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Archive for Pasta-Pizza

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Sauce Pasta

Mound Of Sauce On Pasta

How To Sauce Pasta

Angel Hair Pasta

[1] Don’t sauce pasta like this. It may look neat, but it doesn’t cover all the pasta, and eating it can be a mess (photo courtesy International Pasta Association). [2] The correct way: Toss the pasta and sauce in a pot or bowl to fully cover each strand (photo courtesy All-Clad). [3] Authentic saucing (photo courtesy Davio’s Boston.

 

Every great pasta experience requires a great sauce. It’s not just the flavor of the sauce that matters, but when and how the sauce and pasta get come together.

Correctly saucing your pasta is the difference between cooking authentic Italian and following an incorrect culinary path.

Americans have been trained to place a pool of sauce in the middle of a plate of pasta.

No! No! Do not pour sauce on top of un-sauced pasta, as in the top photo. According to DeLallo, an importer of Italian foods, a dish of pasta served in this manner in Italy would be a disaster.

Americans have been accustomed to serving pasta as a mound of undressed spaghetti or other noodles in a bowl or on a dish, topped with a ladleful sauce.

We couldn’t track down how this practice originated, although it is definitely an American practice. It likely began in Italian-American restaurants, and our guess is that the first cook who topped pasta with sauce this way did it for aesthetic reasons. It does look prettier.

But it isn’t as functional.

In authentic Italian cuisine, the sauce is always incorporated into the pasta before serving. Every strand of pasta is thus coated with sauce, and the eater doesn’t have to work to coat his/her own—many of us creating drips and spatters in the process.

Plus, the amount of sauce used is just enough to coat the pasta—not to create a sea of sauce. Authentic Italian pasta dishes do not swim in sauce.

SAUCE YOUR PASTA THE CORRECT WAY

1. Heat the sauce by the time you add the pasta to the boiling salted water. Keep the sauce on a low simmer until the pasta is ready. Your pasta shouldn’t wait for your sauce to cook; the sauce should be awaiting the pasta.

2: Moderation is everything. Use at most a quarter cup of thick sauce per person (such a tomato- or cream- based sauce), or two to three tablespoons of an oil-based sauce. The ratio is 1.5 cups sauce to 1 pound of cooked pasta, or 1 cup of oil-based sauce to 1 pound of cooked pasta.

3: Reserve some of the pasta water in another container when you drain the pasta (we use a cup). Never rinse the pasta: That will eliminate important starches that help the sauce stick.

4. Return the empty saucepan to the stove, over high heat. Add the drained hot pasta and the heated sauce, and toss to coat evenly (hot pasta will absorb more sauce and flavor). This quick toss in a hot pan allows the two components to meld and and create a beautiful flavor and texture. The starches from the pasta will slightly thicken the sauce.

Tip: We’re a bit messy, so rather than clean sauce spatter from the stove, we first toss the pasta and sauce in a large bowl; then add it to the pan.

5: Add a couple tablespoons of the reserved hot pasta water to the pan, to smooth out the sauce. Reserved pasta water contains starch that can be used to thicken the consistency of the sauce, so add another couple of spoons if you like. Total time of the pasta and sauce together on the stove is about 2 minutes.

6: Transfer the pasta to a warm serving bowl or individual plates.

 
10+ MORE WAYS TO LOVE YOUR PASTA

Pasta terms and shapes: a glossary of explanations with photos.

Ingredient substitutes: What to do when you don’t have sauce or parmesan.

Leftover pasta for breakfast: You’ll love it!

Make stir-fried pasta with leftover pasta.

Turn leftover pasta into an antipasto.

More recipes for leftover pasta, from green salad to cole slaw.

How to sneak veggies into pasta: Your family won’t complain!

Breadcrumbs on pasta: a Southern Italian tradition.

Dessert pasta: from berry lasagna to chocolate pasta.

Toast uncooked pasta for a toasty, nutty flavor.

The history of pasta: It began in China.
 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Classico Riserva Pasta Sauces

Having grown up with a mom whose acclaimed pasta sauce set a bar, we never liked supermarket sauces, even in our less-picky, less flush college days.

As we grew into long work days and a paycheck, we treated ourselves to Sauces ’n Love, its shelf-stable Scarpetta line, and other high-end brands.

