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While thumbing through the latest issue of Cooking Light over the weekend, I saw an “advertisement” for Norwegian salmon which included three recipes. I’ve never heard of “Norwegian” salmon, nor do I know where I could get it around here. Nevertheless, the recipe for chioppino-style Norwegian salmon looked delicious (and easy), so we put it on our menu anyway. (We used Atlantic salmon, by the way, and it still turned out delicious as ever.)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper
– 2 cups tomatoes, diced (we used half fresh tomatoes and half canned)
– 1/2 parsley, roughly chopped
– 1 cup clam juice
– 4 (Norwegian) salmon fillets

As a side note before we get into the recipe, we served this over pasta because it sounded (and looked, in the picture) like the tomatoes, onions and clam juice created a nice sauce. If you plan on doing this, bring a pot of water to a boil while you work on the sauce so the pasta can cook while the salmon is cooking.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan (you’ll want to use one that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pan and saute until they become translucent, about three minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, then add the garlic to the pan. Continue to saute the onions and garlic until the garlic becomes fragrant, one to two minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and clam juice to the pan and stir to combine. Let the tomato mixture begin to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for five minutes.

After the sauce has been simmering for five minutes, raise the heat to medium and place the salmon fillets in the pan (this is also where you’d drop the pasta). Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is completely cooked through (we flipped the fillets halfway through the cooking). Serve the salmon and some sauce over freshly cooked pasta or rice.

Cioppino-Style Salmon Over Pasta

This salmon was absolutely delicious. It was juicy and flavorful from cooking the the tomato sauce and it paired perfectly with a little angel hair pasta. The tomato sauce was very fresh and went well with the salmon (and it also made a perfect sauce for the pasta). This is a great recipe for the spring and summer months, as it was very fresh and light. It would also be delicious with added vegetables such as zucchini or mushrooms. This will definitely become a regular in our repertoire of recipes.

I was able to find a PDF of the “advertisement” with the recipe, but it can also be found in the March 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I’m probably going to get shot for saying this, but I’m not a fan of tiramisu. So, needless to say, I wasn’t totally thrilled about this challenge. But I was determined to make it and enjoy eating it…and I succeeded at both! I was thrilled that everything (well, almost everything — more on that later) worked out and that I actually enjoyed eating the fruits of my labor. That’s right, that’s two challenges in a row that I’ve felt good about!

The challenge was comprised of three parts: the mascarpone cheese, the lady fingers and the tiramisu itself — including the pastry cream and zabaglione. It sounds like a real challenge (that’s the point, right?), and it was. But this time around, I didn’t feel like it was difficult, it was just a lot of components that all had to be done separately. I think I was working on this stupid thing for about four or five days straight before we could even eat it!

The first part of the challenge I decided to tackle was the lady fingers. When it comes to classic New York bakery cookies, these are my absolute favorite. Anytime I’m back east visiting my family or they come out our way, one huge box of lady fingers is all mine. So I was definitely going into this with mixed emotions. I didn’t know if my lady fingers would be anything like the ones I’m used to or if they would be a total failure. I stress out when it comes to “gently folding” things together because I always think I’m over mixing and will loose all the air that I so carefully beat into the thing. Anyway…the lady fingers turned out awesome. They were so easy, I couldn’t believe it! They came out pretty darn good, but not as good as anything I’ll ever get in NY.

Lady Fingers

A few days after the lady fingers were done (it was a task for me to leave them on the counter without eating any of them) I decided to tackle the mascarpone cheese. What a disaster. If it weren’t for all the other Daring Bakers’ posting their horror stories about this stupid cheese on the forums, I probably would have gotten even more discouraged than I was at the point that my “cheese” completely separated and looked like a pile of disgustingness that no one should have to look at or eat. So, as you can probably guess, I ended up using store bought mascarpone cheese like some of the other bakers because I just didn’t have the time or energy to try to make it again. (By the way, I really don’t know what I did wrong. I heated the cream over a double boiler — using a stainless steel bowl — and it never got above 165 degrees. I stood there for at least an hour, stirring, letting it sit, checking the temperature. If anyone knows what could have gone wrong, please let me know!)

