Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Tuna Puttanesca

Last week I was able to take part in Slow Food Seattle’s Tuna Canning Workshop. I had so wanted to go to the first one last year (especially after hearing all the raves about the tuna) but work got in the way. Pacific Northwest Tuna is exquisite (I especially love it raw) and I certainly love being able to support a local fisherman so I bought my ticket and reserved my flat of tuna as soon as it was possible.

We spent the day cutting and trimming the tuna, then stuffing it into jars. Each jar then gets a little salt, a little olive oil and a piece of carrot (Jeremy the fisherman’s secret ingredient). Finally the jars are sealed and then placed in a pressure canner for 90 minutes. The tuna comes out bubbling and hot so it has to cool for a few minutes before it get packed up to take home.

I wanted to cook something delicious with my first jar of tuna, but I’ve been a bit of a hermit lately so a trip to the store just didn’t sound like much fun. I decided to turn to a classic Italian dish, Pasta Puttanesca which requires no fresh ingredients.

Puttanesca has a bit of a tawdry history as it is said that it was invented by prostitutes. Some say that it’s aroma was used to lure new patrons while others say that they made it because it was quick and could be cooked entirely from the pantry (since many of them had no refrigeration available). Of course there are others that say it was simply invented by busy Italian women who wanted something quick to serve their family. Whichever version of history you believe, know that this is one of the most delicious pasta dishes around.

You might be tempted to leave the anchovy paste out of this dish but trust me, don’t. It adds a certain salty “what is that” flavor that is essential. I served mine over fresh pasta (just because I’ve been practicing my fresh pasta technique) but dry fettuccine or spaghetti will be just as delicious. Here’s the ingredients.

Start by covering the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Once it’s warm add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the pan just to warm through.

Finally, drain the pasta then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.

We had a friend over to enjoy this dinner with us. She took one bite and her eyes got big. “Yum” was all she could say. Salty, spicy and tangy this is the perfect pasta for a cold winter’s night.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Puttanesca
Recipe type: Entree
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
This sauce takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Start the sauce while you are waiting for the pasta water to boil. Finish it as the pasta cooks.
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 3 Tablespoon capers
  • 1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can good quality oil-packed tuna
  1. Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. When it is warm, add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer.
  3. When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the sauce just to warm through.
  4. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.



Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Sausage and Peppers Fettuccine

So I had peppers, I had onions, I had sausage. It seemed like a sausage and pepper sandwich might be in order. But what I didn’t have was bread.

I decided to take the idea and instead make a pasta sauce (because what I did have was a package of fresh pasta).

Here’s the ingredients:

4 hot Italian chicken sausages
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
6 clove garlic, sliced thin (I forgot these in the photo)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock, or water (also not pictured as it was a last minute addition)
1 pound fresh fettuccine
6 leaves fresh basil, julienned
grated Parmesan cheese

To start I fired up the grill and cooked the sausages through. Once they were cooked through and then rested for a couple of minutes I sliced them, then set them aside. Now if you are not a winter time griller like me, the sausages could be fried up inside or the sausage could be removed from its casings and browned in the same pan just before adding the peppers.

While the sausages were on the grill, back inside I heated a little olive oil in a large saute pan.

When it was hot, I added the peppers and onions (and I should have added the garlic, but I forgot)…

…and let this cook until the onions were cooked softened and translucent, which took just under 10 minutes.

I added the garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cooked while stirring for about thirty seconds.

Next I added the tomato paste and cooked this for another minute or so (this caramelizes the tomato paste just a bit, making it sweeter).

Finally I added the white wine and the chicken stock…

…and the cooked sausages…

…and let the whole mixture simmer gently for about fifteen minutes.

While it simmered I cooked the fettuccine according to the package instructions. When it was cooked I drained it, saving a bit of the pasta water and then added the cooked pasta to the sausage mixture. It seemed a little thick so I added a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.

I portioned out the mixture onto a couple of plates (with enough left for a hearty lunch) and then sprinkled each with a little basil and Parmesan.

This came out pretty good. Sweet and spicy. The husband picked out all the garlic (without even trying it, hmph) but he said he liked it too. I wouldn’t have minded a few more pepper flakes, but over all I really enjoyed this. It’s definitely going on the to be made again list.

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Pasta Salad with Grilled Corn and Shrimp

Holy smokes, it is hot outside. Gonna need something cool for dinner tonight.

The other day, I was watching the Today Show. Martha Stewart was on demonstrating shrimp and corn salad and I thought it was an interesting idea, but that I could make it better (don’t shoot me Martha fanatics). Now I haven’t tried Martha’s recipe, so it may be a good thing (and I’ll admit that bibb lettuce would have been way better than the way too bitter dandelion greens).

