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September 2012 COTM My Calabria: Antipasti, Pasta, Soup, Rice, Polenta

Please post here your reviews for these dishes:

Antipasti…..21 - 44

Pasta…..45 - 92

Soup, Rice, Polenta…..93 -112

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  1. Rigatoni all Pastora – Shepherd’s style Rigatoni w Ricotta and Sausage – p. 75

    Delicious! The sum is much greater than the few individual parts of this dish and I loved learning a new and simple method of making a creamy sauce for pasta.

    I’m fortunate to have a good selection of Italian butcher’s in close proximity so finding freshly made fennel sausage wasn’t an issue (there is a recipe for the sausage in the book if folks can’t find it though). Also, though I do love homemade ricotta, I picked some freshly made at the same butcher shop. Given that this was a Friday night dinner and had to be prepared after work, time was of the essence.

    Prep is straightforward. Though rc (the author) suggests you use a table knife to break the de-cased sausage meat into olive-sized chunks I always find it quicker to use kitchen shears so that’s what I did. EVOO is heated in a medium skillet and the sausage is sautéed until browned then kept warm. As I was pressing my ricotta through a sieve I said “I’ll bet this is the engineer in the author having me do this” and sure enough, as I read the head note today, she does note that the Calabrian cooks wouldn’t do so!! Nonetheless, though this did take a little more time, what it does is totally break down the ricotta so when you add some pasta water to create the sauce, it comes together quickly and effortlessly. Once the pasta is cooked everything is tossed together along w some (optional) grated pecorino cheese. I also added some fresh basil to my finished dish and, much to mr bc’s dismay, I also went w the optional ground hot red pepper. (mr bc concluded he would have preferred the dish without the hot pepper so next time I’ll pass at the table). The rest of us enjoyed the kick.

    One thing I’d do differently next time is to ease up on my usual salting of the pasta water as I found that it made the “sauce” a bit too salty for our tastes. Otherwise this was a wonderful dish and I’ll definitely make it again. I think some fresh peas would make a great addition or even some rapini since the creaminess of the sauce would counter any bitterness from the rapini.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      Looks delicious, as always. Was there a tomato sauce involved?

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        Oh good! I have this on my list of things to make. And thanks for the salting tip. How about maybe adding some arugula (instead of the peas or rapini) to the sauce? That would help make it a one pot meal.

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Shepherd's style Rigatoni with Ricotta and Sausage (http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

          Wish I had reread BC's report, as the website version doesn't offer the option of adding hot pepper, just ground black pepper (and I added a lot of that). I wish I'd thought of it myself. We liked this - a nice hearty meal on a cool and very rainy day, but it was somehow lacking something. I think the hot pepper would have helped it out. I used turkey sausage but otherwise followed the recipe to a t. I liked the parsley and basil and thought that did give it a leg up. But I can't say we were wow'd by this one. We loved the tomato and red onion salad (also from the website) that I served with it.

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Rigatoni alla Pastora (Shepherd’s style Rigatoni w Ricotta and Sausage), page 75.

            Breadcrumbs took the right approach with this dish; anything with so few ingredients needs them to be top notch. We are away for the weekend, without access to our usual cheesemonger, or even our usual kitchen utensils! I did bring some wonderful hot Italian sausage made by our local ranch, but I had to settle for less-than-ideal grocery store ricotta. I also did not have a sieve to press the ricotta, so I don't know how much of a difference that would make. The outcome was fine. I used a moderately decent pecorino, and I did add the hot pepper. I love pasta that does not have tomato sauce, I'd even rather have it tossed with a little olive oil and garlic. A simple pasta with cheese is also a favorite. Mr. NS requested I make it again when we can get good ricotta (or I can make my own), so it was definitely a partial success. I like the above ideas of adding something green, peas or arugula, and I may try that.

            I'm not even going to share my dark, monochromatic photos. I'll just gaze fondly on Breadcrumbs' pictures.

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Rigatoni all Pastora, p. 75
              Shepherd’s style Rigatoni with Ricotta and Sausage

              Eh. Tonight was my turn to make this. Heck I made the sausage almost two weeks ago! Today I made the ricotta. Her instructions takes several hours more than my dump in some lemon juice at temperature, but the results are so much better! The curd is soft instead of seized, and the yield is significantly higher. Sad that I know this because I will never be able to go back to my less-than-an-hour-from-start-to-finish again.

              I found myself a tad irritated as I struggled to cut off the casing. I mean, if I didn't need the casing, why did she instruct me in the sausage recipe to use one? Like breadcrumbs, I used scissors. I added some thawed peas and the crushed red pepper flakes.

