Large Batch Homemade Pesto

fresh pesto sauce

I planted basil in our garden this summer and was super excited when I discovered that I have enough to make a large batch of pesto, and freeze for the winter! I purchase the bulk pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano from Costco, which is so much more affordable than Whole Foods (Paycheck).  It is key to have a great food processor. I have a new “Breville Sous Chef Food Processor” that I received from my mother-in-law, that I absolutely love! Anyway, so here are the ingredients and the instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound basil (9 oz leaves after removing stems)
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup pine nuts

Place the washed basil leaves, and oil in the food processor (using “S-Blade”), till minced, pausing occasionally to scrape in the basil on the sides. Add the cheese, garlic and salt and process until smooth. Add in the pine nuts at the end, you can make it as crunchy or smooth as you like. My son loves it chunky but my daughter likes it super smooth. You are now ready to place the pesto into ½ cup storage containers. Now you can freeze your batches. Thaw as needed, but please do not microwave. When you add to your pasta, please save some of the salted pasta water to thin out the pesto a little so it has a smooth and slightly liquid consistency.

Pasta Alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams)

Spaghetti and clams - pasta con vongole

Traditional “Pasta Alle Vongole”, spaghetti with clams, is almost impossible to make here is the US, as “vongole” (the small, Mediterranean Wedge Shell, also known as the Tellina or “bean clam”) are hard to come by in Boulder, CO. So, in this dish, I used little neck clams, which are slightly larger and have a thicker shell. My mother-in-law adds ginger to this dish, which makes it a little different than the traditional version. The following recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti 
  • 40 littleneck clams in the shell (scrubbed)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, soak clams in cold water and make sure they are scrubbed clean.
  2. Add spaghetti to boiling water, and cook until slightly underdone; pasta will finish cooking in sauce. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and add olive oil, garlic and ginger. Sauté gently, reducing heat if necessary so garlic does not brown.
  3. Add wine and clams, and cover. Clams should open in about 2 minutes. (If pasta is ready first, drain it and toss with a small amount of olive oil.) Add hot drained pasta, cover, and shake pot gently. Allow to simmer for another 1 or 2 minutes until it is done to taste.
  4. Discard any clams that have not opened. Add half the parsley, and shake pan to distribute evenly. Transfer to bowls, and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
  5. Other versions add peperoncino flakes (1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes for a little kick). Serves 4

Classic Italian Risotto

Classic Italian Risotto

Okay, since I’m mostly Swedish, I cannot claim to have a perfect Italian Risotto, but my psuedo-Italian husband can! He definitely “thinks” he’s Italian, especially since he spent a number of year in Italy. Being green-eyed and blond-haired, the Italians always questioned his origin… it’s actually Michigan! Nevertheless, after many years, I can honestly say he has mastered the classic Italian risotto. And according to my children, I am incapable of making his perfected recipe. I actually don’t mind handing over the kitchen to him once in a while, so HE can “slave over the hot stove”.

The key to an honest Risotto, is definitely the broth, (my recipe can be found here). You also need to make sure you use Arborio rice. It is an Italian short-grain rice, named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, which is situated in the main growing region. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy if cooked just right. The key is cooking then stirring, cooking then stirring, a labor of love for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 5 cups of homemade broth
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 cups of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Warm the broth in a pot on low heat, making sure it does not boil. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, add oil, butter then onions and sauté for several minutes until they become translucent. Add in the Aborio rice and stir to coat.  Now here comes the hard part, you are going to add in the liquid 1 cup at a time and stir to cook. Start with the wine, as you want this to cook down over time, then alternate with the broth. You’re going to keep adding in the liquid one cup at a time for at least 20 minutes, maybe more. The point is to add the liquid in small doses, and stir it as it absorbs. When the rice starts to get a little puffy you want add in the strands of saffron. Stir for a couple of minutes, and then start tasting it. You want the rice to be firm, but not hard in the center. Once you get the right consistency, get your warm plates and ladle ready, add in the parmesan cheese and stir. You might need to add a little salt at the end, but remember the parmesan cheese is quite salty. Now you ladle one large scoop onto each warm plate, and jiggle it around so flatten it out. Remember this is really rich, so please don’t make the portions too big. Think Italian size… not American portion. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top… Mangiare subito!

Homemade Truffle Ravioli with Burnt Butter and Sage

Burnt butter sage truffle ravioli

I think I’ve said this before… but we LOVE pasta! This is one of the first homemade raviolis I have attempted to make, using a cool new ravioli stamp, courtesy of my Mother-In-Law. This device came straight from a little shop in northern Italy and was brought back for me to attempt my own homemade ravioli. I found the same tool on Amazon, which was called the Eppicotispai Aluminum Square Ravioli Ejector Stamp with Beechwood Handle. So, if you’re adventurous and daring you can try it yourself.

Ingredients:

For the pasta: 100 grams of flour per 1 egg. (full recipe can be found here) – follow those instructions so you have strips of thin dough. Using setting #7 on your Atlas Pasta maker. You should end up with strips that are at least 3 inches wide. I used 300 grams and 3 eggs which produced 40 ravioli.

