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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Pasta/Pizza

TIP OF THE DAY: Breadcrumb Topping On Pasta

Macaroni & Cheese With Breadcrumbs


TOP PHOTO: Mac & cheese, crumbed for
crunch and glamour. Photo courtesy Morgans
Hotel | NYC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Linguine
tossed in olive oil, Parmesan and herbs,
topped with bread crumbs. Photo courtesy
All’onda | NYC.


If you peruse recipes for mac and cheese, you’ve likely noticed that the better recipes—certainly those by name chefs—regularly add a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top of the dish. Chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Michael Symon have contributed crumbed mac recipes to this website.

While mac and cheese may not be a southern Italian tradition, toasted breadcrumbs are, often replacing grated cheese as a garnish for the pasta.

As we close out National Pasta Month, our tip is: Go southern and garnish some of your pasta dishes with breadcrumbs instead of cheese. If you can’t live without grated Parmesan, toss the pasta with it before topping with breadcrumbs.

In its simplest form, just toss cooked pasta in olive oil, plate it and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. If you like anchovies, try the classic recipe with anchovies and chile flakes below.


According to Academia Barilla, the tradition of pasta with breadcrumbs in Southern Italy was created by poorer people who could not afford pricier ingredients like cheese.

They would prepare the breadcrumbs using stale bread leftovers. Those who had them also added kitchen staples, salted anchovies and dried chili peppers.

Over time in the region of Calabria, people began to prepare this dish on Christmas Eve, which was traditionally fish or seafood (or, in the Feast Of Seven Fishes, both).

When we have enough bread ends left over, we make pangrattatto (“grated bread”) instead of buying gourmet seasoned breadcrumbs. This classic Italian garnish consists of breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil and seasoned.

Feel free to use your favorite seasonings. Anchovy paste, cayenne, chili flakes, garlic, herbs, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and parsley are traditional; but you can try curry, nutmeg or whatever you think adds pizzazz to your pasta recipe.


The type of bread doesn’t matter; a combination of different loaves only adds to the flavor. If you don’t have enough bread ends saved up, you can dry out fresh bread (details follow) or default to panko, Japanese breadcrumbs.

In addition to pasta topping, use the crumbs on casseroles and gratins, in meatballs and meatloaf.



1. PLAN ahead. Store all the ends and leftover slices from loaves of bread in a heavy-duty freezer bag. You can keep it in the freezer or not. When you’re ready to make breadcrumbs…

2. LET the bread sit at room temperature overnight or until it gets hard enough to grate into breadcrumbs. (Our Nana kept the ends in a breadbox for weeks until she had enough to make crumbs.) If your bread isn’t hard enough, you can dry it in a 250°F oven.

3. GRATE the bread on the grating disk of a food processor to the desired texture, or with a hand grater. We prefer a coarser crumb that provides crunch, rather than the fineness of commercial breadcrumbs.

4. STORE the crumbs in an airtight jar. When ready to use, measure out what you need for the recipe.

5. HEAT a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat (1/4 cup olive oil for 4 tablespoons crumbs). Add the breadcrumbs and seasonings. Toast the breadcrumbs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are golden.



This version of Bucatini With Anchovies & Chilies uses anchovy paste and adds kale, with a light dusting of crumbs. Here’s the recipe from The Culinary Chronicles.


This Calabrian dish, courtesy of Acadamia Barilla is made with bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center. The name comes from the Italian buco, “hole” and bucato, “pierced.” You can substitute any ribbon pasta.

This dish is traditionally served on—but not confined to—Christmas Eve. You can make it in just 25 minutes, anytime you have a hankering for anchovies.

If you don’t want the brininess of anchovies but want a depth of piquant umami flavor, substitute anchovy paste.

Serve the dish with a full-bodied red wine.

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 4 salted anchovies (substitute 1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste)
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes (more to taste)

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. While it heats…

    2. RINSE the anchovies well under running water and debone them. Place a pan over low heat and add half the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the anchovies and cook for a couple of minutes, until the anchovies break down. While the anchovies are cooking…

    3. PLACE another pan with the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and chili flakes. Toast the breadcrumbs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are golden.
    Once the water is boiling…

    4. ADD the salt and cook the bucatini following the package instructions. Drain the pasta when done and toss with the anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian-Style Pasta (It’s Called Noodles)

    Pasta originated in China. Scholars credit the Chinese with making noodles from rice flour as early as 1700 B.C.E., the 17th century before the common era (or before Christ, if you still use the old system).

