My “original” Italian Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce)!

I have never been jealous about my family cooking experience, traditions, and recipes, and the first proof of it is this blog! Nevertheless I confess lately I’ve been feeling guilty because many friends keep asking me why I haven’t posted yet my original ITALIAN RAGU SAUCE recipe (otherwise known as “BOLOGNESE” sauce), since it is probably the most popular worldwide! Well, the recipe is not a secret, simply the true is that:

1) I cannot promise that the recipe I am sharing with you could be considered the “only and original Italian Ragu Sauce” because in every different Italian region they have different methods and main ingredients to make their “Ragu Sauce” (Bolognese Sauce). For instance, in Emilia Romagna (the Region of Bologna) to make Ragu Sauce they use minced loin of pork, beef, bacon and ham; in Campania (the Region of Naples) they use pork and beef as well, but not minced (and needs to be cooked for at least 6 hours!); in Veneto (Venezia Region, and the one I come from), they make Ragu Sauce either out of duck, turkey or pork with the particularity to make the sauce more creamy by using whipping cream….  I could go on for each of the 20 Italian Regions!!!

2) My mom never gave me an official lists of ingredients she uses to make her amazingly delicious Ragu’ Sauce, nor the quantities, but I have always watch her eyeballs the ingredients and use some of them (broth or wine for example) according to their availability at that moment.  So my Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce), is cooked differently each time I make it, but I will try to sum the most important part here, so you will be able to make YOUR original Italian Style Ragu Sauce!

Since it takes many hours to make Ragu Sauce (and be aware: Italians don’t use the slow cooker, actually they absolutely don’t know it exists), I usually make a big pot of it (approximately 4 pounds), because I know that even if I’m not using it all immediately, I can freeze it without loosing any in taste or texture. My Ragu Sauce recipe is quiet quick (not more than three hours of cooking), easy about the ingredients (just ground beef and Italian sausage), and of course, according to my family, the best Ragu Sauce ever!!!

INGREDIENTS

2 lb. ground beef

1 lb. Italian sausage (ground pork, without fennel seeds)

1 medium sized white onion

1 big (or 2 medium sized) carrots

2-3 sticks of celery

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 tbsp. dry rosemary

1 pinch nut meg

1 pinch dry thyme

1 pinch dry sage

2 can plain tomatoes sauce

1 cup water

about 4 tbs. olive oil (or 1/2 stick of unsalted butter)

 1/2 cup red wine or meat stock

optional: 1 meat bouillon

Direction

Peel the onion and wash carefully celery and carrots. Chop it all very finely. (You can use your food processor). With a fork, split the mince meat (beef and pork) as much as possible.

In a big nonstick pot,  pan fry at medium heat the onion,  celery, carrot in the olive oil (or butter if you prefer that option). When the vegetables look cooked, add the meat, turn up the heat and brown the meat until it changed color and its liquid is evaporated completely. Stir every now and then and  season with the spices (rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, sage), and salt and pepper to taste.

When the meat has changed color, add a glass of red wine (or meat stock) and allow it to evaporate in the mixture.  Then add the tomato sauce and a cup of water.  Reduce the heat so you don’t burn the meat but keep it high enough for the sauce to keep the boil, and simmer for at least two more hours.  After the first half hour, taste the sauce and if it seems too bland, adjust with sea salt and add a beef bouillon. Again, every now and then check your sauce and stir it.

The sauce is done when all the liquid of the tomatoes and water are evaporated and the meat have the color and consistency as shown in these pictures.

At this point you can spread a slice of fresh bread with Ragu Sauce and enjoy it on the spot (I am guilty of that). When the sauce is completely cooled off, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer. 

Remember to heat up well the sauce before dressing your noodles or tagliatelle.

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!

 Tips and anecdotes:

– As with any Italian traditional recipe, every family has its own and generally the Ragu Sauce (or Bolognese Sauce) is lauded as the best family ever. When I lived in Italy I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the sentence “my mom’s Ragu sauce is the best” or “the ragu that I do it’s not like yours” 😉.  Obviously this depends on whether the family recipes are adapted to the tastes of their components, to meet the consensus of them all.

– Besides “tagliatelle”, Ragu Sauce is the best to dress home made lasagna (for my family home made fresh past recipe click here), or home made gnocchi. My daughters love Ragu Sauce on top of a slice of fresh bread (as I do, after all!)

– If you are wandering how to store the sauce, I use sandwich sized Ziplog bags, fill them with about 1 lb. of sauce and freeze it.  With 1 lb. sauce you can dress up to 1.5 lb. tagliatelle.

