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Archive for Pasta/Pizza

TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-michaelsymon-castello-230

Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
courtesy Castello.

 

Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

Make it tonight!

RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Green (Pesto) Lasagna For Spring

    pesto-asparagus-lasagna-liguria-eatalychicago-230

    “Green” lasagna, made with pesto and spring asparagus. Use green (spinach) noodles for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    Have you ever had green lasagna? We order lasagna every time we see it on a menu, trying to find one that’s better than Mom’s (which has only been bested once). We find them with the mainstay tomato-meat sauce, southern Italian-style; and with béchamel, a white sauce preferred in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (and preferred by us).

    But in Liguria, the home* of basil, they use pesto for the sauce, creating a green lasagna.

    While basil is available year-round, take advantage of the spring harvest and make a green lasagna with other spring treats: asparagus, fava beans, fiddleheads, morels, ramps, and of course, green lasagna noodles instead of the conventional white.

    Here’s a recipe from chef Mario Batali, an owner of the Italian food experience that is Eataly. In Italian the recipe is called Lasagne al Pesto con Asparagi: Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto (and anything else you want to add).

     
    In this recipe, Chef Batali makes four personal lasaganas in gratin dishes, instead of one large, rectangular casserole as shown in the photos.
     
    *Basil may actually be native to India, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.
     
    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound asparagus, medium-sized
  • 20 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 2 cups besciamella (béchamel, recipe below)
  • 1 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Sardo† cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  •  
    For The Pesto Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    †Pecorino sardo, also known as fiore sardo, is a firm cheese sheep’s milk cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia. It’s sold at Eataly; but if you can’t get it, use Pecorino Romano instead. Here are the main Italian grating cheeses.

     

     
    For The Besciamella

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pesto. In a large stone mortar, combine the pine nuts, basil, garlic and salt and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Add the cheeses and drizzle in the olive oil, beating with a wooden spoon. This can be made in advance and stored in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge, topped off with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.

    2. BRING 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for one minute. Remove the asparagus, retaining the water in the pot, and refresh in an ice bath. Remove the asparagus from the ice bath, drain well, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces on a bias and set aside.

     

    pesto-lasagna-eatalychicago-230

    Pesto lasagna is sold by the piece at Eataly. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. DROP the lasagna sheets into the same boiling water as the asparagus. Cook one minute until tender. (If using dried lasagna, cook according to package directions.) Remove and refresh in the ice bath. Drain on towels and set aside.

    4. MAKE the besciamella. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    7. ASSEMBLE the lasagne. In a mixing bowl, stir the besciamella and pesto together until well combined. Butter 4 gratin dishes and place one piece of 5-inch pasta on the bottom of each one.

    8. TOP the pasta with some pieces of asparagus, followed by 2 tablespoons of pesto, followed by another piece of pasta. Continue with this layering until you have 4 pieces of pasta and 4 layers of asparagus and pesto mixture. Lay one more piece of pasta on top, followed by a spoonful of pesto mixture and sprinkle each of the 4 gratin dishes with bread crumbs and the Pecorino Sardo.

    9. PLACE all 4 dishes in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

      

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    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

    scampi-epicureanbutter-230

    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

    SONY DSC

    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

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    RECIPE: Polenta Pesto Lasagna, Gluten Free

    Polenta-Pesto-Lasagna-saucesnlove-230

    Lasagna that substitutes sliced polenta (gluten-free, made from corn) for wheat lasagna noodles. Photo courtesy Sauces’n Love.

     

    We love lasagna, and try most recipes we come across to see if they’re better than Mom’s.

    Here’s a vegetarian version with polenta and pesto (you of course can add sausage or other meat). Gluten-free polenta replaces the traditional wheat noodle lasagna.

    The recipe was created by Loretta Lamont for Sauces ’n Love, one of our favorite lines of Italian sauces, Loretta used Sauces ‘n Love marinara and pesto sauces.

