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Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

As I have mentioned before, lasagnas are great alternatives for boat and fishing trips.  Last week, it was Club Nautico de San Juan‘s International Billfish Tournament, the longest consecutive fishing tournament in the world (57 years).  Anglers from all over the world come to Puerto Rico to this tag-and-release tournament and its a week full of action, fun and camaraderie. My husband Emilio has been involved in this tournament for over 20 years and is currently a board member.  Actually, I met him during the week of a tournament in August 1997 and we were married by June 1998.  So, I have been a “fishing widow” ever since…Ja!, although I join him fishing once in I while, like I did for Club Deportivo de Mayaguez’s Blue Marlin Tournament in the western part of the island, where I witnessed the most beautiful sunsets in my life and placed 1st in the women’s division and 3rd overall (among 500 fishermen, not bad!!)

This is me fishing at Club Deportivo de Mayaguez Blue Marlin Tournament October 2009

The week of the tournament is filled with fun events like the flag ceremony, excursions for the wives of the anglers, fashion shows, the Billfish Foundation’s Auction and of course the themed party.  This year the theme was Disco Night and I must tell you it has been the best party at the tournament yet!  Some members of the board along with other volunteers did a choreography to Dancing Queen and Fever Night mix which turned out to be spectacular and got everyone in dancing mode! There were also Donna Summer and Boy George impersonators.

The Marlin Dancers (I am the 6th one from the left)

Fishing goes on for 4 days with a rest day in between.  Emilio was assigned to bring lunch for two of the four days of fishing, so for one day I sent my Meat Lasagna with green salad and Amarillos en Almíbar (sweet plantains sauted in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon).  The boys (Frankie, Joe, Emilio and Ricky) loved it and left nothing on the plate!  To comply to their requests, I am posting this recipe today.  Here is my version of Meat Lasagna.

Enjoy!

Meat Lasagna

Ingredients

Picadillo Recipe

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe (yields 3 cups)

8 ounces ricotta cheese or mascarpone

about 15 pieces of lasagna strips

12 fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped

4 cups of shredded mozzarella

Procedure


top layer has tomato sauce, cheese and basil only


1.  In a 13×9 baking dish, place one layer of lasagna strips. (I use the oven ready strips which do not need to be boiled but you may also use the traditional boiled ones.)  Spread 4 ounces of cheese, half of the picadillo-ground beef recipe (remove excess fat and liquid), 1 cup of basic tomato sauce and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.  Cover again with lasagna strips and repeat procedure.  Place third layer of lasagna strips and cover with remaining cup of tomato sauce, chopped fresh basil and remaining mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes at 390ºF. Uncover and broil until cheese on top is golden (about 7-10 minutes).  Serve with garlic bread, amarillos en almíbar, white rice or salad.

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The word “orzo” in italian means “barley”. Orzo pasta (pasta shaped like rice or grain) is very versatile. It can be boiled, baked, used as a filler in casseroles or when making stuffed peppers.  Also, great in soups. The best orzo is made of durum semolina flour and is very popular in Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Countries.  I like this version of orzo pasta because it is very savory and not very heavy. Add as much spinach as you can and by all means… it has to be fresh!  Serve alone or as a side dish.  Orzo with Spinach is also great as a cold salad.  If you are going to serve it as a salad, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before serving so that it looks shiny and fresh.

Enjoy!

Orzo with Spinach

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oi

3 ounces of thinly sliced pancetta chopped

1/2 cup of yellow or white onions cubed

1/3 cup red bell pepper finely cubed

2 fresh garlic cloves minced

6 cups of fresh spinach (lightly packed)

2 tbsp cold butter

2 tbsp dry white wine

2 tsp fine sea salt

pepper to taste

drizzle of white truffle oil

1 pound of orzo

fresh parmesan cheese

Procedure


1.  In a deep large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil in medium.  Add pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes until pieces begin to cook. You don’t want pancetta to be crispy or burned. Stir occasionally.

2.  Add onions and red peppers and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and butter and continue to saute for about 1 minute.  Add white wine to deglaze pan. Immediately add spinach and stir until it has wilted.

3.  Meanwhile, in a med sauce pan, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt and cook orzo according to package instructions.  Once cooked, drain and add to spinach mixture and saute for a few minutes.  Add drizzle of white truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Add freshly grated parmesan cheese once you serve.

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This is one of my favorite pastas! I have been preparing it for soooo long, I think I can make it with my eyes closed by now.  Linguine alla Carbonara is easy to prepare but must be eaten immediately! Make sure you have all the side dishes ready and served when you prepare it so that you can eat it hot.  If you can, heat the serving plates a little before serving. Pancetta and pecorino cheese are very savory so no salt needs to be added. I use whole wheat pasta and organic eggs when possible.

