Spaghetti con polipetti

•August 16, 2015 • 5 Comments

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I read an article some time ago about the giant octopi that live in Puget Sound, knowing that we would eventually be moving to Seattle, I got really excited by the prospect of being able to find fresh octopus at the market. I asked the fish monger at Central Market in Mill Creek, where we are staying now, if it was possible to find uncooked fresh octopus and his answer was no. They don’t fish for octopus, there obviously isn’t enough demand for it here, but rumor has it the Sound is teaming with octopi, my hope is to figure out a way to get my hands on some fresh ones.


Hopefully I will find them by the time our furniture and all of my precious pots and pans, knives, wooden spoons and cutting boards arrive, hopefully I will have found my source for local octopus by then. I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen again, to no longer have to work with one individual frying pan, plastic spoons and electric coils for cooking, soon enough my friends, soon enough. In the meantime I will drool over the thought of this pasta with these gorgeous little polipetti. My daughter may cry at the sight of them, I hope she will continue to love octopus now that she won’t be eating it as often.


Spaghetti con polipetti

  • 1 pound of small octopus, cleaned
  • 2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • salt to taste

Rinse the octopi and separate the heads from the bodies.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or a wide saucepan over medium heat and add whole cloves of garlic. When the garlic starts to simmer, add octopus, stir to absorb the oil and when the liquid that the octopus releases starts to evaporate add the white wine. Once the wine has evaporated add the tomato and cook at a medium-low temperature for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

When the pasta is perfectly al dente, turn up the heat on the sauce and drain the pasta. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor. Serve immediately.


One Year Ago: Ricotta and Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Two Years Ago: Orecchiette nelle ‘Nchiosce & Moscardini-Polipi agli Agrumi

Three Years Ago: Farfalle alla Primavera, Spaghetti alla Chittara con Cicoria e Paté di Olive, Spaghetti con le Cozze e Pomodori Freschi & Pranzo di Ferragosto

Four Years Ago: Grilled Bread Salad, Amatriciana with fresh tomatoes, Herb Marinated Kebabs & Cherry Clafouti

Five Years Ago: Pizza Bianca with Fresh Figs and Prosciutto Crudo & Sweet Pea Pesto

Six Years Ago: Pasta all’Insalata Caprese, Grilled Lemon-Balsamic Asparagus, Zucchini and Ricotta Pie, Melanzane al Funghetto & Risotto with Zucchini and Saffron

Asparagus With Anchovies and Capers

•July 29, 2015 • 2 Comments


Two things that we tried our best to use up before we left Italy, capers that our neighbor cultivated and cured, and our giant jar of alacce, which are like anchovies, but larger and much stinkier. They were perfect for cooking, gave a huge flavor boost. This asparagus dish provided us with the opportunity to use both and to eat the local asparagus, which was always delicious.

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I love asparagus, but I tend to be a little boring with it. My mother usually just steamed it, which was always good, we would only taste the asparagus, but I like to liven it up a bit and this recipe was the perfect way to do that. I may not make asparagus any other way!


Asparagus With Anchovies and Capers

from the New York Times

  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves to taste, peeled, halved, green shoot removed
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, preferably thin stalks, trimmed

Place the garlic, anchovy fillets and capers in a mortar and pestle, and mash to a paste.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender (do not brown), three to five minutes. Stir in the garlic and anchovy paste, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes or longer. The flavors will mellow.

Steam the asparagus for three to five minutes until just tender. Remove to a platter or a wide bowl, and add the remaining olive oil and the onion mixture. Toss gently and serve.

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Two Years Ago: Penne with Sausages and Cicoria & Acciughe al Finocchio

Three Years Ago: Watermelon, Quinoa and Feta Cheese Salad, Casareccie con Triglie e Pesto di Acciughe alla Menta & Insalata di Seppie e Zucchine alla Scapece

Four Years Ago: Chickpeas With Baby Spinach

Five Years Ago: Torta Caprese

Six Years Ago: Green Beans alla Napoletana, Chickpea and Vegetable Stew with Couscous & Pasta e Lenticchie

Orecchiette With Basil and Pistachio Pesto and Green Paesano Beans

•July 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment


An excuse? Yes, I have several excuses for not having posted in a month. My most obvious is summer with two kids at home, one a very small (yet swiftly growing) infant, but the biggest hold on my culinary creativity has been a major move. Several weeks ago movers arrived at our doorstep in Grottaglie to pack us up to move to the other side of the world, Seattle that is. We returned to the hotel where we had first begun our Pugliese adventure and have been in a suburb of Seattle, in temporary housing, for almost two weeks now. Our furniture and the rest of our “goods” won’t be here until September, so this neutral colored apartment is home for now.

