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Archive for Pasta-Pizza

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?
  •  

    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
  •  
    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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fideo, “Mexican Spaghetti” & Soup Pasta

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    Fideo

    Barilla Fideo

    [1] Sopa de Fideo, a popular Mexican comfort food (photo courtesy http://BudgetBytes.com). [2] A bowl of plain fideo (photo courtesy CookDiary.net). [3] Barilla makes fideo, as well as Hispanic specialists like Goya (photo courtesy Barilla).

     

    October is National Pasta Month, an occasion to explore and try different types of pasta. May we suggest fideo?

    What is fideo (fee-DAY-yo)?

    Fideo spaghetti tagliati means fideo-cut spaghetti. Fideo is a Spanish word for noodle, so essentially, the spaghetti is being cut like noodles (i.e., short strands).

    The actual pasta used is short-cut vermicelli: thin strands of pasta available in one- or two-inch lengths, depending on manufacturer. Vermicelli is a round strand pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair.

    Fideo is popular in Mexican cuisine, where it is also called fidelini (and “Mexican spaghetti” by Americans).

    You can also break up your own from spaghetti, vermicelli or other thin strand pasta, including including ribbon (flat) pasta like linguine. Some people prefer the eye appeal of the irregular, hand-broken shapes.

    What makes it extra-special in savory recipes is quickly toasting the noodles in a bit of olive oil. It produces a nutty, toasty extra depth of flavor that’s another reason to enjoy fideo.
     
    WAYS TO USE FIDEO

    Fideo is a Mexican comfort food that can be served as a starter or a main dish ingredient. It is perhaps best known as a toasted soup pasta, popular in Sopa de Fideo, a classic bowl of comfort.

    As a stand-in for rice, it versatile to be used in anything from fideo “risotto” (recipe below) to fideo “rice pudding.”

    What could be more comforting than tomato soup with fideo? Here’s a recipe from. .

  • Fideo Con Carne, a beef and potato stew with crunchy fideo noodles
  • Fideo Paella: exchange the rice for toasted fideo and your choice of mix-ins: clams, chorizo, green peas, mussels, sausage, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. The dish, which originated in Spain, is called fideua (FID-a-wah).
  • Guisado, the Spanish word for stew, can take many forms, including a classic Mexican beef stew of beef and potatoes with fideo.
  • Tomato Soup With Fideo.
  • Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, a fusion of a Spanish classic with Japanese grilled sticky rice cakes from chef Ilan Hall.
  • Quick casseroles—check out this classic with chickpeas, kale, jalapeños and olives (i.e., toss in anything you like).
  •  
    MIX AND MATCH

    Put together your own fideo recipe with:

  • Base: broth (beef, chicken, vegetable), tomato sauce
  • Herbs and spices: chiles/chili powder/hot sauce, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Proteins: chicken, fish/seafood, ground meat, stew meat, tofu
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, capers, carrots, celery, chickpeas, chiles, corn, lima beans, onions, olives, peas, potatoes, squash, tomates
  • Garnish: shredded cheese, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins/dried cherries or cranberries
  • After you pick your ingredients, the recipe cooks quickly:

    Preparation

    1. HEAT cooking oil in a skillet; when the oil shimmers, add the pasta and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the sauce or other base, vegetables, spices and herbs. When all vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add in the cheese.

    3. STIR in the cooked protein (cubed, diced, shredded) or use the cooked fideo as a base for the protein.
     
    RECIPE: FIDEO RISOTTO

    “What’s not to love about toasted noodles infused with a pinch of cumin and a hint of rich tomatoes?” asks Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, who developed this recipe.

    “Typically served dry as a side dish or flooded with broth as a soup, my preference falls somewhere in between; a thick stew of vegetables and pasta that could be eaten either with a spoon or a fork, depending on how long the noodles are cooked.

    “Taking that concept just one step further, you can make a risotto—just without the rice.”

    Fideo takes on a uniquely nutty taste thanks to a quick sauté before cooking. Hannah mingles the flavors of roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cumin “to render a wholly warming, revitalizing bowl full of edible comfort” that she finds even more satisfying than a bowl of risotto.

    Hannah developed this as a vegan recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. We added the option of grated parmesan cheese.

     

    Ingredients For 3-4 Main Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (1/2 pound) broken or cut spaghetti
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
  • 1 Red or Orange Bell pepper, Roasted, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons tequila
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup corn kernels, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, grated parmesan cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE half of the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add in the pasta and stir to coat.

    2. SAUTÉ the noodles, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pot and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pot to the stove and add the remaining oil. Cook the onions and garlic together until softened and aromatic. Introduce the tomatoes and both roasted peppers next, stirring periodically. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden.

    4. ADD the vegetable broth, tequila, lime juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, and cumin. Bring the liquid to a boil before returning the toasted noodles to the pot. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

    5. SIMMER gently until the pasta is tender and the liquid mostly absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the corn and cilantro.

    6. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with optional garnish.
     
    WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST?

    Nutritional yeast is—as the name implies—a form of yeast that can be used on foods and in recipes. It is a vegan product.

    It’s an inactive form of the same yeast strain—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—use to leaven bread. It has also been pasteurized to dry out the yeast and concentrate its nutritional benefits.

  • Find it at health food, natural food and vitamin stores.
  • It can be labeled yeast flakes, yeast seasoning.
  •  
    These golden flakes add flavor as nutrition, and are used by people seeking dairy- and cholesterol-free options to conventional cheeses.

    You can add savory, cheesy, nutty flavors by sprinkling nutritional yeast on pasta, salads, vegetables and other foods (popcorn, anyone?).

    Or use it instead of cheese in cooking and baking.

     

    Fideo Risotto

    Fideo Recipe

    Fideo & Shrimp

    Nutritional Yeast

    [4] Fideo risotto from Bittersweet Blog. [5] Toasting the fideo is a snap (photo courtesy BudgetBytes.com). [6] Fusion fideo: Fried shrimp cakes combine Spanish and Japanese concepts, using fideo instead of rice. Here’s the recipe from Chef Ilan Hall on FoodAndWine.com. [7] Nutritional yeast. You can buy it locally or online. Bragg’s, is also OU kosher.

     

      

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