The day after the mascarpone disaster, I made the pastry cream and the zabaglione. Both of these were really easy and turned out perfect (at least I think). They chilled in the fridge overnight, and the next day I was finally ready to assemble the whole thing. I combined the mascarpone cheese, pastry cream and zabaglione then folded it all into freshly made whipped cream. Next, I dipped the cookies in espresso for like two seconds (so they didn’t get too soggy) and began layering — cookies, cream, cookies, cream, cookies, cream. The (almost) finished product chilled overnight and we were finally ready to eat!

Tiramisu

I didn’t do much in the way of decorating the finished product, but I did sprinkle a little coco powder on top (which was the perfect final touch, by the way). I wanted to do something a little different for the presentation, so that’s how I ended up with wine glasses. I was pretty satisfied with the way they turned out. Nothing professional, that’s for sure, but not too bad for a novice!

Coco Dusted Tiramisu

Like I said before, I’m really not a fan of tiramisu. But seriously…this was awesome. It’s not something I would eat every day, but the taste was totally spot on. The custard layers were so flavorful and the lady fingers were the perfect texture. Aparna and Deeba did their research for this challenge, and it really showed! Thanks for a great challenge, ladies!

Recipe link: Tiramisu

After last night’s bearnaise sauce disaster, I thought I’d post a success story about something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. When I was a kid, the women in my family made everything from scratch, including our family staple — pasta. My mom still does it from time to time, but definitely not on a regular basis. For Christmas Billy and I asked for the pasta attachments for our KitchenAid and we finally put them to the test over the weekend.

I was surprised at how easy it was to make pasta dough. I knew from watching my family make it that it was a pretty simple mixture, but I had no clue it was literally just flour and eggs. I have to admit that Billy did the majority of the work while I took pictures and watched in amazement, but it was still a team effort. Besides, Billy has become one of the first men in my family to actually enjoy being in the kitchen, so I take advantage of it! Anyway, I digress. So the pasta dough was so simple that we’re planning on doing it again soon to make some type of filled pasta. Not to mention that the results were absolutely delicious!

Here’s what you’ll need:
(for 3/4 pound of pasta, as directed by Marcella Hazan)
– 1 cup flour
– 2 eggs

Yes, that’s really all you need. On a large counter or flat workspace, form the flour into a mound with a hole in the center. Make sure there are no openings, otherwise egg will sneak through (this really does work, I promise). Crack the eggs into the center of the mound and beat them gently with a fork.

Flour Mound and Beaten Eggs

Draw some of the flour over onto the eggs, mixing with the fork, until the eggs are no longer runny. Because you may not need to use all of the flour, push some to the side before mixing completely. Draw the sides of the mound together and begin to work the eggs and flour together using your fingers and the palms of your hand. Work the eggs and flour together until you have a smooth mixture. If it’s still moist, add some of the flour you set aside. Test the dough by pressing your finger into the center, if it comes out clean and it doesn’t feel sticky, no more flour is needed. Clean your work surface and begin kneading the dough.

Marcella, whom I trust with any Italian cooking that doesn’t come from my own family, makes a big deal about the “proper way” to knead. There’s no better way to put it than in her words, so here’s what she has to say: “Push forward against the dough using the heel of your palm, keeping your fingers bent. Fold the mass in half, give it a half turn, press hard against it with the heel of your palm again, and repeat the operation. Make sure that you keep turning the ball of dough always in the same direction. When you have kneaded it thus for eight full minutes and the dough is as smoother as baby skin, it is ready for the machine.”

