Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: pasta (page 1 of 3)

LASAGNA ROLL UPS

Lasagna roll ups have been around for a while. But I never considered them until recently. They are easier to prepare than regular lasagna; and you can use as many lasagna noodles as needed for any given meal. That makes them a dish worth trying, and enjoying on a regular basis.

Now, there are recipes that call for making them with just 9 lasagna noodles, or 10. I would suggest, in this case, use a 9″x9″ baking dish. In my rendition I used a whole one pound package of lasagna. As for  the baking pan, I used a standard size (15½”x10″); and  it held 13 roll-ups. The rest I used in another recipe which entail stuffing the noodles with baked, flaked fish  fillets. That’s the beauty of this recipe. You can stuff the noodles with meat, veggies or seafood. You are only limited by your imagination. With some crusty bread and a good chianti, you have a good but inexpensive banquet.

LASAGNA ROLL UPS

Ingredients:

1 pound package lasagna noodles
2 10-ounce packages frozen spinach
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil (and more for topping)
Pinch of black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (and more for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Boil lasagna noodles and cook until just soft enough for rolling (soft but not soggy, about 12-15 minutes). When they are done, drain in  a colander.
  2.  While noodles are cooking, prepare the filling. Thaw the packs of frozen spinach in a microwave and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. In a bowl, combine and mix well the spinach with the garlic, basil, black pepper and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  3.  When the noodles and filling are ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare  a baking dish or glass casserole by coating lightly with olive oil or butter.
  4.  Remove noodles from water, and lay side by side on a clean surface. Spread about 1/4 cup of the spinach-cheese mixture on top of each noodle. Roll up each noodle, making sure nothing squishes out in the process.
  5.  Spread about 1/4 – 1/3 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with more marinara, then sprinkle with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. When fully cooked, remove from oven and top with fresh chopped basil.
    Yield: 6 servings

GREEK MEATBALLS WITH RICE

One of my favorite ways of preparing  meatballs is how our Greek brethren do it. I have long been a fan of Greek cuisine. They have 3,000 years of history in terms of cooking. We can learn a thing or two from them. So, you can consider this posting as a Greek meal. Simply, it’s meatballs  (keftaides) over rice with fideo (pilafi me fides). The latter dish  is just rice combined with cut thin spaghetti (fideo). Back in Spanish Harlem almost every household would add fideo to their soups. We never thought of combining it with rice (another innovation by our Greek brothers and sisters).

With this Greek dinner I took the liberty of adding saltsa bechamel to the meatballs. Saltsa bechamel is the Greek method of preparing béchamel sauce, that fame sauce attributed to French cuisine (although some historians state its origin is actually Tuscany—but that’s another story). Add some good Greek wine like a Agiorgitiko from Nemea or Xinomavro from Naoussa, and you’ll have a dinner that will transform you to a sunset evening in Athens. Don’t let the Greek wine tongue twisters deter you. An Agiorgitiko is similar to a Merlot. With a Xinomavro, think of a Barolo or Pinot Noir.

For this dinner, I would suggest making the béchamel sauce first. You can set it aside and heat it up again with the main course; then preparing the rice with fideo. While the rice is cooking, you can make the meatballs, which are served drizzled with the sauce.

SALTSA BECHAMEL

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash of nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Instructions:

Melt butter over low heat. Add  flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until blended into a consistent paste. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and gradually add egg yolks, stirring constantly. Yield: 2 cups

RICE WITH FIDEO

Ingredients:

1½ cups long grain rice
¾ cup fideo (or crushed vermicelli)
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried chives

Instructions:

Combine the rice and fideo and sauté in butter in a 2-quart pan or pot until golden brown. Add chicken broth and chives. Cover and cook over very low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Yield: 4 or more servings.

GREEK MEATBALLS:

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork or lamb
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dried
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup ouzo or anisette
1 cup flour
½ cup olive oil (or more if needed).

Instructions:

  1. Combine meat, bread crumbs, salt, onion, parsley, garlic, mint, egg and ouzo. Mix well.
  2. Form into meatballs and roll them in the floor. Note that we like our meatballs medium-sized, not small. Place on a cookie sheet and chill for 1 hour.
  3.  Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan  and fry meatballs over medium-high heat until done, about 15-20 minutes. Serve them hot.
    Yield: Makes about 32 meatballs (4 to 6 servings).

