Pesto Sauce

pesto cartoon 024Part 2  Cooking for my Childhood Friends

        “As I dropped the pasta in the pot of boiling water I called out to my friends, “How do you want the pasta cooked?”  I was wincing waiting for the answer.  They all matter-of-factly answered together, “al dente!” My heart leaped for joy as I realized they have come a long way from when I first met them 50 years ago!

   Growing up in Hyde Park so many years ago, I was always taken aback whenever pasta was served.  I am not talking the way it was served in the school cafeteria.  They did have a lot of children to serve!  But I could never bring myself to eat the school cafeteria pasta.  Depending on whom the lunch lady was, the spaghetti varied between, large worm- like spaghetti swirling on my plate with runny sauce or it was scooped out with an ice cream scoop.

  Even the neighborhood deli always had cooked pasta with sauce in their display case.  I often rode my bike to the corner store with my friends to get candy.  I would find myself looking on with curiosity when the deli man  scooped up cold pasta mixed with sauce into containers. Watching him squish down the pasta to make room for more, I shuddered as the soft pasta flattened into a pudding like consistency.  I just couldn’t understand why someone would want to eat that mush!

     One day I had an opportunity to watch neighbor-hood mom cook pasta and I began to understand this phenomenon.  When we made pasta at home it was always well attended to.  Meaning when you dropped the pasta in the boiling water my mom stood by stirring and checking when the pasta was done.  Just when my mom thought it was ready she would take it out blow on it and would hand it to me. I had the privilege to tell her when it was “al dente”. “Al dente” was when it was just short of being fully cooked through, firm but not soft. The pasta was then immediately drained and plated into individual plates which was served right away. We actually had an assembly line to the table to speed up the process.

   When my neighbor cooked pasta, it was left in the pot boiling while she attended to other cooking.  The pasta boiled and boiled.  After the water was good and starchy she drained the soft limp pasta. But that wasn’t enough! She then washed the gooey pasta to make sure all the goop was rinsed away.  It was then put in a large bowl with sauce. It sat while everyone slowly came to the table.  Maybe that’s why cooked pasta was offered at the deli.  This mush pasta took all day to make!

      Years ago American pasta was not made from durum wheat. It was made from the same flour they used for soft bread. So technically it was hard to make pasta “al dente”. Besides needing a quick technique to serve pasta one also needed imported pasta from Italy made from durum wheat.  Italian pasta was so much more expensive back then and not accessible to everyone.

     America has come a long way. We have so many more options now and most pasta is made from durum wheat.  I have to believe that my Italian family had a large part in the way pasta is served today. Well at least in Hyde Park! “


Fresh Pesto

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 ½ cup chopped fresh basil

½  cup grated cheese ( parmagiana is best)

½  extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup toasted walnut or

¼ cup of toasted pignoli nuts

1 clove garlic

¼ tsp salt

½ boiled potato (1/4 mashed)  yellow potato is creamiest to use

 

Procedure:

 Add parsleyparsley 1

basil,basil

and coarsely chop

chop the basil

Toast the pignoli in a small skillet for a few minutes until lighty brownedtoast the pignoli

Add grated parmagiana cheese, garlic, olive oil and saltadd ingredients for pesto

Blend together either in blender, food processor or an immersion blender. Then add boiled yellow potato mix and then add cooked potato

 and continue blending

creamy blended pesto

 It is ready to serve.  Pesto is served mixed in with pasta.  Of course pasta “al dente”

     I made my friends a pasta that was served in the restaurant.  It was pasta that was layered with a ladle of hot marinara, a scoop of pesto, and topped with spoon of ricotta cheese.  We called it:

Pasta Amalfitano!

pesto amailfitano

Buon’ Appetito!

Linguini White Clam

        linguini wc illustration

      “Mornings were the best part of the day! We got to go to work with my mom!  My brother and I couldn’t eat breakfast fast enough to get ready!  Sitting by the bathroom door we patiently watched my mom put on her lipstick. I loved the sound she made after carefully sliding the lipstick around her lips, pursing her lips together.  That pop sound signaled, “Let’s go!”      

   Working was going down to “the restaurant” to help set up all the tables for lunch.  While my brother and I carefully placed the paper placemats at each place setting, my mom methodically placed the silverware in their proper spots. Watching her balance all those butter dishes I marveled at how she tossed the plates like Frisbees landing perfectly over the butter knives!  I secretly hoped that one day my mom would let me set up the tables all by myself.

