Spaghetti Carbonara

An old classic that needed a picture update. I had a very old picture here from before the time I had photography backgrounds so it was time for an update. This is a no fuss recipe that is ready in 15 minutes. It is made with a few basic ingredients and it is full of flavor. Traditionally it is made with guanciale or pancetta and Pecorino cheese but I like to substitute them for bacon strips for its crispiness and Parmesan because well, I really like Parmesan.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

250g fresh spaghetti

3 egg yolks

1 egg

150g bacon strips

40gr of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Cook the bacon in a non-stick pan over medium heat until it becomes crispy. Remove from the heat and reserve the drippings. Chop the bacon strips and set it aside. I like to save a bit to sprinkle on top just before serving, this way it still has some crunch.

Cook the pasta al dente as instructed on the package. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and egg, and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 of a cup of the reserved cooking water and about 1 teaspoon of the bacon drippings. This prevents the eggs from curdling. Add the spaghetti and bacon. Toss to coat. Gradually add the Parmesan, stirring and tossing to melt it. Toss until the sauce thickens, adding a few more tablespoons of the pasta water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta into two bowls and garnish with extra Parmesan and the bacon (if you reserved some for crunch). Enjoy!

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Spaghetti with Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

It’s mussel season over here in the Netherlands and I couldn’t resist getting some. I love their taste and the fact that they are cooked in no time. Add some pasta and this becomes a very filling meal. I used anchovies for the sauce and for me, that made it salty enough. So I didn’t add any extra salt, but you can always add salt later if you wish.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

2 kilos of mussels, scrubbed and beards removed

250grs of spaghetti

Chopped parsley for serving

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

20grs of anchovy filets, finely chopped (use the oil too)

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of freshly chopped red chili (you can add more or less, depending on your taste)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 cup of white wine

500ml of tomato puree

1 cup of vegetable stock

 

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water, pulling off any beards. Discard of any mussels that are broken or that don’t clamp shut when tapped.

In a large pan with a lid, place the olive oil plus the anchovy oil over medium-low heat. Once it’s hot, add the red onion, anchovy, oregano and chili. Let it cook for about 4 to 5 minutes till the onion becomes translucent. Don’t forget to stir.

Then add the garlic and stir. Add the white wine and let it reduce to half. Then add the tomato puree and the vegetable stock. Let it reduce until you have a creamy sauce. About 12 minutes.

Then add the mussels, give it a good stir and cover with the lid. Let it cook over medium heat until the mussels open. This will only take a couple of minutes, so keep an eye on them.

One the mussels are cooked, remove them from the sauce and set them aside (discard of any that haven’t opened). Let the sauce reduce again over medium heat.

In the meanwhile cook the pasta as instructed on the package. By the time the pasta is cooked, the sauce should have reduced enough. Add the drained cooked pasta and toss to coat. Taste for salt. I didn’t add any because the anchovy made it salty enough for me.

Serve the pasta with the mussels. Sprinkle some chopped parsley. I also served them with roasted cherry tomatoes. To roast them, just place a few vines of cherry tomatoes in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil, salt, onion and garlic powder. Roast for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. Enjoy!

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Clam Chowder Spaghetti

I love clams and I should definitely eat them more often. They are so easy and quick to cook. To keep the cooking time short for this recipe, I used fresh pasta and dried spices. So no cutting onions and garlic. You can skip on the bacon if you are vegetarian and use a bit of smoked paprika for extra flavor. Perfect comfort food for a lazy day.

Ingredients:

500grs of scrubbed cockles, clams or vongole

250grs of fresh spaghetti or the pasta of your choice

150gr of chopped bacon

200grs of crème fraiche

200ml of cream

3/4 teaspoon of onion powder

3/4 teaspoon of garlic

3/4 teaspoon of celery salt

Pinch of cayenne

Kernels of 2 corns on the cob

100grs of baby spinach

5 tablespoons of chopped chives

 

Rinse the clams under cold water for a couple of minutes. Discard of any that are open and don’t close when you tap them.

Place the chopped bacon in a large pan over medium heat. Stir from time to time until it is fully cooked. Then add the crème fraiche, cream and spices

Mix well until the crème fraiche has dissolved into a sauce.

In the meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Add the corn and clams to the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid until the clams open. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Discard of any that didn’t open. Then add the spinach, cover it with a lid for 1 extra minute so that it wilts faster. Mix well and then add the cooked pasta.