 

 

 

 

 

ORZO WITH BEANS AND SAUSAGE

This is another take on that famous Italian entry known as pasta fazool. In more renowned circle, it’s Pasta e Fagioli, or pasta with beans. In the post of 04/26/20 I gave my version of this classic dish. In my family, we prefer white kidney beans when we’re making this recipe. Still, we’re always experimenting and seeking to improve on it. And now we have another version: this time with red kidney beans and sausage. In this entry, the pasta base we’re using is orzo. That singular item that, to us, most resembles rice. And, yes, in past efforts we’ve used rice instead of pasta for this dish.

We prefer to use dried beans instead of the canned variety. True, it’s more effort in that you have to prepare the beans for cooking. This entails soaking overnight a one pound package of beans  in water to cover (by at least 2 inches). Next morning, draining the beans then placing in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven with 2 quarts (8 cups) water. Bring it to a boil, cover and cook over moderate-low heat until beans are tender (about 1 hour).  Now, because of time constraints and convenience, you can substitute 2 (15.5-oz.) cans of red kidney beans. We won’t fault you for that. But, again, it does not match the flavor you get from regular beans.

Note that this dish includes sausage. We prefer the sweet Italian type. Yet you can substitute any pork sausage, or even chicken or turkey sausage. If you’re health conscious, you can use organic vegetable sausages that have appeared in markets in the last few years. Be aware that some sausages come with a casing that has to be removed before cooking.

ORZO WITH BEANS AND SAUSAGE

Ingredients:

1 pound package dry red kidney bean
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12 oz.) pack sweet Italian uncured sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (16 oz.) package orzo

Instructions:

  1. Prepare beans by soaking overnight; and then cooking as instructed above.
  2.  While beans are cooking, heat olive oil over moderate-high heat in a frying pan or skillet. Add sausage and onion and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  3.  Add sausage mix to beans. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce, cover and cook until beans are tender.
  4.  While beans are being done, prepare orzo as per package directions. Serve beans and orzo side by side; or you can serve orzo in a large serving dish topped by beans and sausage. Also, if desired, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
    Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

 

 

PAPPARDELLE WITH SALMON

This is one of those spur of the moment recipes that garners accolades. You know what I mean. You check the cupboard and refrigerator, find out what ‘s available and create something magnificent. In this case it was pappardelle pasta and, yes, canned salmon. I know, here we go again, canned salmon. That’s right, the one that comes in tins. My wife, Holly and I, are partisans of wild caught Alaskan salmon. We usually get it fresh but, if we can find it in the canned variety, we scarf it up and buy as many as we possible. It comes in handy for a rainy day.

Now, the pasta we had this time was pappardelle, the ribbon-shaped pasta common in Italy’s Tuscany region. I like pappardelle because, as I term it, it’s a “manly-man” pasta. It’s thick, like fettuccini, or bucatini. Not a girly-man small pasta like angel hair or thin spaghetti. Holly disagrees. She prefers the fine pastas and pigs like me prefer the other stuff.  I answer that I am not a pig. I’m a piglet. Be it as it may, the salmon recipe can go with any pasta you have on hand, not just pappardelle; or any grain, be it rice or other. This dish is quick, has minimal ingredients, and it hits the spot. With some good Chianti and a crusty loaf, you have a feast.

PAPPARDELLE WITH SALMON

Ingredients:

1 package pappardelle (it could be 12 or 16 oz. pack depending on where you get it)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and slice into thin rings
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 (14¾ oz.) can pink salmon, preferably wild caught
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon melted butter

Instructions:

  1. Cook pappardelle as per package instructions.
  2.  While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add salmon and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Stir in mustard and cook about 3 minutes more.
  3.  By this time, pasta should be cooked to your preference. Drain and remove to a serving dish. Top with salmon. Drizzle with melted butter and serve.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.

CRABMEAT POMODORO

This is one of those recipes that’s created at the spur of the moment. You look and see what you have in the fridge and cupboard, and create something—and give it a fancy name. Like “pomodoro.” Which, in Italian, simply means “tomato.” Nevertheless, some of the best meals are created this way. As the one given below. All you need is a couple of cans of crabmeat and some spaghetti or linguini, preferably whole-wheat.

CRABMEAT POMODORO

Ingredients:

1 pound package whole- wheat linguini (or spaghetti)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
3 medium tomatoes, washed and diced
2 (6-ounce cans) crabmeat, drained and flaked
¾ cup black olives, rinsed and sliced in half
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook linguini or spaghetti, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 9-11 minutes), or according to package directions. Drain.
  2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in crushed red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and cook until it’s incorporated into the sauce, about 2 minutes. Stir in black olives.
  4.  Place pasta in a heated platter or serving dish, top with crabmeat sauce and garnish with basil. If desired, you can sprinkle the dish with  some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve hot with crusty bread and a good red wine, like chianti or cabernet—hell, serve with with whatever wine you like. My mom, of late memory, would enjoy all her meals with Gallo Sherry. And, if she couldn’t find Gallo sherry, it’d be Mogen David Heavy Malaga Red. In the Rivera clan, we never stand on formality. Just enjoy the dish.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.

EASY CASSEROLE

Back on the block we called this a Cacerola Simple, or a simple, or easy casserole. When times were lean and you needed something easy, fast and cheap, this was the go-to dish.  We would take ground beef, or chicken, or turkey, add to it tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and whatever tubular pasta was on hand be it macaroni, ziti, penne, elbows or, our favorite, bow ties (also called farfalle). Imagine my surprise when I discovered years later, from my lovely wife, that they did the same thing in the Midwest, albeit with different seasonings. So, when my mother prepared her caserola simple, other moms did the same in Indiana.  I wonder  if they also called it an “easy casserole?” I’m sure that even today, this dish graces many an American table.

Although this dish is called a casserole, we do not bake it in a casserole dish. I do it the way my mom made it: she would cook everything in  a cast-iron pan, and then bake it in the same pan. It’s called a cacerola, so if you want to use an oven-proof casserole dish to bake and serve, go right ahead.  We, in the Rivera family, never stood on formality.

EASY CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
½ of a large green pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 pound ground beef (can substitute chicken or turkey)
1 ½ cup bow tie pasta, or other (see above)
1 15-pounce can tomato sauce
½ cup grated cheese
½ teaspoon fresh chopped oregano, or ¼  cup dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet (we prefer cast-iron), heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Crumble in ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in bow ties, tomato sauce, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3.   Place in oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
    Yield: 6 servings.

PESTO CHICKEN

This is my personal recipe for Pesto Chicken. I guess you could call it Pesto Chicken Nuyorican style. It’s different from other pesto chicken recipes in that we use a whole chicken, cut up, and not chicken breasts as is done in most recipes. And, the chicken is steamed not fried nor baked. This makes it unusual, and scrumptious in its finale.

This dish is best served over pasta (we used bucatini). But you can also use any preferred grain, be it rice, couscous, faro, quinoa, ext. With a salad, some good Chianti, and some crusty bread, you have yourself a banquet. Disfrute.

PESTO CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1 3 to 3½ pound fryer chicken, cut into serving pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup dry white wine (like Chablis or Pinot Grigio)
3-4 cups fresh basil leaves (depending on  how much sauce you desire)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
5 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (can also use Asiago or Pecorino Romano)

Instructions:

  1.  Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Place in a large pot, skillet or Dutch oven. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and oregano, making sure all pieces are well seasoned.  Add red wine vinegar and mix to combine.
  3.  Add water and white wine to the chicken. Bring to  boil, cover and simmer on medium-low heat until pieces are tender (about 40 minutes).
  4.  While chicken is cooking, combine basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced. With the machine running, add olive oil in a small stream and process until the mixture is smooth. Add cheese and process briefly, just long enough to combine.
  5.  Drain any liquid that’s left in the chicken pot. Add pesto to chicken, mix well and serve over pasta or grain.
    Yield: 6 servings or more.

 

PASTA E FAGIOLI

When the stars make you drool, just like pasta fazool, that’s amore.”

Pasta e Fagioli, or pasta and beans, is a popular dish in Italian cuisine. And it’s best know to the rest of us as “Pasta Fazool.” It’s origin is Southern Italy, where it started out as a peasant dish, since it is filling and inexpensive. It began, originally, as a hearty soup or stew. In my family, we never made it soupy. It was more of a traditional pasta dish. That’s the way I’ve been eating it  all my life. The version I’m familiar with includes white beans, either cannellini beans (white kidney), Great Northern, or Navy beans. At one time there was a great restaurant in Brooklyn, Fiorentino’s, where they made the dish with lentils. I found that fascinating, and just as good. In all cases, the pasta used is of the small variety such a elbow macaroni or ditalini.  I reckon you could probably do it with larger shapes such as penne or rigatoni. I’ve never seen it done with string pasta but, if you wanna try, go right ahead.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve been stocking up on beans, along with everyone else. Mainly it’s been the dried variety since they are cheap and plentiful. So, pasta fazool was a natural for a hearty dinner. Now, in the recipe noted below, we use canned beans since that’s the easiest way to prepare. But if you want to use dried beans, be my guest. Remember they have to be soaked, preferably overnight, drained, boiled, then simmered for an hour or so using the ingredients given.  Add a crusty loaf of bread, a good Chianti wine, and you’re set for a beggar’s (or a rich person’s) feast.

PASTA E FAGIOLI
(Pasta Fazool)

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ cups (more or less) tomato sauce
2 15.5-oz cans white kidney beans, drained
Fresh basil to taste or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

1. Cook elbow macaroni per package instructions.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and sauté over moderate heat until onion is translucent and tender.
3. Add tomato sauce and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Add beans, cooked macaroni, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and serve piping hot. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Yield: 6 or more servings.

 

 

SARDINES AND VEGGIES WITH FUSILLI

This dish came about because of a wine that was sent to me by Laithwaite’s, my wine purveyor. It was a 2018 Portinho do Covo, a Portuguese blend with ripe fruit flavors and full-bodied character that make it ideal with roasted red meats, and sardines? (yes, sardines). I had to try this. I enjoy red wine, even with fish. I don’t buy that hard and fast rule of white wine with seafood.  You enjoy the wine you like with any food. But this sardine recommendation intrigued me.

I had to come up with a dish. I checked the cupboard found and I had tons of pasta, and a few cans of sardines. Now, for this recipe, I recommend wild canned sardines, if you can get them.  The rest I made up as I went along. I combined onion, garlic, tomatoes and some broccoli stalks that I had saved to make cream of broccooli soup.  The soup would wait. I cut the stalks into little pieces and added them to the mix. If you don’t like broccoli stalks then you can use broccoli florettes.

For the pasta, any tubular pasta will do. It can be penne, macaroni, elbow, ziti, even rigatoni. I decided on fusilli since I hadn’t had it  in a while.  You can also try a grain like rice, couscous or quinoa. As stated before, you are only limited by your imagination (and what’s on hand).

SARDINES AD VEGGIES WITH FUSILLI

Ingredients:

1 pound fusilli
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup broccoli stalks (cut into serving pieces), or broccoli florettes
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3  4.4-oz cans  sardines
1 large tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

Instructions:

1. Cook fusilli according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add broccoli stalks (or florettes) and cook 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in sardines with their liquid. Mix in tomato and oregano.
3. Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl. Top with sardine-veggie mixture and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

 

ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH CLAMS AND CAVIAR

I am a fan of what I call hearty pasta, the manly-man pastas, like bucatini, fetuccine, perciatelli,  as opposed to the girly-man pastas, like angel hair. If this sounds misogynistic, I apologize.  My wife is the opposite. She prefers small, fine string pasta; and recently she bought home some angel hair nests. This was new to me. Usually when I come across pasta nests, it’s tagliatelle, another one of my favorites. But, since, it was angel hair for dinner, I had to come up with an appropriate recipe.  We had some canned minced clams on hand, and caviar.  So, I thought, why not whip up something with those ingredients?  And the result is the recipe given. This can be a dish for a special occasion, since it includes caviar.  Want to be fancy about it, you can tell your friends you’re serving Capelli d’ Angelo con Vongole e Caviar.  That should impress your neighbors.

Note that dried, package pasta is always available, but if you can get a hold of fresh angel hair, that’s prefered. Also, the dish calls for black lumpfish caviar; but if you can get sevruga caviar, it’s even better.

ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH CLAMS AND CAVIAR

Ingredients:

4 (6.5 oz) cans chopped or minced clams, drained
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tablespoons butter
4 fresh tarragon sprigs, stripped and chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
½ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons dry white wine
1 pound angel hair pasta (if you can find fresh, even better)
Ground black pepper to taste
3 teaspoons black lumpfish caviar

Instructions:

  1.  In a small bowl, combine the minced clams with  the lemon juice.  Melt butter in a large skillet or fry pan, add the clams and tarragon and stir over medium-high heat for a few seconds. Add the cream and stir for few seconds more. Pour in the wine, and season with pepper. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
  2.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a few spoonfuls of the cooking water. Add the clam sauce to the pasta, along with a little of the reserved water, and toss to combine. Place in a warmed serving bowl, sprinkle with the caviar, and enjoy.
    Yield:  4 servings.

 

Older posts

© 2022 Oswald Rivera

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