Cacio e Pepe – Cheese and Black Pepper – that’s it! It’s a Roman staple and the easiest most delicious dinner to make, any day of the week! First things first – have about 2 cups freshly grated Romano and/or Parmesan cheese. Either grate it yourself or buy it fresh grated. (No green cans here!)
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and try using less water than normal when cooking pasta. (One of the secrets to the ‘cheesy’ sauce is the starchy pasta water. The less water, the more starch!) Once you salt the water (like the sea,) add the pasta and cook to al dente. Meanwhile, melt about 3-4 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add about a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Simmer and whisk for about a minute, then add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Whisk around and remove from heat. Let stand about 3 minutes.
After about 3 minutes, start adding the grated cheese, little by little, and you’ll see a black pepper cheese sauce start to form. (Do this too quickly after taking the butter/water off the heat and you’ll end up with glue!) Keep adding the cheese until it’s all incorporated. The cheesy black pepper sauce will be fairly thick.
Before draining the pasta at al dente, reserve about another cup of pasta water to the side. Drain pasta and let stand about 3 minutes. Again, too hot, the cheese will turn to glue. Add the pasta, one bunch at a time and continue to toss around in the cheese sauce. Add a little more pasta water, as needed, to lighten the sauce. Once it’s mixed, you’re ready to eat! A little extra grated cheese at this point won’t hurt anything! Buon appetito! Ci vediamo presto!
UPDATE – Recommendation: Here’s an added tip to the following directions for skinning fresh tomatoes and freezing before use to make a delicious pasta sauce. If you prefer to ‘seed’ tomatoes (as much as you can’ before making sauce, then BEFORE FREEZING, cut out the stem area, cut each tomato in half across the middle, and the most of the seeds will squeeze right out. (I found it harder to get the ‘seed’ the tomatoes once frozen whole, even after defrosting before use. Hope that helps!
Now onto the original post:
Summer gardens are the best! Fresh fruits and vegetables that pop with flavor and keep you coming back for more and more. As much as we love them, we usually find that they are all ripe ready in large bunches – so what to do with all of them? Here’s an idea for garden fresh tomatoes that can be put ‘on hold’ until you’re ready to make your next batch of homemade pasta sauce: Fresh Frozen Peeled Tomatoes!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- Have a large bowl of ice water on hand
- Rinse tomatoes and cut a small ‘X’ opposite the stem end
- Drop in batches of 4-5 into boiling water
- 45-60 seconds later you’ll see the ‘X’ start to split up the sides
- Remove tomatoes to ice bath with slotted spoon
- Skin will easily peel away!
Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper and place peeled tomatoes on sheet pan. Place sheet pan in freezer until tomatoes are frozen. Transfer to freezer bag and store for up to 6 months – defrosting when you’re ready to make fresh homemade pasta sauce!
Ciao e Buon appetito!
Okay, I admit it. Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot. I love to cook, so I never saw the point. Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde. Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot. As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot. (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry. Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test! Results: AWESOME!
3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!
(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven. Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)
Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers! (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun. If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)
Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden! When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce? You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!
- Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
- Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan. Cool slightly after removing from oven.
- Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
That’s it! Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!
Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!
You’ve heard of turning lemons into lemonade, well here’s a quick and easy way of turning apples into applesauce! Every have apples sitting on the counter long beyond their ‘shelf life’? Or apples that were pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten? What did you do? Compost? Trash? STOP! Turn your old (or new) apples into homemade delicious applesauce! It’s as easy as 1) Peel and chop apples, 2) Place in small sauce pan on stove top with a little water (1/4 cup?) and a dash or two or cinnamon, 3) Boil/simmer until tender. At that point, I use a potato masher to turn them into a chunky applesauce. (You can keep cooking and blend cooked apples to get more of a pureed consistency, but when it comes to homemade, I like the chunky style.) Enjoy!
Easy, Delicious, and Nutritious!
It’s Sunday again, and for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you know I usually invest a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon in the kitchen so I’m sure to have delicious and nutritious lunches and dinners throughout the week ahead. One item I typically pick up at the store each week is a tub of hummus to have with any variety of raw vegetables, pita chips, or pretzels. As I was reaching for it at the store this morning, I remembered that I used to make it myself many years ago, so I turned to the canned food aisle and picked up a coupe of cans of Garbanzo beans, instead!
Making your own hummus couldn’t be easier. Open and drain the Garbanzo beans and empty into a food processor. Smash 1-2 cloves of garlic and throw that in, along with the juice of 1/2 lemon, about 3 TBSP Tahini (or peanut butter works perfectly well) and a pinch of salt. To make the Red Pepper part of the hummus today, I added about 1 roasted red pepper (that you’ll find in a jar by the oils, mayo, and mustard section in your grocery store) and a pinch of salt. (I also added in a couple of dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes for a little bite!) As the food process is doing its magic, drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the hummus becomes a consistency you desire. Not too runny, not too thick! Perfect to stick to the veggies, chips, or pretzels. Have fun with this recipe. The basic ingredient is the Garbanzo beans, some garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. The rest is up to you!