    The pasta-centric Italians believe pasta dates back to the ancient Etruscans, who inhabited the Etruria region of Italy (the central western portion of Italy, what now are Tuscany, Latium and Umbria). They occupied the area from the Iron Age into Roman times (the 11th century B.C.E. to the 1st century B.C.E.).

    Around 400 B.C.E., the Etruscans began to prepare a very wide, lasagna-type noodle made of spelt, an early version of wheat.

    The Romans who followed made what they called lagane, a kind of lasagna, from a dough of water and flour. However, both the Etruscans and the Romans baked their noodles in an oven; boiled pasta had yet to be born in Italy. Here’s more on the history of pasta.

    But let’s circle back to Asia. What happened to pasta in that large region?

    It’s called noodles, and it’s plentiful. Different Asian cuisines developed different types of noodles; not just from wheat, as in Italy, but from other starches that happen to be gluten-free, such as rice, sweet potato, arrowroot starch, bean curd skin, potato starch and tofu. You can feast on Asian noodle dishes in a splendid variety.



    Asian rice noodle salad with pan-fried tofu. Cook the noodles and tofu, toss with vegetables of choice, rice vinegar, a bit of oil (we like sesame oil) and cilantro. Add an optional sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds or shichimi togarashi, a Japanese mixture of dried chiles and other spices. Photo courtesy Lightlife.



    We’ve done our best to put together the list below. You may see some familiar names, but there are a lot of Asian noodle types to get to know. You can find them in Asian markets and of course, online.

    The one challenge is that there is no standardization. Spellings will vary by region, as will the width of the noodles. We’ve included analogous Italian pasta names to give you an approximate visual.
    The Differences Between Asian Noodles & Italian Pasta

    Although they may look similar, Asian noodles and Italian pasta have key differences. Most pasta is designed to be cooked to an al dente texture, but Asian noodles vary widely: Some are meant to be eaten soft; others have a firm bite. Some are chewy, others are springy.

    A second difference: Italian pasta is boiled in water or broth (even baked pasta is boiled first). Chinese noodles can be boiled in water, cooked in soup or stir-fried. And third, unlike Italian pasta, most Asian noodle dishes do not have a sauce on top. If there’s a sauce, they are tossed in it. Asians also add noodles to salads, a treatment not typically found in the West.

    Unlike the short cuts developed in Italy (bowties, elbows, tube pasta, etc.), all Asian pasta is strand or ribbon pasta. Finally, some Chinese noodles contain eggs, but the majority of Asian noodles do not.
    Types Of Asian Noodles

  • Wheat Noodles: Chow Mein (Chinese, like spaghetti but often cut and stir-fried), La Mien (Chinese, hand-pulled, like spaghetti or spaghettini), Lo Mein (Chinese, flat like linguine), Mee Pok (yellow and flat like fettuccine, a Chinese-style noodle used in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand), Misua (salted Chinese noodles from Fujian, very thin like angel hair), Naengmyeon* (Korean long thin handmade noodles like spaghettini), Ramen (Japanese soup noodles, often the thickness of spaghetti**), Soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles), Udon (thick Japanese soup noodles, like spaghettoni), Wonton Mee (a Chinese soup noodle like spaghetti, not the same as wonton dumplings)
  • Rice Noodles: Chee Cheong Fun (a Cantonese rolled rice noodle), Chow Fun (wide, flat Chinese noodles like pappardelle), Mi Xian (a Yunnan rice noodle made from ordinary [non-glutinous rice], generally sold fresh), Kway Teow (rice cake strips from Malaysia and Singapore), Lai Fun (or bánh canh, long or short Vietnamese noodles the thickness of spaghettoni [there is also a wheat-based Chinese version]), Rice Paper Noodles (these are the thin rectangles used to roll Vietnamese spring rolls), Rice Sticks (thin, flat Thai noodles the thickness of linguine), Rice Vermicelli (thin, flat noodles the width of angel hair, used in almost all Asian cuisines), Silver Needle (like Lai Fun, but with a tapered end), Tteok (Korean rice cakes made with glutinous rice flour, like gnocchi)
  • Other Starches: Jap Chae (Korean sweet potato noodles the shape of spaghetti), Mung Bean Threads (cellophane noodles), Shirataki (spaghetti-like Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam)
    Hungry? How about a stellar version of the Americanized chicken chow mein? This recipe is from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook, now available in paperback.
    *They can be made from buckwheat, but also from potatoes and sweet potatoes.

