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Posts tagged ‘Pasta’

Fail Proof Tomato Sauce

When you serve something with homemade tomato sauce it immediately makes your eaters love the food that much more. Homemade sauce sounds impressive, but it can be really easy. Impressing with ease is always something a cook is looking to do. This sauce barely takes any time, involves a handful of ingredients, one handy dandy tool and is made in the OVEN! (more…)


How To: Make Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash seems to be one of those vegetables that my entire group of friends had no idea existed until I started making it. It definitely looks weird to someone who is staring at a big bowl of yellow strings, that hesitation goes away once they realize how yummy it is. I try not to make too much pasta but I love SAUCE so this puts me in a pickle. How do I get the yumminess of a sauce without the carb overload of the pasta? The answer is simple – spaghetti squash. What I love about this particular veggie is that it is the ideal pasta substitute.  It has no taste unless you give it one, so like pasta just add some sauce and you got yourself a healthy alternate to pasta nights!

Step by step cooking instructions for spaghetti squash.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a square glass baking dish (large enough to fit your squash) with a light layer of water, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Pierce your squash all over using a fork. Place the squash in the glass baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce it with a fork. (if you buy a smaller squash start testing at 30 minutes)

Remove from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, place on your cutting board, cut the stem off  and then cut it in half LENGTHWISE.

Using a fork take out the seeds from each side of the squash and discard. Continue using your fork to scrap out the insides of the squash until they are bare and place in a bowl.

Add whatever sauce you like to it and tada you have a yummy healthy meal!

Turkey Sausage Fusilli

What I love about this pasta is that it feeds the masses. This is all you need for a meal, which is great when you’re not in the mood to make a bunch of sides. My brother saw what I was doing at the time and of course was frightened by how much pasta was flooding my kitchen, but at the end of the day there was enough for 2 lunches and two dinners. Make this pasta in the beginning of the week if you now you will be busy because personally I think it is even better reheated. This recipe uses the oil from the jarred sun dried tomatoes which is a great way to add a burst a flavor and to utilize the oil that would naturally go to waste.


  • 3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed I USE SPICY TURKEY SAUSAGE INSTEAD
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 16 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper














Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes.













Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.













Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional Parmesan cheese alongside.


Pesto Pasta

One of my favorite things to eat as well as make is pesto. This is also a great recipe for the spring/summer time because the farmers markets always have an abundance of it and its usually only one dollar a bunch. It is so simple, yet so delectable. I once posted a recipe for Panko Pesto Chicken and I wanted to make a post solely on the amazingness of pesto pasta. What makes this recipe for the pasta different from the pesto stuffing for the chicken is the addition of 2 ingredients when heating up the pesto before adding it to the pasta.

Follow this recipe to make the pesto (which can be made and stored for a week in the fridge or in the freezer for a couple of months)

  • Two large bundles of Basil
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic Chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. of Pasta (of your choice)

Blend all the ingredients into a food processor in the order in which they are listed except for the pasta.

For the next step you will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 2 Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb Wedges

While the pasta is being cooked, in a sauce pan heat up 2 tbsp. of butter. Once the butter is melted add the pesto and stir. Once the butter is combined add TWO (2) Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb wedges into the sauce and stir until melted.

Once the pasta is done, transfer to a bowl and pour the pesto over the pasta, stir and serve.


If you’ve been keeping track, I was recently in NYC for the thanksgiving holiday. Like most cities, NYC has a great restaurant scene that I must take advantage of whenever I head back to the east coast. This past trip I was privileged enough to go to a restaurant called Marea with my mom. I would consider this to be Italian, seafood driven, restaurant that an adventurous eater should at least go to once.  It would be a waste to go to a restaurant like Marea when you only eat spaghetti and meatballs.

Marea’s menu was large enough to have a variety to choose from but small enough to not get overwhelmed. The staff was great and much attuned to what was going on around in the restaurant, but it seemed like they had more staff than people eating there. I almost felt like I was watching people in a train station trying to make it to their next transfer. The venue itself was designed in a simplistic way with orchards, a dark wood paneled wall and strong but delicate lighting. Some places put all their effort into the way their space looks instead of concentrating more on the quality of their food and I didn’t find it to be so at Marea.

Me and my mom decided to do the price fixed menu in order to try an array of things that drew our attention, and of course we shared everything! The price fixed menu is a four course meal divided into the following categories: Crudo, Ostriche, or Antipasto / Pasta / Pesce or Carne / Dolce.

I have pictures of everything, so I figured I would take you on a culinary slide show with my commentary along the way 🙂

First our meal started with your choice of bread, and I chose the olive focaccia which was moist enough that oil was not needed and had just the right amount of green olive in it to make it stand out without being overwhelming.