Mix well so that the pasta is covered in the sauce. Taste for salt. Serve straight away and enjoy!

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Roasted Red Pepper Linguine with Pecan Crumbs

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Autumn has settled in and with it winter-like temperatures for me. So I turn to my trusted carbs to keep me cozy. The combination of roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions in the sauce, and the topping of toasted breadcrumbs with pecans and spices, make a wonderful combination of flavors. To save time, I bought the bell peppers already roasted.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the pecan crumbs:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ cup of pecans, finely chopped

1/3 cup of breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon of oregano

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of onion powder

Pinch of cayenne

Salt

Pepper

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 white onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon of celery salt

4 roasted bell peppers, peeled and deseeded

250ml of cream

40grs of grated Parmesan

Extras:

350grs of linguine or the pasta of your choice

Extra parmesan for serving

 

Start by making the pecan crumbs. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pecans, oregano, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Stir for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Transfer it to a bowl and set it aside.

For the sauce, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and lower the heat to low. Cook for about 16 minutes, stirring from time to time until the onions are caramelized. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the celery salt and roasted peppers. Blend until smooth.

Start cooking your pasta according to the package instructions.

Then add the cream and parmesan to the bell pepper sauce over medium heat. Let it reduce for about 3 minutes. Taste for salt and turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss or stir to coat the pasta.

Divide it into 3 plates and serve with the pecan breadcrumbs and extra parmesan

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Tagliatelle Alla Puttanesca

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It’s been such a long time since I’ve made this pasta. This is my mom’s favorite. She would make it often at home and order it when we would go out for Italian food. This is my version of it. It’s quick to make and it is full of flavor. And since this weather has me craving even more carbs, I made a caramelized balsamic onion focaccia to serve it with (and to munch on, till it was dinner time).

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

300gr of dried tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice

1 small tin of anchovies (30grs), chopped very finely. Reserve the oil.

2 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of onion powder

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 bird’s eye chili, finely chopped

5 tomatoes, chopped

100gr of Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

Pepper

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano for serving

 

In large pan over medium heat, add the anchovy oil and olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the anchovies, chilies and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.

Then add the tomatoes, Kalamata, oregano, basil, onion powder and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time until it becomes a sauce. I didn’t add any salt as the anchovies and Kalamata were salty enough for me.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Once the sauce is done, add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning. Then add the drained pasta and toss to coat it.

Serve with some grated Parmesan or Grana Padano. Enjoy.

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Eggplant Bolognese (Vegetarian)

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A vegetarian version of this traditional meaty dish. It still packs a lot of flavor because the garlic and eggplants are roasted in the oven. And besides the red wine, I also added a bit of port. If you want to save time, you can also roast the garlic and eggplant the day before.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

1 head of garlic

2 eggplants (medium sized) cut into small cubes

1 red onion, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

500gr of tomato pure

1 shot of port

1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup of red wine

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Extras:

350grs of dried pasta, I used Armoniche pasta

Grated Grana Padano for serving

Fresh basil for decoration

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

Trim the top off the head of the garlic to expose the top of the garlic cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and wrap it in foil.

Place the chopped eggplants in the prepared tray with the garlic. Drizzle some olive oil over the eggplant and add some salt. Roast for 1 hour. Stir the eggplant half way.

Once the garlic is roasted, press it to push out the garlic cloves. Chop them.

Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the roasted garlic, eggplants, port and red wine.  Let it cook for about 3 minutes while stirring. Then add the tomato puree, stock, oregano, basil, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to mix it and let it cook for about 20 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package. Then place the drained pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix it until well combined.

Serve with some grated Grana Padano and fresh basil leaves.

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Gigli with Chorizo, Flower Sprouts & Sumac Roasted Chickpeas

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I saw these flower sprouts at my supermarket and I was very curious to try them so I just got them. If you have never seen or heard of them, they are a mix between Brussels sprouts and kale. They cook very quickly and are mild in taste. They add a nice texture to this slightly spicy pasta dish.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

200grs of gigli pasta or any other pasta that you prefer

60grs of chorizo, thinly sliced

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 clove of garlic

½ cup of tomato puree

½ cup of vegetable or chicken stock

Salt

Pepper

Cayenne

Pinch of sugar

For the Flower sprouts:

2 handfuls of flower sprouts

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of garlic powder

Salt

Pepper

For the sumac roasted chickpeas:

1/3 of a cup of canned chickpeas

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of sumac

Pinch of salt

Extra:

Grated Parmesan for serving

 

Preheat your oven to 180/350F.