    **We’re talking real ramen, not the instant fast food.


    Chicken Chow Mein

    Chicken Chow Mein, the way it should be. Photo courtesy




  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided
  • 3 teaspoons oyster sauce, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound dried chow mein noodles
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 (1 cup) pound button mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 pound fresh cherry belle† chile peppers, stems and seeds removed,thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed, halved crosswise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    *†Substitute any cherry pepper or mild to medium chile.

    1. COMBINE 1/4 cup soy sauce. 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, 1 teaspoon oyster sauce, and chile and sesame oils in a large bowl. Add the chicken and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge and let marinate, stirring often, for 1 hour.

    2. PREPARE the noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water; drain.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil and the butter in a large wok or ovenproof skillet. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is completely cooked through and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165°F, about 15 minutes. Cool the chicken until it can be handled, then shred it.

    4. HEAT the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

    5. ADD the garlic and the remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, and the remaining hoisin and oyster sauces, the noodles, green onions, chiles and sugar snap peas. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

    6. ADD the shredded chicken to the pan and cook until heated through. Stir in the salt and black pepper to taste. Serve.

    1. COOL the cooked chicken until you can handle it; it should still be warm. Remove any skin.

    2. USE one hand or a fork to steady the chicken. With the other hand, use a second fork to scrape and tear the flesh into shreds. When the fork gets clogged with chicken shreds, use your fingers or another fork to move them into a bowl.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Top 10 Pasta Cooking Tips

    It seems like a no-brainer to boil pasta, yet there are several “best practices.”

    For National Pasta Month, here are some basic pasta tips that many people—including our interns—don’t know.

    1. USE A LARGE, LIDDED POT. Pasta needs room to cook without sticking: 4-5 quarts of water per pound of pasta. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, after the pasta is added, a larger pot of water will return to a boil faster. Especially with long cuts (strand or ribbon pasta), more water helps to reduce sticking, by washing away the exuded starch* from the pasta surface more efficiently. A six-quart stock pot is perfect for boiling pasta.

    2. SALT THE WATER. Salt the water before you boil it—1-2 tablespoons for a large pot. You need the salt or the pasta will be bland.

    3. NEVER ADD OIL TO THE POT. This longstanding “tip” was a marketing ploy from a salad oil company back around the 1960. The company sought ways for consumers to use more oil, and convinced many people that adding oil to the water prevents the pasta from sticking. However, the practice covers the pasta with a slick of oil so the sauce doesn’t stick.


    Stock Pot for Pasta

    This six-quart stock pot from Tramontina has a removable drain spout: No colander is needed to drain the pasta.


    4. PLACE A LID ON THE POT to EFFICIENTLY bring the water to boil. It takes long enough boil with a lid holding in the heat. You’ll be waiting forever (and water will evaporate) without one.

    5. SCOOP UP A CUP OF PASTA WATER and set it aside before you drain the pasta. This starchy water can thicken your sauce. Add a tablespoon to the sauce, or more as desired. This is especially important with egg-based sauces like carbonara, since it also helps prevent the egg from curdling when it touches the hot pasta.

    6. NEVER RINSE THE PASTA AFTER YOU DRAIN IT. This washes away the remaining surface starch, which you need in order for the sauce to stick to the pasta.



    Another tip: Cut down on carbs by serving smaller portions of pasta as a first course, followed by a protein course. Photo courtesy Steak & Whisky.


    7. QUICKLY TOSS THE HOT PASTA WITH THE HOT SAUCE. While restaurants in the U.S. often place the sauce on top of the pasta, that’s a visual enhancement rather than a flavor enhancement. A top restaurant will serve the pasta already tossed with the sauce. The hotter both the pasta and the sauce are, the more flavor the pasta will absorb. Have the sauce heated in a covered pot (or in the microwave), ready to go when you drain the pasta.