After kneading for eight full minutes, it’s time to thin out the dough and cut it into the desired shape. Set up an area near your machine with clean, dry cloths to place the dough on once it’s gone through the machine. Cut the dough into six equal parts and flatten them with the palm of your hand (if making more pasta, the dough should be divided into three times the amount of eggs). Using the widest opening of the thinning rollers on your machine, begin feeding the flattened pieces of dough through the machine one at a time. Once a piece has been fed through once, fold the dough twice into a third of it’s length and feed it by the narrow end through the machine again. Repeat this process two or three times on the widest setting, then lay the flattened strips on the towel. Once each ball of dough has been flattened on the widest setting, close down the opening to the very next setting. Taking the first pasta strip you flattened, run it through on the lower setting one time, return it to the towel and run the next strip in the sequence. Continue this process, lowering the setting by one notch each time, until you reach the desired thickness. Once all the strips have been flattened to the desired thickness, let them dry for at least 10 minutes before cutting. The strips are ready to be cut when they’re still moist enough so they won’t crack, but dry enough so they won’t stick together.

Pasta Dough Being Flattened

Pasta Strips Being Cut

Once all the pasta is cut it’s ready to be cooked (or dried for storage). Place it all in one cloth and carefully slide it into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Fresh pasta will cook in five minutes or less, so make sure to keep a close eye on it. My suggestion for homemade pasta is to pair it with a light sauce, such as a scampi or fresh tomato sauce, but really anything will do.

Homemade Pasta with Shrimp Scampi

I’m in the process of writing this blog and I think it has tired me out more than actually making the pasta did. It’s a lot to explain, but it really is an easy thing to do — and the results are worth the little effort it takes. The dough came together easily, and using the KitchenAid attachments made flattening and cutting the dough really simple since there was no manual cranking of the machine. I was amazed at how much the final product resembled dried, packaged pasta. The fresh pasta tasted much…fresher…but the texture was pretty much the same as any dried pasta I’ve had. Overall, I think this was a great experience and I wish I had done it sooner. We’ll definitely be making fresh pasta again, and hopefully doing lots of experiments!

I love a good alfredo (or any cream-based, really) sauce. Problem with that is, not all of them are good. Despite being Italian, my family doesn’t have a hand-me-down alfredo sauce recipe…so I had to create my own. A few years ago, Billy and I looked at multiple recipes and sort of combined the ones we thought looked good. Since then, we’ve moved away from the recipes and come up with a pretty fool-proof alfredo sauce. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy as pie, either!

Here’s what you’ll need:
(these measurements are good for one pound of pasta)
– 4 tbsp butter
– about 5 garlic cloves, minced (you can adjust this, based on how much of a garlicy flavor you want)
– salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
– 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade (you can substitute dried basil, just use way less)

This sauce literally takes less time than it takes to cook pasta. Whenever we make this, we don’t even start the sauce until after we’ve dropped the pasta. Usually the timing works out well, but it all depends on the type of pasta you’re cooking.

In a small saucepan, melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat and saute the garlic until it just begins to turn brown, two to three minutes. (If you’re using dry basil, add it to the pan at the same time as the garlic in order to release the flavors.) Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. When the garlic begins to turn, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the pan and let melt. Once it has melted, pour the heavy cream in. Still over medium-high heat, continue stirring until the mixture just begins to boil. Reduce to simmer and, keeping a close eye on the mixture, continue stirring until the cream begins to thicken.

When the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, about five minutes, turn off the heat and whisk in the Parmesan and basil. Season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Toss with freshly cooked pasta and serve with warm bread!

Bow Ties with Alfredo

I love, love, love this sauce. It’s not too heavy, but it’s got so much flavor. It’s garlic-y and basil-y and it really hits the spot when you’re craving something different than traditional pasta sauce. It’s so easy to make and really versatile — we add shrimp to it all the time, and it’s delicious. So…feel free to give this a shot and change it up to suit your tastes, it’s a perfect canvas for experimenting!

I’m late, I’m late…for a very important date! With all the Thanksgiving shenanigans, I completely spaced what day it was and didn’t have time to post about every Italian’s nightmare — horrible cannoli.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100 percent verbatim from either book.