Here’s the ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp
1/3 pound shell pasta
2 ears corn
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
a whole mess of basil, julienned
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch of dandelion greens (but as I said, a milder lettuce would have been way better)
1/2 cucumber, sliced

I started by cooking the pasta in salted water and grilling the corn until is was nicely charred. When the pasta was done I cooled it down with cold water right away than left it to drain. When the corn was cool enough to handle I cut it off of the cobs.

Meanwhile I boiled the shrimp in water seasoned with salt and a bit of cider vinegar for three minutes, then immediately plunged them into an ice bath to cool.

While everything was cooking, I made a creamy vinaigrette with the garlic, mustard, sherry vinegar and mayonnaise. Then I simply stirred together the shrimp, corn, pasta, basil and onion.

To plate I made a bed of greens and cucumber, then topped it with a generous scoop of the salad.

How was it? Delicious. Seriously, the only mis-step here was the dandelion greens (they were just way too strong for the delicate flavor of the pasta salad). The cucumbers, however, were a lovely accompaniment. It was nice to have a cool, tasty meal on a day that was way too hot. The husband really liked it too (and he’s not even a big fan of shrimp). The best part? Plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow (it’s still supposed to be way to hot then too).

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

While in Kansas, it seemed like every time we turned around someone was trying to feed us. No light food either, there was nary a salad in sight. In one day we had a cheesy potato breakfast casserole with bacon, ribs with potato salad and beans for lunch, and supreme pizza for dinner (then beer, lots of beer). Now I’m not saying it wasn’t good (the ribs were some of the best I’ve had) there was just so darn much of it.

Since I’ve been home I’ve been craving really light food (and spicy Asian-style food, but that’s another story). Today I decided to make myself a light, but indulgent lunch. And, I decided my tomato was finally ready.

Here’s the ingredients (for one person):

A couple handfuls of campanelle pasta (I decided on this shape because I thought it would hold the diced tomatoes nicely)
1 Roma tomato
several leaves of basil (these are from my garden, too)
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a paste
olive oil (the good stuff)
a bit of really good Parmigiano-Regianno cheese

I started by cooking the pasta in well-salted water. While this cooked, I diced the tomato (into 1/4″ dice), julienned the basil and mashed the garlic. If you’ve never done this, here’s how.

Start by chopping the garlic.

Sprinkle it with kosher salt.

With the knife almost parallel to the cutting board, mash the salt and garlic together.

Keep going until you get a paste.

Once the pasta was cooked through, I drained it, returned it to the pan and added the garlic paste right away (just to take the edge off of it). I added a generous drizzle of olive oil, the diced tomatoes and the basil. The heat of the pasta warmed the tomato and made a nice light sauce. I topped the dish with a bit of cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt.

So good, and exactly what I had been craving. Light and summery and so flavorful. It was so exciting to take my first harvest from my garden and turn it into something so delicious.

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Tomato Confit

Last week my local QFC had two pounds or grape tomatoes for only $3.99. What a deal. And as I like to say, when life gives you tomatoes make tomato confit.

So, yesterday I did just that. I use the method from the Tom Douglas cookbook Tom’s Big Dinners, but I switched the herbs around a bit to use what I had on hand.

I put all the tomatoes I had left (I had to eat a few) on a baking sheet (I used a small one so that I could roast in my toaster oven) added a few cloves of garlic and a bunch of fresh oregano. I topped this off with olive oil (not the really good stuff, just the kinda good stuff) plus a generous helping of salt and fresh ground black pepper.

I roasted this at 225 degrees for 3 hours, then let it cool before stashing it in the fridge (it is sooo much better the next day).

Now, tomato confit is one of my favorite things on the planet. It smells so good while it is cooking and can be used for so many things, as a condiment for meat or poultry (maybe even fish but I haven’t tried it) as a bruschetta topping, or, as I am going to use it, as part of a pasta dish.

I took a look in my very full crisper drawer and found a lot of vegetables that I would usually like to roast. The problem with that is, it’s almost 80 degrees out, so grilling seems like a much better idea. Luckily I remembered one of my favorite cooking tools, my grill saute basket. With it I’m able to take produce that is too small to grill (broccoli, for example) put it in the basket and get the high heat cooking of roasting with the ease of sauteing.

Here’s the ingredients for the veggies:

sugar snap peas
sweet onion
3 clove garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

You’ll notice that I didn’t really put any amounts, that is because I used what I had, and other veggies would work here too (cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.).

I chopped the broccoli, carrots and asparagus into bite-sized pieces, julienned the onion and chopped the garlic. In a large bowl, I combined these with the snap peas, olive oil and salt and pepper.

