Aug 5 2009

Dish of the week: Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce

by Marisa

pap &bol

One of my absolute favorite pasta dishes growing up and to this day is the ever so classic, rich, rustic and hearty- pasta bolognese. This is of course my mother’s recipe and really can a dish of pasta look any more sexy?!? I like to use pappardelle pasta because the curvy ribbons help the meaty sauce stick to it. Her version has a touch of cream which gives it that pale red color and creamy texture. Hell, forget dish of the week, this is the dish to last a life time…a true winner!

Preparation time: 1 hour and 30 minutes Number of Servings:  8


Olive oil – enough to coat bottom of saucepan
2 cloves of garlic
¼ of small onion – chopped
1 lb. of mixed ground beef
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
Basil and/or parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
¼ – 1/3 cup cream (regular, light or fat free)


1. In saucepan heat olive oil (small amount), garlic, and chopped onion until  garlic and onion is slightly browned.
2. Add ground meat and brown – if there is lots of liquid (fat from meat) drain  off as much as possible (to eliminate fatty taste).
3. Add a little bit more olive oil – let it come to a sizzle.
4. Add basil and parsley to meat followed by canned tomatoes.
5. Add salt & pepper and bring to a small boil. Stir the sauce and turn heat  down to a simmer.
6. Cook for about 11/2 hours or to taste – stirring often during cooking.
7. In the last 5 minutes add cream and stir. Also check for salt (addition of  cream will need some salt added to sauce)
8.  Add more basil & parsley just before end of cooking for added flavor.
9. Sauce should be pinkish and creamy in texture.

1. Amount of meat and cream can be increased or decreased to your liking.
2. If tomatoes are too thin – tomato paste can be added.

Jul 11 2009

Pasta Baby

by Marisa


Proof that my love affair started early! Even to this day a satisfying bowl of pasta makes me this happy. As you can tell it doesn’t have to be complex. Ditalini pasta and sauce probably won’t make an appearance on Mario Batali’s next menu but I am sure he would also agree that simplicity is best. I still believe that like all Italian food, less is more. The key is having few but high quality ingredients. This is the pasta sauce I grew up on and through my college and non-cooking years my mother, Maria, would prepare in batches for me containers of  sauce so whenever I wanted could get a taste of home.  It is this ‘plain sauce’ as it’s called in my family (NEVER GRAVY!)  that made me fall in love with all food! Included is my mom’s sauce recipe, a much prized possession as people in our hometown paid money for it. Best with some capellini or penne and topped with freshly grated parm, cracked black pepper and some basil chiffonade…perfection!

  • sautee olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan + a little more) with garlic until golden
  • add canned crushed tomatoes and basil
  • add salt (go easy)  and pepper(fresh ground)
  • bring to boil and then quickly turn to simmer
  • adjust salt during cooking if needed
  • cook at least 1 hour until consistency is as desired, add tomato paste to thicken if needed and cook out

Jul 7 2009

Pasta dish of the week: Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage

by Marisa


Orecchiette or ‘little ears’ in Italian is a fun shape to work with. My favorite thing to marry it with is ground Italian sweet sausage and broccoli rabe. Super simple but still a hearty and satisfying dish. It finally becoming summertime, I like to try to keep things lighter sometimes so in this version I used Italian style turkey sausage which I find a close healthy alternative to the real thing. With the use of crushed red pepper flakes to give it some kick, giving a more mild heat vs just using Italian hot sausage which can become overpowering.  The bitter green of the broccoli I could eat with anything, hands down my favorite veg! Top it off with a sprinkle of some cheesy, salty parm and maybe a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and you are set.

Try it tonight with this fast and easy recipe….


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, stemed and trimmed
  • 1/2  pound orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound turkey Italian-style sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • Grated Parmesan to taste

Directions (yields 2-3 servings)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant then add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until brown.

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli rabe in a pot of boiling salted water for a minute. Transfer the broccoli rabe into cold water to shock it and stop the cooking process, leaving it bright green. Save the cooking water and bring it back to boil and add pasta. Should take about 9 minutes to cook the orecchiette so it is al dente, strain.

Strain the broccoli rabe and add it to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat; then add the pasta and stir in the cheese.