Despite the fact that I’m Italian, I have never made cannoli. I’ve eaten plenty of them, though, so I know exactly what they’re supposed to be like. Mine definitely did not turn out like “true” cannoli.

The dough, though easy enough to make, was so difficult to work with. In order to get perfect cannoli shells, the dough was to be rolled paper thin. No matter how hard I tried or how long I worked at it, I could not get that stuff to roll out! I’m not sure if it was something I did wrong (added too much liquid, maybe not enough?) or if it’s just a difficult dough. Either way, I decided to try frying them anyway and they just didn’t turn out right. They were too fat and didn’t blister at all. From what I could tell, the taste was right on, but the texture definitely wasn’t (too fat, not crunchy enough, etc.).

Cannoli Dough Pre-Frying

Cannoli Shell Post-Frying

I made a traditional ricotta filling (with a little mascarpone to help the texture) and mini chocolate chips. The filling was awesome. So good, in fact, that I was eating it with a spoon in between filling the shells. I guess that made up for the shells being not-so-perfect, but it still wasn’t goon enough for me.

The Finished Product

I fully intend to give the cannoli another try, but I think I’ll use a pasta roller to try and get the dough extra thin. Any tips from other Daring Bakers or cannoli makers would be greatly appreciated!

Recipe Link: Cannoli

We love risotto. It’s a lot of work for a typical meal, but the results are always well worth it. One of the great things about risotto is that there are so many flavor options and Giada de Laurentiis’ variation is a perfect example. The natural sweetness of the squash combined with the vanilla gives the risotto a whole new flavor base that you wouldn’t expect for a normally (very) savory dish.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
– 1 large vanilla bean
– 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1 cup Arborio rice
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1/2 Parmesan cheese
– salt and pepper

This recipe is ultra easy because there’s no extra pots for cooking meat or anything else that you add to the actual rice. Like all risotto, you want to start by heating the broth — bring it to a boil, then reduce to simmer and let it hang out while you’re cooking.

You’ll want to add the vanilla bean to the broth right away. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and put everything in the broth. The big difference here is that you’ll cook the squash in the broth, so once it comes to a boil add the squash and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the squash from the liquid and set aside. Leave the heat on the broth in order to keep it at a warm temperature.

Meanwhile, in a pot (or pan) large enough to cook all the rice in, heat two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Saute the onion with salt and pepper until tender and see-through, about three minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat all the grains with butter. Next, add the first batch of liquid — the wine. Stirring constantly, let the wine simmer until it has evaporated almost completely, about three minutes. After the liquid has evaporated, begin adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, letting it evaporate almost completely before each addition. Make sure to continue stirring throughout the cooking process. Continue adding liquid and letting it evaporate until the rice is tender, but still a little firm, and creamy, about 20 minutes after adding the wine.

Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off and stir in the Parmesan cheese, cubed squash and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

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Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto

I absolutely loved this variation on risotto. Billy…not so much. The sweetness of the squash and vanilla added a hint of sweet to this normally savory dish, but Billy seemed to think it was overpowering. I thought it was perfect. It was a great meal for a fall day — not to mention that it made the house smell delicious. The one thing I didn’t like about the dish were the cubes of squash. I would have rather pureed them or just left them out completely because the flavor that was left in the broth was enough for the whole dish. An alternative to the over-sweetness that Billy tasted could be to leave out the vanilla…maybe that’s a test for the future.

This recipe can be found in Giada’s latest book, Giada’s Kitchen, or on the Food Network Web site. Even though Billy wasn’t a huge fan of the dish, I highly recommend it for anyone who loves risotto!