   Finally after setting up all those tables we got our much anticipated reward! We followed my mom into the kitchen where she pulled out two little cans of tomato juice out of the refrigerator.  As we continued to follow her to the salad pantry where she lifted up the gleaming stainless steel top to pull out a lemon cutting it into perfect wedges we  caught a glimpse of my dad and his brothers busy at work!  My brother and I stood very quietly as we didn’t want to distract them from their work. The restaurant kitchen was sacred!  Grabbing 2 small glasses, my mom had us sit at a table adjacent to the bar. As we slid into the booth my brother and I gleefully opened up those little cans of tomato juice pouring it into little glasses and squeezing wedges of lemon into them!  I can still remember the taste of that tomato juice!  To this day no tomato juice has ever compared to what we sipped on back then in “the restaurant” sitting next to my mom after a productive morning!” My brother and I felt great satisfaction knowing that we too did our share in “the restaurant”! “

 Hello!

   Have you all been practicing making your garlic and oil sauce?  Don’t worry if you have had to practive a few times to get it perfect.  It’s all in the timing of getting the garlic a perfect gold color and then stopping the cooking by adding the parsley cooling it off.

   Now that you have mastered the basic recipe of Garlic and Oil Sauce the next sauces will be easy.   Linguini White Clam was another very popular dish at “the restaurant”.  It uses the same ingredients and the same exact method as the garlic and oil recipe with the addition of clams.  We will be omitting the salt since the clams are already salty.  In the restaurant we used cherrystone clams (big clams) instead of  the littlenecks (baby clams).  We liked using the cherrystone clams because they had the most clam juice and also because they yielded the most clams with the least amount of shucking. We don’t recommend canned clams.  To get “the restaurant” flavor always use fresh clams!

4819e21d1b8e7a245892fa8051bcbd26Shucking a clam doesn’t require strength.  It requires a little knowledge to get the clam knife through the opening of the clams cutting the muscle that keeps it shut tight.  Once the clam knife penetrates into the cavity of the clam then you turn the knife upwards to cut through both ends of the muscle that attach the clam to the shell. If you feel intimidated by shucking a clam you could always ask the fishmonger at the seafood market to shuck them for you.  Also another trick is to put the clams in the freezer for an hour which will relax the muscle that keeps the clam shut tight.  The clam knife will be easier to wedge in between the clam shell. An even easier way is to put the clams in the freezer for 3 hours. Then bring them out and let them thaw.  As they thaw they will open up for you.

 

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Linguini White Clam

(Served over 1 pound of linguini)

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Ingredients:

A dozen cherrystone clams ( shucked and save ½ cup clam juice)

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs chopped Italian parsley

4 medium cloves of thinly sliced thin

Pinch of red pepper flakes

 

Procedure:

           Wash and scrub the clams. Shuck the clams and save all the clam juice. Put the clam juice aside to allow all the sand and clam bits to settle.  Chop the clams well.  Pour off the clear clam juice discarding the sandy settlement. Saute the garlic in the extra virgin olive oil until golden.  Take the skillet off the burner and throw in the chopped parsley.  Pour in the ½ cup of clear clam juice, the chopped clams and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Return to medium high heat. The clam sauce will foam as the clam juice evaporates.  Keep stirring.  Once the foam forms to the center of the pan the clams will be cooked (probably around 3 minutes).   Add a ladle (1/4 cup)  of starchy pasta water from your pasta that has been cooking  to the white clam sauce.

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     Cook the pasta according to your liking.  We  always make our pasta aldente! You may either add the sauce to the pasta or you can add the pasta to the skillet to soak up some of the sauce and then pour it all in a big pasta bowl and serve. Depending on whether you want to serve this dish as a  first course or main course, it can serve anywhere from 2-6 people.

 A variation of the White Clam Sauce is Red Clam Sauce.  It is the same  recipe except for one ingredient.  Instead of the 1/4 cup of pasta water, at the end you add a 1/4 cup of marinara sauce.  Use the 825 MAIN Marinara! I promise it will be the exact taste of “the restaurant”!

“All About Pasta”

 "All About Pasta"

Featuring:

 825 MAIN Marinara and Pizza Margherita Sauces from Poughkeepsie, NY

Delverde Pasta  from Abruzzo region –  pure waters of the Verde river –  Majella National Park on the Adriatic side. Bronze die cut pasta. This is not an artisanal pasta although it is bronze cut.  The cost is less compared to an artisanal bronze cut pasta.  But compared to the Teflon cut pastas Delverede Pasta is more expensive.  Bronze cut pastas are generally more expensive because of the labor costs to make it.  Cooking time 11 minutes.

