Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Amo l'Italia!

Bless those wonderful Italians for making pasta what it is today!  What would I do without pasta?  It's one of my favorites.  My comfort food.  I'd probably even choose it for my last meal if I had any say in the matter.

I'm going to share some new wonderful Italian food discoveries.  They are all quick and easy and I really think you'll like them.

Creamy Pasta with Crispy Salami


3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan
4 ounces salami
Olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
3/4 pound spaghetti
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley


Whisk together eggs and Parmesan in a large bowl.  Cut salami into 1/2 inch strips.  Heat a skillet over medium-high, then coat with olive oil.  Cook salami and garlic until salami is crisp.  Cook spaghetti, before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta water.  Add hot pasta to egg mixture, along with garlic and half the salami.  Toss, adding enough pasta water to coat pasta in a creamy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve topped with a sprinkle of parsley and remaining salami.

Source: Martha Stewart, Everyday Food magazine and online.

Notes: This is a fun variation on pasta carbonara.  If you don't have salami, you can go the traditional route and use bacon instead.

Oh, and I must strongly suggest that you use freshly ground pepper in this dish.  It makes all the difference!

I cooked a whole pound of pasta.  My youngest son is allergic to eggs, so before I added the pasta to the egg mixture, I reserved some of the pasta in a bowl just for him.  To that bowl, I tossed the pasta with a little butter, some Parmesan cheese, and a little garlic salt.  I also added some of the salami to his pasta (and he LOVED it).  Oh, and as always, I forgot the parsley.  :)

Pasta and Easy Italian Meat Sauce


4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 pound ground beef
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound fettuccine
Grated Parmesan, for serving


Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium.  Stir in carrot, onion, and garlic.  Add ground beef, and cook until it turns from pink to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and their liquid, crushing them with the back of a large spoon.  Stir in milk, bay leaf, thyme, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook fettuccine until al dente according to package instructions, about 12 minutes.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain fettuccine, and return to the warm pot.  Add meat sauce, and toss.  Add pasta water as needed if the sauce seems dry.  To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe.

Notes: I decreased the butter to 1 tbsp.  I also increased the ground beef to 1 lb.  I made two final changes.  I added another 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes (diced or whole-peeled tomatoes work great).  I also added about 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to give it a little kick.

The recipe suggests crushing the tomatoes with the back of a large spoon.  This never works super great for me.  I prefer to use kitchen shears to cut up the tomatoes while they are still in the can.  Then, when I have poured the tomatoes into the beef mixture, all they need to do is simmer.  Everything else is done.

Also, since I always add an additional can of tomatoes (I like more tomatoes than the recipe calls for), it is unnecessary for me to add additional pasta water.  The sauce never has a problem with being too dry with that many tomatoes in it.

Oh, and don't forget the Parmesan on top!  It's great either way though.

Italian Chicken


6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian stewed tomatoes
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Hot cooked rice (or pasta)


Place chicken in a slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, 3/4 cup water, onion, bouillon and seasonings; pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees F.

Transfer chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.  Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth.  Gradually stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Serve with chicken and rice.

Source: Taste of Home.

Notes: I used 4 chicken breast halves (probably less than 8 ounces each).  I also used 2 cans of Italian stewed tomatoes instead of one.  Because I added another can of tomatoes, I didn't use the 3/4 cup water.  I increased the Italian seasoning and the garlic powder to 1 teaspoon each.

I debated on whether to use white rice or pasta.  I decided to go with the rice since that's what the recipe called for.  It was good, but I missed my pasta!  I think I would have served it with linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti instead.

Also, rather than transferring the liquid to another pan, I added the water/cornstarch mixture directly to the slow cooker after removing the chicken.  I let the sauce thicken and then I returned the chicken to the sauce to coat it and re-heat it.

I chose this recipe because I had bought a ton of cans of Italian stewed tomatoes a few years ago for my food storage, but I hadn't been using them because I couldn't find many recipes that called for them.  So, I did a hunt specifically for Italian stewed tomatoes within my recipes and this is what I found!  It's a good, basic, pantry-friendly recipe to keep on hand.

In the future, I would use my kitchen shears to break up the tomato pieces for the sauce.  Just my personal preference.  I think I would have liked it better looks-wise and taste-wise.  Just to spread the tomato love around!

1 comment:

  1. These look so good! I'm so hungry right now!!!

    I am always in the mood for good Italian.