Next was an Amuse Bouche, which was a sliver of butternut squash, toasted BS seed and pine nut in a vinegary wine broth. Honestly I could have lived without this.



For the Crudo, Ostriche or Antipasti portion:



(a)    VONGOLE geoduck clam, fresh chilies, lemon, hearts of palm

It was presented beautifully and the fish tasted very fresh and went well with the lemon, the texture was perfect. I thought it was a great dish to start because it got your senses going without pushing them too far to be spoiled.






(b)   UOVO (pronounced woah-vo) slow poached egg, chicken oysters, wild mushrooms, polenta, parmigiano

This was SOOOO good. This might be one of the most eclectic dish I’ve ever had. It was so beautifully arranged in the bowl I was afraid to ruin it by cracking the egg. Once I got over that and cracked the egg and took my first bight, my taste buds were practically smiling.

The craziest part of the dish was the chicken oysters. It was the first time I have ever had one of those and I found out why. Apparently my mother loved them so much that she would always eat them before the chicken would even get to the table! Honestly I don’t blame her. They are so rich in flavor and this one in particular was fried crisp on one side so it contrasted nicely with the softness of the chicken. This whole dish made my eyes bulge out of my head, it was sweet, rich, and perfect for winter!

For the Pasta portion:

(a)    ORECCHIETTE spot prawns, chilies, rosemary

Obviously another yummy dish, the picture alone can tell you it was tasty. The sauce was sweet, maybe from the tomatoes being so fresh I’m not sure. What I loved most about the dish was a kick it had without being too spicy to not taste all the garlic and tomatoes involved. The sweet and spicy kept my palette entertained through every bite. The prawns were cooked to perfection. I often find that most places over cook fish and make them tougher than they should be but these were moist with the perfect balance of crunch.

(b)   FUSILLI red wine braised octopus, bone marrow

Interesting! Most people I know steer clear of bone marrow and octopus… clearly my mother is not one of those. Growing up she would always love the bone marrow from the bones when we made cholent and nothing has changed.

This dish was surprising in that the octopus was second to the bone marrow. I barely tasted the octopus and could have had this dish without it and been equally as happy. The sauce was rich in flavor and in color and was topped with some type of breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs added a nice texture to the pasta; it made something that is naturally soft have a little spunk. It’s a must order!

All the pastas we had were cooked to perfection and were paired nicely with each sauce to make sure they absorbed everything nicely.

For the Pesce or Carne portion ( we both got fish)

This portion we decided to have our waitress decide what we would get. I love doing this because most of the time waiter and waitresses never get asked to just “surprise us”. They are happy because they get to give you what they think is the best and you get to be surprised.

(a)    SAN PIETRO seared new zealand john dory, roasted sunchoke, pickled chiodini, apple, housemade sanguinaccio

The fish I felt was not the strong suit of all our meals but still very tasty. I liked how the fish was seared on one side, something that the chef clearly enjoys doing. The fish wasn’t too dry and the accompaniments made a good companion. For the lightness of the fish it was nice having something a little heartier to be paired alongside, like the mushrooms.



(b)   CAPESANTE roasted sea scallops, chestnut ragu, porcini, braised celery

Yes, the scallops were cooked to perfection and I have to say I was really full by this point so it was somewhat difficult to enjoy it. The chestnuts were an interesting flavor to be thrown in the mix with scallops; they were soft which went nicely with the scallops while adding an earthy balance to the ocean of it all.

Something I didn’t enjoy was the celery root. When is this fad over? Everywhere I go things are served with celery this or celery that. I think it’s time for chefs to put this to rest; it doesn’t make a chef stand out. It’s not “in” anymore because now everyone serves it. Like most trends it’s gotten overplayed and personally I’m bored with it.



For the Dolce portion:








(a)    GIANDUJA cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato

Look how amazing the desert is prepared. I love getting dessert when a pastry chef handles them and they aren’t just reheated in a microwave. You can taste the richness of the chocolate layered on top of more chocolate mousse.

I think my favorite thing about this dessert was what laid underneath the gelato. It was a hyped up better version of the crunchies in carvels cakes. I love adding crunch to something smooth and this did just that. It gave the gelato a stronger taste when eaten together that I wanted to go back in for more.


(b)   AFFOGATO zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro

So this was a cross between dessert and coffee as you can see. It comes over with just the ice cream in the mug and then they pour the hot espresso and amaro over the ice cream creating a conflicting temperate coffee milkshake. It was strong and sweet from the gelato and its eaten with a spoon but I could have had a straw with it as well. Such an interesting take on what I consider a coffee milkshake.

Overall Marea is a delicious adventure that I was so happy to be a part of, so thanks mom for bringing me along for the ride!

Marea : $$$$

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