Classic Fettuccine Alfredo

12 ounces fettuccine or other long pasta
Kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to a large skillet. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in butter, a piece at a time, until melted. Whisking constantly, gradually add cheese, making sure it’s completely melted and incorporated before adding more. Add pasta and toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce blankets noodles completely. Serve topped with pepper and more cheese.

From Bon Appetit.

Best Lasagna

Ragù Bolognese

2 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef chuck (20% fat)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. pancetta or slab bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
Béchamel

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
4 oz. Parmesan, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 1/4 lb. dried lasagna noodles (we like De Cecco since they are wide and short)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil (for greasing)

Ragù Bolognese

Preheat oven to 225°. Mix pork and beef with your hands in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper, then mix again. Form into about 18 large meatballs (they don’t need to be perfect—you’ll be mashing them later).

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, cook meatballs, turning occasionally and reducing heat if bottom of pot looks in danger of scorching, until browned all over, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet as they’re done.

Reduce heat to medium. Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6–8 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly completely evaporated, 4–5 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is jammy and reduced by about half, 8–10 minutes. Add broth and milk and return meat to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot, leaving lid slightly ajar, and transfer to oven. Bake sauce (no need to stir, but check after 1–2 hours to ensure liquid is at a low simmer, adjusting oven temperature as needed) until meatballs are falling-apart tender, 3–4 hours.

Using a potato masher, break meatballs apart and incorporate into liquid (you should have about 8 cups ragù); season with salt and pepper. Reduce over medium-low heat if needed to thicken.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 4 days ahead; let cool, then cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.
Béchamel

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until flour begins to smell a bit nutty, about 4 minutes. Quickly whisk in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until béchamel thickens, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally, until smooth and velvety, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan, cayenne, and nutmeg (you should have about 6 cups); season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and use within 1 hour or chill.

Do Ahead: Béchamel can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Rewarm just enough to loosen before using.
Assembly

Preheat oven to 325°. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally and separating noodles so they don’t stick to each other, until just starting to soften but still snap in half rather than bend when folded; 3 minutes is the magic number. They will be so firm it will just seem all wrong, but this is what separates al dente lasagna layers from gummy ones. Transfer noodles to a large bowl of cold water to cool. Drain and lie flat in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, separated by parchment or wax paper.

Lightly oil a 13×9″ glass or ceramic baking dish. Spread 1½ cups ragù in dish. Lay a single layer of noodles over ragù (you will need to cut some noodles in half in order to fill all gaps). Spoon 1¼ cups béchamel over noodles, spreading in an even layer with a small offset spatula. Top béchamel with 1½ cups ragù. Repeat, creating 5 layers of pasta (or 6, depending on how deep your pan is) and ending with remaining 1 cup béchamel. It should come right to the top edge of the dish, and the top layer of pasta will get super crunchy when baked.

Cover with a lightly oiled piece of foil and set on a rimmed baking sheet (just to catch drips). Bake lasagna until bubbling gently around the edges, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 425°; carefully place rack in top of oven. Uncover and continue to bake until top is browned and crisp around the edges, 10–15 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Bon Appetit

Lasagna Bolognese

Bolognese Sauce

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 pound ground pork
4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
Fresh Pasta Dough and Noodles

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more
4 large eggs, room temperature

Béchamel

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Kosher salt
Assembly

Kosher salt
Unsalted butter, room temperature (for dish)
2 cups finely grated Parmesan

Bolognese Sauce

Pulse onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 2 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, adding water by ½-cupfuls if sauce looks dry, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, 2½–3 hours.

Let sauce cool, then cover and chill at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. (Letting the sauce sit will give it a deeper, richer flavor.)

DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Fresh Pasta Dough and Noodles

Whisk salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and crack eggs into well. Mix eggs with a fork, then slowly mix in flour until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if sticky, until smooth, about 5 minutes (it will be fairly stiff). Wrap in plastic; let sit until dough holds an indentation when pressed, 1–2 hours.

Set pasta maker to thickest setting; dust lightly with flour. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic as you work, flatten dough into a narrow rectangle (no wider than mouth of machine); pass through rollers. Fold dough as needed to fit and run through again. Repeat without folding, adjusting machine to thinner settings after every pass and dusting with flour if sticky, until pasta sheet is 1/16” thick (setting 8 on most machines). Place pasta sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut crosswise into 16 8”-long noodles.

DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; chill. Bring to room temperature before rolling out, about 1 hour. Noodles can be made 1 day ahead. Stack on a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper between each layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
Béchamel

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in warm milk, ½-cupful at a time. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the consistency of cream, 8–10 minutes; add nutmeg and season with salt. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let cool slightly.