I so hope you will find this recipe interesting, appealing and easy enough to be followed.

I believe this is the perfect recipe to try during this period of mandatory social distancing!

 I would love to know how you are coping with this dark period of our history  and

which are the recipes you like to prepare the most in these days!

Much love

Silvia

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Butternut squash and porcini mushrooms noodles. Different. Fast. Easy. Delicious.

Porcini mushrooms and butternut squash noodles

Hello everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, or just a wonderful week for those that live out of the United States! Butternut squash and porcini pasta

Today I would like to share with you the recipe of a super easy and fast pasta recipe, that my family enjoys very much and that is typical in fall and winter in the Alps area where porcini mushrooms are very popular and appreciated. Here in Mid-west porcini are impossible to be found fresh, but the dried ones, if soaked in warm water for a little time, can substitute the fresh ones quite fine.

Porcini mushrooms and pumpkin are two ingredients that get along very well together, and that I like to use also to prepare my favorite soup and favorite risotto.   So if you’d like to try a vegetarian noodles recipe that can be prepared in 30 minutes and tastes delicious, follow the directions below!

4 servings ingredients

1 pack or 60 gr. dried porcini mushrooms

1/2 medium sized butternut squash peeled and chopped in small cubes

1/2 medium sized white onion

4 tsp. rosmary (better if fresh)

1 cloves garlic

about 2+3 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. sage

pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 package or 1 lb. noodles or tagliatelle

DIRECTIONS

First, soak the dried porcini in a cup of warm water for at least 15 minutes, or follow the packaging directions if different. Take away the butternut squash skin and seeds and chop in very thin cubes. Cut the onion very thin. Peel the garlic and take away its “stem”.

Drain the mushrooms, but keep some of the water used to soak them. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve or even coffee filter to avoid sand. If some mushrooms looks too big in size, feel free to cut them in two with a kitchen scissors. Heat a big pot of salted water where you will cook the noodles (or the other kind of pasta you picked) as soon as the water will start boiling, rigorously the Italian way ;-).

In a skillet heat 2 tbs. of olive oil, then add garlic, rosemary and the chopped onion and cook them until the onion becomes translucent (be careful not to burn). At this point, add the porcini, a pinch of sea salt and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Let the mushrooms cook for about ten minutes at medium heat, being careful not to burn them, stirring once in a while. You’ll know they are cooked once they become tender.

In the meanwhile, in a pan, add 3 tbs. olive oil and when the oil gets hot, add the chopped butternut squash, 2 tsp. rosemary, 1 tbs. sage, and a pinch of sea salt and cook until  becomes brownish and tender. It would take about  ten to fifteen minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally, and always be careful not to burn.

Now that mushrooms and squash are cooked, move the mushrooms into the squash skillet.  Probably the noodles will be cooked, so dry those very well in a colander, then toss it into the mushrooms and squash dressing, mix it very well and serve still warm. YUM! So delicious!

LEANR IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – usually noodles are very fast to get cooked, so if you feel a little nervous with this recipe, I would suggest to prepare first the two “dressings”, and then the noodles.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!

MUCH LOVE,

SILVIA

If you’d like to experiment more “mushrooms recipes” you may want to have a look to:

1) Velvety dried porcini soup;

2) Butternut squash and porcini in disguise soup;

3) Butternut squash and porcini risotto.

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

 

 

Eggplant, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce pasta

Hello everyone! Before to start describing my new delicious pasta recipe, I wanted to invite my dear followers and bloggers friends to read the bottom of this post… I have an important message for you…

Bus since I don’t want to bother anyone else that could be reading this recipe, let’s talk about it: ready in twenty minutes, this pasta combine veggies and mozzarella cheese in a vey appealing way that even the kids could not resist!!! In my opinion it is a very refreshing dish, because the meat absence makes this pasta very light and enjoyable even in a hot summer day. A can of hot tomatoes sauce cooked the Italian way  will melt the mozzarella cubes and sweeten the sour aftertaste of the eggplant. I am sure you will love it!