Mix the chickpeas with the olive oil, salt and sumac. Spread them over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Roast them for 20 minutes.

Slice off the tough ends of the flower sprouts. Then slice them in half, trying to separate the leaves as much as you can. Pour the olive into a pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, saute the flower sprouts with some garlic powder, salt and pepper. This will only take 1 or 2 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and set them aside.

Cook the chorizo in a large pan until slightly brown on both sides. Do not use any oil, as the chorizo will render enough of its own fat anyways. Once the chorizo is brown, transfer it to a small bowl. Keep the fat in the pan. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and tomato puree. Cook for 1 minute and then add the stock, salt, pepper, cayenne and sugar. Let it reduce for about 6 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Taste for salt.

In the meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Once the sauce is ready, add the chorizo, flower sprouts, chickpeas and pasta. Mix well. Serve with some grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

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Tagliatelle with Tuna and Caper-Preserved Lemon Sauce

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This is a very easy and quick pasta dish, perfect for a weeknight dinner.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

250grs of Tagliatelle

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons of chopped capers

1 preserved lemon, very finely chopped

2 cans of tuna

¼ cup of chopped parsley

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

 

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

To make the sauce, place about ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Then add the garlic, capers and preserved lemon. Cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then add the tuna, broken into small chunks. Add the cooked pasta and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.

Divide the pasta among two plates. Enjoy!

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Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Butternut Squash Béchamel

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It’s been too long since I’ve made cannelloni. I was at an Italian store the other day getting squid ink pasta for another recipe and when I saw boxes of cannelloni, I just had to get one. I stuffed them with ricotta and spinach, and made a butternut squash béchamel sauce to cover them. I could eat pasta everyday!

This recipe serves 4.

For the filling:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

300gr of fresh spinach

Pinch of onion powder

Salt

Pepper

500grs of ricotta

Pinch of lemon pepper

Pinch of cayenne

For the béchamel:

3 tablespoons of butter

Pinch of garlic powder

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

5 cups of milk

1 medium butternut squash

40grs of grated Parmesan

Extras:

16 cannelloni

40grs of grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top

Fresh sage leaves (optional)

Vegetable oil to fry the sage leaves(optional)

 

For the butternut squash, slice the butternut squash into chunks. Take out the seeds and place the chunks on a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and microwave for 9 minutes. Once the squash is cooked, be careful when you remove the plastic wrap so that the steam coming out doesn’t burn you. Spoon out the flesh of the squash and place it on a medium bowl. Set it aside.

Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach has wilted. Then place the spinach on a sieve with a bowl underneath and press to get rid of most of the liquid. Set it aside.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add a pinch of garlic powder and the flour. Stir for 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir until it thickens, about 6 minutes. Add the cooked butternut squash and Parmesan. Blend it until smooth using an immersion blender. Taste for salt.

To finish making the filling, mix the wilted spinach with the ricotta in a bowl. Add the lemon pepper, cayenne, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Place the ricotta filling in a piping bag and fill each cannelloni with it.

Grease with some olive oil a medium oven dish and add about 3 ladles of the béchamel. Spread the cannelloni over the sauce. Cover them with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan all over. Bake it for 40 minutes until golden.

If you want, you can fry some sage leaves in a small pan with vegetable oil, then place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil. Then use them to decorate the dish.

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Spinach & Burrata

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My cravings for burrata started stalking me again. I usually just eat it with toast, but this time I used it to top a creamy mushroom pasta. A super easy and comforting dish now that the temperature is dropping. I’m already looking forward to spring and it’s not even winter yet. Brr!

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

250gr of the pasta of your choice, I used squid ink spaghetti

4 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

3 shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

250grs of chestnuts mushrooms, chopped

1 cup of white wine

250grs of cream

60grs of baby spinach

1 burrata

 

Place the butter and the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and cook them until they become translucent. Then add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook them until the mushrooms are soft.  In the meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Then add the white wine to the mushrooms and stir until half of it has evaporated. Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the spinach. Stir until the spinach has wilted. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with a piece of burrata. Drizzle some olive oil on the burrata and sprinkle some freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

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