All have the same thing in common: top-of-the-line tomatoes, which means that no sugar needs to be added to sweeten dull tomatoes (the corollary problem being that the typical popular brand adds more than a pinch of sugar).

When we don’t have time to make their own—or when tomatoes are not in season, which is most of the year—we often pick up a bottle of Riserva from Classico, a brand owned by Heinz.

The Classico brand’s pasta and pizza sauces, pesto and bruschetta are familiar to many consumers.

The Riserva line’s vine-ripened tomatoes mean that there’s no sugar added. That’s our kind of sauce (and given all the hidden sugar in purchased foods, it’s not easy to find popularly-priced sugar-free tomato sauces).

A 24-ounce jar is $4.72 with free shipping at Walmart (for orders of $50 or more—you don’t even have to schlep it!).

Varieties include:

  • Arrabbiata Sauce
  • Eggplant Artichoke Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Puttanesca Sauce
  • Roasted Garlic Sauce
  •  
    You can find Classico Riserva at retailers nationwide including club stores, and at e-tailers such as Amazon.

    (We were quite surprised at some unhappy Amazon reviews, e.g. “Heinz should stick to ketchup.” At this price, we can’t find anything better—rich tomato flavor, thick and chunky).

    So, what’s for dinner:

  • Chicken or eggplant parm (with marinara sauce)?
  • Eggplant artichoke pizza?
  • Penne all’arrabbiata?
  • Spaghetti with puttanesca sauce?
  • Anything in creamy roasted garlic sauce?
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    Classico Riserva Marinara Sauce

    Classico Riserva Eggplant Artichoke Sauce

    Classico Riserva sauces are thick, chunky, delicious and made from quality ingredients. [1] Marinara Sauce (photo courtesy Classico). [2] Eggplant Artichoke Sauce at Cravings Of A Lunatic. Here’s how Kim uses it.

     
    For a creamy sauce, just mix Greek yogurt, ricotta or sour cream into the tomato sauce. Don’t boil or the dairy may curdle, unless it’s crème fraîche.)

    We’re hungry already!

    TIP FOR THE VEGETABLE RESISTANT

    Cook veggies to al dente and place in a heat-proof dish. Cover with pasta sauce and mozzarella and heat in the oven, under the broiler or in the microwave until the cheese is melted.

    Garnish with any fresh herbs at hand, or a sprinkle of oregano or thyme. For the truly veggie-averse, serve with grated parmesan.

    Yum.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Banza Chickpea Pasta

    Banza Penne Bolognese

    Banza Mac & Cheese

    Banza Rotini

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Enjoy your favorite pasta dishes with more protein and fiber, fewer carbs, and no gluten! [1] Penne Bolognese. [2] Mac and Cheese. [3] A box of rotini, one of five Banza pasta shapes (all photos courtesy Banza). [4] Fresh chickpeas in the pod (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

     

    Toward the end of 2016, we went on a gluten-free pasta-thon, tasting every type of GF pasta we could find.

    We love rice noodles: gluten free, but they don’t complement European pasta sauces and other noodle dishes.

    So we tried pasta made from brown rice, brown rice-kale blends, corn, farro, lentils, soybeans, even quinoa. (We found the last, which we like as an earthy grain, undesirable as pasta.)

    The winner by far: chickpea pasta, which looks, cooks, and tastes like regular pasta.

    Yes, the same lovely legume that gives us hummus makes the best pasta!

    The pasta has a slight chickpea flavor if you eat it plain; but covered with sauce, cheese and perhaps meatballs, sausage or anchovies (or sausage and anchovies, for surf and turf), most people aren’t likely to notice a difference.

    Bonus: Chickpea pasta has double the protein, four times the fiber and almost half the net carbs.

    Interestingly, Banza was not developed because the founder sought a GF pasta, but because he wanted more nutrition from pasta, one of his favorite foods.

    He achieved just that: The nutrient-dense pasta boasts 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber and just and C43 grams of carbs in each serving.

    It has been embraced by athletes and vegans looking for more protein in their diets, by the gluten-sensitivite community, by parents trying to sneak more “good stuff” into the family’s diet via their favorite carbs.
     
    Types of Banza Chickpea Pasta

    The line includes:

  • Elbows
  • Mac And Cheese: Classic Cheddar, White Cheddar, Deluxe Rich & Creamy
  • Rotini
  • Penne Rigate
  • Shells
  • Spaghetti
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    There are delicious recipes on the brand’s blog. You can buy the pasta on the website, or at some 5,000 retailers and etailers nationwide.