    We made our own variation, sprinkling oregano over the ricotta layer and adding crumbled sausage over the second pesto layer.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: POLENTA & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • Pam or other cooking spray
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 2 packages (18 ounces each) polenta, cut into 1/4” slices
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1 jar pesto sauce
  • Optional: oregano or sausage, thinly-sliced or crumbled
  • 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (substitute shredded
    mozzarella)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray a 11” × 7” baking dish with Pam.

    2. MIX the ricotta with the egg, garlic powder, pepper and 1/2 cup mozzarella.

    3. PLACE a little sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, topped with a single layer of polenta. Spread a layer of pesto on top of the polenta.

    4. SPREAD the ricotta over the pesto; sprinkle on the optional oregano or the sausage. Arrange the sliced mozzarella on top of the pesto. Add a layer of sauce on top of the mozzarella followed by another layer of polenta.

    5. TOP with the shredded Italian cheese and sauce Bake for 40 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and pine nuts and broil until the cheese and nuts are browned. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

     
    WHAT IS POLENTA?

    Polenta is the Italian word for cornmeal as well as a cooked dish made from it. In the first two centuries of America, our diets contained much cornmeal—in bread, breakfast cereal (cornmeal mush is cooked polenta) and other recipes.

    In the 19th century, cornmeal was largely replaced by refined wheat flour. Polenta is also refined: It is degerminated cornmeal, with the germ and endosperm removed.

    Here’s a delicious polenta stack appetizer recipe, and more ways to use polenta.

     
      

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    [OLD] NEWS: The 10 Greatest Japanese Inventions Of The 20th Century

    ramen noodles raised on chopsticks

    Ramen: voted the greatest Japanese
    invention of the 20th century. Photo ©
    Olga Nayashkova | Fotolia.

     

    It may be old news, but we just came across an old Japanese survey that names instant ramen as “the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

    We would have passed it by, but for the the fact that Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article about how ramen was trending among chefs in U.S. restaurants—albet the original ramen, not the instant noodles (see “The History Of Ramen,” below).

    In 2000, Fuji Research Institute, a financial research firm in Tokyo, asked 2,000 adults in the region to rate the greatest Japanese inventions of the 20th century.

    They were given three categories: manufactured goods, culture and technology.

    Japan is known for its technological innovation. So most people were surprised that ramen, instant noodles, was voted the best invention of the 20th century.

    Created in 1958, instant ramen went into commercial production in 1971. Worldwide, almost 50 billion cups are now consumed each year.

     
    THE TOP 10 JAPANESE INVENTIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  • No. 1: Instant ramen
  • No. 2: Karaoke
  • No. 3: Headphone stereo sets
  • No. 4: TV video games
  • No. 5: CDs
  • No. 6: Cameras (which were not invented in Japan—see footnote*)
  • No. 7: Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (editor’s protest: a person is not an invention)
  • No. 8: Pokemon
  • No. 9: Automobile-related technology
  • No. 10: Sushi (however, it should be noted that sushi was actually invented in the 19th century)
  •  
    While the Fuji Institute’s survey may not have been the most scientific, it does show one thing: Even in a country famous for its technology, food rules.
     

    *The first camera, called the camera obscura, dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks. It projected an image on to a surface but did not create a permanent image. The first photographed camera image was made around 1816 in France by Nicéphore Niépce. In 1837 his partner, Louis Daguerre, created the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype, using silver-plated copper plates. Commercially introduced in 1839, the date considered as the birth year of practical photography. It was replaced by easier processes in 1860, including paper-based negatives and much shorter exposure times. The use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid in 1889. His first camera, the Kodak, was first offered for sale in 1888.

     

    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen are Japanese wheat noodles. While they are known to Americans largely as salty, inexpensive packaged noodle soup mixes, in Japan there are as many varieties of noodle and recipes as there are prefectures, ramen dishes are fine cuisine and innovation is the name of the game, where recipes are closely-guarded secrets.

    The concept of a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either made from vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

     

    top-ramen-pkg-nissinfoods-230

    Top Ramen, the brand invented by Momufuku Ando of Nissin Foods. Photo courtesy Nissin Foods.

     
    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.
     
    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork ramen soup.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.
     
