Mac & Cheese – Italiano!

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!)

Dish of spaghetti with white cheese sauce

Cacio e Pepe

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!

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Garden Goodness – Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce

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!

  1. Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Bowl of Fresh Picked Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Picked Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Sheet Pan of Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Picture of Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Picture of spaghetti with fresh roasted tomato sauce

Voila!


Spaghetti Squash – Twice Baked!!!

Until recently, I had never eaten spaghetti squash, let alone cook with it.  I recently shared an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with my friend Sylvia and I was hooked!  Check out my take on this easy, delicious, and nutritious (I’m sure) recipe:

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Wash and cut (lengthwise) one spaghetti squash. With a tablespoon, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy interior from center of squash.  Lightly coat cut surface and interior with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  Place cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 375F.  You’ll know it’s ready when a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the squash.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes until you can comfortably handle the squash.  Using the tines of a fork, scrape along the interior (down to the skin) of the squash, peeling away ‘spaghetti-like’ strands of squash.  Remove to a bowl and toss with the red sauce of your choice and 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Once squash is well coated with sauce, scoop back into the squash shells, top with Mozzarella cheese, return to parchment lined baking sheet – and continue baking at 375F for another 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted.)

Let stand to cool for a few minutes – and enjoy!  Pair with a mixed salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine!  Delicioso!