              The sausage is delicious! The ricotta is delicious! But the sum of the parts was a bit ho-hum. It is good, but not good enough to be the only dish on the table. I made a half recipe and between the two of us, we only finished about a third. Need to consider ways to make the leftovers more exciting and vibrant.

              Since breadcrumbs had posted pictures, I didn't bother to take any tonight.

            2. I made the quick tomato sauce on page 53. I used canned tomatoes, but I minced my garlic and used twice as much ....about 4-5 cloves. The garlic does not overwhelm the sauce IMO. It is fresh and light a very clean tasting sauce not muddled with too many flavors. Tonight I am going to use it for the marinara/dipping sauce for Fried Eggplant Calabrese (not in this book) and will use the remainder for the zucchini lasagna in this book later in the week.

              51 Replies
              1. re: angelsmom

                Sugo di Pomodoro – Quick Tomato Sauce – p. 53

                I planned to make the Eggplant Parmesan (p. 252) for dinner and since I had a little extra time in the kitchen yesterday, I decided to make this sauce. In reading the author’s head note it’s clear that in the Calabrian’s tomato sauce, the tomatoes must be the star. No onions, celery, carrot, oregano or sugar. Only a “hint” of fresh basil and “the merest scent” of garlic says the author. As I’ve reported before, willpower is not a strong suit and try as I might, I had to cave and “garlic-fy” this sauce and, make full use of my lovely opal basil.

                I found the recipe online so I’ll post it here for folks who may not have the book. I’d note that with respect to the ingredients the author does offer some options not shown online. 3.5 lbs of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 qt of home canned peeled tomatoes may be used in place of the 28 oz can (and is likely preferred). The pepper can be fresh or dried.


                This recipe is similar to my go-to marinara except I use lots of sliced garlic and a handful of basil. I also use dried chili flakes and a bit of water (to rinse the can) in my sauce.

                In the end I didn’t feel guilty about bastardizing this sauce w my extra garlic and basil since I was still working within the spirit of the recipe by using only ingredients already called for and, I was working w canned tomatoes vs fresh. I may make this w fresh tomatoes and see if I can manage to stick to the recipe to find out how good the tomatoes alone can taste. Or perhaps someone else will do this and let us know what they think.

                In any event, this made for a luscious, thick, rich tomato-ey sauce that was perfect on its own and in the Eggplant dish I’ll report on later.

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  This was my story exactly,added much me garlic and basil. I thinking miss the oregano, but I will use it again. I tried to use my garden tomatoes, but after skinning an cutting open they were all core ,,,,,,back to canned.

                2. re: angelsmom

                  Sugo di Pomodoro (Quick Tomato Sauce), p. 53

                  I have made this sauce a couple times now, once for the pork meatballs, and again last night for the Eggplant Parmigiano on p. 252. I love this simple sauce. I make it as directed, with just 5 basil leaves, torn in half, and two cloves of garlic, cut in half. This doesn't take any willpower on my part, because I learned years ago that I prefer my tomato sauces simple, and most of the ones I make have little or no garlic. Once upon a time, I too was a garlic addict who couldn't imagine a tomato sauce without minced garlic in it, then one day I decided to give a cookbook author the benefit of the doubt, and followed a recipe in which the only garlic was one split clove rubbed on the inside of the serving bowl and then discarded. A revelation. Then there were Marcella Hazan's delightful minimalist sauces. If you've never let tomatoes be the star of their own sauce, I can't encourage you strongly enough to do so.

                  The author gives some options for the tomatoes here. In her discussion of canned tomatoes on p. 11, she specifies preferring ones with no citric acid and no calcium chloride added, a recommendation I heartily agree with. She also specifies San Marzano tomatoes, but in my opinion, the lack of additives is the more important feature than geographical origin. At my local natural foods store (Earth Fare, for those of you in the Southeast), the house brand of canned whole peeled tomatoes contain only tomatoes, tomato juice, and salt. And they are really nice tomatoes, with no extra bits of skin hanging on, and great flavor. So that is what I use here. I crushed them in a bowl with my hands, as directed. To make the sauce, two split cloves of garlic are sauteed in olive oil. The tomatoes are then poured in, with much splattering. Then you add 5 leaves of basil, torn in half (I have to smile as the specificity of this), and salt. A fresh or dried chile, halved, is optional. I used a dried chile. This simple mixture simmers for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are broken down and it makes a sauce. And that's it. Dress your pasta, simmer your meatballs, layer it into your eggplant Parmigiana. The flavors are clear and bright and it's all about the wonder of tomatoes.

                  There is one small issue with this recipe, however. If you are using fresh or home-canned tomatoes, they will have no salt added. I think the amount of salt specified in the recipe, 2 tsp, is calculated under this scenerio. If you use store-bought canned tomatoes, they will have salt already added. But the author doesn't tell you to reduce the salt if you use this option. Because I was using store-bought tomatoes, I reduced the salt to a scant teaspoon, and that was plenty for my taste.

                  1. re: MelMM

                    I have tried this recipe with both fresh romas and canned tomatoes (with tomatoes as the only ingredient) and they are both delicious. The taste of fresh tomatoes really comes through.

                    When we cooked from Grace Young's books, I began to appreciate the subtlety of certain dishes. I agree that this recipe and Hazan's (another recipe I made this long weekend with my surfeit of romas) make the tomato the star.

                  2. re: angelsmom

                    Quick Tomato Sauce

                    Another one here to sing the praises of this beautifully simple recipe. I tried to follow it as closely as possible, using a medley of different fresh tomatoes. I must admit that I couldn't bring myself to de-seed the tomatoes.....I tried, and could only get through a couple. It pained me to let even a miniscule amount of my small garden's bounty go to waste.
                    I thrust an immersion blender into the pan for a couple of swirls, as this sauce was destined for use as dipping/pizza.

                    This was an excellent way to showcase the simple beauty of the summer tomato. I wish I had made a double batch.

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      Made this last night to top penne (along with her eggplant "meatballs.) Used fresh romas and the sauce came out rather dry. We drizzled on a little excellent olive oil, and all was well. Agree with you on the seeding -- next time won't do it, lost too much liquid.

                    2. re: angelsmom

                      Sugo di Pomodoro (Quick Tomato Sauce) p. 53

                      Oh this is noteworthy -- I liked it immediately, more than the kind with butter in it, more than any I can think of with mushrooms, onion, oregano, etc. Such a fresh *correct* flavor! I used mostly ripe romas, but a couple of fat yellow "heirlooms" too, so the color was a little pale maybe. Lots of seed in it, chunky and wonderful. Used the prescribed amount of basil and garlic. I put half over plain thin spaghetti (excellent lunch!) and saved half for the Dromësat soup, page 60, will report on that shortly in this thread, different post.

                      1. re: blue room

                        Couldn't agree with you more re: "the kind with butter in it" or the ones with all those other ingredients. Correct flavor... I like your phrasing. That's exactly how I feel about it. Glad to hear I'm not alone.

                        1. re: MelMM

                          I'm learning to discriminate here @ Chowhound. I'll probably turn into a .. foodie

                          1. re: blue room

                            Probably? Hate to break to you, but I think you're already there. But let's come up with a better word for it.

                      2. re: angelsmom

                        Sugo di Pomodoro, Pg. 53

                        This sauce is part of my DNA and I have made practically every week of the year since I've been married. I'm thrilled to read that so many of you feel the way I do: that this quick and easy tomato sauce is fresh tasting and bright. It enhances everything it's used for whether pasta or meatballs, for eggplant parm or stuffed peppers. I'll be making it all this month...

                        1. re: Gio

                          Gio, this is the sauce that I make, and have made my entire life. No onions, no oregano-- just garlic, salt and plum tomatoes. I use it like that for a marinara, and add different things to it to make a putanesca, a meat sauce, etc., etc. IMO, it's the best, purest tomato sauce.

                          1. re: roxlet

                            I rather thought so, Roxlet. I always have a jar or two in the fridge. When I recently made the ciambotta from My Calabria I thought how I usually Start with this sauce then add grilled or roasted vegetables to it...

                            1. re: Gio

                              That's how my mother made her ciambotta.

                        2. re: angelsmom

                          Emergency inquiry! I'd like to make a triple batch of this sauce - one recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of oil - how much should I use for the triple batch? 9 tb of oil sounds like an awful lot.

                          1. re: Westminstress

                            Westminstress I made a quadruple batch on Friday. The Idea is to ensure you have enough oil to cover the base of your pan so you can effectively cook the garlic until golden. My pan was a little larger on Friday and I'd guess I used approx 1/4 c. of evoo so just 1 tbsp more for 4 times the sauce. IMHO the oil is not a key component of the dish, rather just a vehicle to facilitate the cooking.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Thanks, I was thinking I'd use about that much, then worried that wasn't enough. Glad my instincts were on target, and I'm off to get started now! Thanks again especially for your quick response.