    THE INVENTION OF INSTANT RAMEN

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Dessert Pasta

    Most people think of pasta as a savory recipe. But the noodles themselves are very versatile. Made with flour, water and egg, they can be cooked for dessert as well as the main course.

    While not an April Fool joke, it seems like the right dessert for April Fool’s Day.

    The recipe was created by Michael Stambaugh of the El Conquistador Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a recipe contest held by the National Pasta Association and the Culinary Institute of America. It won third place.

    After you master this recipe, you may develop your own ideas for variations on the theme of dessert lasagna.

    We’ve got 11 more recipes for dessert pasta. Take a look.

    RECIPE: DESSERT LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 8 kiwis, peeled
  •    

    Dessert_Lasagne230-ps

    Fruit lasagna for dessert! Photo courtesy National Pasta Association.

  • 4 cups strawberries, washed and trimmed, 8 berries reserved for garnish
  • 4 cups blackberries, washed
  • 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • Garnish: mint sprigs
  •  

    mixed-berries-greengiantfresh.com-230

    If you don’t like one of the fruits in the recipe, pick another to purée. Photo courtesy
    Green Giant Fresh

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package directions, substituting 2 tablespoons of sugar for the salt. Rinse, drain and set aside.

    2. STIR together the ricotta cheese and ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    3. PURÉE 4 kiwis with 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor. Transfer the purée to a bowl and set aside. Rinse the processor bowl.

    4. PURÉE half the strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar in the food processor. Strain the purée into a bowl and set aside. Rinse the processor bowl.

    5. PURÉE half the blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar in the food processor. Strain the purée and set aside.

    6. SLICE the remaining kiwis into ¼-inch thick rounds. Slice the strawberries into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Slice the blackberries in half.

     

    To Assemble The Lasagna

    1. RESERVE 1/4 cup of each of the purées to use as a garnish.

    2. COVER the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking pan with 3 lasagna noodles. Spoon 1/3 of the ricotta on top and spread it evenly.

    3. POUR the kiwi purée over the cheese and arrange the kiwi slices on top of the purée. Lay 3 more lasagna noodles on top and cover with 1/2 the remaining cheese.

    4. POUR the strawberry purée over the cheese and sprinkle with sliced strawberries. Lay 3 more lasagna noodles on top and cover with the remaining cheese. Pour the blackberrys purée over the cheese and sprinkle with blackberries. Top with a final layer of pasta. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

    5. TO SERVE: Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and with the toasted almonds. Cut into 8 rectangles and use a spatula to set the pieces on dessert plates. Decorate the plates with dots of the reserved purées. Garnish each piece of lasagna with a strawberry and a sprig of mint.

      

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    TIP: The New Linguine & Clam “Sauce”

    If you make linguine and clam sauce the way most Americans do—with canned clams—try it the way they serve it at Olio e Piú in New York City.

    Eight whole steamed clams surround a plate of linguine.

    The linguine is cooked and tossed in olive oil with fresh parsley and placed in the center of the plate.

    The clams, lightly cooked in a garlic broth, surround the linguine. EVOO is poured into the other half of each clam shell.

    In our interpretation of this dish, we made clams in garlic broth (vongole in brodetto). We also grilled up a side of crostini; the crunch of the bread is a nice counterpoint to the soft pasta and clams, and the arugula adds some color to the plate. You can substitute your favorite garlic bread recipe.

    RECIPE: LINGUINE & CLAMS

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for tossing with the pasta
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
  • 8-10 clams in shell per person
  • 1-1/4 cups white wine
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 package linguine (or fresh linguine)
  •    

    linguine-alla-vongole-clam-olionyc-230

    A modern interpretation of linguine and clam sauce. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

     

    For The Garlic Crostini

  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 to 1 cup ricotta
  • 1-2 cups baby arugula, cleaned and dried
  •  

    ricotta-truffle-oil-arugula-blackpepper-olionyc-230

    Garlic-ricotta-arugula crostini. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

     

    Preparation

    First, make the clams in garlic broth.