Last week, while I was in Miami, I invited over for dinner my good friend from college, Axel, who lives there.  I made the Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloins with this pasta and the reviews were fabulous!  This recipe is the traditional way to make it (eggs, pancetta and cheese), but there are many variations. I never order this dish when dining out because you never know what you are going to get.  Some restaurants make it with cream sauce, I guess because 1. it is safer (it is risky eating raw eggs) 2.  appearance (cream sauce just looks nicer and more appetizing) and 3. it is just plain easier. You  may put the eggs in boiling water for a little less than a minute to reduce risk of bacteria. Immediately take them out and run them under cold water. Crack them and put them in a bowl and whisk together, then add cheese.  One last thing, if you want to give it some color and a nice twist add sweet green peas. Here is my version of Linguine alla Carbonara.

Linguine alla Carbonara

Ingredients

1/2 pound of pancetta thinly sliced and diced (use bacon if you can’t find pancetta)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

3 eggs (room temperature)

1 pound of linguine

3 hand fulls of grated pecorino romano (about 1/3 pound or 3/4 cup)

pepper to taste

fresh parmesan cheese for garnish

Procedure

1.  Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add salt and some olive oil.

2.  Add tbsp olive oil to skillet (medium-hi heat) and saute pancetta until golden brown (do not let it become too crispy).

3.  Add pasta to boiling water.  Meanwhile, beat eggs with a whisk and add cheese to create a lumpy mixture almost like yogurt. If it is too liquid, add more pecorino cheese.

4.  Drain pasta and toss with pancetta (including fat) and butter.

5.  Immediately, add pasta and pancetta to egg/cheese mixture and toss to coat evenly. The hot pasta and pancetta will melt cheese and cook eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.

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I love pasta!  Capellini is very thin spaghetti sometimes called angel hair pasta.  My favorite way to make it is short and simple; with olive oil, tomato, garlic and basil. Fresh, light and satisfying!  May be served as a side dish or as a light meal.  I also like to serve it cold from the fridge with salad. Yum!

Buon Appetito!

Capellini with tomato, garlic and basil

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound capellini (8 oz.)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

2 roma tomatoes (diced)

about 6 fresh basil leaves chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

1.  In a medium sauce pan, bring water (about 6 cups) to a boil.  Add generous pinch of salt  and olive oil and start cooking capellini according to package instructions.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil (medium heat) and add minced garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes (do not  brown).

3.  Add tomato, basil and salt and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

4.  Turn off the heat. Add drained capellini to saute pan and stir until well mixed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

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This vegetable lasagna is sometimes called Lasagna Fiorentina or Florentine.   My version does not have tomato sauce, it only has Bechamel Sauce.  I must tell you, the fresh basil fills the kitchen with an inviting and delicious aroma while the lasagna is baking in the oven.   It is important that you use fresh spinach and fresh vegetables to make the filling.  I like to bake it as soon as possible but you may freeze the lasagna for a later occasion, just make sure the lid is tightly closed to prevent freezer burn. My friend Linda is a pro at this technique in which she wraps the lasagna in plastic wrap first and then three times with foil paper before freezing.  Make sure you completely thaw the lasagna before you put in the oven. Great alternative for boat trips or no hassle family gatherings.   I consider this a complete meal but you can accompany with garlic bread, more veggies, steak, salad or rice.

Buon Appetito!

Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

filling

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh spinach

2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup onions finely chopped

1/4 cup of red bell pepper finely chopped

10 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms sliced

3 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2  tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce (see recipe under sauces)

15 ounces ricotta cheese

2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella

9 leaves of fresh basil

12 lasagna strips (boiled or oven ready)

12 1/2 x 8 1/2 (approx.) glass or clay baking pan

Procedure


1.  Sauté fresh spinach in a large sauce pan with drizzle of olive oil until it has wilted, stirring constantly (medium heat). At the beginning it will seem like a lot but, as it wilts you will end up with about a fifth of its original volume.

2.  Immediately, add vegetables, worcestershire sauce, oregano and salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté for about 7 minutes stirring continously.  You will end up with about 3 cups of veggies. Include the liquids. Set aside.

3.  Prepare Béchamel Sauce.

4.  Start assembling the layers of the lasagna by placing pasta (cooked or oven ready) in the bottom and spreading about 5 ounces of ricotta cheese with bottom of a spoon.

5.  Scoop one cup of cooked veggies and spread evenly with spatula or back of a large spoon.

6.  Pour 1/4 of Béchamel Sauce evenly over veggies and sprinkle about 1/3 of a cup of shredded mozzarella.

7.  Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 two more times.

8.  For final layer spread place top lasagna strips and spread remaining Béchamel, basil and mozzarella cheese (in that order).  Cover with foil paper (not too tightly so that too much cheese doesn’t stick to it), or if you are using a clay/ceramic  pot with lid use the lid, and cook for approximately 30 minutes (or if the lasagna strips are oven ready, bake according to manufacturer instructions).  Remove foil paper and broil until cheese is golden brown.

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