For the pasta filling:

  • ½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (do not pack into measuring utensil) – should be fluffy
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp truffle oil (I used Urbani White truffle oil)
  • ½ tsp salt

Mix all ingredients into a bowl, making sure the truffle oil is well incorporated. You will also need to whip 2 eggs in a separate bowl which will be used to seal the pasta closed.

  • 2 whipped eggs

For the Burnt Butter Sage:

  • 1 cup sage (cut into strips)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese

Before making the pasta dough, be sure to put a large pot of water set to boil, and make sure to add enough salt to the water.

Basting brush on egg for ravioliTruffle cheese filling for homemade raviolisDirections:

Layout the strips of dough onto a floured surface. Using a basting brush, brush the egg onto the pasta dough strips. Scoop 1 tsp. of the cheese-truffle mixture, spacing them onto the top portion of the pasta, and about 2 ½” apart. Fold up the bottom part of the strip to cover the cheese filling, making sure to push out all of the air around the cheese. You want to ensure they don’t fill with air. Once it is sealed over the cheese you now get you handy-dandy Eppicotispai Aluminum Square Ravioli Ejector Stamp and stamp over each portion of cheese filling. I had to wiggle it around on the cutting board, to ensure the edges were cut. Please be careful as the edges of the stamp are very sharp.
IMG_3139 IMG_3140You should end up with a row of ravioli just like this. After you repeat the process with all of the strips of pasta dough you can line the ravioli onto floured wax paper. ravioli

You can now make the burnt butter sage sauce. Melt the butter on medium heat. Add in the sage and cook for 10 minutes or until the sage is crispy and the butter slightly browned. You now can cook the pasta. Approximately 5 minutes, but be sure to test them as they cook, you don’t want them over cooked, just al dente. Drain the pasts with a slotted spoon, making sure all the water is drained well, (otherwise the butter sauce gets watered down).  Place a large pinch of parmesan cheese onto the pasta then pour the sauce over the cheese. It will slightly bubble, melting the cheese. I personally like to plate individual portions, but be sure to remove any left over raviolis as they are great reheated in boiling water the next day.

 

Homemade Pasta

IMG_0641

My family loves pasta! Any kind of pasta, but a good homemade pasta is hard to beat! Fortunately I was given the right set of pasta tools! Thanks to my mother-in-law that lives in Italy a majority of the time, and my somewhat Italian husband, I have a great set of pasta tools. First time around, it was a little labor intensive, but once I became more familiar with the Atlas Pasta maker, it became super easy. The ingredients are so straightforward: eggs and flour! That’s it!

Tools needed: Atlas Pasta Maker, kitchen scale (measuring grams), and a fork!

Atlas-pasta maker-sm scale-sm

Measure out 100 grams of organic all-purpose flour per 1 egg. I used 400 grams of flour and 4 eggs for this batch.

IMG_0634 IMG_0637 atlas-dough

First you measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a crater in the center of the flour, and crack in the eggs. Slowly stir your fork into the center, slowly incorporating more flour from the edges, until the eggs are nicely mixed in. You can then transfer the mixture onto a floured surface, and kneed the dough, until eggs and flour are well incorporated. Next you divide the portions into fourths. Using your Atlas Pasta maker, on setting “zero” (which has the widest space), run the dough through the mixture. On the Atlas, the higher the number on the dial, the thinner the dough. If the dough is too moist it will stick to the surface of the rollers, so add some more flour. If the dough is too dry, it will pass through and crumble out, so add a big of water and kneed the dough again. I run the dough through several times, adjust the width, so that I end up at the fifth (5) setting for pasta, or seventh (7) setting for fettuccini.

Taca-pasta-drying rackatlas-dough-dry Once you have 6 strips of thin pasta dough, you can now add on the spaghetti/fettuccini attachment, and run the dough through the spaghetti roller. I also purchased the Atlas Drying rack in order to hang the pasta, until you are ready to cook.

Meanwhile put a hit pot of water on to boil, and be sure to add enough salt, since the dough is not salted. Cook the pasta for approximately 4-5 minutes. I’m at altitude so it takes a bit longer to cook, so it might cook a bit quicker. Be sure to only cook it al dente.

Add your favorite spaghetti sauce and serve! Must be eaten immediately.

Buffalo Ragu Bolognese for Pasta or (Paleo) Lettuce Wraps

pasta-bolognese

Since watching CowSpiracy (on Netflix), I am constantly trying to find alternatives to red-meat (beef). So I made some modifications to a traditional Ragu (or Bolognese) using Buffalo meat. If you prefer the Paleo version, you can skip the pasta and just place the Ragu/Bolognese into a butter lettuce leaf, for a tasty lettuce wrap!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ lb buffalo, ground
  • ¼ slab bacon, or 5 thick slices diced
  • ½ tube organic tomato paste
  • 1 cup organic canned crushed/or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup milk (skip for Paleo version)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
  • ½ cup organic whipping cream (skip for Paleo version)

Directions:

