Do not hand me a raw tomato and expect me to eat it. Yes, I know, I am weird, but there is just something about the texture of a raw tomato that I just cannot handle.

But believe it or not I am anxious to be abee to pick the first tomato off one of your plants. Why? Hand me a plate with fried green tomatoes or cooked tomatoes however and I am all over it. It’s just the raw thing…. blech!!

This week’s pasta dish HAS a fresh tomato, but cooked, not raw. And Basil {and it is so much fun to step out my back door and cut my own!}. And red and yellow sweet peppers. My favorite things every one!

    Penne with Peppers, Fresh Tomato, and Basil.

Only one difference between his dish and mine – I didn’t peel the peppers. Mine were young and small and the skin was very tender. If you don’t have those you really will need to peel them as they can give the dish a bitter taste.

If you have sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, and basil you really should make this one. Really!!

You can find the complete recipe on page 63 of Hazan’s 30 Minute Pastas but I also found it on the Hazans’web page.

Have you ever had a cookbook where every recipe was a winner? I haven’t. Until now. Thanks to Kayte I have Hazan’s 30 Minute Pastas and I have yet to make one of his pastas that wasn’t good. Including this one

    Fusilli alla Salsiccia e Zucchine

Good stuff, Y’all, good stuff. A mixture of onions, sausage, zucchini, and tomatoes tossed with fusilli was just right for dinner.

I only made one change. Hazan calls for fresh tomatoes but I didn’t have any so I used some fresh canned peeled tomatoes from the garden. Just as good.

You can find the recipe on page 150 of Hazan’s Pasta book.

And please excuse the photos. Gets dark early these days.

Mac and Cheese! The Ultimate Comfort Food! All American!

Well, Maybe!!

    Shells Rigatoni with Butter and Cheese

It was supposed to be Shells, but I discovered I didn’t have any. Hazan says he has made this dish with rigatoni or maccheroni. Rigatoni it was!

THIS is Mac and Cheese – Italian Style. Creamy. Cheesy. Delicious. Simple. Quick. And quick is good because I haven’t been home much lately.

Instead of the regular cheddar or **GASP** Velveeta (YES! I do like it this way!!) this recipe uses Parmigiano-Reggiano.

No meat in this one. Makes a really good side. Or just by itself! Try this one…..

This is on page 95 of Hazan’s 30 Minute Pasta.

Go by and check out Kayte’s selection for this week, too.

If there is one thing I love, it is any type of seafood. If there is one thing I don’t love, it is cooking for one. Just me. Alone. By myself. But that is where I find myself right now. Not for long, but long enough.

What’s the easiest thing to cook just for one that is quick – PASTA!! And since I’m not getting home until later I really have to rummage to find something to cook with pasta. I was excited to find a single Salmon fillet in the freezer which meant I could make this….

    Farfalle with Fresh Salmon.

Since I only had one 4 oz salmon fillet I made about 1/3 of the recipe. And it was super simple. Saute garlic with red pepper flakes. Add chopped fresh tomatoes (which I did not have so used some frozen whole blanched I had put up early this summer) Add sliced salmon and fresh basil. throw in some cream and toss with the pasta. Super Simple and Super Tasty.

And if you want to know what pasta for one looks like –

A litle pile of pasta. Dang but I’ll be glad when The Hubs is home again.

Check out what Kayte made for 30 Minute Thursdays. Why don’t you join us? The recipe is from Hazans 30 Minute Pastas on page 118. If you like super simple you will LOVE this book.

    Linguine with Classic Basil Pesto

I have to admit I have had pasta with pesto before. I often make it as a simple meal for lunch. But I have used ‘store-bought’ pesto and not home made. I have even made Basil Pesto before but I included the cheese in the pesto it self. But when Hazan made the pesto he didn’t put the cheese in the pesto, he put it the pasta. It made a BIG different. Actually, you put the pesto in the bowl the pasta will be mixed in THEN you grate the cheese over the pesto and THEN you add the pasta. What I ended up with was a lovely pasta dish where the cheese melted in the pata making it melty and ‘creamy’.