                              1. re: Westminstress

                                Have fun Westminstress and buon appetito!

                          2. re: angelsmom

                            And I'm back to report on the Sugo di pomodoro. Others have described the technique so I won't elaborate. I made a triple batch of sauce in my Dutch oven rather than the recommended skillet. I tripled everything except the oil, of which I used 1/4 cup. For my tomatoes I used three boxes of pomi chopped tomatoes, which have no additives. This made a lovely sauce! I was surprised how much i liked it. My usual go to sauce is Marcella's butter and onion sauce. Like that sauce, this one is pure and simple and involves little chopping. The basil flavor really came through and I liked how quickly it came together. While I think I still like Marcella's sauce for winter, this might become my new default sauce for summer. Very very nice!

                            1. re: angelsmom

                              Sugo di Pomodoro (Quick Tomato Sauce), page 53

                              I was able to find some luscious tomatoes, but not enough to make the double recipe I had planned, so I added canned of tomatoes also. I made the recipe as written, except for adding a pinch of baking soda at the end to adjust the acidity I could taste from the canned tomatoes. A fine, simple sauce. And a perfect one for the Raviolini Calabresi, reviewed downthread.

                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                Sugo di pomodoro

                                Wow. This sauce was a revelation to me. I'm so glad for COTM to introduce me to things like this. I have to admit I thought of pasta with tomato sauce as kids food and had basically no guilt about using barilla out of a jar. Obviously didn't know what I was missing!

                                I had many home grown heirloom tomatoes which had split from the recent rain. I supplemented those with canned and made double recipe. Everyone loved it from picky toddlers to my "I don't like Italian food" husband. Served it both with pasta and made the excellent eggplant Parmesan.

                                Smiling to myself still at the revelation.

                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                  I felt the same way-- and it certainly makes me wonder what else is out there!

                              2. re: angelsmom

                                Sugo di Pomodoro (Quick Tomato Sauce), page 53

                                Wow, there are a lot of people who've made this recipe. Like everyone here I was blown away at how easy and simple this was but what a great result. I used canned tomatoes which is a bit daft in tomato season but I don't grow them and I didn't have enough in the house. My tomatoes were San Marzano but did have citric acid in so I will have to find another brand and see if it makes a difference.The flavor from the garlic, basil, salt and good tomatoes was great. Why would anyone buy tomato sauce in a jar when this sauce is so great? I served it with the Polpette alla Verbicarese on p.209.

                                1. re: JaneEYB

                                  It's pretty hard to find commercial canned tomatoes without citric acid. I'm fortunate that my local natural food store house brand is without additives, and they are fantastic. If you can find them that way, I highly recommend it. But from what I've seen, even the high dollar brands of San Marzano tomatoes tend to have citric acid.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    Have you tried Pomi? They are not canned, rather tetra pak'd,but no citric acid, no salt added, not san marzano, but imho, pretty darn good.

                                    1. re: qianning

                                      Yes, I've tried them, but the Pomi boxes I can get here are all crushed or pureed, not whole, and I prefer to cook with whole tomatoes, even when making a sauce.

                                      The ones my natural food store (Earth Fare) is carrying are whole, have no citric acid, no calcium chloride. They aren't San Marzano either, but they are fantastic, better than Pomi to my taste. To me, the lack of additives trumps geography.

                                      1. re: MelMM

                                        For canned tomatoes, the author recommends (on p. 12) San Marzanos that have neither citric acid nor calcium chloride. I wish she had given the names of brands that are additive-free, as I haven't been able to find one. I'll check the natural foods store near me to see what they stock, but I suspect they won't be San Marzanos either.

                                        1. re: cheesemaestro

                                          The other thing I'm seeing with all the brands of true San Marzanos I've found locally, is that they have some basil added to the can. I don't want that, I want to buy just plain tomatoes, as they may get used in dishes where I don't want basil, or it wouldn't be appropriate.

                                          Besides the lack of additives, what I like to see in a canned tomato is that they are evenly ripe, and that they are truly peeled and don't have bits of skin still sticking to them. The ones I've been getting from Earth Fare have been perfect in this regard. I've had some from Muir Glen that have (in addition to the unwanted citric acid) green shoulders and large pieces of skin still stuck to them. Not what I want for my sauce.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Mel. I agree exactly. I had been buying the whole foods brand organic because I try to use only organic since I am feeding 3 young kids. Unfortunately, they have had green shoulders and pieces of skin. Are the earth fare ones organic? I never shop there, but I see they have one in Raleigh.