4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS 

1 can tomato sauce

1/4 small sized white onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove

sea salt to taste

1 pinch nut meg

black pepper to taste

2 tbs. extravergin olive oil

AND

1 pack (1 lb.) penne pasta

1 medium sized fresh eggplant washed and cut in cubes

about 7 oz. (200 gr.) mozzarella cheese cut in small thin pieces

4 tbs. olive oil

crushed red pepper

2 tps. dried oregano

sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the tomatoes sauce by panfry 1/4 small onion finely chopped and a garlic clove in 2 tbs. of olive oil. Once the onion becomes translucent add the tomatoes sauce, a pinch of sea salt, nut meg, rosemary and black pepper and let it cook t medium heat for about 15 minutes. You can let the sauce cook until your pasta is ready to get dressed, but be careful not to burn it! For a more descriptive recipe with pictures step by step, read my post about “the truth of marinara sauce“. While the tomato sauce is cooking, heat a big pot of salted water where you will cook the penne (or the other kind of pasta you picked) as soon as the water will start boiling, rigorously the Italian way ;-).

Now it’s time to prepare the eggplant: wash and dry the eggplant and deprive it of the stem. Cut it half a inch little cubes.

Heat 5 tbs. of olive oil in a large pan and panfry the eggplant cubes for about 5-8 minutes, stirring time to  time. Sprinkle some sea salt, the dried oregano and if you wish, a pinch of crushed red pepper.

The eggplant pieces are cooked when they change their color and become tender.  Now, cut the mozzarella slices in very little and thin pieces (this way the mozzarella will melt super easily as soon as it will get in contact with the hot pasta) and set aside.

When the penne are cooked, dry it very well in a colander, transfer the pasta in a big bowl and very quickly pour the mozzarella pieces, the eggplants and the tomato sauce.

Mix the ingredients together and serve still hot. YUM!  So tasty!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – When you are about to buy the eggplant, make sure to pick the more shiny, even and hard one. The good quality of the eggplant is the key for the best result. Often, when I buy eggplants here in Midwest, I find them not fresh, and full of seeds. So I know my pasta will be slightly bitter. But when you know it, you can deal with it! The fresher is the product, the better is its taste.

– Any kind of “short” pasta will work with this dressing: maccheroni, penne, farfalle… you choice!

– Check out also this low carbs easy lasagna with eggplants.

***   ***   ***

Here I am apologizing with my loyal readers… I am so sorry I let you down for few months! Life has been very busy lately, my laptop decided to die leaving me with no notice and – most important – I finally took action to make real a project I have had in mind for a long time: getting the license for a home bakery!!!!! So now, not only I will be a food blogger (more or less persistent) but I will also cook for the public, which makes me feel super excited and nervous at the same time!!!! Now that you know why I disappeared for a while I hope you will consider to keep reading and following me, and supporting me as you have done so far!       I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all!! THANK YOU!

***   ***   ***

 I really hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you did, please feel free to share,

leave a comment and support my blog! And if you’ll try this recipe, don’t forget to take a picture of it and post it on your Instagram account with the Hashtag #beautyandfourkids! 

 Much Love

Silvia

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

Crushed red pepper and tuna pasta: as simple and delicious as it is!

I have no idea why I haven’t posted this recipe yet since it is a very popular one in Italy AND in my family, either with the two variants: the “white” or “red*” version.  A quick pasta ready in 20 minutes, flavored with panfry canned (in olive oil) tuna, crushed red pepper, white cream and parmesan. Super creamy, delicate and with a hint of spicy, really suits any taste and can be kept as a “last minute” meal whenever you are out of ideas for dinner.

4 servings INGREDIENTS

1 pack maccheroni (my favorite are the thickest available at the store)

3tbs. olive oil

2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna in olive oil

1/4 small sized onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

crushed red pepper to taste

2-3 tbs. whipping cream or cream cheese

a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Start heating a pot of salted water to cook the spaghetti (if you want to be sure to cook your pasta in the authentic Italian Style, follow these easy directions).  In the meanwhile, in a medium sized pan heat the olive oil with the chopped onion and the cloves  of garlic. Open the canned tuna, dry it from its oil and crumble it in the pan as soon as the onions looks translucent.  Add the crushed red pepper.

This sauce doesn’t need to cook much. In few minutes you will see the tuna changing its color so add the whipped cream (not whipped) and the grated parmesan and let it cook for a couple few minutes. Alternatively, you can melt in a couple of tbs. of cream cheese (plus, obviously, the parmesan). Switch off the heat: your sauce is ready.

As soon as the water reaches the boiling point, start cooking the pasta. When the maccheroni are done, dry it very well in a colander keeping some of the cooking water for the sauce, in case in the meanwhile it got too dense.   Take away the garlic cloves from the sauce, add few tbs. of the Maccheroni water if needed. Mix the maccheroni  with the sauce directly in the pan, and serve still hot. YUM! DELICIOUS!

Learnt it, made it, loved it!   TIPS: – This sauce can really be pared with any kind of short or long pasta: even the spaghetti would turn out delicious dressed with it!