    8. USE THE POT TO BLEND THE PASTA AND SAUCE. After you’ve drained the pasta pot, dump the pasta back in, along with the sauce. Cover the pot and let the pasta absorb the sauce for a minute; then stir again and serve immediately.

    9. ADD SOME MINCED FRESH HERBS. You can toss them with the pasta and sauce, or use it as a garnish on top of the dish. We also have a peppermill filled with crushed red chili flakes, to grind into the pasta or for self-service at the table.

    10. USE REAL PARMESAN CHEESE. The best way to get the most robust cheese flavor is to keep a wedge and pass it around the table with a grater, so people can freshly grate as much as they like.


    Here’s advice from Barilla:

  • One pound of dry short-cut pasta (bow ties, elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.) yields nine cups cooked. One pound of spaghetti or linguine yields seven cups cooked.
  • As a main course, plan for 1/4 cup of dried pasta (4 ounces) per person. A one-pound package should provide four dinner-size servings.
  • If you’re serving pasta as a first course or a side dish, plan for 1/8 cup of dried pasta (2 ounces) per person.
  • The final cooked amount will vary by shape. Spaghetti and macaroni shapes (short cuts) can double in volume when cooked. Read the package information. For example, it may say that 1/2 cup elbow macaroni = 1 cup cooked pasta, 3/4 cup penne = 1 cup cooked pasta, 1/8 pound spaghetti = ¼ cup cooked pasta, etc.
  • Egg noodles do not expand significantly when cooked; and fresh pasta, which contains a lot of moisture, doesn’t expand at all. For these varieties, plan three ounces for a first course or side dish and five ounces for a main dish.
    Rule Of Thumb Measurements

  • Small to Medium Pasta Shapes (bow ties, elbow macaroni, medium shells, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, rotini, spirals, twists, wagon wheels): 8 ounces uncooked = 4 cups cooked.
  • Long Pasta Shapes (angel hair, bucatini, fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, vermicelli): 8 ounces uncooked or 1½ inch diameter bunch = 4 cups cooked.
  • Egg Noodles: 8 ounces uncooked = 2½ cups cooked.


    *When you drop pasta into a pot of boiling water, the starch granules on the surface of the pasta instantly swell up and pop. This discharges the surface starch and briefly, the pasta’s surface is sticky with the released starch. Most of this surface starch will dissolves into the water.



    RECIPE: Veal Meatballs With Vodka Sauce


    Veal meatballs with vodka sauce. Enjoy them
    in a multitude of ways. Photo courtesy


    Want to try a new meatball recipe for National Pasta Month? Looking for something more sophisticated to serve on game day? How about veal meatballs?

    Meatballs can be served as an appetizer or a main course, as an accompaniment to pasta, or on a hero roll or other sandwich bread.

    As opposed to the more familiar beef-pork meatball blend in a garlicky red sauce, this recipe from Nielsen-Massey for Breaded Veal Meatballs with Vodka Sauce is elegant, while remaining hearty.

    In addition to the sexy ingredient, vodka, a combination of cheese and cream, and an assortment of vegetables, herbs and spices, create a rich sauce that pairs nicely with pasta or rice. Or, the meatballs can be served in smaller appetizer sizes with toothpicks.

    If you don’t want veal meatballs, you can substitute beef—ideally, grass fed.

    You can also eliminate the vanilla bean paste; but it provides a lovely flavor element. The mellow qualities of the paste enhance the full flavors of veal and herbs to create meatballs that are far from bland. And you can use it in many other recipes (see below).


    Ingredients For 18 Meatballs & 4 Cups Of Sauce (Serves 6 As A Main Course)

    For The Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • ¼ cup whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup finely grated carrot
  • 2 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground oregano
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Garnish: fresh Italian parsley, chopped (garnish)
    For The Breading

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups plain panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    For The Vodka Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (28-ounces) whole tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese (you can substitute Parmesan)
  • ½ cup whipping cream, warmed
  • Garnish: chiffonade of fresh basil leaves (here’s how to chiffonade)


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack atop/inside the sheet and coat the rack with cooking spray. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Form the mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside.

