Category Archives: pancetta

Pasta e Fagioli

Standard

Hello and happy Friday everyone! I know it has been quite a while since I posted. I have been under the weather for the last week and didn’t do any cooking, so I was so happy to finally cook!! I have been wanting to make this soup for so long but for some reason I just never got around to it. But since I have been under the weather soup sounded soooo good!!

Trust me I was so glad I made that decision. This soup is so good and is going to become one of my favorite comfort foods now. If you like soup and/or Italian flavors you have got to make this. I put crushed red pepper flakes in mine and it just gives it a little heat, but if you don’t like that you can omit them and it would be just as good.

Make sure to have some nice crusty bread to sop up all of that tasty broth, and have your appetite with you too!!

Pasta e Fagioli

  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped
  • 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
  • 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini
  • 1 generous handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
  • Crusty bread, for mopping
Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup, add the parsley, and place pot on table on a trivet. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Standard

I love pasta almost as much as I love Mexican food. Any shape or size, give me a sauce and some Parmesan cheese and I will have at it! Unfortunately not all of my family shares in my love. However, since I do the cooking I am able to pop it on the menu as much as I want. One of the perks I enjoy about being in charge of the kitchen. Plus I can just say “Hey I am a food blogger. I have to give the people what they want”. That seems to quiet them down. 


I  had been wanting to try a bolognese sauce for quite some time. I was just worried because everyone I talked to made it seem like it was such a hard sauce to  make. Once I tried it I asked myself what in the heck took me so long! Yes, it takes a while to make but trust me, it is well worth the work. The sauce is so creamy and rich. It is just a huge hug for your tummy!

This was one pasta that everyone enjoyed. Don’t pass up the ricotta cheese on top either. It was icing on the cake! I will keep this on on the list of recipes to do again. I know you will love it too!

Spaghetti Bolognese

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red wine 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (I used tagiatelle pasta though) 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh ricotta cheese

Reconstitute the mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender, drain and coarsely chop.
Puree the mushrooms, pancetta, onion, celery stalks, carrots, garlic, together in a blender.
In a heavy-bottomed pot add olive oil, bay leaves, herbs and cook gently until fragrant, then add vegetable puree and continue to cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
Raise the heat a bit and add the ground pork and beef; brown until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour in the tomatoes, and wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is very thick. Taste again for salt and pepper.
When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm. Drain the pasta well and toss with the Bolognese sauce.
Serve with a good scoop of fresh ricotta cheese and garnish with some shredded basil, grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil.

Big Beef Balls with Bucatini

Standard


I chose this recipe because Kevin’s daughter was coming for dinner and she had told me she like spaghetti. I was excited to find something that I could cook that would not only make her happy, but also be from the “365 No Repeats” book. Unfortunately she didn’t make it for dinner, but we liked what we had.


Sometimes the ingredients that Rachael puts in her recipes drive me crazy. I know she says that she lives in a small town and her store carries these things but my stores a lot of the time DON’T, and that makes me nuts. I mean nuttier than I already am. The one in this recipe was the bucatini pasta. I had seen her use this pasta on 30 Minute Meals and thought it would be interesting however, I hadn’t been able to find pappardelle pasta anywhere until just recently. I was determined to not be negative about the hunt for this elusive pasta and off I went into the gray skies and drizzle to complete my quest.


As I began to scour the pasta isle of the store, I started getting more and more depressed thinking I was not going to be able to find a major part of this meal (I mean it is in the name of the recipe for God’s sake!) I had to be able to find this pasta! Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pasta that looked like spaghetti but much thicker. Ok I knew bucatini is this hollow spaghetti so I snatched up the bag like it was a pot of gold. Much to my dismay, when I turned the package over the pasta was called perciatelli. My smile fell and my frustration grew. I must have gone through every single type of pasta they had at the store, and was just about to give up and buy regular spaghetti and issue my apologies when a light bulb went off in my head. I grabbed my trusty iPhone and jumped on Google. I did a search for perciatelle pasta and the very first one said perciatelli a fun spaghetti like noodle with a tiny hole running through it YAY!!! DING DING DING I found it. After I did my little happy dance, and the lady down the isle looked at me like I shouldn’t be drinking this early in the day. I purchased my little treasure and away we went, home to make a wonderful meal with this exciting new treat. I know it is crazy that I am this excited about pasta right? I need to get out more.


