Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi recipe

From Florence, Italy – Gnudi –

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for coating
Jar of 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and yolks. Stir in
nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour. Form mixture in to small, flattened balls.

Dredge the formed gnudi in flour to coat, tapping off the excess. Slide formed gnudi into the boiling water. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon after they float to the top nd have cooked for about 4 minutes.

Arrange gnudi on a platter and lightly drizzle with 825 MAIN Marinara sauce.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Bucatini all”Amatricianais an ode to simplicity – rich smoked pork, sweet tomatoes, heat from chili peppers, and the sharp, salty kick of pecorino cheese. Because amatriciana is a classic dish it has a long history and because it is Italian, this history is controversial and hotly disputed. Most but not all agree that “amatriciana” comes from Amatrice, a tiny town in the mountains bordering Abruzzo about 100 miles from Rome. (Some Romans claim that the dish is truly alla matriciana, developed by Romans and that Amatrice has nothing to do with such culinary bliss). Most agree that the dish descends from gricia, a pasta dish made with pepper, cheese, and smoked pork jowl, also known as guanciale.

Bucatini all’amatriciana has a different flavor profile than most Italian pasta. In its purest, most classic form the sauce has only four ingredients: cured pork, tomatoes, cheese, and hot peppers. Because of the recipe’s poor origins (this was the dish of shepherds, not statesmen), there is traditionally no onion, no garlic, no herbs. Because of this it tastes wildly different from the familiar Italian-American tomato sauce served with spaghetti and meatballs. The modern Roman version often adds onions, garlic, or a splash of dry white wine.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced **
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 pound  bucatini *
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating

Instructions:

  1. Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
  2. Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

 

*What is Bucatini pasta?
Bucatini pasta is a long, hollow Italian pasta. While at first glance it might look like thick spaghetti, bucatini pasta is a very unique noodle, and it plays an important role in the cuisine of some Italian regions. Pasta specialty stores may carry it, and it is also possible to find bucatini pasta in some grocery stores, especially in areas with a large Italian population.  The name for the pasta is derived from the Italian buco, which means “hole,” a reference to the hollow shape of bucatini pasta. It is believed that the pasta originated in central Italy. It is closely related to maccheroncelli, another long, tubular pasta. Bucatini pasta may also be found labeled as perciatelli. I grew up calling them perciatelli  and it wasn’t until I looked for them in a specialty food store that I found that they are called bucatini . All of these pastas are slightly different, but closely related enough that they can frequently be substituted for each other. Because the pasta is dense and strong, bucatini pairs well with robust, hearty sauces, especially those which contain meat. One of the classic dishes containing bucatini pasta, Bucatini all’Amatriciana, is made with bucatini and a hearty tomato sauce with large chunks of pancetta or bacon. This sauce pairs very well with the pasta, which is ideally suited to holding up heavy sauces.

**What is Guanciale?
What really makes this dish is the guanciale. It’s all about the ingredients, and with a little effort, you can find them here in the US.   Guanciale is cured pork jowl. You cannot substitute it, and it can’t be smoked—only cured. Some people, not Romans, use pancetta as a substitute, but the guanciale is sweeter, fatter, and has a more delicate and less salty taste than pancetta (cured pork belly). It melts as you heat it in the pan, and the rendered fat transports the jowl’s unique flavor throughout the dish. Touching each piece of pasta and spoonful of sauce with it’s sweet and salty magic. Substituting it, changes the dish altogether, and should be considered a mortal sin.  If you are substituting bacon or salt pork, you want the streakiest (i.e. fattiest) cut you can find.  If guanciale is unavailable, pancetta is a fine substitute. However as you guanciale has a significantly higher fat content than pancetta. If neither guanciale nor pancetta is available in your neighborhood, you can always use a top-quality lean bacon. One can blanch bacon for one minute in boiling water to remove some of its smoky flavor. If substituting either pancetta or bacon, I would recommend adding an extra tablespoon of olive oil before sauteeing the onion to compensate for the lower fat content.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazul napolitana)

*Ditalini, which means “little thimbles” in Italian, is most typically used in the Campania region of Italy, where it graces Pasta E Fagioli. It’s a small tubular shaped pasta. The nutty flavor and firm “al dente” texture is a great addition to this Italian bean soup! Nothing like a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli to warm your bones on a cold winter day. I grew up this soup! The only thing you need for this soup is patience. Patience to soak the beans overnight and then patience to simmer the soup. But it is an easy recipe!