    1. WASH the clams to remove any dirt or sand.

    2. COOK the clams. In a heavy pot over moderate heat, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown (about three minutes). Add the salt, pepper and chili flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    3. INCREASE the heat to moderately high and add the clams, white wine, water and thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams open (5 to 7 minutes). Discard clams that do not open. Drain the clams and toss with the chopped parsley.

    4. MAKE the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss lightly with olive oil and a pinch of salt. While the pasta cooks, grill the bread:

     

    5. PREHEAT the broiler or grill to high. Brush the crostini slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill, flipping once, until golden brown and crisp. While the bread is grilling…

    6. SEASON the ricotta with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the crostini from the broiler/grill and rub each slice on the top side with the raw garlic. Spread with ricotta and top with arugula.

    6. PLATE the pasta in a mound in the center of the plate. Serve clams with the crostini.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Kale, Bacon & Pistachio Pasta

    This recipe may not be Irish (kale and bacon work, but pistachio nuts are originally from Central Asia and the Middle East, and pasta is from Italy by way of China and Arabia).

    But it sure is green and right on trend, if you’d rather not have the conventional corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew on St. Patrick’s Day.

    The recipe is from McCormick: In this fresh pasta sauce, kale, avocado and pistachios are puréed with chicken stock, garlic and Italian seasoning for an easy dish that packed with flavor.

    And it uses a charming short cut of pasta, the campanelle (cahm-pah-NELL-lay), a delicate-looking but sturdy shape that looks like a bell-like flower. It is typically served with a thick sauce, or in a casserole, where its fluted shape and hollow center help catch the sauce.

    Barilla makes campanelle, and you may be able to find imported brands. If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online.

    By the way, although no market carries them all, there are hundreds of different pasta shapes. Check them out in our Pasta Glossary.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: KALE, BACON & PISTACHIO PASTA

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 package (16 ounces) pasta, such as campanelle or fusilli
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 6 cups chopped kale, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning*
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, divided
  •    

    campanelle-kale-bacon-pistachio-mccormick-230

    A sauce of kale and bacon for St. Patrick’s Day pasta. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    *You can purchase an Italian seasoning blend or make your own. Combine two tablespoons each of, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in an airtight container away from light and heat.

     

    campanelle-barilla-230

    Instead of the same old same old, try a new
    pasta shape every time you buy short cuts.
    Photo courtesy Barilla.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta as directed on the package. Drain well. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain it on paper towels; then crumble and set aside.

    3. ADD 2 cups of the kale to the bacon drippings in skillet; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or just until kale is tender-crisp. Remove the kale and set aside.

    4. ADD the onion to the skillet; cook and stir for 2 minutes (add oil if needed). Add the chicken stock and seasonings; bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.

    5. PLACE the remaining 4 cups of kale in a blender. Add the avocado, pistachios, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and 1/2 of the crumbled bacon. Add the hot stock mixture. Cover the blender with the lid, with center part removed. Cover the lid with a towel. Blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Blend on high speed until mixture is smooth.

    6. PLACE the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the kale sauce, cooked kale, the remaining crumbled bacon and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios, if desired.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Arugula Pizza

    arugula-pizza609972SXC

    Arugula pizza, here shown with pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese. Photo courtesy SXC.

     

    Last week we finally made it across town to a pizza café we’ve been yearning to try. It’s called Farinella Bakery. What they bake are the most heavenly pizzas and calzones.

    We haven’t yet tried the calzones yet; there are too many great pizza toppings to work our way through. In the glass case in front of us were some 20 different gourmet pizzas by the slice, on the thinnest, cut on rectangles, with crispest crust we’ve had in memory.

    We chose three of the slices, starting with Tartuffo (sliced sautéed mushrooms atop a mushroom-ricotta paste, drizzled with truffle oil) and V.I.P (artichoke heart pesto, fresh mint, pecorino romano, goat cheese and black pepper. Both were as delicious as we’d hoped.

    But our third slice, Filetto, blew us away. What a simple yet divine concept: fresh cherry tomato filets (an Italian reference to roasted cherry tomatoes) and mozzarella, garnished with fresh arugula.