DO AHEAD: Béchamel can be made 1 day ahead. Keep covered and chill.

Reheat the sauces. Combine Bolognese sauce and remaining 1 cup broth in a large saucepan over medium heat, and heat until sauce is warmed through.

Meanwhile, if you made the béchamel ahead of time, heat in a medium saucepan over low heat just until warmed through (you don’t want to let it boil).

Working in batches, cook fresh lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just softened, about 10 seconds. Remove carefully with tongs and transfer to a large bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain noodles and stack on a baking sheet, with paper towels between each layer, making sure noodles don’t touch (they’ll stick together).

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 13×9” baking dish with butter.

Spread 1/4 cup béchamel in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles, spread over a scant 3/4 cup Bolognese sauce, then 1/2 cup béchamel, and top with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat process 7 more times, starting with noodles and ending with Parmesan, for a total of 8 layers. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake lasagna until bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 50–60 minutes. Let lasagna sit 45 minutes before serving.

DO AHEAD: Lasagna can be assembled 12 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours before baking. Cook, covered with foil until the last 20 minutes, then finish cooking uncovered.

Homemade pasta is great: It’s rich and can be rolled very thin. But of course it’s not your only option: Fresh store-bought: Available in the refrigerated section of specialty stores and Italian grocers. Usually a bit thicker than what our recipe calls for but still a good choice. Buy 1 1/2 pounds. Sizes vary by shop; if needed, trim the noodles during assembly to fill the pan without much overlap. Dried: If you spot imported dried egg noodles, they’re worth the splurge, but standard supermarket durum wheat will work just fine (avoid no-boil, though). Supermarket noodles are thicker, so make fewer layers. Cook 24 noodles (1–1½ boxes) per package instructions; divide sauces evenly among 6 layers. Trim noodles as needed.

Source: Bon Appetit

Baked Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 large bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne, plus more to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes
1 pound small pasta, such as rotini or shells
3/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro (or use a combination of cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
8 ounces shredded Cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 12 to 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if the pan starts to scorch.) Lower heat to medium, and stir in coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 more minute. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and reserve (leave the bay leaf in the skillet).

Add garlic, cumin seeds, pepper and allspice to the skillet, and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Use your hands or kitchen scissors to squish or cut the tomatoes into pieces and add to pan. Fill the empty tomato can with water, and pour into the skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and cayenne if you like. Remove bay leaf.

As mixture cooks, heat oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta.

Stir pasta, reserved pasta water, and parsley into skillet with tomato sauce. Top with reserved browned onions, Cheddar and Parmesan. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can run the pan under the broil to brown the top, or leave it as is. Let cool slightly, top with more parsley, if desired, and serve with hot sauce, if you like.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

FOR THE MACARONI AND CHEESE:
1 pound elbows, shells, cavatappi, farfalle, fusilli or other short, tube-shaped pasta
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces sharp or white Cheddar cheese, grated
12 ounces fontina or Gruyère, grated

FOR THE TOPPING (OPTIONAL):
1 cup coarse bread crumbs or panko
4 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until it’s barely al dente. (It should be more al dente than your average pasta: It’s going to continue to cook in the oven.) Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium pot over medium heat. (The pot should be large enough to hold all the pasta when cooked.) Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is foamy and just starting to turn a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk to avoid clumping. Add garlic, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly and paying special attention to the edges of the pot to make sure the flour mixture is totally incorporated.

Add grated cheese and whisk to blend until the cheese is completely melted. (The sauce will seem thick at first and thin out as the cheese melts; it will thicken while it bakes.) Season with salt and pepper and add cooked pasta, stirring to coat well.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (to catch any cheesy drips).

Make the optional topping: Combine bread crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan, if using, in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and, using your hands, mix well to ensure the bread crumbs are evenly coated.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to a 3-quart or 9 x 13 baking dish and scatter bread crumbs, if using, evenly over the top. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until macaroni and cheese is bubbling, thickened and creamy, and bread crumbs are evenly golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)

1/4 pound diced Apple Smoked Bacon (optional) (we like Hobbs)
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil, (3-4 tablespoons if not using bacon)
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
3/4 cup diced Roma tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes with juice
1/2 pound Royal Corona or Cassoulet beans, soaked 6-8 hours
4 cups homemade chicken stock or your favorite canned chicken stock
6-8 cups water if necessary
1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped
1 cup pasta (your choice shape such as little tubes or broken papardelli noodles
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Da Vero Lemon Olive Oil to drizzle
Vella Dry Jack to grate to taste over the “fazool”

In a large heavy bottom soup pot, sauté bacon until browned. Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Discard all but about 1-2 tablespoons bacon fat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil (or start with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil if you are not using bacon).