Saffron is an expensive spice, but it’s worth the price because it lasts forever (and it’s flavor, of course). Giada De Laurentiis’ chicken scallopine with saffron cream sauce is, in my opinion, a perfect way to showcase the great flavor of saffron without overpowering the whole dish. We’ve made this dish many times, and I think it gets better every single time.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 lb chicken cutlets (we usually use two boneless, skinless breasts and pound them out so they’re nice and thin)
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 shallots, chopped
– 1 clove garlic, minced (we almost always use more than a clove, but that’s just personal preference)
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
– 1/4 tsp (a generous pinch) saffron threads
– 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

This is jokingly called “10 minute chicken” in our house because each step takes about 10 minutes, but apparently Billy doesn’t know how to read ahead and realize that there’s more than one step that takes 10 minutes and decides to tell me to start the side dishes 20 minutes too early. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

The first thing you’re going to do is cook the chicken. Heat the olive oil (enough to keep the chicken from sticking) in a skillet over high heat. While the pan is heating, season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot drop the chicken as quickly as you can, using a spatter guard to keep the oil from getting everywhere (including all over you). Cook the chicken until golden brown on each side and cooked completely through — 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots and garlic to the pan (you might need to add a bit more oil) and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the wine to the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits of the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a simmer and cook until it’s almost evaporated completely, about (you guessed it) 10 minutes. Next, add the chicken broth and saffron threads. Bring to a simmer again and let reduce for (another) 10 minutes — it will reduce by at least half. Add the cream, season with salt a pepper and let simmer for a minute or two in order for the flavors to combine. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley and you’re done!

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We usually serve the chicken over rice because the rice soaks up the extra sauce and makes it extra delicious. Cooking the chicken over high heat gives it a little bit of a crust but helps lock all the moisture in. The sauce soaks into the chicken (and the rice) and all the wonderful flavors of the shallots, garlic and saffron permeate throughout the dish. Yum.

This recipe can be found in Giada’s latest book, Giada’s Kitchen, or on the Food Network Web site.

I love Giada De Laurentiis, I think she’s a great cook and a great TV host. We have two of her books and watch her show all the time, and any recipe of her’s we have tried hasn’t disappointed. For the first time ever I used mascarpone cheese in a savory dish, and it was delicious. After trying Giada’s orechiette with sausage, beans and mascarpone, I have a feeling I’ll be using it more often. We followed the recipe pretty close since this was our first time trying this dish, but there are some things we’ll try next time around (more on that later).

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 lb of small shaped pasta
– olive oil (for sauteing)
– 1/2 to 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed (Giada calls for turkey sausage, and this is our preference as well, but any Italian sausage will work just fine)
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp dried)
– salt and pepper
– red pepper flakes
– 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop the pasta. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve about one cup of the water for the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the sausage and onions, breaking up the sausage into small pieces, until the sausage browns and the onions cook through, about ten minutes. Season the sausage and onions with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using dried oregano, add it at this stage too). Once the sausage is cooked through, add the beans (and oregano, if using fresh) and cook for about two minutes. Add the pasta water to the pan, using the liquid to help scrape the brown bits off the bottom. Once the water begins to simmer, add the mascarpone cheese and stir until it has melted and created a creamy sauce, about two minutes. The longer you let the sauce simmer, the thicker it will get. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat, and you’re ready to serve!

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Giada’s recipe didn’t call for any garlic or red pepper flakes (which is odd for Giada). We decided to add red pepper this time, but I think next time we’ll also add garlic. The flavor and texture of this dish was amazing. It was so creamy, but not heavy like an alfredo sauce. The sausage and onions gave the whole dish a great rustic flavor. Taking the sausage out of the casing gave it a different texture than just cooking it and cutting it into slices. I think it really made the dish what it was.

Billy actually found this recipe when we were putting together our menu last week, and I heard “peas” instead of “beans.” That got us thinking — next time we make this (which will be soon!) we’re going to add peas. I think it would give the dish a great flavor and a little extra burst of texture in every bite.

This recipe can be found in Giada’s latest book, Giada’s Kitchen, or on the Food Network Web site.

Ever since trying it for the first time a few weeks ago, we’ve been on a quinoa kick! It’s a pretty tasty, easy alternative to rice or other grains — plus, it’s (supposedly) healthier for you. You can’t beat healthy food that tastes good, right? In the last month or so, we’ve used it as a rice alternative in a few dishes. In the stuffed peppers, I found the quinoa was a better vehicle than the rice. It was more flavorful and the texture it gave to the dish as a whole was better than any stuffed pepper I’ve ever had (sorry mom!).