Pastificio Artigiano Cav. Giuseppe Cocco  Artisanal bronze cut pasta.  All the ingredients in Giuseppe Cocco’s pasta  are genuine. Made in Rara S. Martino, Abruzzi, Italy.   The pasta is characterized by its coarse appearance, typical of bronze die extrusion, and when cooked has a firm and elastic consistency, with excellent resilience. They also use the water from the Verde River. These fully manual and traditional methods require more time and space; hence the small production quantity. The traditional pasta taste and flavor are guaranteed. More labor intensive pasta requires a higher price point. Cooking time 18 minutes.

Pastifficio Riscossa – made in Bari, Italy.  Teflon cut pasta. Bright yellow smooth to the touch pasta.  Requires less drying time after it is made, therefore companies are able to mass produce much more quickly.  Mass production less labor intensive yields are less expensive product.  Teflon cut pasta is much cheaper than bronze cut pasta.

La Bella Pasta  from Kingston, NY.  Fresh pasta made from semolina flour and eggs. Much more delicate pasta requires less cooking time.  Only 2-4 minutes.

1. How to eat spaghetti?

  1. Don’t cut it with knife and fork
  2. Don’t slurp it
  3. Don’t twirl it so there is so much on the fork that it doesn’t fit in mouth
  4. Pick up a few strands and twirl with the fork resting on the side of a pasta bowl with a rim.

Or:  if you have a flat plate or a deep bowl with no sides use a spoon and twirl the spaghetti inside the spoon picking up just a few strands of spaghetti

2.      What types of pasta are there?

                a.  Dried pasta

  1. Teflon cut – smooth and shiny and the color is amber  because it is a quicker drying time at higher temperatures.  All American made pasta is Teflon cut.  Sauce tends to slide off of shiny smooth pasta.
  2. Bronze cut  (cut refers to the die or mold) – rougher and more porous,  The color is much lighter yielding a pale yellow color. It is cooked at low temperature and longer drying time which maintains the aroma and flavor of the wheat.   The low temperature also maintains the wheat nutritional value as well as the wheat protein. Bronze cut pasta allows the sauce to cling to it.

   b. Fresh pasta – has a delicate texture.  Most of the fresh pastas are made with eggs.  It requires half the time of dry pasta.  Its delicate texture is best with light butter sauces and herbs or a light tomato sauce.  While dry pasta can handle a heartier sauce or put into soups and easier baked.

 3. What are the ingredients?     

a. dry pasta is made of durum wheat  ( semolina durum) salt and water.  The most important quality of durum wheat is that it contains more protein than common wheat.  It is important to produce high quality pasta – a pasta that remains firm or al dente when cooked.  The grinding of durum wheat produces a coarse flour called semolina.  1967 a law was passed in Italy that required only durum wheat to be used in making all dried pasta.  Dry pasta is prevalent in southern Italy because of the climate.  The mild sea breeze  and hot winds from the Vesuvious  was perfect for drying the pasta without getting moldy. Durum wheat is grown in many regions of the world ..including Mediterranean countries, north America, Russia and Argentina.  In Italy it grows mostly in the southern regions – mostly notably in Puglia which produces the finest pasta in the world.

b. fresh pasta is made of from eggs and “00” high-gluten flour.  Machine  rolled and hand cut is better because sauce sticks better  and is absorbed by the pasta to the hand cut pasta versus the machine cut.  Some fresh cut pasta is also made without eggs.

 4. How to cook Pasta?

1 gallon of water per pound of pasta. Put on high heat.  Once torolling boil add 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Add pasta all at once.  Separate pasta before it comes to a boil again with a fork.  Keep it moving so it doesn’t stick. Test it 3 minutes after it comes back to a boil for fresh pasta and after 5 minutes for dry pasta. Test it if it is to your liking.  It should be just slightly hard to the teeth – “al dente”.  Strain quickly in a colander and put in bowl…without loosing all the water.  Not too dry.  Better yet use fork or tongs and pull out of water.  Or use a strainer that is part of a spaghetti pot.

After cooking a good pasta should look moist not gummy.  Cooking in too little water makes a gummy pasta.

Transfer pasta to a bowl quickly and add some sauce stir coating, all the pasta. Don’t douse the pasta.  Just moisten with the sauce and then a ladle on top for presentation.