I followed this recipe very closely. I think that the meatballs need another egg or less bread crumbs because mine had a hard time staying together. They also need to cook longer in the oven. I cooked mine for the exact amount of time the recipe said and they were not cooked all the way through. My answer to that was to place them in with the sauce and cover the pot so they could finish cooking that way. It didn’t help the problem of them not staying in one piece, in fact it probably added to the problem, but they were nicely cooked and took on a lot of the sauce, which we all really liked. All in all we felt it was very tasty. The bucatini pasta was fun. We all acted like little kids slurping sauce through the noodles. I like any recipe that makes you have fun!


I really need to get some different plates, the plain white is getting boring for all of the pictures. Although it does make the food the focus, so we will see.



Big Beef Balls with Bucatini


  • coarse salt
  • 1 pound bucatini (thick hollow spaghetti)
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground  beef
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup Italian style bread crumbs ( a couple of overflowing handfuls)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some to pass at the table
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano variety if available
  • 1/2 fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
  • 12 cremini (baby portabello) mushrooms caps, chopped
  • 1/2 beef stock

Directions


Preheat the oven to 400. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.


Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Cook onions in 1 tablespoon of the EVOO for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and set them aside to cool.  In a large bowl, mix the meat with half of the onions, 3 cloves of the chopped garlic, the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, allspice, capers, sage, a handful of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and a healthy drizzle of EVOO. Score the meat into 4 sections and make three very large balls from each section. Arrange the 12 balls on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes until firm, but not hard.


Add salt to the boiling water and drop the bucatini in, cook to al dente. Drain the pasta.


While the pasta and meatballs are cooking, heat another tablespoon of the EVOO in the skillet in which the onions were cooked. Add the pancetta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the remaining garlic and the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the remaining onions back and deglaze the pan with the red wine, cook for 1 minute, add the beef stock, and whisk up any brown bits. Stir in the tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes.


Toss the pasta with half of the sauce. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the remaining sauce, turning to coat. Serve 3 meatballs per person alongside the pasta. Spoon any remaining sauce over the pasta. Pass extra cheese at the table. Serve with a green salad.


Serves 4
Ground Beef on Foodista

Food Star Friday – Creamy Spaghetti and Beans

Standard




I was watching 30 Minute Meals, like I always do, and saw a recipe that sounded so good. Rachael said it was like a warm hug for your tummy. With the weather being so chilly at night here now I figured this was just what we needed.


I liked the sounds of this recipe because it is a sort of risotto made with spaghetti. It just sounded so interesting.. Plus I love white beans. Once she threw the word “creamy” in the mix I was already salivating!



It is a super simple recipe to make, not very many ingredients, it just takes time. You need to be on top of things and watch your pot so you can add the chicken stock when needed. 


I always have cannellini beans on hand so I substituted those for the Roman beans the recipe called for. I also left the carrots out. Since I am a huge bean fan I added 2 cans rather than the one can the recipe called for and it was a good thing because I kept nibbling on beans the whole time the meal was cooking!


Rachael really did hit the nail on the head by saying a bowl of this was a nice warm hug for your tummy. I know the weather is getting warmer so it may not seem like you need a “warm hug” but if it is cool or you just feel a bit under the weather, make this one. You won’t be sorry you did!

Creamy Spaghetti and Beans

Ingredients

5 to 6 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound pancetta chopped into small dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound spaghetti
i medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into a small dice
1 fresh bay leaf
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 (15 ounce) can Roman beans or small white beans (recommended: Goya brand)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine, eyeball it
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
a generous handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place the stock in a sauce pot and warm it over medium heat then reduce to a simmer.

Heat EVOO and butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta to brown slightly. Next add the garlic and the spaghetti and toast noodles lightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions and carrots, bay leaf, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Soften veggies a bit, 5 minutes. Add wine and allow it to be completely absorbed. Add beans and then a few ladles of stock and stir the pasta. Keep adding stock a few ladles at a time allowing liquid to be mostly absorbed before adding more, as if you were preparing a risotto. When liquids are absorbed and spaghetti is cooked to al-dente, 12 to 15 minutes, stir in cheese. Adjust salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir another minute. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems. Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with lots of parsley.