If you have Hazan’s 30 Minute PASTA you can find the recipe on page 54.

And check out Kayte’s 30 Minute Thursday entry.

And if you have the book, or you are getting the book, please join us.

If you want or need one of the simplist pasta recipes ever then this is the one for you. It is simply pasta tossed with parsley, pepper flakes, garlic, and EVOO. Yes, it IS that simple.

    Spaghettini with Olive Oil and Garlic

It is the perfect side dish for just about anything. The flavors are mild so it won’t overpower whatever you serve it with. We had it with baked chicken rolled in Italian seasoning and panko bread crumbs. Just 1/4 of the entire recipe was more than enough for the side and a little extra.

The only change I would make – add just a tad more garlic. The two medium cloves (1/2 clove for 1/4 recipe) simply was not enough. Everything else was just fine.

You can find this one on page 49 of Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pastas


And go check out Kayte’s selection for 30 Minute Thursdays. It looks delicious.

Let’s see. It’s the middle of the month. It’s Monday. That means it is time for The Secret Recipe Club. And if you haven’t heard of it you need to. Each month members are ‘assigned’ a blog to cook from You can cook one or two or as many dishes as you like. You can use them as is or adapt them. You just have to use recipes from the blog.

This month I was lucky to be ‘given’ The Slow Roasted Italian authored by Donna.
So many good things. So little time.
Since I was in the mood for Italian I searched her blog until I came upon the perfect dish. Quick! Easy! Delicious!

    Chicken Cacciatore

Oh! My! Goodness!

I haven’t made this dish in YEARS and the last time I did it was made with cans of tomato soup **Gasp** but it was all I had and it was good. Now I have this and I am very glad I have since lost the other recipe. **WHEW**

    2 teaspoons flour {I used 2 Tbl}
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
    1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
    4 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ {I used full breasts but sliced them into thinner pieces.}
    1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
    1 cup red bell pepper strips, about 3″ long and 1/4-1/2″ wide
    2 cloves fresh minced garlic
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 can (14.5 ounce) no salt added diced tomatoes in juice {I used Fire Roasted}
    1 tablespoon drained capers {I like these more and more!!}
    1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate and use a fork to mix until they are well combined.

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Dip one piece at a time into the flour mixture and coat all sides being sure to shake off any excess flour. Transfer them, side by side, to a clean dinner plate (don’t stack them on top of each other).

Place a large nonstick skillet with a lid over medium high heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Immediately add the chicken in a single layer and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Remove the chicken to a clean plate. Ad the onion, bell pepper, garlic and wine to the pan. Stir for 3 to 5 minutes, until the wine slightly reduces. Add the tomatoes and their juice. capers, Italian seasoning and stir to combine.

Place the chicken in the sauce, completely coating them. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Remove the chicken to your serving dish and allow the sauce to cook and thicken. Remove from pan and pour over chicken when it has thickened to your taste and serve.

Thank you, Donna, for this recipe.

It was wonderful. Very flavorful. Very light. Very definitely going into my “Make This Again” file.

I mean rally – look at all thay yummy goodness!!! How could you NOT make it again, and again. and…..

Donna has some great process pics on the Cacciatore post .

If you want to join in the fun just travel on over to The Secret Recipe Club and sign up. You won’t regret it. Perfect way to meet new foodie bloggers!!

As I was signing in to Donna’s Site I found a new recipe on her blog. Death by Chocolate Cake. THAT one is definitely on my list for my next cake!!!!!!!

There is nothing more comforting than PASTA. There is always some type of pasta in our pantry. Or I make some fresh to try out new recipes and an excuse to use the pasta roller. I needed something new for dinner and settled on some type of pasta dish. I just didn’t know which one until I was looking through all the magazine recipes I have torn out over the years. I came upon this one.

    Rigatoni with spicy sausage-tomato sauce, arugula spinach, and parmesan

The original recipe called for arugala, but since the only grocer that carries it is on the other side of the river on the other side of town I subsituted spinach, even tho…

    “The classic meat sauce gets some oomph from the peppery arugula.”

The oomph wasn’t worth the 40 minute round trip drive.