Over medium heat, sauté onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until soft and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, stock, oregano, and return bacon to the pot. Simmer over medium heat until beans are tender, about 1 hour (cooking time may vary depending on freshness of beans). You may add water if necessary.

Add pasta and continue cooking until al dente. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and allow the “fazool” to stand for 10 minutes before serving, to concentrate the flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Drizzle individual bowls with lemon olive oil, and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Pasta e Fagioli with Escarole

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup tomato sauce (you can use your favorite)
1 cup cooked Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca beans, or another creamy white bean
1 cup stock (Try chicken stock and bean broth, half and half)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 pound short, flat pasta (I broke up tagliatelle nests)
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 3 or 4 as a light main dish

In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft, 8–10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, beans, stock, and rosemary sprig and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently for another 10–15 minutes to combine the flavors.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, using plenty of salted water. Drain the pasta.

Remove the rosemary sprig from the sauce, then mix in the drained pasta; add the escarole and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Classic Pasta Fagioli

Serves 4-6

1 lb Baia Pasta Organic Durum Wheat Sardinians (Or try Whole Durum Wheat or Spelt pasta from Baia)
1 1/2 cup of cooked Rancho Gordo Cranberry beans
1 1/2 cup of cooked Rancho Gordo Royal Corona beans
4 cups bean broth from the cooked beans (If you have less than four cups, make up the difference with chicken broth)
4 oz pancetta, cubed or roughly chopped
1 tbs of lard (or 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 carrot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs tomato paste
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste (optional)
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

As you prepare the beans, make sure you have plenty of liquid on hand when they are done as this will be the basis for your sauce.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the soffritto. Melt the lard (or olive oil) in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Slowly fry the pancetta until fragrant and chewy. Once cooked, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel. If needed, add more olive oil so there is enough fat to fry the aromatic vegetables.

Add the carrot, celery, garlic and onion until the vegetables are soft and the onion is turning golden colored.

Add the tomato paste and pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes until the paste is heated through and the tomato flavor is intensified.

Add the bean broth and rosemary sprig and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes or so. The liquid should start to reduce.

Cook the pasta in a large stockpot in salted water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Add the drained pasta, beans, and reserved pancetta to the soffritto mixture, mix well and gently cook for a few minutes to marry the various flavors.

Serve immediately with a splash of peppery extra virgin olive oil. Pass around a bowl of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese for the guests to help themselves.

New Year Noodle Soup with Chickpeas, Beans, and Lentils

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 long red chili OR green serrano, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 1/2 cups / 2 liters good-tasting vegetable stock/broth

100g / 3.5 oz yellow split peas or brown lentils
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if using canned
2 cups / 350g cooked borlotti beans

fine grain sea salt

120 g thin egg noodles, fresh or dried
3 1/2 oz / 100g fresh spinach leaves, finely shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
juice of one lime

Toppings:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
100 ml sour cream or creme fraiche
50g / scant 2 ounces of toasted, chopped walnuts

Heat the oil in a large, thick-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the chile and cook until they soften, a few minutes. Add the spices and cook for another thirty seconds, just long enough for them to toast a bit, then stir in the stock. Bring to a boil and add the split peas/lentils to the pot. Cook until they are just tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and borlotti beans. Once the beans have heated throughout, season with salt to taste.

In the meantime, you can prepare the toppings. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat along with a couple big pinches of salt. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, 8 – 10+ minutes. Set aside.

Just before you’re ready to eat, add the noodles to the simmering soup and cook until al dente. Stir in the spinach, and cilantro and dill. Add a big squeeze of lime to the pot or serve wedges along with each bowl of soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Serve right away, each bowl topped with a big spoonful of caramelized onions, some creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of walnuts.

Italian Meatball Soup

1 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup carrots diced 1/4-inch
1/2 cup celery diced 1/4-inch
1/4 cup onion finely diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste optional
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
28 oz can diced tomatoes undrained,preferably fire-roasted
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or 1 tsp basil and 1/4 tsp of thyme and oregano leaves
Parmesan rind or 3/4-inch cube of Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
20 frozen, fully cooked Italian meatballs about 1 inch *see notes
3/4 cup ditalini pasta or other small pasta
4 cups baby spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat on the stovetop. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, if using and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender (taste to be sure). Discard bay leaf.
Pour in can of tomatoes. Add Italian seasoning, Parmesan rind, if using, and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine. Add meatballs. Continue simmering soup another 15 minutes, to allow the flavours to come together.
Add pasta and simmer a further 15 minutes, or until pasta is cooked. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and/or Italian seasoning, as needed. Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach until wilted.
Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan.