Serves 4

Pin It

Roasted Asparagus with Grape Tomatoes, Garlic, and Pancetta

Standard

This one of those recipes that comes to mind on the fly when you have veggies in the fridge and need something to do with them. Last night I was making a meal for my Food Star Friday segment and had the recipes all picked out. When when WHEN will I learn to read ahead? I mean I go over the recipe to check ingredients but I am soooo bad about not reading the recipe thoroughly until the night I am making it. Well it bit me in the butt this time. I was going to make deep fried asparagus but when it came time to prep everything for the meal i look down and read “Soak asparagus in buttermilk for 12 to 24 hours” oh cr@p what am I going to do now?

My answer was to hit the fridge and pull out all of the veggies I had. I lined them up on the counter and looked them over. I probably looked like a drill instructor making sure his troops were staying in line. I then walked down the line and “shopped” for the items I thought would go well together. Satisfied with my choices I put the rest of the veggies back in the fridge with a promise that I would use them soon.

Once I made my choices I just knew they would be awesome together. I just hoped Kevin would feel the same. Into the oven they went and 10 minutes later I pulled out the yummy smelling goodness that once were random ingredients. WOW I was a happy camper. Kevin came in and the first thing he said was “What smells so good?” yesssssssss I love hearing that! And I am happy to say it tasted as good as it smelled.

Roasted Asparagus with Grape Tomatoes, Garlic, and Pancetta 
1 bunch pencil thin asparagus
1 cup grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 pound diced pancetta
1 lemon, juiced
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
Hold one of the asparagus spears and bend it till it snaps, use that as a guideline to trim the rest of the bunch. Throw away the woody ends and scatter trimmed asparagus on a rimmed cooking sheet. Scatter grape tomatoes, garlic, and diced pancetta on cooking sheet as well. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out into an even layer on the cooking sheet. Roast in oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and place in a large bowl, making sure to scrape all of the roasted garlic from the sheet. Add lemon juice and toss. Salt if necessary. Serve warm

Rachael Ray Wednesday – Christmas Pasta

Standard

No, I have not lost my mind. I know it isn’t Christmas time. Although I wish it was since Christmas is my favorite time of year.

The reason this recipe is called Christmas pasta is, in Rachael’s words, “For Italians, after all those fishes on Christmas Eve, this dish, with four different meats in it, is especially nice on Christmas Night”.

Kevin did the same thing that I am sure many of you did when you first read the recipe title…

K: But it’s not Christmas.
B: Yes, yes, I know honey, this isn’t JUST for Christmas, it is just the name of the recipe.
K: Well if it isn’t JUST for Christmas why is it called Christmas Pasta.
B: Rachael explains in the recipe that it was just her way of getting “meat” in a meal after all the fish Italians eat on Christmas Eve.
K: Well I still think she should have named it something else.
B: Maybe you are right….now can we cook?

When you first look at this recipe it seems like a lot of ingredients and well, it is a lot of ingredients,  but not a big hassle to make. Rachael mentions that she has used this recipe in several of her books and is constantly redoing it to make it quicker and easier. I think it is just fine the way it is.

Oh and Kevin decided he loved this. He is the one that looks at a meal I might be making and the first thing he asks “Is there meat?”. I will never sneak vegetarian food in on him that is for sure. I am walking a fine line when I make Pasta Carbonara! He still doesn’t like the name of the recipe though. Oh well, as long as they eat it right?

I am not Italian,  but I can tell you that this was a BIG bowl of Merry Christmas to ME!

The picture does not do this meal justice, I am sorry!
Christmas Pasta

Salt
1 pound rigatoni2 tablespoons EVOO
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage (No bulk? Split a link open)
1/4 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 teaspoon allspice, eyeball it in your palm
Course black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry red wine, a couple of glugs
1 cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (a generous handful), finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, with a bite to it.
While the water and pasta work, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, the sausage, both hot and sweet, to the other. Break up the sausage into bits and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and cook together another minute of so. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, then the beef and veal. Brown and crumble all of the meat into tiny bits and season with allspice, salt, and pepper. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes to soften the vegetables, then add the sausage and pancetta back into the pan. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes. Check the seasoning. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve, at least 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add back to the hot pot. Ladle a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the pasta, and add a couple of handfuls of cheese to the pot. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Transfer to a large serving dish or individual bowls and top with the remaining sauce and parsley. Pass plenty of extra cheese at the table.
Serves 6