    Even if you aren’t looking for gluten-free pasta, how about some high-nutrition pasta—for hot dishes, cold pasta salads, even a sweet noodle pudding, made with elbows, ricotta and raisins?

    The brand is certified kosher by OU.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Unusual Pizza Toppings

    Greek Pizza Toppings

    Tuna & Capers Pizza

    Kimchi Pork Belly Pizza

    [1] From Italy’s neighbor: Greek pizza with feta, kalamata olives, onions and more (here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy). [2] Sorry, Charlie: tuna pizza with onions and capers (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [3] Go Korean with pork belly, kimchi, scallions and cilantro (here’s a recipe from No Recipes).

     

    November 12th is National Pizza With Everything Day.

    Set aside the usual toppings for the moment, and consider a pizza topped with “everything unusual.”

    While these recipes come from our own kitchen inventions, you can find recipes for many of them and adjust them to your tastes.

  • Bacon & Egg Pizza: Top a white pizza with bacon, eggs (fried or scrambled); garnish with cherry tomatoes (or ketchup!) and large toast croutons.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza: A white pie topped with ground beef or meatballs or bacon, onion, halved cherry tomatoes and your favorite BLT cheese (Cheddar? Swiss?). Add thin-sliced romaine hearts or fresh arugula if you like lettuce on your burger.
  • BLT Pizza: Top the pie with bacon and fresh* or sundried tomatoes; garnish with fresh arugula when it comes out of the oven.
  • Caviar & Smoked Salmon Pizza: Top a white pie with boiled potato slices, smoked salmon and red onion; garnish with salmon caviar when it comes out of the oven.
  • Chicken Livers & Caramelized Onions. Liver lovers will love it; here’s a recipe.
  • Cobb Salad Pizza: Top a white pie with thin-sliced romaine hearts, avocado, cubed chicken breasts, sliced hard-boiled eggs and crumbled blue cheese.
  • Greek Pizza: Top a white pie with feta, kalamata olives, peperoncini, fresh dill and optional ground lamb. Here’s a recipe for starters; we added more toppings.
  • Indian Pizza: On a regular pizza crust or naan, flavor the marinara with Indian spices (curry, garam masala) and top it with paneer cheese and your favorite dishes, from tandoori chicken to any of the dozens selections in pouches: channa masala, khatta aloo, palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), vegetable korma, etc.
  • Korean Pizza: Pork belly, kimchi, fresh chiles, green onions, cilantro. Garnish with sriracha or hot sauce of choice. Here’s a recipe to add to.
  • Paté Pizza: Top a white pie with chicken liver mousse or other pâté. The pâté will melt on top of the pizza, creating a new way to enjoy paté. Add wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil. Here’s a recipe to use as a base.
  • Seafood Pizza: Beyond clams, you can top a white pie with the finest: bay scallops or sliced scallops, calamari, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters and shrimp. Add the toppings during the last 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Tex-Mex Pizza: Mix salsa into the marinara and top the pie with refried beans, avocado, shredded chicken or protein of choice, sliced jalapeños (substitute bell pepper), fresh cilantro and shredded jack cheese. If you can find a cornmeal crust, great; otherwise garnish the cooked pizza with some tortilla chips.
  • Tuna Pizza: Hold the mayo, but top the pie with flaked tuna, sliced red onion and capers. You can add anchovies, too. Here’s a recipe to use as a guide.
  •  
    What’s your favorite unusual topping?
    ________________
    *Use cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes when tomatoes are not in season.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lasagna Soup

    Lasagna is one of our favorite foods, but if we make a lasagna, we eat the whole thing. Not to mention, we spend the whole day making it.

    If we had a slow cooker, we’d try Crockpot Lasagna.

    But one way to get a quick lasagna fix is ravioli lasagna, with layers of purchased ravioli replacing the lasagna noodles (and adding the flavor of their fillings, from cheese to pumpkin). Just add sauce, mozzarella and more cheese.

    You can make something similar with angelotti, tortellini and other stuffed pasta; and also with rigatoni, penne or other tubular pasta: Anything to avoid wrangling those lasagna noodles (here are the different types of pasta).

    You can make gluten-free lasagna with GF noodles, or with zucchini ribbons or potatoes (white or sweet).