    3. BREAD the meatballs, using three medium bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour. In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In the third bowl, add the bread crumbs, Romano cheese and melted butter and stir to combine. Dust each meatball with flour, dip in the egg wash and coat with the seasoned bread crumbs.

    4. PLACE the breaded meatballs on the wire rack and cook until done, about 30 minutes.

    5. MAKE the vodka sauce: Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vodka, basil, salt, vanilla extract, oregano, garlic powder and pepper; cook until reduced by half.



    Vanilla paste. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.


    6. PLACE the whole tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor or electric blender. Add the reduced sauce mixture; cover and process or blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the grated Romano cheese and cream; stir until thoroughly combined. Simmer for 3 minutes, or until heated through.

    7. SERVE the vodka sauce with meatballs: atop pasta, on a hero-size slice of baguette or on a plate over rice, other grain or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh basil.

    Vanilla is a concentrated substitute for vanilla extract in paste form, made from combining ground vanilla with vanilla extract, along with a natural thickening agent (a gum); some products contain sugar.

    It is a replacement for whole vanilla beans for people who want authentic vanilla bean flavor and appearance, but don’t use whole beans often enough (whole vanilla beans will dry out and become hard over time, while vanilla bean paste has a very long shelf life). One tablespoon of vanilla bean paste is equal to one whole vanilla bean.

    Unlike vanilla extract, vanilla paste contains the ground seeds/pods that provide “specks” in lighter-colored dish.



    FOOD FUN: Spaghetti & Meatball Sundae

    For National Pasta Month try this “spaghetti sundae” inspired by a dish from VP3 Restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey.



  • Spaghetti or linguine
  • Pasta sauce
  • Optional: meatballs or sausage
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Minced fresh basil “sprinkles”

    1. COOK the spaghetti according to package directions and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water. While the pasta cooks, heat the sauce and the meatballs.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/spaghetti meatballs burrata VB3 ps 230

    Spaghetti and meatball “sundae.” Photo courtesy VB3 Restaurant | Jersey City.

    2. RETURN the drained pasta to the pot and add the sauce. Mix to coat all the pasta with sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, to reach the desired consistency.

    3. MOLD the spaghetti into a tower. You can do this freehand with tongs and a large fork, or use whatever mold you have. We used a chinois (SHEEN-wah—French for “Chinese,” referring to the Chinese-style strainer). You can also try a large funnel, jumbo martini glass or a sundae dish.

    4. ADD the meatballs, sprinkle with the grated cheese and top with the mozzarella ball. For a final touch, add the basil “sprinkles.”


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chinois foxrunAMZ 230

    We used a chinois to create the pasta tower. It’s actually a great kitchen tool for straining. Photo courtesy Fox Run.



    The easiest way to differentiate them: Spaghetti is round, linguine (the proper Italian spelling–linguini is an incorrect Americanization) is flat. It is sometimes referred to as flat spaghetti.

    All pasta evolved regionally into different shapes and sizes.

  • Spaghetti and linguine are “long cuts.”
  • Round long cuts like spaghetti are called strand pasta; flat long cuts are called ribbon pasta.
  • Short cuts are shapes like elbows, shells, wagon wheels, etc.
  • The better-known round pasta ribbons, from thinnest to thickest, include: angel hair, capellini, vermicelli, spaghettini, spaghetti and bucatini.
  • The better-known flat/ribbon long cuts are, from thinnest to thickest: linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, mafalda and lasagna.

    For the “cherry on the sundae,” you want a mozzarella ball, not a slice. Fortunately, mozzarella balls are made in several sizes, from perlini, the size of pearls, to bocconcini, large bites. They are sold fresh in water by Bel Gioso, Lioni and other companies.

    You can use any size with this recipe. We prefer the largest, bocconcini, because it will sit on the top of a mound of pasta, as in the photo at the top of the page. But even the smallest size, perlini, can be scattered around the base of the plate.


    From left to right: perlini, perle, nocciolini, ciliegini, bocconcini, ovoline, half pound, one pound. Image courtesy Lioni Mozzarella. Visit their website for a greater description of the different sizes of mozzarella.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

    October is National Pasta Month, and we’ll be sharing different takes on pasta. We start with tomato sauce.

    Some people use fresh summer tomatoes to make their sauce, freezing batches to last through the year. Others used canned tomatoes year-round. Less often, cherry tomatoes are employed.

