Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Earlier this morning, I ran around town knocking out some errands. Nothing out of the usual….stopping by at the dry cleaners, making my bi-daily homage to Target and picking up some groceries.

I came a cross a beautiful bunch of organic Lacinato Kale for only a $1! Smoking Deal!

This particular variety originates from Italy–Tuscany to be specific. Since I couldn’t pass up the bargain, I grabbed a few bunches for the week.

Fresh Kale

As I was finishing my last errand, I had that moment. That brink when you know things may take a quick turn for the worst.

Yeah…I was about to get h’angry.

Hide yo’ kids! Hide yo’ wives!

It’s not a pretty picture ….and I needing something quick to make to save the world from the Namzilla.

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As soon as I got into the kitchen, I quickly got a pot of water boiling and threw in some bucatini. At first glance, bucatini looks like a thick spaghetti noodle. But it actually is hollow inside and has a great texture and “toothiness” because of it.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

While the noodles boiled, I minced up a pile of garlic and chopped up the kale into thin, long strips–a chiffonade. After quickly sauteing the garlic in olive oil, I added a generous amount of red pepper flakes and a huge dollop of anchovy paste.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Don’t freak out. The anchovy paste does not taste “fishy” at all but adds a rich, salty depth of flavor that you just can’t replicate. And if you don’t have anchovy paste, feel free to use 2-3 anchovy fillets.

Once the oil is infused with the garlic and anchovies, I added the kale and cooked them until they were tender but still had a bite to them.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Toss in the cooked bucatini, chopped tomatoes, parmesan–and that’s it!!! Super quick, super savory, and totally satisfying. The whole thing took about 15 minutes to whip up and is perfect for a fast weekday meal.

Phew…Crisis Averted.

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Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale
Serves 3

Ingredients:

kosher salt
½ pound dried bucatini pasta (or other long strand pasta of your choice)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to finish)
1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste or 2-3 anchovy fillets
½ bunch kale, chiffonade
1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (more to finish)
black pepper

Boil the pasta for approximately 7-8 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes to infuse the oil. Add in the anchovies and stir until it melts into the oil. Toss in the kale and cook for 2 minutes until the leaves have wilted.

Toss in the cooked bucatini, tomatoes and cheese — coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based “sauce”, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Plate the pasta and cover each dish with additional parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Sunday Family Dinner: Duck, duck, …huh?

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One of the questions I’ve been receiving a lot over the past few months is….“Are you all still doing your Sunday Family Dinners?”

And the answer is—absolutely YES!

But the truth of the matter is……

Well, you see…..

So, the reason is………..

I’m a terrible Procrastinator.

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GAH! The cat is out of the bag!

It’s terrible, I know. Particularly because I spend hours a day scolding coaching college students on how to avoid procrastination.

Trust me, the hypocrisy irony is not lost on me.

Ugh.

Sunday Family Dinner

So yes…since my last Sunday Family Dinner post in July (insert puppy eyes, shamed face here), mi familia still converge at one of the seesters‘ home and get together to get our cookin’ and eatin’ on.

And it’s been darn delicious too.

I definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to share the past dinners (for my own personal food diary motives and also to share some tasty eats) so I’m committed to posting one recap a week until I catch up.

So hold me to it!

Sunday Family Dinner

Our March fam-din theme was born the way most of ours come to fruition……..while we’re currently eating/feasting on that particular month’s dinner. Does any one else sit around the table with their family enjoying a meal while talking about what their next meal will be?

Just us? Figures…

Well, the theme for March started off with a single ingredient – DUCK. All the dishes were supposed to contain duck in some sort or fashion.

With the exception of dessert….because we may be adventurous but duck flavored dessert did not excite any of us.

Sunday Family Dinner

Since foie gras is now legal again in California, we were planning on having a variation for appetizers. But at the last minute, foie was no where to be found and we didn’t have the time to get it shipped to us. No biggie…we just had to make a few alterations.