I put all this into my grill basket and put it on the grill.

I tossed the veggies every few minutes (for about a half hour) until they were crisp tender and char-cooked.

For the pasta:

1/2 pound spaghetti
1 Tablespoon olive oil from the tomato confit
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

I added the pasta to boiling water and coked it until it was al dente. I drained it, reserving some of the pasta water.

To the now empty pasta pan I added the olive oil and anchovy paste, then stirred in the ricotta cheese and the pasta, adding enough reserved pasta water to loosen it up (make it saucy).

To finish:

1 cup tomato confit
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
really good Parmesan

I doused the tomatoes with the vinegar and then heated it for one minute in the microwave. Then I stirred in the parsley.

In my bowl I placed my finished pasta, then layered on my grilled veggies, and topped it with the tomato confit and a dusting of Parmesan.

How was it? Well, the tomato confit smelled insanely good while it was cooking, then the grilled veggies smelled insanely good while they were cooking, so I had very high hopes, and I was not disappointed. Each part of this dish was sooo good on it’s own, but together, wow. I loved this so much, light, but filling and just good.

The husband, though, well, I have to discount his opinion a bit since he doesn’t really like broccoli, asparagus or tomatoes. So while he ate it, he certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as me. But it doesn’t look like he cares.

As an aside, while I was making my tomato confit, I was also making strawberry sauce and strawberry-rhubarb jam. I have more of this than I know what to do with, so if you would like either one, the first five people that let me know their preference shall receive it.

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Fettucine with Eggplant and Grilled Chicken

Last night I was in the mood for Italian. I had plenty of time since it’s the weekend so I thought a fresh pasta dish was in order.

Here’s the ingredients:

for the fresh egg pasta:
10 ounce flour
3 eggs

for the chicken:
2 Tbls lemon juice
2 Tbls Marsala wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano

to complete the dish:
1/2 pound fresh egg fettuccine
1 eggplant, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 Tbls kosher salt
2 shallots, sliced
2 clove garlic, minced 1/2 cup pesto

Technically this dish started over the summer when I had the foresight to take my abundance of fresh basil and make pesto. I put the pesto into ice cube trays and once frozen I popped then out and stuck them in a freezer bag. Now anytime I’m in the mood for a little taste of summer I just pull out a cube (or two or three), let it thaw and use it just like fresh. Now, if you didn’t have the foresight to make pesto over the summer, you could always use store bought.

Tonight I started by making my pasta dough. I use the recipe and method for Fresh Egg Pasta found in Italian Classics from Cook’s Illustrated. I combined flour and eggs in the food processor until they came together. The dough was pretty sticky so I added flour a bit at a time until it was the right consistency (it’s hard to explain just what the right consistency is but the book (and their Web site) has some nice illustrations and explanations). I turned the dough out and kneaded it for just a couple of minutes then wrapped it in plastic to let it rest.

After the dough I started the chicken in a quick marinade (it’s amazing what even a 20-minute marinade does to chicken). I combined all the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag and then tossed in the chicken.

Next I had to deal with the eggplant. I usually like to use Japanese eggplant since they are less seedy and have a better texture. But the box just had a regular old eggplant so that’s what I used. I cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch cubes, put them in a colander, sprinkled them with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt, tossed the eggplant to coat it with the salt and then let it sit for 1/2 hour.

This draws excess moisture out of the eggplant. Once the 1/2 hour was up I dumped the eggplant onto a kitchen towel and dried it thoroughly, patting off as much of the excess salt as possible.

I used my fancy-schmancy Kitchen-Aid pasta roller to cut my fettuccine, prepped the rest of my ingredients and I was finally ready to cook (because obviously up until now I haven’t been cooking at all).

I started a big pot of water boiling, heated up my grill pan and my big-ass saute pan. I started the chicken in the grill pan and in the saute pan I warmed some olive oil then added my garlic, red-pepper flakes and shallots. After about a minute I added my eggplant and started my pasta. When the pasta was ready I added it directly to the saute pan along with about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the pesto. I tossed all this together (adding a bit more pasta water because the sauce seemed dry) and put it onto my plates. I sliced up my chicken and placed it on top of the pasta then added of dusting of the Parmigiano Reggiano we smuggled from Italy.

How was it? Well, the picky husband said it was good, except for the eggplant, and I think I concur. While I like the flavor of eggplant this just didn’t have a great texture. If I made this again I would definitely use japanese eggplant. I think the next time the box preview indicates that it will contain eggplant I may just have them trade it for something else.

P.S. This was a ton of food. Neither of us finished our plate (but the leftovers did make a nice lunch today).

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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