pasta is done, drain, reserving a 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.  Add the pasta and reserved liquid to the skillet.  Drain the raisins and add them to the skillet, along with the parsley and fennel fronds.  Increase the heat to medium high, stirring constantly until the water is evaporated.

Serve pasta with the toasted breadcrumbs on top.

 

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Fresh Ricotta Pasta

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One of the things I’ve realized over time, is that a lot of the commercial ready-made products that we buy are a poor imitation of the real thing. What do I mean by real thing? Something that was made by hand, in small batches (artisanal if you will, although these days, I find that word to be a bit trite) and eaten within days of being made.

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The grocery store where I regularly shop has a wonderful deli section, and I’ve always noticed that they sell fresh ricotta cheese by the pound. I’ve only ever used commercial ricotta and I’ve been wanting to try the real thing to see how it compares. My children typically don’t like ricotta. I think it has something to do with the grainy texture. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the grainy texture either and was curious to see what fresh ricotta was like.

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I decided to make a pasta recipe I’ve tried long ago. The recipe is from a great cookbook called Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. This cookbook, the second by these chefs, is aptly named and has a lot of simple and delicious recipes.

I started by putting a large pot of water to boil on the stove.  While waiting for the water to boil, I enlisted my children to help me cut a pint of cherry tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds. I figured if they helped me with cooking the pasta, they’d be more willing to try ricotta cheese again.

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We found using your thumb to push the seeds and juice out was the easiest method, and also prevented them from spraying everywhere. I then finely chopped a clove of garlic and combined it with the tomatoes, seasoning the mixture with salt and pepper and then allowing it to marinate about 15 minutes or so.

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I also put the ricotta into a separate bowl and seasoned it with some salt and pepper. I coarsely chopped about a 1/2 cup of fresh basil. I dumped a pound of orecchiette pasta into the boiling with water with a sprinkling of course salt and cooked until el dente.

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If you’ve never had orecchiette pasta you are missing out. They look like these little suction cups (which is what my eight year old calls them) which allow the sauce or whatever you’re mixing in to nestle perfectly in the pasta. If you don’t have any orecchiette on hand, or can’t find it in the store, than any other small pasta such as bow ties, or campanelle will be a fine substitute.

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While the pasta was cooking I heated the tomato mixture over low heat in a medium size pot. Once the pasta was done I drained it, added it to the tomato mixture, sprinkled in the fresh basil and then gently stirred in the ricotta cheese.  I topped it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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Delicious – fresh ricotta bares no resemblance to the commercial variety. It’s creamy in texture (no graininess to be found) and very light. It is consistent with my experience: the homemade version is always better. And the girls really loved this pasta too!

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Fresh Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
small bunch fresh basil
1 T olive oil
1 C ricotta cheese
1 pound orecchiette pasta
3 T grated parmesan cheese salt and pepper

Place a large pot of water to boil. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out seeds and juice. Finely chop clove of garlic and combine with the tomatoes and olive oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and let marinate for 15 minutes. Put ricotta in bowl and season with salt and pepper. When water boils, add orecchiette pasta to water and cook per package instructions to el dente. Gently heat tomato mixture over low heat in pot. Add cooked pasta and fresh basil stirring together. Stir in ricotta cheese and gently combine. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Maddy’s Pasta

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This creamy pasta recipe is delicious. We call it “Maddy’s Pasta” after the little girl who gave us this recipe. Let me just say it is not a meal to eat the night before you get your cholesterol checked. Heavy cream and pancetta play prominent roles in this recipe but it is good. Really good.

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The recipe is adapted from a cookbook my daughter’s second grade class put together over the holidays. Everyone was supposed to contribute their favorite recipe. I’ve tried a number of them because it’s a great compilation of tried-and-true family favorites.

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I’ve made this pasta with whatever fresh herb I have on hand and they all work well. This time I used fresh marjoram which has a nice floral note, but fresh thyme also works exceptionally well. I’ve also substituted prosciutto and left over ham for the pancetta with good results.

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I recommend buying your pancetta (or whatever meat you prefer) from the deli department and ask them to give you a whole chunk. The meat can be diced at home. I’ve also used various types of pasta and I think it works well with any type. The sauce thickens and coats the pasta nicely.

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Enjoy!

Maddy’s Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 T unsalted butter
2 oz pancetta, diced
1/4 C minced shallots
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1 t fresh marjoram leaves, minced
1 pound pasta freshly ground parmesan to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat and add pancetta.  Cook until crisp.  Add shallots and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add remaining butter, cream, salt, pepper and marjoram and simmer over medium heat until the cream is reduced by half.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta.  Following package directions, cook until al dente.  Drain.  Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve.