Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: pasta (page 2 of 3)


This is a pretty simple dish where you can use any string pasta, be it  angel hair, bucatini, spaghetti, and not just the linguini mentioned.  It calls for three simple ingredients: scallops, lemon and basil. Think of it as a variation of pasta with white clams sauce. Except you’re using scallops instead of clams. If you can’t find small bay scallops, you can use large sea scallops, just cut them in half.  So, whatcha waitin’ for? Go at it.



1 pound small  l bay scallops
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Salt an freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup grated Romano cheese ( or substitute Parmesan)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 pound linguine or other string pasta
¼ cup shredded fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried


  1. Wash scallops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in Romano cheese until thick and creamy.
  3.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add scallops and cook in  a single layer until scallops are firm, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover.
  4.  Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add linguini and cook, stirring often until al dente or preferred tenderness. Drain pasta and return it to pot, but reserve ½ cup cooking water. Stir in olive oil mixture, scallop and their juices, remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add basil and toss to mix. Add reserve cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with added salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Summertime and the livin’ ain’t easy. Though it’s been a mild one thus far, the heat will come, that’s guaranteed (global warming deniers aside). Thus we think of salads for summer. And, for some time now, pasta salads have come to the fore. My favorite of these has always been that great perennial, Macaroni Salad. Nothing says better, pasta salad, than this one. It’s simple, it’s wonderful; and you can pack ’em with whatever you want be it herbs or vegetables.

I’ve experiment with this dish for years; and I’ve come up with what I consider one of the best renditions of all. For most, macaroni salad is just macaroni swimming in mayonnaise. If you like that, great. But I’ve discovered a novel variation: 1/2 mayonnaise and 1/2 sour cream. A marvelous combinations of flavors Add to it lime juice, seasoning, roasted  red peppers, cilantro and, for those who like to give it a kick, jalepeño pepper, and you’re set. Bring on summer!

Note that this dish can be served at room temperature or chilled. Your choice. If using at room temperature, it’s best to let the pasta sit for 20 minutes after preparing so as to let all the flavors come together. Some state that, if serving chilled, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss to have it glistening again.


1 pound package elbow macaroni
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup low fat sour cream
Juice of half a lime
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 (7-oz) jar roasted red peppers, chopped
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 jalepeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

1. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain under cold running water to cool.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.
3. Add macaroni and toss to coat. Fold in roasted peppers, cilantro, and jalepeño, if using
Yield: 4-6 servings.






For a pasta freak like myself, this is one of the easiest (and moist economical) dishes to prepare. And it’s quick and delicious. Think of the nerdy Sheldon on the comedy series The Big Bang, where he always rhapsodizes about his mom’s real “Eyetalian” spaghetti and franks dinner. In our family this is the equivalent.

For this preparation, any pasta can be used, whether string, round, oval or shells. In terms of types, I’ve always preferred what I call the the “hardy” ones, or as my Uncle Philip use to say, the “manly-man pastas.” By that I mean fettuccine, cannelloni, and my favorite, perciatelli. No angel hair for me. For this rendering we used rigatoni.

For the sausage in the dish, you can used mild or hot sausage links,  meat sausage, pork sausage, or even, Spanish chorizo. If you’re more health conscious, you can use chicken or turkey sausage.  Back in Spanish Harlem, during our lean days, we used canned Vienna sausage. You’re only limited by your imagination; which by now should be boundless.  With a good Chianti (or whatever wine you prefer), and some crusty bread, it’s a poor guy’s banquet.



4 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 1 ½ pounds preferred sausage (see above), cut into ½-inch rounds
1 pound package rigatoni
1 medium onion, sliced thin ( I prefer a red onion, but can use other)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1  jar (26-oz.) of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pan (I prefer cast-iron). Add sausage and sauté until brown and tender. Depending on type of sausage this may take 5-6 minutes.
2. Cook rigatoni according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, add onion to skillet and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in pepper and oregano.
4. Add pasta sauce and stir to mix. Cook until warm, 3-4 minutes.
5. Drain pasta, place in a large serving dish or platter. Top with sauce and parsley, and serve.
Yield: 4 or more servings.






Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Garlic and Caramelized Onions

The waning days of summer, but good ripe tomatoes are still in season, and I indulged every chance to enjoy them. I won’t have such a treat during the cold winter months (it’ll be Italian canned tomatoes). Thus I posit another recipe featuring tomatoes. This time it’s fettuccine with tomatoes loaded with garlic and something unique: caramelized onions. The fettuccine, or any pasta with tomato sauce is a well-known favorite. The caramelized onions are something else.  For the record, the onion recipe comes from the monthly magazine, Cook’s Illustrated (September & October 2017, Number 148). The recipe intrigued me. I have my own method of making caramelized onions. But this one was different that a baking soda solution is added to the dish. It rendered a novel tangy taste.

Again, let me state that any pasta, tubular or string can be used in this recipe. We happen to have fettuccine on hand, and that was it.


1/2 cup olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to  taste
1 pound fettuccine
3 large onions, halved and slice through root and 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

  1. In a large pan or skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break down and form a sauce., about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside
  2.  Meanwhile, cook the  pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, but reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
  3.  While pasta cooks, bring onions, 3/4 water, and salt to a boil, in the same skillet as before, over high heat. Cover and cook until water has evaporated and onions start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
  4.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium-high and,  with a spatula, gently press onions into sides and bottom of skillet. Cook, without stirring onions, for 30 seconds. Stir onions, scraping from skillet, then gently press into sides and bottom of skillet again. Repeat pressing, cooking and stirring, until onions are softened, well  browned, and slightly sticky, 5-10 minutes.
  5.  Combine baking soda and remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Stir baking soda solution into onions and cook, stirring constantly, until solution has evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  6.  Place the sauce back in  the skillet, add the pasta and 1/2 cup of cooking water to the sauce, and toss over moderately-low heat until coated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the onions. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.






Easy Rigatoni (or any pasta)

This is the easiest pasta dish I know. At it’s simplest it’s pasta (of whatever kind you like) with garlic oil and hot red pepper. And the beauty of this dish is that you can innovate by adding whatever ingredients you need. The basic recipe is the same. The additions will give you the innovations you desire.

In the recipe given I used rigatoni (they were on sale at the supermarket and I said, What the hell, let’s go with it). That’s why I call the dish “Easy Rigatoni.” But you can use string types like spaghetti or linguini; or tubular ones like ziti, rotini, or even plain elbow noodles. So the dish can be can be Easy Angle Hair, Easy Perciatelli (or Bucatini), Easy Fettuccini, etc.  The choices are infinite. Also, to the base recipe I added onion, black olives and, of course, Parmesan cheese (you can substitute Romano or Asiago). If you like, you can add seafood or meat, or whatever strikes your fancy. Or keep it plain and simple. It’ll still be worth the effort, which is minimal.


1 pound box rigatoni
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, peeled and slice into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small hot red pepper, seeded and crumbled into tiny pieces
1 5.75-oz. can large or jumbo black olives, drained and sliced in half
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook rigatoni in salted water according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent.
3. Add garlic and hot red pepper, and cook about 2 minutes more.
4. Drain rigatoni, stir in garlic/hot  sauce. Add two tablespoons olive oil, mix well, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Pasta with Pancetta

Pancetta is a pork product very popular in Italy. In some circles it’s called Italian bacon. Along with prosciutto, it’s very common in the Italian kitchen. It is made from pork meat that is salt cured and spiced with lots of black pepper. In a the supermarket or deli it comes in a tight roll  (arrotolata), or already cubed. It can even be found sliced paper thin.

If you can’t find pancetta, bacon can be substituted—but it won’t taste the same. Also, with bacon, it’s best to blanch it first in boiling water since it reduces its smoky flavor (pancetta is not a smoked product). That being said, the recipe given below can be done with almost any pasta but it’s usually served with spaghetti or linguini. Once in a while, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll use perciatelli, my favorite string pasta. Why? It’s thick, like a phone cable—and I love what my Uncle Phillip in pre-PC days would call a “manly pasta.”

One additional thing I must say, since we’re talking about pasta: remember in the old days when it came in one pound boxes? More and more it’s now 12 ounces. When did this crap start?  Ronzoni, bless their heart, still comes in one pound boxes. Barilla does not (it’s 13.25 ounces). Everyone else, these days, is 12 ounces. Pretty soon it’ll be 9 ounces, then 8 . . . you get the idea. Someday a family of four will have to buy two boxes of spaghetti or whatever to get fed. If you’re lucky enough to find a place that sells fresh pasta, you can still get it by the pound—and even if it’s more expensive, it’s a better deal. The corporate structure (no surprise!) is out to gyp us.

I pound tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes)
10-8 ounces pancetta or lean bacon, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 pound fresh or dried spaghetti or linguini (if you can find a 1-pound box)
5 fresh marjoram sprigs, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh shredded basil
Freshly grated Pecorino or Romano cheese

1. Wash tomatoes under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add pancetta and stir-fry over low heat until fat is rendered.
3. Stir in onion and cook gently for 8  minutes. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more.
4. Add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring well. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.
5. Stir the marjoram into the sauce. Remove from heat. Drain the pasta into a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well. Sprinkle with shredded basil, and serve, passing around the Pecorino or Romano cheese.
   Yield: 4 servings. 

Linguini with Caviar

If you ever wanted to enhance a common, nondescript pasta dish, then add caviar to it. It will garner “oohs” and “aahs” at your table. Most people think of caviar as that fancy-dan appetizer served at diplomatic functions or the debutante cotillion. And it is true, caviar is considered a dish of the upper orders. Yest caviar is simply processed, salted, fish row eggs. The three leading grades or types are Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga caviar. This is prime caviar that comes from wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea. At the supermarket, most caviar sold these days is the pasteurized caviar which is less expensive than wild sturgeon; and is heat treated and vacuum packed in containers or glass jars.

Caviar, whether the prime or less expansive type is a great addition to pasta. And in this recipe I recommend any string pasta you favor, be it bucatini spaghetti, fettuccini, angel hair, etc. You can even do it with noodles, like fusilli. I use linguini. But, again, you’re not limited. Bear in mind, for this recipe you don’t need the high-priced product—unless you really want to splurge.


5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 2-ounce jars caviar
1 shot vodka
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup heavy cream (1/2 pint)
1 pound linguini
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh basil, washed, dried, and chopped

1. In a medium-sized frying pan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onion and garlic. Sauté until soft but not brown.
2. Add caviar and mix for a few seconds. Pour in vodka and cook until it has evaporated almost completely.
3. Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and blend in cream. Remove from heat, mix and keep warm.
4. Boil linguini until al dente, or desired tenderness. Drain, leaving a little cooking water and blend in the tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Pour caviar sauce over the pasta and mix well. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.



Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

Summer is the season when ripe, fresh tomatoes are in bloom. In the middle of winter when all you can get are those mealy cellophane wrapped imitations, one despairs. But now they are in their glory. You can make a great, hearty tomato based sauce over that pasta. And I’ve discovered you don’t need to spend hours over the stove cooking a marinara sauce. You can use fresh tomatoes as a summer treat. The simplest of all concoctions: tomatoes, garlic, olives and whatever else you want to add; and you have the perfect pasta meal for summer. Add a crusty loaf of bread, and a light red wine, or white if you want. This is not a meal where you stand on formality. A simple, joyous dish for this season.

In the dish given, I use linguine. Yet you can use whatever form of pasta you like, be it tubular like a penne or rigatoni,  circular like a radiatore, or strands like spaghetti or fettuccine. Whatever you have in the cupboard will do.


1 pound fresh or dried linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 8.5-ounce can artichoke hearts, cut into fourths
6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
1 6-ounce can pitted black olives, drained and sliced in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Romano or Pecorino cheese

1. Cook linguine  in a pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain, and place in a large serving bowl.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil and vinegar with the artichoke hearts.
3. Add tomatoes, olives, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.  Stir to mix, and add to the pasta. Combine thoroughly.
4. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings. 


Shrimp Aglio e Olio

This recipe is about the quickest shrimp dish I know. It could be called a shrimp quick fix. All you need is some shrimp and whatever pasta is available. For this recipe I use whole-wheat linguine. And if you don’t have linguine, spaghetti or macaroni hanging about, you can serve the shrimp over rice.

“Aglio e Olio” means garlic and oil, and by that, we mean olive oil. You just cook the shrimp is oil, add the seasonings and serve over desired pasta, with fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese on the side. . The cooking of the pasta and shrimp take about the same time. Thus you can start by boiling the linguine and, while it’s being cooked, prepare the shrimp. Nothing could be simpler. With bottle of Pinot Grigio or Chianti, and a crusty bread loaf of bread (or garlic bread if you want to fancy it up) you have a delicious, quicky meal perfect for any occasion.


3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound whole-wheat linguine, cooked according to package directions, but reserve 1/4 cup cooking 
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the shrimp and lemon juice, and cook 4 minutes.
4. Add salt, red pepper flakes, parsley and 1/4 cup cooking liquid from the pasta. Stir to combine.
5. Place cooked linguine in a large bowl or serving platter. Add the shrimp and serve, with the Parmesan or Romano cheese on the side.
   Yield: 4 servings.

Sofrito with Pasta

These days, almost everyone interested in cooking knows about sofrito. It wasn’t always like that. When I was growing up, the condiment was hardly known outside of Hispanic and Puerto Rican enclaves in East Harlem and the South Bronx. My Anglo friends had never heard of it until I mentioned it to them. My Mexican friends stated they had their own version of sofrito, But that’s as far as it went. Then with the culinary explosion that enveloped America from the 1970s on, sofrito was popularized. This aromatic mix of herbs and spices, used as a base for countless Caribbean dishes, became the darling of innovative cooks everywhere.

As I  demonstrated in my video on the topic (7/10/14), sofrito is an easy mix to conjure up. In my culture we use it for flavoring stews, casseroles, soups, meat, poultry, seafood, you name it. However, I got to thinking: what about combining it with one of my favorites—pasta? Has it even been tried? In recent years the talk has been about “fusion cuisine.” Well, what would be more daring than sofrito with linguini, or rigatoni, or penne, macaroni— whatever brand of pasta you like, be it strand or tubular?

So recently I set myself an experiment, and decided to combine sofrito with a pasta type. In this case, perciatelli. I love perciatelli. It looks like spaghetti but it’s slightly chunkier, more like a cable than a strand. As my father woulds say, “It’s a manly-man pasta!” No angle hair in this family. Not that there’s anything wrong with angel hair or other fine pasta. Just that perciatelli (like fettuccine) sticks to the ribs. Anyway, if you don’t want percialtelli, use whatever pasta suits your taste.

Naturally, in all of this, the main ingredient is sofrito. And a basic recipe for sofrito would include 1/2 cup parsley or 12 whole leaves recao (a small green stemmed  herb found in Hispanic, Oriental, or Indian markets); 1/2 cup of cilantro; l  medium green bell pepper, chopped; 2 cloves garlic. crushed; 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped; and 1/4 pound sweet chili peppers (also known as aji dulce–but they’re sweet, not hot and spicy. They’re sold loose by the handful or in 1/4 or 1/2 pound packets. A 1/4 pound packet contains about 12 peppers). Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and puree until it has a smooth, sauce-like consistency. This will yield about 1 1/3 cups of sofrito. You can store the sofrito in a closed jar or container in the fridge for 3-4 days, on in the freezer compartment indefinitely.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sofrito
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch sticks about 1-inch long
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound perciatelli (or any other pasta—your choice), cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pot. Add sofrito and tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add ground beef or poultry and cook until meat loses its red color (5-7 minutes). Again, stirring frequently to break up any lumps in the meat.
3. Add the zucchini, stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add the water or chicken broth, cover, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Check periodically: if the meat becomes too dry, you can add more water or chicken broth.
4. Add the cooked pasta. Stir to combine, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings. 

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