In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft, but please make sure not brown them, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the buffalo, and bacon and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add in the cream and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot ragu Bolognese, and tosses so that the pasta is evenly coated by the ragu. For Paleo version, spoon meat ragu into the butter lettuce leaves.

pasta-bolognese-A pasta-bolognese-B pasta-bolognese-C lettuce-wraps

Creamy Zucchini Pasta with Pecorino Cheese

creamy-zucchini-pasta

Yes, another pasta dish. Here is a simple pasta dish to make with some zucchini and pecorino. Makes 4 “european” size portions.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small yellow onion diced approximately ¾” cup
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 small-medium zucchini chopped in ¼” pieces
  • ½ cup pecorino cheese
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 4 servings of pasta – I used spaghetti but I think Fussili or Farfale would have been better

Preparation:

In large pot, boil pasta water. Add pasta to salted boiling water. Zucchini takes about 15 minutes to time your pasta accordingly. In a large sauce pan, on medium-high heat melt the butter. Add in the onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the zucchini and cook until zucchini start to brown slightly.  Add in the cream and cook until it thickens. (If sauce gets too thick you can add in some of the pasta water). Add salt to taste and parsley and basil. Drain pasta keeping some water for reserve (to thin out the sauce if too heavy for your liking). Plate pasta onto each bowl, add the zucchini mixture. Add in the cheese to each plate. Toss before eating.

Pasta with Broccoli, Anchovies and Garlic

broccoli-anchovy-pasta

Here is an easy anchovy and Broccoli pasta, with a bit of Manchego and red pepper flakes. This recipe serves 2 so be sure to adjust quantities as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of small broccoli florets
  • 7 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil (EVOO)
  • ½ tsp of pepperoncini (red pepper flakes) * add more if you can handle the heat
  • 3 tbs anchovies cut into pieces
  • ½ cup finely grated Manchego cheese
  • Fettuccini for 2

In a large pot, boil water, and add salt. Place the broccoli florets and cook until tender but not over cooked. (At altitude about 5 minutes – less time needed at sea level). Remove broccoli and set aside. Add in the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a small sauce pan, on medium-low heat, add in the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes. Cook at low heat, making sure the garlic does not brown. When pasta is finished, strain and set aside. In the large pot, add the oil garlic mixture and broccoli and cook until broccoli is coated. Add the pasta to the pot and stir, for a few seconds, making sure all of the noodles are covered with the oil and broccoli mixture. Place pasta into bowls and sprinkle the Manchego cheese. Mix in the cheese so it evenly covers the Fettuccini, and voila… a simple anchovy pasta dish.

Ricotta Pasta with Tomatoes

 

Ricotta Pasta with Tomatoes, basil, garlic and mozzarella

Here is a fun, lighter spaghetti dish with ricotta, mozzarella, basil, garlic, cherry tomatoes and parmesan. My son loves ricotta and if he has his preference he would pretty much add it to anything.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 6 cloves chopped Garlic
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes (slices in half)
  • ½ cup chopped Burrata (or fresh mozzarella cheese)
  • ½ cup of whole milk organic Ricotta cheese
  • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes (chili)
  • 1 cup Roasted tomatoes sliced
  • 1 box of spaghetti (barilla or other Italian brand)
  • salt as needed
  • 10 leaves of fresh basil sliced
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Boil pasta water (making sure to salt after boiling). In a small sauce pan, add the oil and garlic and cook at medium heat, making sure garlic does not brown. Mix together cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta, red pepper flakes, and roasted tomatoes. Add ¼ tsp salt and stir. Cook pasta. Strain pasta, saving some of the water. Add olive oil and garlic to ricotta mixture. Stir in pasta to mixture to coat spaghetti well, add additional salt if needed. Serve into shallow pasta bowls, sprinkle with basil and parmesan cheese and serve.   Makes 4 Servings.

 

Large Batch Homemade Pesto

fresh pesto sauce

Our family LOVES pesto! I have tried different kinds of store bought pesto and really never discovered one I love, so I decided to make my own. We are fortunate enough to have access to large 1 lb. bags of basil, which I usually buy in 5 lb. increments. We also purchase the bulk pine nuts and Parmegiano Reggiano  from Costco, which is so much more affordable than Whole Foods. When I make pesto, I like to make it in large batches then freeze in 2 portion Tupperware containers (see photo). It is key to have a great food processor. I have a new “Breville Sous Chef Food Processor” that I received from my mother-in-law, that I absolutely love! Anyway, so here are the ingredients and the instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound basil (9 oz leaves after removing stems)
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup pine nuts

Place the washed basil leaves, and oil in the food processor (using “S-Blade”), till minced, pausing occasionally to scrape in the basil on the sides. Add in the cheese, garlic and salt and process until smooth. Add in the pine nuts at the end, you can make it as crunchy or smooth as you like. My son loves it chunky but my daughter likes it super smooth. You are now ready to place the pesto into ½ cup storage containers. Now you can freeze your batches. Thaw as needed, but please do not microwave. When you add to your pasta, please save some of the salted pasta water to thin out the pesto a little so it has a smooth and slightly liquid consistency.