– If you prefer the idea of a red* version of this sauce, use a small pot instead of a pan, and once the tuna has changed its color, add a can of tomatoes sauce and follow the same instructions needed to make “Italian Tomatoes sauce“, so you will also know the truth about “Marinara sauce”.

– This pasta dish really needs to be served still warm (once reheated in a microwave it will keep the taste but get too much dry) but if you are looking for a “cold tuna pasta salad” for a cook out or as sack lunch, try this awesome “tuna, lemon and cappers pasta salad”.

– Of course this is another handy recipe during Lent time, and if you need a list of more, check out this post about “10 Lent meal ideas“.

– My favorite “tuna in olive oil” brand that I can easily find here in the Mid West is the GENOVA one (this is not an affiliate link so If you buy from here I won’t earn a penny 🙂 ): it is not as delicious as the one we can buy in Italy (which is tuna in Extravergin Olive oil), but honestly it is, in my humble opinion, the most decent substitute.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog once again this week, it really means a ton to me! If you like to received every week for free one of my new recipes, subscribe here with no other obligations!

And  please, feel free to share this recipe and leave your comment:

this will support my blog and encourage my self-esteem (LOL!).

Talk to you next week,

SILVIA

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

Homemade Ricotta and spinach ravioli: you will never use those storebought again!

Ravioli (Italian pronunciation: [raˈvjɔːli]; singular: raviolo) are a type of dumpling comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. Usually served in broth (commonly called “tortellini”) or with a sauce (typically tomatoes sauce or ragu’ sauce) they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine.   Traditionally, ravioli are made at home and their filling varies according to the area where they are prepared. For instance in the north of Italy the filling is usually made with beef and charcuteries (mortadella or prosciutto crudo) or pumpkin and Amaretti cookies. In the middle Italy the most common filling is  ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg and black pepper.  In Sardinia instead, ravioli are filled with ricotta and grated lemon rind.

Ravioli can also have different shapes: circular, rhomboid, square. The ravioli my grandma taught me to make are more “triangle shaped” and the filling she made was extremely good but everytime made with different ingredients (depending of what leftover she found in the refrigerator) so I inherited the technique to make the ravioli, but as for the filling, I had to experiment before to find my favorite one, and I have to tell you that my first choice is the classic version with ricotta cheese and spinach, which is also the easiest to prepare worldwide, since the simplicity of the ingredients needed.   I would say that once you have mastered the ability of making the pasta, to prepare this delicious ravioli won’t take more than an hour, and the good thing is that you can prepare ravioli whenever you have free time, freeze them once filled, and cooked them (still frozen) whenever you decide you would like eating them!

Ingredients for about 24 big or 48 small ravioli

FOR THE DOUGH

2 eggs and 1 yolk (about 124 gr.)

1 1/3 cup (200 gr.) all purpose flour

FOR THE FILLING

about 3 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup (125 gr.) ricotta cheese

1 bag (8 oz. or 130 gr.) fresh spinach

1.5 oz. (50 gr.) finely grated parmesan

1 garlic clove

1/4 small white onion

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

nut meg to taste

FOR THE DRESSING

melted unsalted butter to taste

fresh or powdered sage to taste

DIRECTIONS

PREPARE THE DOUGH: In a bowl combine the flour with the beaten eggs.  Stir the mix first with a fork and once the eggs are absorbed, start kneading by hand in a floured surface for about five minutes (read my post about the secret method for a perfect home made pasta to learn the right kneading technique). You know that the dough is ready only when it looks shiny and homogenous, not too dry or too wet and sticky, and only if when you apply a hole with your finger, the dough comes up right away. If the dough sounds too wet,  add a bit of flour. If it sounds too dry, rub it with few drops of warm water and keep kneading.    When the dough it’s ready, shape it an a ball and wrap it up in plastic paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (while you are preparing the filling).

PREPARE THE FILLING:

In a pan, heat at  medium heat the olive oil, the onion finely chopped and the garlic. Once the onion gets translucent, and always at medium heat, add the spinach (previously washed and well dried), a pinch of salt and pepper and a dust of nutmeg. Let cook for about five minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning.

Take away the garlic and let the spinach cooling off in  strainer, so they will loose all their water (apply some pressure with your fingers if necessary). Try to get rid off the ricotta water by placing it in another strainer.

Cut finely the spinach and in a bowl mix it with the drained ricotta, grated parmesan and egg yolk and – if needed – adjust with some more salt, pepper and nut meg. Mix the ingredients very well and set aside for later.

MAKE THE RAVIOLI

Cut your ball of pasta in two. Keep one half and wrap the other in plastic paper and place it in the refrigerator. With the first slice, and using a pasta roller, make two  sheets of pasta 1/8 inch thick.

Using my pasta machine, I roll the pasta slice out progressively, beginning with the dial on the first (thickest) setting (#0), then put it through again on the following numbers until one last time through on the eight (#8) setting. It’s very likely that the slice becomes too long around number five (#5): just cut the slice in two before proceeding to the next setting. When you get to the last setting (#8), dust your working surface with semolina flour so the slices of pasta won’t stick to the surface when filled with the spinach mix. Don’t skip this part, it’s very important!

Now, using a measuring teaspoon, arrange a tsp. of spinach filling along one of the pasta slice in a zig-zag pattern. Carefully and possibly by using a cooking brush, brush the area around the spinach with water and flip the other pasta slice on top of the filled one, using your finger to eliminate all the air.

Using a cooking rolling cutter, shape your ravioli. It doesn’t really matter what shape you pick, what matters is that the sides of the ravioli are very well closed and free of any air (otherwise they will break once put into boiling water to cook).

Place the ravioli in a tray dusted with semolina flour and cover in plastic wrap. Repeat the process with the other half of pasta.

COOKING AND SERVING THE RAVIOLI

Bring a big pot of water to boiling point. Poor about 15 ravioli at a time in the boiling water and let them cook for about 5 minutes. While the ravioli cooks, in a large pan melt 3 tbs. unsalted butter and few sage  leaves (or about 2 tps. powdered sage). I prefer using powdered sage because it leaves a wonderful flavor without any “piece of green” in the plate (and that is essential if I want my kids to eat the ravioli). Using an holed ladle take the cooked ravioli out of the water into the buttered pan, stir them gently to spread the butter evenly, and serve the ravioli still warm with a dust of parmesan cheese.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:  – You can freeze the ravioli and cook them still frozen. It will take few more minutes to get cooked, but will taste wonderful anyway.

– When you are done shaping the ravioli, and you place them in a floured (with semolina) tray, wait at least 20-30 minutes to  cook them, so they will dry a bit and more likely keep their filling when you cook them.

– You can fill the ravioli with different fillings, but make sure the filling is never too wet to avoid ruining the dough.

– Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli have a very delicate taste, but if you’d like a more tasty dish, dress the ravioli with Italian tomatoes sauce.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and I also hope that  (besides my bad English), I was able to explain you the method as clear as possible. Please, If you have any question, of if you just would like to give me a feedback, leave a comment, or a like, and support my blog!

Much thanks

Silvia

 

Italian tomatoes sauce: the truth about “Marinara”

Tomatoes sauce is one of the main popular Italian’s “food” all around the world. And I believe the reason of that is because you can use the “Italian Tomatoes sauce” as important ingredients to make many Italian recipes, as for Italian Spaghetti, Italian Cannelloni, Italian Parmigiana, Tomatoes and Salsiccia sauce pasta, Amatriciana , Italian Meatballs, pasta alla pizzaiola, and so on.  The curious thing about Italian tomatoes sauce is that it is not a simple tomatoes puree, but there is a precise method to make it, that of course can slightly change from family to family (for example some Italians use sugar in their tomatoes sauce), but that most of the time requires, besides canned tomatoes, also garlic, onion, rosemary, nutmeg, pepper (or red pepper) and basil.  At this point I should precise that in the past it was very common (also for my mom) to prepare the “tomatoes puree” at home, at the end of the summer, with home harvested tomatoes. I remember all the countless hours that took to my mom for cleaning the tomatoes, depriving from the skin and seed, cooking, pureeing  and then canning. Nowadays even in Italy it is less common to find homemade canned tomatoes, but the one you buy already canned, still allows to get a decent sauce.

When I moved here in Midwest I got a bit confused from some American friends that insisted to have my secret “Marinara sauce”, which honestly at the time I had no idea what it was, and only after I found out that Americans call “Marinara” what for Italians is just regular “tomatoes sauce”.  And be aware that if you take a trip to Italy and order a “pasta with Marinara Sauce” (Marinara means “related to the sea”) you will likely get a Sea Food pasta!

But going back to this basic Italian recipe, learning how to make it is very easy and once you’ll mastered it, you’ll be able to prepare a lot of other delicious meals!

 INGREDIENTS for 6-8 servings

2 cans plain tomatoes sauce (please, free of any dressing)

5 tbs. virgin olive oil

1/2 medium sized white onion (or 1 small sized white onion)

2 big cloves or garlic (deprived of the stem)

1 rosemary spring (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 basil leaf (or 1 tsp. dried basil)

1 pinch black pepper (or crushed red pepper)

Directions

In a sauce pan, heat at medium heat about 3 tbs. virgin olive oil, the garlic cloves cut in four, the rosemary spring and the finely chopped onion.

Sauté the onion until changes color and becomes “translucent” stirring time to time. It may take 5-8 minutes. Never leave the stove during this phase because you don’t want to burn the onion. When the onion looks ready, add the canned tomatoes sauce, the pepper, the basil, the nut meg and let the tomatoes sauce reach the boil.

Once the sauce is boiling, switch at low heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for about 30 minutes. The sauce should never loose the boiling point, but cook slowly without getting a burned bottom.  Finally, add 2 more tbs. of olive oil, stir gently, and use the sauce to dress your spaghetti or to complete any other recipe you could have in mind.  Sounds incredible but spaghetti dressed with this easy tomatoes sauce, tastes just amazing!

I shall admit that I LOVE eat the tomatoes sauce just like that in a warm slice of fresh baked baguette 

or as a scrummy deep for Italian meatballs.. YUM! 

As simple as it is, as extraordinary good as it is!

LEART IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: –  When it’s time to buy the canned tomatoes sauce, please avoid those that pretend to be somehow “Italian” and are already flavored. Buy the regular plain tomatoes sauce;

– If you don’t mind the idea of a hint of spicy in your sauce, substitute the black pepper with a couple of tsp. of crushed red peppers;

– It’s very important to cook the sauce patiently at low heat, otherwise it will get too dry (if not burnt) and would keep a taste of “row tomatoes” and for sure we don’t want that!

– Once cooked you can freeze the sauce and thaw right before using it!

I hope you found this post interesting and I would really like to know what was your knowledge about Italian tomatoes sauce…

did you call it “Marinara”?

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and if you enjoyed reading my content, I would really appreciate if you could leave a comment, or like it, or share it with you family and friends!

Much thanks!

Silvia

 

HAM AND WHITE CREAM FUSILLI: a fast, easy, tasty and family friendly Italian style pasta

My American friends often ask me how it is that we never get tired of eating pasta. The truth is that of course during the week I try to alternate “pasta dinner” with “alternative meals” (meat, seafood or cheese), AND we have such a variety of dressings and so many different shapes of pasta that it is really hard to get bored eating it. A few of these different kinds of dressings have already been mentioned in my blog (pasta all’amatricinana , pasta alla carbonara, pasta with vegetables, fresh tomatoes sauce pasta, pasta aglio olio e peperoncino, prosciutto and tomaotes sauce pasta) and many more will be the subject of my future posts: ragu’ pasta, leeks and sausage pasta, tomato sauce pasta, tuna and tomatoes sauce pasta, ricotta and parmesan pasta, four cheese pasta, pasta with eggplant, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, and… well, I could just keep going on and on!!!

Today I would like to share with you one of my “SAVE DINNER” recipes, one of those meals you can fix in 20 minutes or less, and for which I always keep the few necessary ingredients in the pantry! I have to be clear that, in Italy, we have an ingredient called “panna da cucina” which is a kind of cream used very often for pasta sauces, risotto, and other dishes, and that, here in the U.S., I have learnt to substitute with something quite similar called “MEDIA CREMA” that can easily be found in the Mexican food department of any groceries store.

As I’ve already mentioned, this meal requires not more that the cooking time of the pasta (I would say between 15 to 20 minutes), it’s very rich, and is usually loved by kids. The flavor of the ham is amplified by the “crema”, and the pasta is creamy and appealing to even the pickiest eater.

 4-5 servings INGREDIENTS

1 pack fusilli (about 1 lb.)

1 pack boneless ham steak

3 tbs. olive oil

1 small can (225 ml. or 7.6 Fl. oz.) Crema Media

optional: 2 cloves of garlic peeled

black pepper

grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Start heating a pot of salted water to cook the fusilli (if you want to be sure to cook your pasta in the authentic Italian Style, follow these easy directions).  In the meanwhile, cut the ham into small cubes.

When the water reaches boiling, toss the fusilli in to cook. Then, in a pan, add the olive oil and the garlic cloves. When it looks warm, add the ham cubes and sauté at medium heat for about five minutes, or until it looks lightly browned.

At this point, take away the garlic cloves, and add the “media crema”, stir and let it cook for a couple of minutes, always at medium heat until it gets dense. Switch off the heat and wait until the fusilli are completed cooked.

When the fusilli are cooked, drain them very well in the colander, but set aside a few tbs. of the hot water to mix with the sauce if, in the mean time, it has became too thick or dry (it must keep a creamy consistency). Then add a handful of grated parmesan cheese.

Pour  the fusilli in the sauce pan, mix very well to dress all the pasta evenly, and serve it, suggesting your guest to sprinkle a pinch of black pepper and another dust of parmesan cheese!

Easy, isn’t it?

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: for my post I picked the fusilli shaped pasta, but every kind of short shaped pasta (penne, farfalle, maccheroni etc.) would fit perfectly with this sauce.

Here how penne would look like:-)

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Butternut Squash and Porcini risotto

In the five years I’ve lived in eastern Iowa, I’ve never found dried porcini mushrooms anywhere. So, I hesitated to post this recipe, since it felt wrong to be publishing a recipe that not all my followers could cook. However, the other day at the grocery store, while I was walking trough the veggies department I found many varieties of dried mushrooms, porcini included!

So finally I can share with you this amazing recipe, absolutely delicious and perfect for the fall (both in taste and in color!). And just to make it clear, even if your kids don’t like mushrooms, they will love the delicate sweet taste of this risotto (even if they will probably eat it by setting aside on the plate the porcini 🙂 ).

Just to satisfy some curiosity you may have, in Italy finding mushrooms is pretty easy: mushrooms love moist, temperate climes, and since Italy has plenty of mountains (Alpi and Appennini) we can proudly grow about a large variety of mushrooms. Aside from porcini, other famous species are chiodini (honey mushrooms) and finferli. Plus there are many more! If you like risotto, I definitely suggest you try this one; you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its “goodness.” 🙂  It takes not more that 30 minutes to make, with the only foresight to dump the dried mushrooms in water at least 20 minutes before you start cooking.

4 servings INGREDIENTS

2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice

1 pack or 60 gr. dried porcini mushrooms

1/2 medium sized butternut squash peeled and chopped in small cubes

1/2 medium sized white onion

4 tsp. rosmary (better if fresh)

1 cloves garlic

about 5 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. nutmeg

5 tbs. parmesan cheese

pepper to taste

salt to taste

about 64 oz. hot chicken broth (better if homemade) or vegetable buillon

optional: 1 Tbs. butter or mascarpone cheese and 1 handful of parmesan cheese  for the “mantecatura” (click here for the meaning)

Grated Parmesan cheese for dusting.

DIRECTIONS

Soak the porcini in about 1 cup of warm water at least 15 minutes before to cook them. Or, if the directions on the packaging indicate something different, it is best to prepare them accordingly.

Clean the butternut squash, removing the skin and the seeds, and cut it into very thin cubes.

Drain the mushrooms, but keep some of the water used to soak them. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve or even coffee filter to avoid sand. If some mushrooms looks too big in size, feel free to cut them in two with a kitchen scissors. Warm up the broth for the risotto (or the water, in case you decide to use a vegetable bouillon).In a skillet heat 2 tbs. of olive oil, then add garlic, rosemary and the chopped onion and cook them until the onion becomes translucent (be careful not to burn). At this point, add the porcini, a pinch of sea salt and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Let the mushrooms cook for about ten minutes at medium heat, being careful not to burn them, stirring once in a while. You’ll know they are cooked once they become tender.

In the meanwhile, in a pan, add 3 tbs. olive oil and when the oil gets hot, add the chopped butternut squash, 2 tsp. rosemary and a pinch of sea salt and cook until  becomes brownish and tender. It would take about  ten to fifteen minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally, and always be careful not to burn.

(At this point the broth in the other pot should have reached the boiling point. Lower the heat and keep it on hand, you will use it soon!). Now that mushrooms and squash are cooked, move the squash into the mushrooms skillet. Start the heat, and when it seems the mix is hot, add the risotto rice and let “fry” for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Try  not to stir immediately. Only when it seems like the mixture starts sticking to the pan, add 1 ladle of porcini soaking water. As a rule for a perfect risotto “al dente” I start the 20 minutes cooking timer in the precise moment I add the first ladle of liquid to the rice. Once that water has been absorbed, add salt as desired, and keep adding broth (best 1 ladle at a time until liquid has been absorbed by rice.) and  repeat until there are just three minutes left on the timer. At this point, switch off the heat, add another ladle of broth, the butter (or mascarpone cheese) and the parmesan. Stir ingredients together and then cover the pot with a lid until the end of the 20 minutes, for the MANTECATURA phase. This process will make your risotto creamy and dense, in other words “all’onda”. At the end of the twenty minutes, serve your risotto still warm, and suggest your guests to sprinkle some grated parmesan on the top of it, if they like.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!