    Not just a few leaves, mind you, but a thorough carpeting of fresh, peppery, bright green arugula. It will be hard to return to Farinella without adding a slice of it to our order.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day lunch, we’ll be making our own version of arugula pizza. While arugula is a popular ingredient in Italy (where it’s called rucola), for St. Pat’s you can call it fusion food, taking inspiration from the Emerald Isle.

    No matter what you choose, you’re in for a treat.

     

    ARUGULA PIZZA VARIATIONS

    We’ll be trying some variations of Farinella’s simple yet elegant recipe.

  • Salty is a good counterpoint to the pepperiness of the arugula, so we’ll add anchovies or sardines to one side of our pizza, and prosciutto or serrano ham to the other.
  • If you like heat, sprinkle with chili flakes or minced or sliced jalapeño.
  • If you want more cheese, consider a garnish of crumbled blue, feta or goat cheese, or shaved Parmesan.
  • You can also add a garnish of pine nuts (pignoli in Italian).
  • It you’d like more seasoning, get out the oregano.
  • Down the road, we’ll try a blend of fresh basil and arugula.
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    We’ll never be able to turn out a brilliant crust like the masters at Farinella, but we can guarantee: There won’t be a crumb left over.

    You don’t have to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to head to the store for arugula, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and a pizza crust.

     

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    Fresh-picked arugula. Try growing it in your garden! Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ARUGULA

    Arugula, botanical name Eruca sativa, is a member of the Brassicaceae family of great-for-you cruciferous vegetables. It’s called rocket in the U.K. and rucola in Italy, its home turf.

    A pungent, peppery, leafy green vegetable resembling a longer-leafed, open lettuce, arugula is rich in vitamin C and potassium. The leaves, flowers, young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

    Used as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was gathered wild or grown in home gardens along with other staples like basil and parsley.

     
    ARUGULA SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • In Italy, raw arugula is often added to pizzas just before the baking period ends or immediately after as a garnish, so that it won’t wilt from the heat.
  • It’s chopped and added to sauces and cooked dishes, or made directly into a sauce by frying it in olive oil and garlic. It is also used a condiment for cold meats and fish (substitute it for parsley in a gremolata).
  • In the Puglia region of Southern Italy, the pasta dish cavatiéddi combines copious amounts of coarsely chopped arugula with tomato sauce and grated pecorino cheese.
  • Add chopped arugula parsley-style to boiled potatoes, as they do in Slovenia.
  • For an appetizer or lunch main, serve the Italian dish straccietti, thin slices of beef with raw arugula and parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy arugula raw in salads, as part of a mesclun mix or with perlini (small mozzarella balls) and fresh or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Use it instead of lettuce on a sandwich.
  • Cook it in an omelet, with or without your favorite cheese.
  •  
    There are many other ways to serve arugula, raw or cooked. Feel free to add your favorites.
     
    Food trivia: Arugula was mentioned by classical authors, including Virgil, as an aphrodisiac. For that reason, it was often mixed with lettuce, which was thought to have a calming influence (source).

    Here’s the history of pizza.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Pizza Portraits

    Are you hungering for your portrait in pizza? Commission one from Domenico Crolla.

    A native of Glasgow, Scotland, where his Italian-born father Alfredo had a café, Chef Crolla graduated from the Scottish Hotel School and launched his first restaurant, a pizzeria.

    His next Glasgow restaurant, Italmania, became Scotland’s very first designer pizza emporium. It closed in 2008 to be replaced with a full-service Italian restaurant, Bella Napoli.

    But the thrill of pizza remains, especially in Chef Crolla’s pizza portraits of celebrities from Beyoncé to Andy Warhol (how Andy would have loved that!) He even turned the iconic photo of Prince William, Duchess Kate and baby Prince George into pizza art.

    Don’t think of him as a pizza chef, but as a culinary artist.

     

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    The Pope in pizza. Photo courtesy Domenico Crolla.

     
    When he isn’t creating pizza art or running his restaurants, Chef Crolla judges cooking contests across the globe.

    Discover more at Crolla.com and check out the celebrity pizzas on his Facebook page.

      

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