    And then, there’s this lasagna soup recipe from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. Prep time is just 10, minutes cook time is 30 minutes.

    Are there other ways to enjoy lasagna? We’ll keep looking!
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 pound bulk sweet/mild Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) chicken stock
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles (not no-boil), broken into 1-2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, packed and roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) parmesan cheese, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a Dutch oven or large pot over high heat. Brown the sausage for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the onions; cook 3-4 minutes, until the onions are softened and the sausage is cooked through.

    2. ADD the garlic and red chile flakes; cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, 1 cup water, lasagna noodles, basil and pepper. Bring to a boil.

    3. REDUCE the heat to medium-high; cook at a gentle boil 10-12 minutes, until noodles are cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent noodles from sticking to pot.

    4. STIR in the spinach. Add salt to taste. If the soup is too thick, add the additional 1 cup of water or portion thereof. Remove from the heat.

    5. SERVE: Divide the mozzarella among 6 serving bowls and ladle the soup over it. Top with spoonsful of ricotta, parmesan and additional basil.
     
    THE HISTORY OF LASAGNA

    When the military might of Rome overthrew Greece in 146 B.C.E., they recognized Greece’s superior culture, and took much from it, including fine food.

    The classic Italian pasta dish, lasagna, did not originate in Italy but in ancient Greece!

    Lasagne, the modern plural form of the individual lasagna noodles, is derived from the Greek laganon, the first known form of pasta. The dish it was baked in was a lasagnum.

    Laganon was not the modern-age lasagna we know, made with traditional Italian ingredients. It was composed of layers of noodles and sauce and baked. The noodles were flattened dough, sliced into strips and baked without boiling.

    Today, laganon remains the Greek word for a thin flatbread. And “Greek lasagna” is pastitsio, with very similar ingredients to Italy’s lasagna bolognese, tomato sauce with ground meat).

    It survives today as the Greek dish, pastitsio, with ground beef and béchamel sauce.
     
    THE ROMANS IMPROVE GREEK LAGANON

    The Romans served pasta-like layers with other fillings between these layers, and this is how modern lasagna came to be. The first known lasagna recipe of the modern age (or at least, the Middle Ages, a.k.a. the medieval period) is in a cookbook published in Naples in 1390.

    Also a layered dish, it was laboriously crafted by the cooks of the wealthy, with many more ingredients between the layers than sauce and cheese, including meats, offal (such as chicken livers), vegetables and hard-boiled eggs. It was a special-occasion dish.

    Regional variations ensued: besciamella (the white sauce béchamel—here’s a recipe) and seafood on the coast. Where meat was plentiful, it was ground into a sauce; when meat was scarce, there were layers of vegetables.

     

    Lasagna Soup

    Classic Lasagna

    Ravioli Lasagna

    Rigatoni Lasagna

    Eggplant Lasagna

    Ways to enjoy lasagna. [1] Lasagna soup, today’s recipe (photo courtesy Eat Wisconsin Cheese. [2] Classic lasagna (photo courtesy Carrabas Italian Grill). [3] Ravioli lasagna (here’s the recipe from Gooseberry Patch). [4] It looks like rigatoni lasanga, but it’s Greek pastitsio (photo courtesy Westside Market | NYC). [5] Zucchini and radicchio lasagna (here’s the recipe from PastaFits.org).

     

    At some point, the Italians changed the name from lasagnum, the name of the baking dish, to lasagna (spelled lasagne in the U.K.), the name that denoted a layered pasta dish with wide ribbon noodles.

    The first version that came to the U.S. in the 1880s with the wave of southern Italian immigration was with marinara, a simple tomato sauce (in northern Italy, spinach pasta and besciamella (béchamel) were the preferred ingredients. Finding affordable meat in the U.S., ground beef or pork, and/or sausage, was added to the sauce; and large meatballs, not found in Italy due to the price of meat, became popular with the dish of spaghetti.

    Since then, chefs and home cooks alike have been preparing their signature recipes. Our mom’s included, between the layers of lasagna noodles, meat sauce and ricotta, a layer of mini meatballs (an authentic Italian ingredient), a layer of sliced sweet Italian sausage (with fennel!), and a layer of pesto (just basil, parmesan and oil, no nuts). All layers got a topping of fresh-shredded parmesan, and the whole was crowned with a thick topping of mozzarella.

    We’ve never had a better lasagna.

      

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