    For us, since lush summer tomatoes have drifted into memory until next year, cherry tomatoes are the go-to for homemade sauce.

    While cherry tomatoes can be puréed into a conventional smooth sauce, first up is a version that roasts the cherry tomatoes and uses them whole, rather than cooking them on the stove top and pureeing in a conventional sauce.

    Essentially, your sauce is seasoned whole roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil; and beyond pasta, it can accompany rice and grains, polenta, eggs, grilled cheese, burgers and sandwiches, even savory waffles.

    Since the cherry tomatoes keep their shape, this is especially beautiful when made with mixed-color heirloom cherry tomatoes, or a combination of red and gold.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ravioli cherry tomato saucedelfinarestaurant 230

    Colorful cherry tomatoes are a beautiful accent to beige pasta. Photo courtesy Delfina Restaurant | San Francisco.

    You can simply sauté cherry tomatoes in olive oil with seasonings. Or, here are two recipes that impart a bit more complexity.



  • 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place the tomatoes in a nonreactive* 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the garlic. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, salt and optional ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over the tomatoes.

    2. BAKE for about 1 hour, until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    *Reactive vs. Non-Reactive Cookware: Aluminum, cast iron and copper are popular for cookware because of their superior heat-conducting properties. However, these metals can react with acids in a recipe (citrus, tomato, vinegar, etc.), imparting a metallic taste and discoloration of light-colored foods. This is also true with mixing bowls and utensils. Non-reactive materials include enameled metal, glass, plastic and stainless steel.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Spaghetti chunky tomato sauce ps 230r

    Here, 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes have been quartered instead of pulsed, for a chunky sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    In this recipe, the tomatoes are pulsed in the food processor so do not maintain their shape, as in the recipe above. The reason to use them is because of superior flavor in the off season, and/or to take advantage of good prices.

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)

    1. PURÉE the garlic in a food processor. Add the onion and pulse 3-4 times, until finely chopped.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. CLEAN the food processor bowl, add 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes and pulse 3-4 times, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat to process the remaining 2 pints of tomatoes.

    4. ADD the chopped tomatoes to the skillet. Simmer, stirring frequently, until they turn into sauce (about 15-20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.



    RECIPE: Caesar Salad Pizza

    caesar salad pizza

    A grilled Caesar Salad Pizza from Chef
    Marcus Samuelsson. Photo © Paul Brissman.


    When we saw this photo on the website of Chef Marcus Samuelsson, we couldn’t wait to make one.

    The grilled pizza combines the ingredients of Caesar salad—romaine, olive oil, anchovies, garlic, citrus juice, egg—with pizza crust standing in for the croutons. And the dough incorporates garlic and basil, like seasoned croutons.

    It’s a bit of work, but well worth the effort. You can save time with premade crusts and tomato sauce.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings (2 Oblong Pies)
    For the Dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    For the Caesar Dressing

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
    For The Pizzas

  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup sliced black olives
  • ¼ cup roasted red peppers
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
  • Optional: 4 poached eggs


    1. MAKE THE DOUGH: Put the water in a bowl, stir in the yeast and sugar, and let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. Add the salt, olive oil, and 2½ cups of the flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, about 8 minutes, adding up to ½ cup more flour if the dough seems too wet.

    Put the dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover a damp cloth. Set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in the garlic and basil. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

    2. MAKE THE DRESSING: Put the egg yolks, mustard, chopped garlic, and anchovies into a blender. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream, then pour in the lime juice and blend until emulsified, about 1 minute. Scrape the dressing into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate it until you need it. It will keep for about 3 days.


    Caesar Salad

    A conventional Caesar Salad. Here’s the history of Caesar Salad, the original recipes and variations. Photo courtesy


    3. MAKE THE PIZZA: While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 250°F. Put the tomato on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the black pepper, and the sugar. Bake until the tomatoes have dried, about 1 hour. Put the remaining ½ cup olive oil in a small bowl. Add the minced garlic and microwave for 30 seconds.

    4. PREHEAT a gas grill to high heat. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a ball and pat down on a lightly floured surface. Use your fingers to stretch the dough into 10-inch oblongs; it is nice if you leave a slightly thicker rim.