Sunday Family Dinner

After doing a little research, I opted to pick up whole ducks from a local Asian grocery store as it was the most affordable route for us. Just a little FYI–most ducks sold at Asian grocers are Long Island (Pekin). So I swung on by our nearby 99 Ranch Market and picked up two duckies. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that they still had their heads and feet intact until I got home.

<Gulp>

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I admit, I got a little nervous as I stared into their little eyes. But after a pep talk from big seester (more like a “c’mon, just do it!”), I put on my big girl pants and butchered/broke them down. After a quick thank you to the duckies for feeding us and the initial eebie-jeebies, I got over it. Hey, if I’m going to be a responsible carnivore, I’ve got to do the dirty work sometimes.

The main dish was to be a slow cooked sugo of duck with fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. But since we had so much leftover duck “parts”, I decided to make a rich stock that would be used in the sugo.

Sunday Family Dinner

We even used the duck skin and fat to make crispy, salty duck cracklings–which were surprisingly easy and a darn delicious way to celebrate every part of the duck.

We opted to use Mario Batali’s technique for the cracklings which was kind of a confit-render-fry method. I highly recommend it.

Sunday Family Dinner

As always, we kicked off dinner with a cocktail. True, it wasn’t a duck themed cocktail but more of a nod to spring. I blended fresh mangoes, passion fruit, strawberries and fresh mint together to create a lovely tropical puree. I combined two parts of the fruit puree, 1 part vodka, 1/2 part coconut rum, 1/4 part fresh lemon juice and topped it all off with lemon sparkling water.

Bright, fresh, and packed a punch.

A duck punch.

Sunday Family Dinner

To keep from getting h’angry, we noshed on baked artichoke-lump crab dib with toasted flat bread.

Didn’t you know that crabs were the ducks of the sea?

Just kidding… wait–am I?

Sunday Family Dinner

And we also thought it may be a good idea to have some greens along with our meal. But our greens came in the form of —-

Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach….

Topped with Fresh Mozzarella….

With a shower of crispy Pancetta…

Studded with the freshly made Duck cracklings.

I mean C’MON guys…this salad was practically Vegan.

Sunday Family Dinner

As I mentioned before, there was fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. Sure, Trader Joe’s sells a perfectly good, packaged dry pappardelle. But why do that when you can guilt your seester into making the pasta from scratch?

She actually used two recipes for the two batches. The first one from Food and Wine had a better flavor from the extra egg yolks. But we liked the texture better from the one we found here. It’s still a work in progress to find the best pappardelle recipe. Any suggestions?

Sunday Family Dinner

We used the pappardelle noodles to soak up all the goodness from the rich duck sugo that was topped with a bright herb gremolata. I’ll be sharing the recipe for the sugo this Friday.

Sunday Family Dinner

And finally, DESSERT!

We had a lemon-herb pound cake that was soaked in Grand Marnier. The cake was smothered with a whipped cream that had freshly made lemon curd folded into it. It was all then topped with a mound of sweet macerated strawberries.

Did you know the nickname for strawberries is duck-berries?

Is that too far of a stretch? :)

Sunday Family Dinner

And that, dear Friends, is a wrap on our “beak to tail”, all things most things Duck themed Family Dinner. I do promise to catch up on previous dinners as there is a lot of goodness to share!

Sunday Family Dinner

And how adorable are our munchkins?

20-Minute Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

20-Minute Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

I love pasta…yeah, yeah, yeah!

Pasta is so great….yeah, yeah, yeah!

 

That’s my new pasta song. Do you like it? Well obvi you can’t appreciate the full artistry of the song by just reading it.

But trust me.

It’s going to be a Grammy hit one of these days.

20-Minute Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

This 20-minute beauty truly tops the cake! Or pasta cake…or whatever. Y’all get where I’m going with this………………

Using two of my most favorite items– spicy Italian sausage and ‘shrooms, this number comes together so quick and is so delish that it’ll be a regular staple in your weeknight dinner rotation. You can also throw in other cast members that you may have lingering in your fridge like bell peppers, carrots, zucchinis, etc.

