Spaghetti Aglio e Olio With Marinated Tomatoes

1 09 2014

This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan or romano cheese

Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.

Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.

Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.

Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.





Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

12 08 2014

Given my Italian heritage, I should be able to make you a sausage, onion and pepper dish in my sleep. And…I pretty much can! The best thing about this recipe is that you really don’t need a recipe, you can just wing it! As long as you don’t burn anything, this will turn out savory and delicious.

You’ll typically find sausage, onions and peppers on my family’s go-to party menu, but we don’t normally use as many ingredients as I have in this meal. But thanks to my CSA share from Fresh Fork Market, I had more produce to use up. So I threw in some extras like tomatoes and fennel fronds that I normally wouldn’t add. And that’s what makes this meal versatile. Add what you like, remove what you don’t – it won’t make a difference. Just get a nice caramelization on the onions and peppers, and you’re good to go!

Italian Sausage with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4 Italian sausage links
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small candy onions, or whatever onions you like, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, whatever color you like, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Granulated garlic
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • Good handful of fennel fronds
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Fresh basil ribbons

Preheat grill to medium, try to keep the grill around 300 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350.

Poke two-three holes in the sausages with a knife – don’t poke all the way through. Place sausages on the grill and close lid but keep it slightly ajar. Grill until brown all over, a few minutes on each side. Remove from the grill.

In a large non-stick oven-proof skillet, heat 3 Tbsp or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to soften, tossing occasionally. Add peppers and continue to saute until onions start to brown and peppers soften, tossing occasionally. At this point add the tomatoes, fennel fronds and season with salt, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic – all to taste. The salt will help the onions and peppers give off some of their natural liquid. Saute for another few minutes.

Next, deglaze the pan with some balsamic vinegar, a good turn of the pan, about 2 Tbsp or so. Let the vinegar cook down, tossing with the onions and peppers. Next, add some chicken stock, just eyeball it, about 1/4 cup, and cook for another minute or two. You’ll notice the liquid start to thicken into a sauce. Remove from the heat.

Nestle the grilled sausages into the onions and peppers and cover the skillet loosely with foil. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and finish baking uncovered, another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Serve sausages along with the onions, peppers and some of the sauce from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil. I like to enjoy this meal with a big salad of baby greens dressed in red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic.





Ohio City Pasta With Tomato Cream Sauce and Pancetta

7 08 2014

I highly recommend dining alfresco with this delicious Italian meal! Set up a little bistro on your porch or patio, pour yourself a glass of vino and mangia!

There’s just something about fresh pasta! This savory Ohio City Pasta linguine was compliments of our Fresh Fork Market share, along with some beautifully big tomatoes! Fresh tomatoes cooked down and finished with a little cream is delicious. But top it with crispy pancetta, fresh basil and cheese….and you’ve got yourself one decadent meal!

Ohio City Pasta With Pancetta and Tomato Cream Sauce

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat with inspiration from Food Network Magazine):

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • Half a red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes (use a pinch or more to your liking)
  • 1 and a half large tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup non-fat half-and-half
  • 1 lb fresh linguine from Ohio City Pasta
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Heat a large skillet over medium and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add pancetta and saute until browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate. Add onion to the hot skillet and saute a few minutes until beginning to soften, stirring often. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, a minute. Season lightly with salt.

Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a Vitamix or blender. Add to the skillet with the sautéed onions and cook until liquid is almost all evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half-and-half during the last few minutes of cooking, and stir to combine.

At this point, cook your pasta in the boiling water. Don’t over-cook it! Because it’s fresh it’ll be done in 1 and a half to two minutes. Drain, and immediately add to the skillet with the sauce. Toss with the sauce over low heat for a minute, allowing the pasta to absorb the sauce.

Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.





Grilled Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

25 06 2014

This Mediterranean dinner is quick and oh so tasty! Get creative with finishing simple grilled chicken, like thinking outside the traditional sauce. Try something rustic like tapenade!

Grilled Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped (oil reserved)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp green onions, chopped
  • 4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic scapes, green onions, basil, 2 Tbsp oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with a little pinch of salt and pinch red pepper flakes. Cover and store in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour, or until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 1 Tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oil, salt to taste, pinch red pepper flakes and some parmesan cheese. Spread out in a single layer on a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Roast for 15 minutes, or until beginning to brown, rotating half way through.

Preheat grill to high.