Fresh tomatoesIngredients:
2 cups soaked great northern bean (dry beans, then soaked overnight) or two 15 oz cannellini beans
1/2 large chopped onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1 cup 825 Main Marinara Sauce
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
4 cups water
1/2 lb ditalini pasta*

Procedure:
In a large pot saute onion and celery in 2 tbs of EVOO till opaque. Add rinsed soaked beans. Add water and Marinara Sauce. Simmer for 2 hours, cook ditalini in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minute. Add pasta to soup according to how much you would like. I always cook pasta separately and then add it when I am ready to serve. I love my pasta al denti. But it’s all according to how you like your pasta. If you like your pasta soft you can finish warming it up in the soup. But remember the pasta absorbs the liquid the longer you cook it in the soup.

Prep time: 15 minutes/overnight
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 4-6

Fra Diavolo Sauce

Fra diavolo, means “brother devil” in Italian,  is the name given to a number of spicy sauces, usually tomato-based, used in American Italian cooking.  Fra diavolo sauce is served  simply over pasta but most are prepared with one or more types of shellfish.  Coppola’s Restaurant has always served it featuring dishes like Calamari, Shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster Fra Diavolo.

Fresh tomatoesEven though “Fra Diavolo” is referred to as a Mediterranean specialty,  fra diavolo sauce popular in America’s thousands of Italian restaurants was actually developed in the US. While there are hot dishes called “devilled” or “alla diavolo” in other regions in Europe, there’s no similar tradition in southern Italian cooking. Italians are very fussy when it comes to their food so the robust spiciness of most fra diavolo sauces is enough to overpower many delicate shellfishes, especially lobster or scallops.  My dad in keeping with the popularity of “Fra Diavolo” sauce in America was always careful on how spicy he made the sauce because it was important that his customers taste the wonderful fresh taste of the seafood.

Ingredients:
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sherry or white wine

Procedure:
In a heavy large skillet add 1 jar of Marinara Sauce. Add  crushed red  pepper flakes and wine  and simmer 15 minutes. Pour over your favorite cooked pasta.  Add more crushed red pepper flakes if you would like it hotter. Seafood can be added to Fra Diavolo sauce by using the procedure for adding mussels and clams as described in the Mussels in Marinara Sauce and Zuppe di Clams Marinara recipes.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

Putanesca Sauce

The history of the puttanesca sauce is interesting. Some say, because of the Italian translation of the name, puttanesca, which means prostitute, a whore’s favorite meal. But I know a much likelier version of this history from my mom’s home town, the island of Ischia. Apparently, it was late one night and clients showed up to their favorite restaurant in Ischia, Italy. The owner quickly informed them he was about to close and thus didn’t have anything to serve them…The clients, being very hungry as they were, simply replied, “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi”, meaning just cook us anything! So the owner turned around and using what he had left in his kitchen, he improvised that night and created the puttanesca sauce!

Olives250
Ingredients:
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
5 anchovy filets packed in olive oil (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped green olives or black kalamata olives
1/3 cup sherry wine
3 Tbl of small capers
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes

Procedure:
Heat EVOO in large heavy skillet and melt chopped anchovies till it turns to paste like.  Add jar of Marinara Sauce and  rest of the ingredients. Simmer 15 minutes.  Then pour over  your favorite cooked pasta.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time:  15 minutes
Serves 4

Penne alla Vodka

Vodka releases flavors from the tomatoes that are alcohol soluble. The alcohol coaxes those flavors out and then disappears. But the alcohol does lend some flavor. It is almost sweet, peppery flavor that makes the tomatoes taste sweeter. If you can taste the alcohol, the sauce hasn’t cooked enough. The cream should be added at the end after the alcohol has cooked out, so that the cream doesn’t de-stabilize and break in the presence of all that acid.)