 5. How to serve it. 

      Italians serve it as a 2 oz portion while Americans serve it as a 4 oz portion.  Italians is served as a first course while Americans serve it as a main course.  Italians eat it everyday sometimes twice a day.

7. The Pasta War  –

     Controversy began in 1975 between the USA and European Econimic Community  EEC subsidized  exports of pasta to get the price down so it can compete with American pasta companies.  Because Durum wheat was so much higher priced than the regular flour American were using to make pasta .  High tariffs were issued making the Italian pasta more expensive.  But then in turn the Europeans issued high tariffs on American lemons and walnuts.  But EEC continues to subsidize exported pasta to make it more affordable.

8. “Fare la Scarpetta” 

       Fare la scarpetta is a phrase in the Italian language that’s close to the heart of everyone who has enjoyed a delicious plate of pasta with sauce. Meaning “make the little shoe,” it refers to the small piece of bread used to mop up the last of the sauce on your plate.

 

 

Please enjoys today’s 825 MAIN Sauces with the pasta and be sure to “Fare la Scarpetta”!

Chicken Manicotti

chicken manicotti
INGREDIENTS:
• 2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
• 1 cup grated Parmagiana cheese, divided
• One 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
• 1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 2 cups half and half
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
• One jar of 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
• 12 manicotti, cooked and rinsed in cold water

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium size bowl combine the ricotta, 1/2 of the cup parmagiana cheese, eggs, and mozzarella. Stir in the basil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and chicken until well combined. Set the filling aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, and the rest of the salt. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly just until the mixture starts to brown. Whisk in the half and half, stirring until becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the parmagiana cheese and nutmeg. Pour into large casserole dish, spreading around to completely to coat the bottom.
Place the filling into a large zip lock bag. Clip one corner and fill the manicotti from both sides and place over the white sauce. Repeat with the remaining manicotti and the filling. Pour the 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce over manicotti evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella (or more if you like). Bake for about 25 minutes or until the filling is heated through.

The Italian Dumpling- Gnocchi

These potato dumplings, traditionally served as a first course, are small bites of heaven.   Although most people associate this dish with Italian cuisine, versions of this dish exist around the world; Croatia, France, and South America all have variations of the dish. The word “gnocchi” is derived from the Italian word “nocchio,” meaning a “knot in wood.” Most Italian chefs say that the secret behind perfect gnocchi is the right potato. The best are ones high in starch and low in water content, such as the russet potato. The less water in the dough, the less gummy it will be.  It is said that the gnocchi is perhaps one of the oldest recorded dishes that can be found, and when you actually try them there is no wonder why they have survived for so long. These delightful Italian little dumplings are and absolutely fantastic dish, and they can be found in several variations. As with many Italian dishes, region can play a large role in the type of gnocchi you can find. Each version tenderly preserved through time with a recipe that can easily stem back to the early 1300th century Tuscans. This is a very simple recipe to make, and while it is easy you can find many that will put a twist on this recipe to make it their own.  The Gnocchi is a recipe that is very old, and apparently it does have quite the clan. There are more Gnocchi variations than you can shake a stick at, and all of which are dependant on where you are in Italy. I am introducing you to a southern Italian variety from Naples made with potatoes and another variety popular in Florence, Italy  made with ricotta cheese and spinach   These dumplings in their early stages are often confused with pasta, but truth be
told they are actually even older than pasta itself. The similarities are not reserved for the appearance either, as the dressings for the two dishes are quite similar as well. It is clear however to those that are experienced that Gnocchi and pasta are not the same dish. Someone unfamiliar with the ways in Italy or the general foods can easily become confused and assume that they are in fact one and the same.

The Most Famous Of All – The Potato Gnocchi

Easily the most delightful and famous of all Gnocchi dishes is the Potato Gnocchi  served with an authentic southern Italian marinara sauce like our very own 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce. In Naples we like to serve our Gnocchi with chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese and lots of marinara sauce.

From Naples, Italy Gnocchi
Serves: 12 servings of gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg extra large
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup olive  oil
  • 2 jars of 825 MAIN Marinara

Directions:

Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and
pass through vegetable mill  or mash onto clean pasta board.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into
1-inch long pieces. To make decorative gnocchi flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup olive oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve. And serve with 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce.

 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

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.

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!

Olives250Ingredients
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 PastaIngredients
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

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