This time around, I ended using whole wheat pasta but feel free to use whichever that tickles your fancy.

TGIF Folks!

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20-Minute Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Pasta
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

kosher salt
½ pound dried linguine, or pasta of your choice
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried fennel, crushed
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups sliced crimini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
2-3 pinches sugar
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink (about 1-2 minutes) and add the shallots, garlic, pepper flakes, fennel, oregano, and mushrooms. Sauté the items together for another 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, thyme and lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Allow the items to simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Toss in the cooked/drained linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Plate the pasta and cover each dish with freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.

Me?

You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat. :)

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

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So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.

Seriously…squealed.

Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.

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It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.

Obvi.

Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John – we love ya!

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Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

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When I was in the elevator at work yesterday, I overheard someone saying how they made their grandma’s famous linguine alle vongole for Easter Dinner.

And then it was over.

I craved pasta all day long.

Preferably a pasta that someone’s grandma made but beggers can’t be choosers–I had to settle for something I could wrangle up.

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

So as I drove home I did a quick inventory of what I had in the fridge/freezer and decided upon a quick shrimp scampi. I have a delish recipe for Shrimp Scampi on the blog already but I wanted to change it up a bit.

I opted to throw in some fresh spinach leaves at the end for a bit of greens. I had originally played around with the idea of adding peas but went for the spee-natch instead. But who knows, I may throw some peas in next time for some oohs and ahhs.

Peas and thank you!

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

The pasta was bright, citrus-y, uber garlicky (vampires beware) and totally satisfying. And the best thing? Despite me calling this a 20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach, you can probably have it done in 15. But why not pour yourself a glass of wine during the process and take the few extra minutes?

Cheers!

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20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach
Serves 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 thin slices lemon
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) spinach leaves
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, mix the shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and garlic salt together in a bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium heat. Add the shrimp (with all the garlic and herbs) and lemon slices* to the skillet. Cook the shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately a minute on each side. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl/plate.

Turn the heat to high and pour the the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and add the lemon juice. Reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat. Add the butter and whisk/melt it into the reduced wine.

Turn the heat to medium-low and toss in the cooked/drained pasta. Vigorously toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season the pasta with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss in the spinach and plate the pasta with the light sauce.

Top each dish with the cooked shrimp. Sprinkle the top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*While plating the pasta, you can remove the cooked lemon slices. Some do not enjoy the slight bitter taste of biting into cooked lemons but I’m all about it.

15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

I am ALL about fast meals during the week days. Delicious goodness that can be whipped up in a flash using minimal ingredients and the least amount of dishes.

Because if I haven’t told you before, I absolutely loathe washing dishes. I would pretty much rather wash anything else…….laundry, my car, Bella (my pup)–heck, washing an elephant would be infinitely more enjoyable than doing dishes.

Back to food……….

Pastas are one of my go-to quick fixes where I can throw anything together for a fulfilling meal. This 15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta is so easy to make and can really be modified to whatever you have in the fridge. The end results is a great dish that is rather light and would be perfect for a warm summer night with a glass of pinot grigio in hand. And coming from a carnivorous gal, you won’t even miss the meat while you get down on a big ol’ bowl of this deliciousness.

Have an awesome Friday folks and enjoy your Easter Weekend!

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15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:           

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups grape tomatoes
3 heaping tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh arugula leaves

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Pour in the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to burst.

Pour the starchy pasta water into the skillet. Once the liquids start to boil, toss in the pasta and sprinkle in the parmesan. Vigorously toss the cooked pasta to evenly coat it with the sauce. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper accordingly. Toss in the arugula leaves and plate the pasta to a dish.

Serve immediately.

Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe topped with an unctuous poached egg is absolutely divine and can be whipped together in about 20 minutes.

Want to learn more about how I’ve crossed two traditional pastas together to create this beauty? Click here and read my latest post and recipe for our friends at Safest Choice® Eggs.

You absolutely won’t regret it!