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This gorgeous pasta was the last meal that I made in our Italian home, with all of those glorious ingredients. I have been looking forward to this move, but I knew from the moment that the decision was final that I would miss the freshness as well as the low cost of the food in Puglia. Gorgeous cacioricotta, fresh basil and unique local green beans. These orecchiette weren’t made by hand and their freshness is from a refrigerator package from the grocery store, but they are good, very very good. Don’t get me started on the olive oil, the one thing we meant to bring with us, but with the chaos of leaving we forgot to buy it. Our last month in Grottaglie we were using the olive oil that our neighbors had pressed from their own trees and given to us, poured into a plastic fanta bottle, to die for.

I really don’t want to complain, the Asian food section alone at the grocery stores here make me swoon and cilantro, oh cilantro, I’ve missed you so. I can’t deny that food is expensive in America, very expensive. Mediocre sliced bread costs 4 times what freshly baked artisinal bread cost in Puglia, fruits and vegetables are precious jewels and I knew that seafood would be more expensive, it is everywhere but Puglia. I’m already getting creative in the kitchen, despite my coil stovetops, come September I’ll have a gas stove again and will be fully settled in. In the meantime I’ll post my last few recipes from Puglia, maybe a few new ones here and there.


Orecchiette With Basil, Pistachio Pesto & Green Paesano Beans

adapted from The New York Times

For the pesto

  • 2 cups, tightly packed, basil leaves (2 ounces)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons unsalted pistachios (1 ounce)
  • Salt to taste
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, green shoots removed if present
  • 2 ounces freshly grated cacioricotta (1/2 cup)
  • Freshly ground pepper

For the pasta

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 1 pound mixed green paesano beans, trimmed and cut in 3/4-inch lengths (you can use all green beans)
  • Pasta water (about 1/4 cup)

Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile grind the basil leaves and pistachios in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a mortar and pestle. Add salt to taste and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend or grind until smooth.

Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or through a garlic press and add to the basil mixture. Blend together. Add the cheese and blend together. Taste, adjust salt and add pepper. Transfer to a large pasta bowl.

When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the orecchiette. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and after 5 minutes add the green beans. Boil the orecchiette and beans until the pasta is cooked al dente, another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pot and add 2 to 4 tablespoons to the pesto. Stir with a fork or a whisk until the pesto is smooth (add more water if desired). Drain the pasta and beans, toss with the pesto and serve.

Advance preparation: The pesto can be made ahead through step 1 and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen for a couple of weeks.


One Year Ago: Mercato del Pesce, Chioggia – Veneto & Insalata di Farro

Two Years Ago: Orecchiette al ragu di polpo, Torta di Riso Integrale & Orata Steamed with Zucchini and Mint

Three Years Ago: Sarago in Cartoccio, Spaghetti con Fagiolini Paesani, Panzanella Pugliese, Insalata Fredda di Seppioline, Cole Slaw, Sarde Incinte in Agrodolce, Carrot Coconut Cake & Fried Zucchini Flowers

Four Years Ago: Tagliatelle with Rhubarb, Cranberry Bean Salad with Celery, Basil and Mint, Spaghetti Integrali con Zucchine Gratugiate e Fior di Zucca & Pizza with Ricotta, Zucchini, Olives and Provolone

Five Years Ago: Asparagus Panzanella, Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Anchovies & Flounder in Cartoccio

Six Years Ago: Baby Artichokes and Scallops Risotto, Couscous Salad with Yellow Zucchini, Farfalle with Zucchini Flowers and Saffron, Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas, Casareccie with Pattypan Squash, Daniel Island Farmers Market, Boiled P-Nuts & Panzanella

Casareccie with beets and walnuts

•June 18, 2015 • 1 Comment

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Despite the fact that my daughter is no longer elated with a plate of pink pasta, and instead of diving into a steaming plate of fucshia, she questions it with a snear, I have to admit that I still get excited. I love the power of a plant that can turn something from an off-white into a deep pink with a few tosses in the pan and to top it all off, it is extremely good for us.

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Casareccie with beets and walnuts

  • 1 1/2 pounds beets, peeled and finely grated
  • beet greens, cleaned and cut into small strips
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 oil cured anchovies, rinsed
  • 3/4 pound casareccie pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high, add garlic and anchovy filets. When the garlic starts to sizzle add beets. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until beets are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. At this point add the beet greens.
In the meantime, fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
When the pasta is about 1 minute from being cooked to al dente perfection, turn up the heat on the sauce and drain the pasta, reserving a small cup of water. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce, finishing up the cooking in the beets, add the reserved water if it seems dry. Remove from the heat and toss with chopped walnuts, serve immediately.