There are probably a million different ways to make stuffed peppers, but Billy and I usually make a fairly Italian version.
Here’s a list of what we like to use
– Sweet bell peppers (red, yellow and orange usually work best)
– Onion
– Shrimp
– Tomato Sauce and Paste
– Quinoa (or rice)

After cutting the top off the bell peppers and cleaning them out, we like to chop the meat of the pepper that won’t be used to saute it with onions as part of the stuffing. You can skip this step and probably won’t miss out on much, but we like to use it since it would just be thrown away. Anyway, I digress. We like to saute the onion with the extra bell peppers so they cook all the way through and also get a little flavor boost. Once they’ve cooked about half-way through, add about a tablespoon of tomato paste (and a little bit of water to help break it up), salt, pepper and a few red pepper flakes. Let the tomato paste reduce a little and set it aside to let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the stuffing, cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces and mix together with the quinoa and sauteed onions and peppers. Add about 1/3 of a small can of tomato sauce to the mixture for moisture and to help everything bind together. Stir to combine and you’re ready to stuff the peppers! Spoon the stuffing into the peppers, filling to the top. Place the peppers in a deep casserole dish and fill about 2/3 of the way with water and the rest of the tomato sauce.

Bake at 375 for about an hour, basting with the water surrounding the peppers often (every 10 or 15 minutes). The cooking time can vary based on how stuffed your peppers are and how often you baste them. Once the quinoa and shrimp are cooked, they’re ready to eat.

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After trying stuffed peppers with quinoa, I’m pretty confident that I won’t ever stuff them with rice again. Something about the taste and texture of the quinoa really made the dish. Sauteing the onions and peppers with the tomato paste and adding the tomato sauce to the mixture really gave the stuffing a great flavor. Despite the cooking time, the shrimp didn’t end up overcooked…which is a total plus! These stuffed peppers will most definitely be a repeat recipe!

By the way, until fairly recently we had never heard of quinoa, but it seems that it’s becoming more and more common. We have found it in our regular grocery store as well as in specialty stores like Wild Oats and Sunflower. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would really recommend it

If you haven’t noticed, we have some kind of pasta on our menu almost every week. I guess I can’t get away from it, but hey, what can I say? Sometimes, though, plain old pasta with red sauce or alfredo can get pretty boring — especially for someone like Billy who’s favorite food isn’t full or carbs. Last weekend we went through some recipes from one of Billy’s favorite chefs, Jamie Oliver. He had a recipe for spaghetti with smashed olives, tomatoes and garlic with wilted arugula that caught our eye, so we gave it a shot.

Here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 small dried chili (we just used red pepper flakes)
– 3 “good handfuls” cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
– 1 “good handful” of olives, crushed and pitted
– 3 “good handfuls” arugula, roughly chopped
(Jamie Oliver’s recipes are never very exact, but they’re really easy and you can make them the way you prefer without fearing that you’ll screw up the recipe.)

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium pan on medium-high heat and fry up the garlic and chili until they start to turn brown. If the oil is hot enough, this should only take about a minute. Add the tomatoes and olives and let cook for four to six minutes. The tomatoes will begin the burst, creating a chunky sauce. Before draining the pasta, reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Toss the drained pasta with the tomato and olive sauce, adding the arugula while everything is still hot to give it time to wilt. Top with freshly grated parmesean cheese and you’re done!

This was definitely something different, but it was really tasty. The sauce isn’t very thick at all, but it coats each strand of spaghetti and you can taste the garlic, tomatoes and olives throughout. The arugula and olives give the dish an unexpected bite while the tomatoes balance everything out giving it a really fresh taste. Overall, a pretty good dish!

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P.S. I couldn’t find a copy of the original recipe anywhere online (weird, right?), but it can be found in Jamie’s book The Naked Chef Takes Off.