Recipe Notes
Leftovers will thicken in the fridge. Thin when reheating with a little more chicken stock or water.

If you can’t find fully cooked frozen Italian meatballs, you can use fresh and pre-cook them before adding to soup.

Crockpot option! Add all ingredients except pasta and spinach to your slow cooker. Cook covered on low for 5-6 hours. Add pasta and cook, covered an additional 15-20 minutes. Stir in baby spinach until wilted, then serve with freshly grated Parmesan on top.

If you want to up the fibre quotient, some white or red kidney beans would not be out of place in this soup.

Like some heat with your warm soup? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes when you are sauteeing the vegetables.

Spring Pea Pasta with Lemon and Shiso

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon minced garlic
12 ounces dried orecchiette or shell pasta (or two batches of this fresh orecchiette)
Salt and black pepper
2 cups frozen peas
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons Vermont Creamery mascarpone (Greek yogurt or Vermont Creamery crème fraîche work well, too)
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup finely sliced shiso leaves (or mint, if unavailable), plus more for garnish

Combine oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic in a small skillet or saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the orecchiette and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. (The pasta should still have quite a bit of bite; it will continue to cook in the sauce.)Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the peas, lemon zest and juice, reserved garlic-oil mixture, and 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the pasta. Stir until pasta is well-coated with oil and no water remains in the bottom of the pot.

Add the mascarpone, Parmesan, and shiso leaves. Toss until the cheeses melt and evenly coat the pasta. If needed, loosen the pasta with the remaining 1/4 cup pasta water.

Season with more salt and plenty of black pepper to taste, then serve, with extra Parmesan on the side and more shiso, if desired. Enjoy!

Pasta con Fagioli

8 ounces campanelle or other short pasta
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 15½-ounce cans Roman beans (see note), drained but not rinsed
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 ounces Pecorino romano cheese, grated (1 cup)

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve 2 cups of cooking water, then drain and rinse with cold water until cool; set aside.

Wipe out the pot and return it medium-high. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil until barely smoking. Add the tomatoes, then cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and have burst, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, sliced fennel and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beans, broth and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. If needed, add the remaining reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time to reach the proper consistency. Off heat, stir in the lemon zest and juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the cheese and additional oil for drizzling.

Pesto all Trapanese (Sicilian Almond Pesto)

3 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt
2 ounces toasted blanched almonds (60g; about 1/2 cup); see note
35 large basil leaves (about 4 sprigs, weighing 25g total)
2 to 4 mint leaves (optional)
3 1/2 ounces (100g) grated cheese, preferably a milder aged pecorino or a 50/50 mix of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 pound (450g) plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 pound (450g) linguine

If Using a Mortar and Pestle: Crush the garlic in the mortar with a pinch of salt to form a paste. Add almonds and beat and crush into a rough paste. Work in basil leaves and mint (if using), pounding and crushing into tiny bits. Smash in cheese, followed by tomatoes and olive oil. The final sauce should be a rough paste. Season with salt.

If Using a Food Processor: Pulse garlic with almonds until roughly chopped. Add basil, mint (if using), cheese, tomatoes, and olive oil and process to a rough paste. Season with salt.

Transfer two-thirds of the sauce to a large heatproof serving bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook linguine until al dente. Transfer pasta to serving bowl, reserving some of the pasta-cooking water. Toss well, adding more olive oil and pasta-cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time each, until a creamy sauce forms that’s not dry but also not soupy. Season with salt, if needed. If the sauce gets too dry at any point, simply add more pasta-cooking water to loosen it.

Serve, spooning remaining sauce on top of each portion and adding more cheese as desired.

Pasta alla Norma

1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces penne rigate or mezze rigatoni pasta
8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 ounces ricotta salata, shredded

Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

While the eggplant roasts and the water heats, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt, then cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then use the back of a large spoon to crush the tomatoes. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture breaks down into a lightly thickened sauce, 8 to 9 minutes.

Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Topping

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound Colby cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the half-and-half and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add one-half of the Cheddar and Colby cheeses and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the elbow macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain very well. Return the macaroni to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and the remaining cheese and stir until combined. Spread the macaroni in the prepared baking dish.