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One Year Ago: Roasted Asparagus and Scallion Quiche, Insalata di Seppie e Patate & Octopus and Black Pepper Spaghetti

Two Years Ago: Limoncello, Wine-Braised Brisket with Tart Cherries & Citrus Shrimp Salad

Three Years Ago: Cuttlefish and Zucchini Risotto alla Scapece, Alici alla Beccafico, Strawberry, Mulberry and Cherry Tatin, Linguine alla Beccafico e Albicocche & Torta di Riso

Four Years Ago: Tagliatelle with Yellow Zucchini and Olive Tapenade, Chicken Couscous Salad, Frittata di Zucchine Gialle e Provola, Farfalle with Yellow Zucchini and Tuna, Fried Flounder with Zucchini Straws over Grits & Beet and Beet Green Gratin

Five Years Ago: Risotto with Artichokes, Saffron and Baby Shrimp, Cacio e Pepe della Scala, Summer Squash and Potato Torte & Pasta alla Norma

Six Years Ago: Fish Stew with Quinoa, Grilled Vermillion Snapper and Grilled Veggies, Farfalle with Grilled Zucchini and Sausages, Honeydew Melon and Green Tomato Salad, Grilled Sockeye Salmon Fillet, Sautéed Summer Squash, Okra Sautéed with Tomatoes and Garlic alla Napoletana, Carbonara with a Twist, Peach and Blueberry Cobbler, Morningside Farmers Market & Cheese Soufflè

Seppie arrostite con le zucchine crude

•May 22, 2015 • 2 Comments


With the celebration of my daughter’s 3 month birthday, I thought that I would post my first actual recipe after a long and exhaustive pause. Despite the fact that I often don’t end up with enough gumption at the end of the day to prepare something new and interesting, I have had a few moments to explore in the kitchen. With spring’s arrival and the start of her departure, there has been a lot to work with.

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We were in Naples last week showing our new baby girl off to the family. My husband’s uncle, who is an excellent cook, had us over for dinner one evening with his family and prepared a wonderful meal of troccoli with lupini, roasted cuttlefish with raw zucchini and grilled ricciola steaks. It was a last minute invite and they really threw down.

I was instantly drawn to the cuttlefish dish, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was at first glance, but it looked delicious. I loved the smokiness of the cuttlefish with the simple fresh flavor of the raw zucchini, tossed together with the sweetness of balsamic vinegar.

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Seppie arrostite con le zucchine crude

  • 1 chilo cuttlefish, cleaned
  • 3 medium zucchini, fresh and firm
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pre-heat a cast iron griddle until drips of water sizzle and evaporate immediately upon contact. Place the cuttlefish, whole, on the griddle and sear on each side for about 4 minutes. Flatten them with a spatula, but don’t move them around, you want that delicious caramelization from the sear. When they are beautifully golden and cooked through remove them to a plate and let them cool.

When the cuttlefish has cooled, slice them into thin strips, lengthwise and cut the tentacles into pairs of two. Slice your zucchini lengthwise creating linguini-like strips. Toss them together on a platter with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and the chopped parsley. Serve at room temperature as an antipasto or as a main course.


One Year Ago: Spaghettini with Asparagus, Orecchiette con le Cime di Rape, Fresh Shelled Pea Pate & Roasted Asparagus and Scallion Quiche

Two Years Ago: Spaghetti con la Bottarga & Farfalle with Fresh Shelled Peas and Pancetta

Three Years Ago: Farfalle with Roasted Fennel and Swordfish, Risi e Bisi, Vitello Tonné & Mushroom Quiche

Four Years Ago: Green Tomato Summer Pasta, Stuffed Zucchini, Melanzane in Insalata alla Calabrese, Spinach and Ricotta Quiche with Roasted Tomatoes and Onion Blossoms & Tagliatelle with Yellow Zucchini and Olive Tapenade

Five Years Ago: Black-Eyed Peas With Collard Greens, Linguine with Artichokes and Scallops, Pollo all’Arancia, Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market & Risotto with Artichokes, Saffron and Baby Shrimp

Six Years Ago: Fish Tacos, Pizza di Collards, Roasted Asparagus with Fried Eggs, Okra Masala Stew over Couscous, Refrigerator Noodle Creation, Grilled Sausages, Rigatoni with Sausages and Broccoli Rabe, Ligurian Stuffed Zucchini, Ziti with Asparagus and Flounder, Frittata di Patate, Butternut Squash Soup, Risotto with Sausage, Baby Bellas and Saffron, Fish Stew with Quinoa, Grilled Vermillion Snapper and Grilled Veggies & Farfalle with Grilled Zucchini and Sausage


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