Season chicken with 1 Tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oil, pepper and garlic powder to taste and just a little salt (don’t over salt as the tapenade will be salty). Grill on high heat until cooked through and juices run clear, 6-8 minutes per side. Remove and top with a little of the tapenade and tent with foil to rest.

Serve chicken topped with more of the sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade, garnished with feta. Enjoy with roasted broccoli.





Polenta Squares With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

15 06 2014

This is a unique, and tasty appetizer that I’m sure you won’t see at many parties! It’s perfect for summer picnics or potlucks because you serve it room temperature. You could also serve these polenta squares as a side dish, making this versatile too.

Polenta Squares with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

The following makes 12-16 squares (adapted from The Party Girl Cookbook):

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 6 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (Don’t waste the oil, save it to use in something else!)
  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pot over high heat. Add salt. Slowly add the cornmeal and whisk constantly. When the mixture boils (which will happen quickly and be careful, the mixture will be hot), reduce the heat to low and continue stirring (with a wooden spoon) until very thick, about 30 minutes.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil and stir well. Pour the polenta into a square 2.5 quart casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray, making sure to spread evenly. Chill in the fridge until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature and cut into squares. You can get more squares if you go for smaller, bite-size pieces.

You can make this a day or two ahead of time and store covered in the fridge. Just bring to room temperature before serving.





Grilled Fish With Lemon, Basil and Garlic

3 06 2014

This technique of grilling fish on top of lemon slices is brilliant, and is my new favorite way of cooking fish! The citrus helps flavor the fish, but more importantly it prevents it from sticking to the grill. Flavorful, smoky fish that’s done fast – that’s my kind of summer supper!

Grilled Fish With Lemon, Basil and Garlic

The following serves 2 (adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 2 boneless, skinless white fish filets, really you could use whatever fish you’d like, your cooking time will just vary
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced thick
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Preheat grill to low heat.

You don’t have to use a grill pan if you don’t have one, I just thought it was easier for transporting these stacks. Spray the grill pan with non-stick spray.

Each piece of fish will use 3 thick slices of lemon. Place 2 slices of lemon per fish on the grill pan and top the lemon with a layer of basil leaves, using however many you need to cover the lemon slices. Next, add 2-3 smashed garlic cloves on top of the basil. Top the lemon, basil and garlic with a piece of fish. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil. Season lightly with salt to taste, and top each piece of fish with another slice of lemon.

Grill covered for about 10-12 minutes (do not turn), or until fish has turned opaque and begins to flake.

Serve with more lemon slices and roasted or steamed veggies.





Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

10 05 2014

Gnocchi can make for a wonderfully quick homemade meal, especially when it’s dressed in a simple olive oil and butter sauce. When I make homemade gnocchi, I save some to freeze for when I need a fast supper option. You can do the same, or use store-bought. Extra bonus about this meal is that you can enjoy it on it’s own, or add a protein of your choice on the side – like grilled chicken. Now, where’s my fork? 🙂

Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

The following serves 3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought Gnocchi
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 bunch of thick asparagus, ends trimmed and diagonally cut into thirds
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Good pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter or butter substitute
  • 4-5 large leaves of basil, rolled up like a cigar and thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cut asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes until bright green and crisp. Remove immediately and run until cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Bring the water you used to blanch the asparagus back to a boil. Heads up, the water will be green from the asparagus, but no worries – that just adds flavor!

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm a few Tbsp of oil and add prosciutto. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp. Remove prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate. Lower heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for another minute to flavor the oil. Turn the heat down to low and season lightly with salt to taste. Add the butter, and swirl to melt – this will also help thicken the sauce slightly.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, cover and bring up to a rapid boil. Once the gnocchi float to the top, they’re done (this will only take a few minuets, they cook fast). If using store-bought gnocchi, be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the package instead. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and add right to the sauce. Don’t worry about some of the cooking water getting into the sauce, you want that!

Once all the gnocchi are in with the sauce, add the cooked asparagus to the sauce as well. Add half the basil, increase heat to medium and cook everything together, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Taste and season with a little more salt if needed.

Transfer gnocchi, asparagus and all of the sauce to a large serving platter. Garnish with the crisp prosciutto, the rest of the basil, fresh lemon zest and as much parmesean as you like. Serve family style, with more parmesean on the side.

My choice of wine with this dish: Chardonnay.