Italian Pantry Soup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced fennel or celery
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks (or beans or lentils)
8 ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 4 cups total)
1/2 pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Other options: for example, more vegetables, like celery and carrot; some tomato, a little or a lot; bacon or pancetta or ham; or beef or chicken broth.

In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Meatballs and Sauce

FOR THE MEATBALLS
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your hands
1 small onion, cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 slices white/country bread, preferably crusts removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
1 pound ground pork shoulder (butt)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (see related recipe)
6 large eggs
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups “00” flour, for dusting

FOR THE SAUCE
28 ounces canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
A few fresh basil leaves (optional)

For the meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook just until the onion and garlic have softened but not browned; transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

Combine the bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl; let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the milk is completely absorbed.

Add to the large bowl the ground veal, ground beef, ground pork shoulder, prosciutto, pecorino-Romano, ricotta, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and the soaked bread pieces; use your clean hands to blend the mixture until well incorporated.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the “00” flour in a wide, shallow bowl.

Grease your hands with a little oil. Form the meatball mixture into 65 meatballs of equal size (shell-on walnuts). Coat each one lightly with “00” flour, dividing them between two parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Roast on the upper and lower racks for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through. Discard any remaining flour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Use a food mill to puree the tomatoes. Discard the seeds; reserve the can juices for another use, if desired.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown, then stir in the tomato puree. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then taste, and season lightly with kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper. Stir in 6 to 8 basil leaves, if desired. Turn off the heat. Transfer 30 of the meatballs to the saucepan, turning them until coated. Cool and reserve the remaining meatballs for another use.

Pasta e Fagioli

170g dried borlotti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
300-500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
180g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle

If you are using dried beans, soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 3 inches/10cm above the beans and cook at a simmer until tender, which usually takes about an hour and a half. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
If you are using fresh beans, pod them, then cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 10cm above the beans. Bring to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid. If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep sauté pan or casserole, warm the olive oil over a low flame, add the peeled and gently crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, then fry them gently until fragrant. If desired, you can remove the garlic at this point. Peel the tomatoes, if you like, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan. Raise the heat just a little and cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a couple generous ladlefuls of bean cooking water, then let the pan bubble away for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt. At this point you may like to blend half the soup for a creamier consistency.

Add another couple of ladlefuls of bean cooking water and then the pasta. Continue cooking, stirring attentively until the pasta is tender. You may need to add a little more bean cooking water. Serve immediately.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

2 slices of day-old bread (about 50g), crusts removed
A little milk
500g minced beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A small garlic clove
A sprig of parsley
Salt and black pepper

For the sauce
750g ripe, fresh tomatoes
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1–2 garlic cloves, peeled or crushed
A pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)
A tin of peeled plum tomatoes, chopped roughly in the tin
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
Salt

Rip the bread and soak in a little milk until soft, and easily crumbled. Squeeze out excess milk. Put the crumbs in a large bowl along with the beef and lightly beaten eggs.

Peel and chop the garlic very finely along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Add to the meat, then use your hands to mix everything together.

Divide the mixture into 12 meatballs: if the mixture is very sticky, flour your hands lightly. Let the meatballs rest.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Peel the fresh tomatoes by plunging them first in boiling water, then in cold, at which point the skins should slip off. Then chop them roughly.

Peel the garlic and crush for a milder flavour or finely chop for stronger. Put 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan or cassarole and cook the garlic gently over a low heat until it is fragrant. At this point you can remove the whole garlic if you wish.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the final 2 tbsp oil and the tinned tomatoes. Add 1 tbsp tomato puree if you feel it needs it. Cook for 20–40 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and thick.

Drop the meatballs in the sauce, making sure they are submerged. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and poach for 15 minutes, by which time the meatballs should be cooked through but still tender.

Pasta e Piselli

1.3kg peas in their pods, or 350g frozen
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A small knob of butter or 50g pancetta or guanciale, diced
3 large or 6 small spring onions, chopped
A celery stalk, chopped
A sprig of mint
Salt
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
A parmesan rind
300g fresh egg pasta or 200g dried pasta
Pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated

If the peas are in their pods, pod them and set aside. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta, onion, celery and mint with a pinch of salt, until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato puree, if using, then add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add 1.3 litres of cold water and the parmesan rind. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, remove the mint, add another small pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring regularly, until the pasta is al dente. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes, stir in 2 tbsp grated cheese, taste and check for salt (it shouldn’t need it). Divide between bowls and serve, handing round more cheese for those who want it.