    5. TURN half the grill down to medium heat. Brush 1 piece of dough with the garlic oil and place it, oiled side down, on the high-heat side of the grill. The dough will begin to puff almost immediately. When the bottom crust has lightly browned, use two spatulas to turn the dough over onto the medium-heat side of the grill.

    Working quickly, brush the garlicky oil over the crust and then brush with half of the tomato sauce. Scatter with half of the roasted chopped tomatoes, half of the black olives, and half of the roasted red peppers. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella and half of the basil. Close the lid and cook the pizza until the cheese melts. Remove the pizza from the grill and set it aside while you prepare the second pizza with the remaining ingredients.

    6. MAKE the optional poached eggs. Toss the arugula, romaine, and some of the Caesar Dressing together. Cut the pizzas in half, pile the salad and eggs on top, and serve right away.



    FOOD FUN: Rainbow Pizza Recipe

    We’re dazzled by this Rainbow Pizza. Why didn’t we think of it?

    But thankfrully, Ali at Gimme Some Oven did. Her recipe is made with vegetables that represent the colors of the rainbow:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green, orange and yellow bell peppers
  • Purple potatoes
  • Red onions
    It’s a reason to have a pizza party, pronto.

    Head to for the recipe and many more photos.

    You can use a pizza or flatbread base, or as Ali did in this photo, Stonefire naan.

    Call us when it’s ready to come out of the oven. We’ll be there!


    Rainbow Pizza

    Rainbow pizza. Photo courtesy Gimme Some Oven.




    RECIPE: Pasta & Sardines, Pasta Con Sarde

    Spaghetti with sardines is an Italian classic.
    Photo courtesy


    Pasta with sardines is a popular Italian dish. Pasta con sarde has been called the national dish of Italy. It is often served with capers, red pepper flakes and bread crumbs. The sardines are laden with heart-healthy omega-3s; and if you use a whole grain pasta, this is a truly better for you dish.

    You don’t have to use the linguine specified in the recipe. You can use spaghetti, other ribbon pasta or even short cuts (bowties, tubes, etc.—see the different types of pasta). This recipe was adapted from one on, which sells premium canned sardines.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • ½ pound whole-grain linguine
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, minced (substitute shallots or
    other onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup radishes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (or pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can premium sardine fillets or fresh sardines
  • Optional garnish: capers, fresh parsley, toasted bread crumbs


    1. COOK the linguine until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce. You can also use it to substitute for the white wine, if you don’t want to cook with wine.

    2. HEAT the olive oil on medium heat, then sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes until translucent. Add white wine, spinach, radishes and half the sardines, and simmer until spinach is wilted.

    3. ADD the radishes, spinach and wine plus half of the sardines. Simmer just until the spinach was wilted, just a few minutes.

    4.REMOVE from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining sardine fillets and garnish as desired.



    If you’re lucky enough to find fresh sardines, grill them first. Photo courtesy



  • 2/3 cup panko or other bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings as desired

    1. HEAT a small amount of oil in a skillet. Add the panko and cook until toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add an optional pinch of salt or fresh-ground black pepper, if desired. Stir as needed.

    2. REMOVE from the heat. If you won’t use them immediately, store the toasted bread crumbs in an airtight container for a day.



    FOOD FUN: Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Yes, the rumors are true! Pizza Hut has created the perfect combination for American taste buds: the Hot Dog Bites Pizza. You’ll be able to buy it beginning tomorrow, June 18th.

    Americans get a different version than the one unveiled in Canada and the U.K. There, a long, continuous hot dog wrapped in crust surrounded the entire pizza (photo).

    The hot dog was hidden in the crust, lessening the visual impact that America gets: a pizza perimeter of pigs in blankets.

    The American hot dog pizza features an edge crust of 28 individual hot dog bites. It may be the first pizza ever to be served with a side of French’s mustard (the other versions had a mustard drizzle).

    The company says it’s available “while supplies last,” for $11.99.

    If you don’t know the location of the nearest Pizza Hut, check the store locator on the company website.

    So: What’s for lunch tomorrow?


    Pizza-Hut-Hot-Dog-Pizza -230s

    How about some hot dogs with your pizza? Available for a limited time at Pizza Hut. Photo courtesy Pizza Hut.




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