Spicy Spaghettini

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In honour of National Pasta Day (yes, this is a thing), I am bringing you one of my oldest and favourite (simple) recipes. When I grew up in Toronto, I used to go to a small Italian restaurant called Sempre on Bloor St. It was so good. Everytime, I would get the same dish: spaghetti with tomato sauce, topped with goat cheese and a few sprigs of basil. This recipe has stayed with me throughout my life as a constant comfort dish, and I couldn’t wait to write down the recipe last night after I enjoyed it. It’s hardly a recipe, but it’s so delicious and I can imagine there are a lot of different ways to enjoy it, so put your spin on it!

Spicy Spaghettini
Serves 2

200g spaghettini (or any noodle you love)
1 cup pre made tomato sauce (I tried Sugo Sauce for the first time, and would suggest half a cup of their original, mixed with half a cup of their spicy sauce)
1 small disk of goat cheese
8 sprigs of basil
Parmesan and salt to taste

1) Cook pasta according to directions.
2) In a small saucepan, warm the tomato sauce.
3) When the pasta is done cooking, dump it into the sauce pan and stir.
4) Top with goat cheese and basil.
5) Enjoy!

Happy National Pasta Day!

Cherry Tomato Pasta

Whenever I have tomatoes from the farmer’s market, I am tempted to eat them all in the most simple way possible: popped into my mouth as a snack. While I love the burst of flavour and enjoying them in their natural state, I also love the taste of tomatoes with pasta (who doesn’t?) When flipping through the latest issue of Bon Appetit, there was an amazing Sun Gold Tomato recipe, and I decided to use it as inspiration for my pint of cherry tomatoes. IMG_2403 IMG_2411 IMG_2416Cherry Tomato Pasta

Cherry Tomato Pasta
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main

2 tbsp olive oil
1 spring onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
a handful of basil
2 sprigs of parsley
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved (all should be around the same size)
4 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz fettuccine or linguine
freshly grated parmesan

1) Heat the olive oil over medium until glistening. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until soft.
2) Add basil and parsley, stir.
3) Add tomatoes and vinegar. While cooking, slightly press the tomatoes to release juices. Cook for about 15 minutes or less if you prefer a more raw flavour.
4) Remove basil and parsley.
5) Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot with salted water. Keep a cup of the past water right before draining.
6) Add pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water, stirring. Add cheese to taste. Add more water if necessary.

Wine pairing: a dry Rosé or Pinot Noir.

Have an amazing week!

 

Farmer’s Market Zucchini Pasta

I’ve had this recipe, by Gwyneth Paltrow, saved for quite some time. I was waiting for zucchini season to begin, and it’s now in full force! We changed the recipe a bit, and added some zucchini flowers (my favourite summer treat). Please read on for the recipe, and I hope you are able to enjoy some local produce this weekend!

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Farmer’s Market Zucchini Pasta from Food and Wine (with minor tweaks)
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

1 pound small zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise
5 zucchini flowers, chopped (stem removed) and tossed in flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
200g dried spaghetti from Pasta Famiglia
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

    1) In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel–lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini. Add zucchini flowers to the leftover oil for a few minutes, then drain as well and set aside.

    2) Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini and flowers. Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.

    I paired this dish with a light rose, and found that it matched perfectly.

Lemony Arugula Pasta

I’m always looking for ways to make my favourite food just a little bit healthier. This pasta combines all of my favourite things: lemon, arugula, chili flakes, garlic and makes a great weeknight dish, or a great side dish for a big dinner party. Trying to skip pasta these days? You could also do this with quinoa and toss it up the same way. It’s a dish of endless possibilities!

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Arugula is an absolute staple in this household. I use it on so many things, sometimes as an accompaniment, and sometimes as a main course tossed with fried chick peas. Either way, it adds the most incredible texture, peppery taste and is fabulous with lemon.

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So easy to throw together – this is hardly even a recipe! That’s what I find the best recipes are: mixing a bunch of ingredients you already have on hand and creating something delicious, nutritious, and beautiful!
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Lemony Arugula Pasta
Serves 2 as a main dish

2 cups arugula
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp chili flakes
150g spaghetti
grated parmesan
salt and pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta while preparing the rest of the meal.
2. Reserve some pasta water in case you need to add it to the final dish.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat.
4. Cook garlic and chili flakes until you can smell the garlic (about 1.5 mins)
5. When pasta is done cooking, add it to the pan with garlic and chili flakes.
6. Add arugula and lemon to dish.
7. Toss, adding parmesan, salt and pepper as desired. If needed, add some pasta water.

Best wine pairing: a light sauvignon blanc

Buon Appetito!

“Pici”

A couple of years ago, Peter and I were walking around Florence on a quiet afternoon, thinking about doing something spontaneous. I had a few restaurants written down that I wanted to try out, but we didn’t end up finding them and instead stumbled upon Trattoria 4 Leoni in Piazza della Passera. This specific piazza was full of locals – always a good sign, and 4 Leoni was packed to the brim of Italian-speaking patrons. I knew we had hit the jackpot. Best of all, they seated us without a reservation! I later found out that this was a very popular restaurant, but it was really fun to simply stumble upon it.

Trattoria 4 Leoni

Trattoria 4 Leoni

When reading over the menu, I noticed a dish based on the Tuscan noodle, “Pici.” Pici is basically thick spaghetti that is always homemade. While it’s pretty easy to make, I usually use spaghetti for a last-minute throw-it-together Tuesday night dish. If I’m cooking this on the weekends, it’ll get the special Pici treatment. This is a recipe I have been working on for about two years, and I think I finally have it perfect. I was actually thinking, and I think it would be perfect with Orecchiette as well, to catch the small pieces of sausage.

All of the ingredients

All of the ingredients

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

"Pici" on our favourite Italian plates

“Pici” on our favourite Italian plates

“Pici” with Sausage
serves 2 as a main course

100g dry spaghetti
salt for pasta water
2 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 italian sausages, removed from casing
1 carrot, diced
1 piece of celery, diced
50g pecorino romano, grated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp parsley, minced

1. Bring water and salt to boil for pasta. When boiling, cook for 10-12 mins.
2. Add all other ingredients (except oil and parsley) together. Mix thoroughly with hands.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in frying pan. When hot, add sausage mixture.
4. Cook, breaking up sausage as you go, for about 10 minutes or until cook through.
5. Add cooked spaghetti directly to frying pan, retaining some of the pasta water.
6. Toss, adding a little more olive oil if necessary.
7. Serve topped with parsley.

Enjoy!

I should really add a Pici tutorial as well – what do you think?

PS – I am ten votes behind 1st place –> VOTE!

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Yesterday, I highlighted a new soup recipe. These croutons would be delicious on top of the soup, or anything else that needs something extra. This is a super simple recipe, and can be altered to suit your tastes/what is in your fridge!

Finished Croutons
Garlic Parmesan Croutons
1 piece of focaccia
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Cut focaccia into small pieces. Place on baking sheet.
3. Add garlic, parmesan and olive oil to the croutons. Toss.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Make sure you watch them closely, as if the pieces are thin, they will bake quicker.
5. Top anything from soup to salad and enjoy!