    1 Tbl olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 lbs hot Italian sausages casings removed {I used fresh ground Italian sausage.}
    1/2 cup dry red wine
    1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
    1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
    8 ounces rigatoni
    2 cups (packed) fresh arugula, stemmed {Subbed in Spinach}
    1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
    1 Tbl shopped fresh oregano {I used 1/2 Tbl dried}
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

~ Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion; saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.
~ Add garlic; stir 1 minute.
~ Add sausage; cook until browned, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes.
~ Drain drippings from pot.
~ Add wine, diced tomatoes with juice, and crushed tomatoes; increase heat and bring to boil.
~ Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.
~ Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
~ Stir pasta, spinach, basil, and oregano into tomato sauce. Simmer until arugula wilts, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
~ Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

      Recipe adapted from bonappetit June 2008

This was so good. Everyone liked it. Definitely a repeat.

…the best thing you can do is make PESTO. Pesto is so versatile. Most of the time you find it in pasta dishes. Or on Chicken. I’ve made Bread using Pesto. That was GOOD!!

According to Wikipedia…

    PESTO is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese), and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and nuts blended with olive oil and cheese. The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle.

So, anyway, a friend of mine came for a visit and brought me a bag of basil from her garden. (I have some in mine, but it is a small plant.) I was excited because now, instead of buying pesto, I could make my own.

Start out with…

    2 cups fresh basil, washed.
    2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
    1 cup grated pecarino romano cheese
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    3 – 4 Tbl EVOO
    1 cup cashew pieces

Place the nuts and basil in the FP and blend until smooth.
Add the cheeses, garlic, and process until smooth.
Slowly drizzle EVOO while pulsing the FP. It doesn’t take much.

And – voilĂ  – PESTO!!

Most of the pesto recipes call for pine nuts or walnuts. As a participant of a Foodie Exchange I was fortunate enough to receive a wonderful box of goodies from Rossella who lives in Milano, Italy. In the box was a jar of pesto alla genovese. What made this pesto different from others I had tasted was the cashews. AFter that I decided that I would use cashews rather than the usual nuts (I have also seen pesto with pecans!)

I didn’t use any extra salt as the cashews were lightly salted and the pecarino romano is also a little salty. The Parmesan was an after thought but it mellowed out the taste of the pesto. I did use a little too much garlic (I KNOW – is that possible?) so I would use smaller cloves next time.

What I liked about this pesto was the little sweeter flavor from the cashews. Next time – pecans!!

Mixed with some Pasta it made a perfect lunch. I don’t think I will ever buy Pesto again.

Did you grow up eating Ravioli?? Ravioli made like this?

As a kid, I LOVED this stuff!! It was the best lunch EVER!! It never dawned on me that this wasn’t actually GOOD ravioli. And it never dawned on me someone could actually make ravioli in their own kitchen. And how, kinda/sorta, easy it is to make!

This month’s Avatar chef is Eric Ripert, chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious. I wasn’t familiar with Ripert until a few months ago when I noticed him on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. And then I was lucky enough to win one of his cookbooks – Avec Eric -(which includes 100 + recipes from his series) from Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. But now that I know who he is there are several of his dishes I want to try. This one was a good one to start with:

      Ricotta-Spinach Ravioli with Butter and Sage

I have been wanting to make ravioli again for a while. And it’s been a long while.

On order to make the ravioli I had to make the pasta first. I made Ripert’s Pappardelle. FUN!! I have trouble making pasta when the recipe begins with mound 2 cups of flour in the center of a work surface, make a well in the center, add eggs, slowly incorporate. My incorporation usually ends up as a dry mess. And this was no different, but I added a little more egg and it did come together. Although it wasn’t smooth and silky the ravioli came out quite well.

The filling was a mixture of ricotta and spinach. Simple and delicious.

Ripert’s mix for the filling is delicious.

The only change I made, sorry Eric, was to toss the ravioli with browned butter and fried sage rather than just plain soft butter and sage leaves. I liked the ‘sweetness’ of the browned butter. It was perfect!!

It was difficult to find just one recipe to use for June’s Twitter avatar so I guess I will just have to make more goodies from his recipes.

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