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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

beefbolognese

I grew up on good old fashioned spaghetti sauce. One weekend when I was in college I went home and my dad served beef bolognese.  It was incredible! I found myself craving it and asking for it when I came home to visit.

My dad emailed me the recipe a couple years ago and it’s now one of my favorite “comfort food” Italian dishes to make. While I still love basic spaghetti sauce and keep it in the freezer at all times, I’m glad to have this in the repertoire and make it a few times a year.

Beef Bolognese
(Recipe source my Dad)

Ingredients:

1 -3  tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diceed
1 carrot,  shredded
3-4  cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup red wine
1 cup whole milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
About 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions:

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain and set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven and heat the oil. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef back to the pot. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. (Note, the longer it cooks, the better it gets. Leftovers are even better).

Serve with cooked  tagliatelle or thin spaghetti pasta . Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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eggplantparm

I can count on one hand the number of times Brandon has requested eggplant for dinner…that would be zero. So imagine my shock when last week he said, “We should have eggplant parmesan for dinner sometime soon.” That was all the encouragement I needed. It was on the menu for dinner this week. I was extra lucky because I went to visit my parents last weekend in Atlanta and came home with great looking Japanese eggplant from the Delkalb Farmers Market.

Now, my greatest problem with eggplant paremesan is how unhealthy it is. The breading and eggplant soak up so much oil if you saute it. I decided to make it my mission to make a tasty baked eggplant parmesan. I think it turned out really well. The breading was crispy and the eggplant was cooked perfectly. Also, it didn’t take too long. I skipped the step of double baking (baking the prepared eggplant with the sauce and cheese). Instead I just added the cheese to the top of the eggplant the last few minutes it was baking and heated sauce on the stovetop and spooned it over the eggplant.

I served Brandon’s over pasta but had mine on its own along with a salad. Both serving methods were great!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2-3 Japanese eggplants or 1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, whisked together
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and panko)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces mozzerella cheese, sliced thinly
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

If you’re using Japanese eggplant, cut in half horizontally and then cut each half into 3-4 strips (about 1/4 inch thick). If you’re using traditional eggplant, slice into rounds (about 1/4 inch thick). Place sliced eggplant into a large colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes (eggplant will “weep” some of the water it is holding).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil and placing a wire rack on top. Spray rack with cooking spray.

Heat marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Wipe salt off of eggplant. Line up three shallow dishes on workspace. Place flour in first dish. Season with salt and pepper. Place eggs and water in second dish. Place bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and shredded parmesan in third dish.

Dredge each eggplant slice in flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs. Arrange on prepared baking sheet with rack. Brush tops of each slice with olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Flip eggplant slices and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Eggplant should be tender and easy to pierce. Add cheese to top and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes. If needed, broil cheese for a minute or two to brown.

Remove from oven. Serve over pasta or on its own. Spoon marinara sauce over eggplant slices.

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pastavodka

Brandon is in the middle of law school finals and I haven’t been seeing much of him lately. He’s been studying around the clock. He had a final from 6-9 last night and I wanted to have a simple dinner waiting for him when he got home. I’m not going to lie that the inspiration for this dish was a great bottle of Toscano Rosso that I tried while I was wandering around Whole Foods after work yesterday.  I picked up a bottle and decided it would be a pasta night.

I had all the ingredients on hand for Pasta with Vodka Sauce and it was perfect with ciabatta served alongside. I love how easy this dish is to put together – the touch of red pepper and fresh basil definitely set it off. Try this out next time you are looking for a simple pasta dish.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
(Recipe source mostly Bakin’ and Eggs with guidance from the Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 15 0unce can of tomato sauce (pureed tomato)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, thinly sliced, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 box of pasta (a little less than 1 pound) ziti or penne recommended
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to get tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add vodka and let cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add butter and red pepper flakes. Let butter melt into onion mixture. Pour in tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Follow directions on pasta packaging for cooking. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin your sauce.

Pour cream into tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish plates with Parmesan and basil.

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