MUCH LOVE,

SILVIA

If you’d like to experiment more “mushrooms recipes” you may want to have a look to:

1) Velvety dried porcini soup;

2) Butternut squash and porcini in disguise soup;

3) Butternut squash and porcini noodles.

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

 

Orange creamy butternut squash soup, energize your mood and satisfy your palate!

When fall approaches, I always feel the urge to start decorating my house and front door with pumpkins, hay, cute fall-colored ribbons and wreaths, scarecrows, and corn. I love this period of the year, when all the leaves change and nature gives its last blast of colors before winter comes.  I also start finding more pleasure in cooking warm and comforting food, and bringing some of these colors to the table! Orange, especially, is a lovely bright color that represents strength and endurance. The spectrum of this sunny color can enhance a bright and energizing mood as well as richly warm the comforts of home. And the healthy aura of orange doesn’t stop there – thanks to the plethora of nutrients associated with orange-colored fruits and vegetables, consuming them can help your overall health.  The abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients in orange foods are good for your skin, eyes and heart, and they may also decrease your risk of cancer.

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If I haven’t convinced you to try this recipe by listing all the good effects of orange food (here more specifically, the 10 reasons orange food is good for you), well, at least try this soup for the following two reasons:

  • because after Halloween, or rather, in between the Halloween candy and Thanksgiving pie 😉 you will need to depurate yourself or perhaps just like to look and feel your best going into the Christmas holidays, and eating this low carb (but absolutely delicious) soup will help cut down the daily calories. (This soup would be perfect to alternate with my other favorite vegetable soup to achieve this health goal.)
  • because it is really delicious, creamy, quick and easy to make, and, especially this time of the year, absolutely cheap, with squash and other such vegetables in-season!

About the cooking time: to cook the vegetable soup takes no more than 30 minutes, but you’ll need a little bit of extra time before, to chop the veggies.

INGREDIENTS for a 1/2 gallon pot

1 big sized white onion, finely chopped

1 big carrot

2 medium sized yellow squash

1 medium sized butternut squash

2 tbs. olive oil

sea salt  to taste

2 tsp. dried or fresh rosemary (plus a pinch to dust each serving)

1 vegetable bouillon (you can find it in the organic section of the grocery store)

parmesan cheese (for dusting)

1/2 gallon of water

optional: 1 Tbs. cream cheese per bowl

DIRECTIONS

Start by washing and cutting all of your vegetables. Peel and chop both the onion and carrots. Clean up the butternut squash by taking away the hard skin (being careful not to cut yourself!), scooping out the seeds, and cutting it into little cubes. Leave the peel on the zucchini and chop these as well.

In a big pot (I use a steel one), heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil on medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, and then add the chopped carrots.

Wait a little until the carrots brown with the onion, stir a few times and then add the chopped yellow squash and butternut squash.

Let the vegetables cook few minutes and then cover with the water, add the vegetable broth seasoning (buillon), and the rosemary .

Cover the pot with the lid and as soon as the water starts boiling, put the pot at lower heat for not more than 30 minutes.

Your soup is ready!

Actually, since the best characteristic of this soup, in my opinion, is its velvety consistency, before serving, I recommend blending it with an immersion blender to make it nice and creamy…

Considering the amount of water you use, and all the vegetables, you will obtain enough soup to eat all week (unless you are a 10-person family ;-)). If refrigerated, this soup can keep up to a week, and can be frozen too.

When you serve it, remember to offer at least one tablespoon per soup bowl of the best grated parmesan, and (for whom like the idea), a dusting of black pepper.

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – If you are not struggling with calories, once you’ve blended the soup, dish up what you wish to eat immediately, add 1 Tbs. cream cheese, and let it melt before serving the soup. It will turn the soup into a sweet, irresistible cream!!!

– What is really great about this soup is that you can make it anytime of the day, and just reheat it before your meal.

-Even if I prefer my soup just dusted with parmesan cheese, when dinner time comes close I usually cook inside the soup some small pasta (i.e. rigatini, small soup shells, or Acini di pepe) so it will be more sustaining for the rest of the members of the family (men’s bellies are not so easy to fill up!) ;-).

– Be aware of one thing: once frozen and thawed, the taste of the soup won’t change, but it won’t be as creamy and velvety as it was fresh.

 

            I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia