Comfort Food: Italian Style

Winter is the time for fleece-wear, a roaring fire, page -turning books, and delicious aromas swirling around the kitchen as your comfort food is simmering or baking.

We all have favourite dishes that feel like a hug as we relish each bite; and for me, it’s Italian food.

One of my favourite meals to whip up for a self-care dinner is a simple dish with humble ingredients: Pasta Aglio e Olio (pasta with garlic and oil).

I had some polpette e sugo (meatballs in sauce) leftover from Christmas in the freezer. When I make meatballs, I make a huge batch and freeze them for those days when I need a hug from an Italian staple.

Here’s the recipe for you to try so you too can get your own comfort-food-hug Italian style:

Pasta Aglio e Olio with Polpette

I use homemade pasta, however, you can use whatever type of pasta you have on hand (packaged or homemade), and the same with your sauce–use whatever tomato sauce you normally would use, or no sauce at all, it’s a flexible recipe.

This recipe will serve four. Cut the ingredients in half if making for two.

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic, roasted. You can use raw garlic, if you do, thinly slice 6 cloves
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Kalamata Olive oil (or any other type of Extra Virgin olive oil)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or less if you don’t like spicy, or eliminate
1 cup finely grated, Romano cheese (this is my preference, but you can use Parmigiano or a combination of both)
1 pound uncooked pasta (your choice)
Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Roast the garlic, remove and squeeze out the garlic.

2. Warm up a large pasta bowl.

3. Cook your pasta, according to package directions in a large pot of salted water, al dente. If using fresh pasta, cook only for a few minutes until it’s firm to the bite.

4. Drain and transfer pasta to the warmed pasta bowl.

5. Warm the oil on medium heat in a skillet. Once oil is hot, add the garlic and lower heat to low, stirring the garlic in the oil for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

6. Add pasta to the skillet, and toss so that the pasta is coated with the garlic-oil, and sprinkle with salt (to taste).

7. Put pasta back in the bowl, and add pepper flakes, and the grated cheese, and stir well until cheese is combined.

8. Serve with additional grated cheese.

If you’d like to serve the pasta with meatballs, you can find my meatball recipe on my blog. Please click here.

Dinner a la Leftovers

Welcome to another addition of Tasty Tuesday, where I along with my fellow author friends show off our culinary talents.

I bet some of you thought we just fantasize and write about hot firemen/cowboys/military/bad boys/Alpha/Beta hero’s, eh?

Well, I’m here to tell you that yes, we do, but we also have to cook for our families, and the easier the recipe, the better.

Continue reading Dinner a la Leftovers

Pasta e Fagioli For the Soul

When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That’s amore

When the stars make you drool
Joost-a like PASTA FAZOOL
That’s amore

Whether you’re Italian or not, everyone remembers Dean Martin’s enthusiastic crooning of this song, and I bet a lot of you can sing the chorus. When he mentioned Pasta Fazool in the song, he was referring to one of my family’s favorite dishes—it’s rustic, delicious, healthy and easy to make.

Dean Martin took creative license when singing fazool, and it worked beautifully for the song. The real pronunciation for this dish isfah-joe-lee.

Sharing my interpretation of this popular Italian dish.

 

This soup can be made and eaten the same day, but it tastes even better if you make it a day ahead of time and serve it the next day, as all the ingredients and goodness marinate together.

Ingredients:

olive oil

5 chopped tomatoes (or a can of plum tomatoes)

1 cup onion (finely chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

6 cups beef broth (or vegetable stock)

1 can red kidney beans (drained and well rinsed)

1 can white kidney beans (drained and well rinsed)

1 can chick peas (drained and well rinsed)

½ cup fresh basil (chopped)

**3 cups meatballs (use your favorite meatball recipe and make them tiny bite sized)

Pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Pasta (your choice: penne, elbow, tubetti)

**Note: If you don’t want to make meatballs, you can use ground beef, or skip the meat all together.

  • Coat soup pot with olive oil and heat oil on medium. Once oil is heated, add onion and cook until onion is transparent, then add garlic and keep stirring until garlic is infused with the onion.
  • Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
  • Add broth and let cook (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
  • Add red beans, white beans, chick peas, meatballs or sauteed ground beef if you are using meat, and let cook for 15 minutes
  • In a separate pot, boil water and make pasta according to packagae directions
  • While the pasta is cooking, add the chopped basil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste and let the soup keep cooking.
  • Once pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the soup pot.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

Note: If making soup the day ahead, then don’t add any pasta, make the pasta the day you will be serving the soup.

Buon appetito!