Penne Pasta
Ingredients
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
3/4 cup vodka
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese

Procedure:
In a heavy large skillet add 1 jar of  Marinara sauce. Pour 3/4 cup of vodka sauce and simmer for 15 minutes  on medium heat till the sauce reduces. Add heavy cream and heat through. Add grated cheese and stir till all melted, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time:  20 minutes
Serves 4

Baked Stuffed Eggplant

It’s hard to imagine south Italian cooking without eggplant — on pasta, grilled, stewed, roasted, stuffed and more. I included a stuffed version that is absolutely delicious with non other than our authentic Marinara sauce!

Romano Cheese
Ingredients:
2 medium eggplant
8 oz ground beef
1 large thinly sliced onion
4 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 cup ricotta
4 Tbl grated pecorino romano cheese
2 eggs
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce

Procedure:
1. Set the oven at 400°F/200°C.
2. Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Place them in the baking dish, cut sides up. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season to taste. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
3. Scoop out the eggplant flesh with a spoon and mash it gently with a fork leaving about 1/2 eggplant pulp along sides.
4. Saute ground beef, onion, diced eggplant pulp in EVOO until evenly cooked. Drain excess liquid.
5. Stir in ricotta, egg and cheese ¼ cup    Marinara Sauce.6.Stuff both eggplant halves top with remainder of 825 MAIN Fresh Marinara Sauce and bake in oven for 20 minutes at a preheated 350 degree oven

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Mussels in Marinara Sauce

Mussels are a staple of southern Italian cooking. I found that no matter what dinner table I sat at or what restaurant we ate at while visiting family in Monte di Procida and Ischia mussels were always part of the meal, either as an appetizer, on bruschetta, on spaghetti in a soup or even on a vegetable side dish. I am surprised I didn’t see it on a dessert. The following  is a simple yet delicious recipe to bring la vita gustosa of Napolitano cooking at your table!

Fresh tomatoesIngredients
24 small fresh mussels
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 lb linguine

Procedure
Place washed debearded mussels in a lidded pot turn on medium while steaming shake pot twice. When mussels are opened take off burner and let cooled. Once cooled, reserve liquid and shuck mussels. Place shucked mussels and mussel water in a heavy large skillet. Add jar of Marinara sauce. (If you don’t mind the shells you can also add the mussels shell and all right to the marinara sauce and the heat will open the mussels and release the liquid into the marinara sauce making a most delicious sauce.) Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to boil with 1/2 teaspoon salt, once boiling add pasta. After 7 minutes drain pasta. Pour pasta back into empty pot adding mussel  sauce and toss together  and serve.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

Salmon Farfalle in Marinara Cream Sauce

Farfalle pastaIngredients:
12 oz fresh Salmon
4 oz grated Parmagiana cheese
1 cup heavy cream
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 lb Farfalle pasta

Procedure:
Bake salmon for 12 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. In a medium skillet add cheese, cream and Marinara Sauce on simmer. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to boil with 1 teaspoon salt, once boiling add pasta. Remove fish from oven and flake salmon off and into Marinara mixture, turn on to medium high while draining pasta. Drain pasta and return to pot add salmon red sauce and mix altogether over medium heat serve in 2 plates.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

Vegetable Primavera with Marinara

Ingredients:
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 yellow pepper
2 small Italian eggplant
1 large thinly sliced onion
4 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce

Procedure
Thinly slice pepper add to  skillet with EVOO and saute for 10 minutes on medium heat, meanwhile thinly slice remainder vegetables and add to peppers saute an additional 5 minutes then add Marinara sauce and let simmer for an extra 10 minutes. May serve over drained pasta.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4