                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                              The Earth Fare ones are organic. Ingredients are tomatoes, tomato juice, and sea salt.

                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                If it is possible to can tomatoes using only tomatoes and sea salt, I wonder why all those other brands use calcium chloride and citric acid. ?? Cosmetic reasons?
                                                Do the Earth Fare tomatoes look different from the others?

                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  I think the citric acid makes up for inconsistent quality in the tomatoes. With the citric acid added, they can get the same acidity in every can even if the tomatoes vary.

                                                  The Earth Fare tomatoes look great. They are a deep red throughout, no green spots, no skin left on. They squish easily in my hands when I crush them to make sauce (a quality I like).

                                            2. re: MelMM

                                              I've done some Internet research on canned tomatoes and found some interesting things. I found a brand of tomatoes (not DOP)--Carmelina--that has no additives and no basil. Reviews are generally positive, although I read one that was scathingly negative and said that the tomatoes tasted like the can they were packed in. They are reasonably priced and can be purchased through Amazon.com, if one is willing to buy a case of 12. I also believe that some ShopRite markets carry them, although there aren't any in my area.

                                              Second, I found an article that Janet Fletcher (yes, the same Janet Fletcher who is the co-author of My Calabria) wrote in 2003 about canned tomatoes. She talks about why producers add calcium chloride to their tomatoes. Americans expect to see a plump tomato when they open the can. Quite the opposite, Italians know that tomatoes with calcium chloride don't break down easily in a sauce and they don't want them. There's also an economic reason that the producers add this chemical. Firm tomatoes don't lose weight or volume during processing, so they can get away with putting fewer in the can. Janet also conducted a taste test with several brands. She concluded that her home grown tomatoes were the best (surprise!). She liked Muir Glen, a brand that people seem either to love or hate. She didn't like Pomi all that much. Here's the reference to her article, which is well worth reading:


                                              Third, Janet and several other sources were enthusiastic about a brand named Il Miracolo di San Gennaro. San Marzanos were almost eradicated about 20 years ago by a virus and were "resurrected" with the development of a more disease-resistant plant. Essentially all of the growers switched to seed for the hardier variety, but some people claim that the flavor is inferior. However,the tomatoes for Il Miracolo di San Gennaro are supposedly grown from the original seed. Unfortunately, there appears to be only one source for them now in the US, through Gustiamo. At $13.50 a can, not many of us will be using them for everyday cooking.


                                              There are several reviews posted on the Internet in which various brands of canned tomatoes (San Marzano and others) are compared. It's frustrating to read them. There's no consistency in the rankings. One reviewer will rate a brand highly, while another reviewer will rank it considerably lower. I also have the sense that quality can vary enormously within a single brand. One can get excellent tomatoes in one can, and not-so-good tomatoes in another can.

                                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                Interesting about those miracle tomatoes! Thanks for this post, cheesemaestro. I suppose the length of time the tomatoes have been in the can affects them too--.

                                                1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                  Thanks for the link to the Fletcher article, cheesemaestro. It was an interesting read.

                                                  I used to like Muir Glen, but in the past couple years they seem to have gone downhill, or my tastes have changed. I'm always getting lots of skin still on the tomatoes, and they are green around the shoulders. Plus they use both citric acid and calcium chloride. The calcium chloride makes them too firm for my taste.

                                            3. re: MelMM

                                              got it, that makes sense. i use the chopped pomi, not crushed, and am happier with them than any canned san marzano i've tried. totally agree the lack of additives makes all the difference. have never tried the earth fare brand.

                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                I found this page, tomato opinion from Cook's Illustrated, while looking for canned tomato info:
                                                I'll continue to taste test for myself, between summers.

                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  The brand I have been using (that does contain citric acid) just has a tomato on the label repeated (though it is elongated and looks more like an eggplant) with San Marzano written on the image (I buy them at Whole Foods). So I assume the brand is just called San Marzano. Because it has Polpa di pomodoro running around the top and bottom of the label I assumed it is Italian but I found that the tomatoes are grown in the USA. MelMM - what do you find is the difference with citric acid free canned tomatoes? I thought the sauce made with these tomatoes was pretty good so I'd love to know whether it is worth trying to track down the Earth Fare brand.

                                                  1. re: JaneEYB

                                                    Sweeter, more pure tomato flavor, is the difference I taste when the citric acid is absent. However, tastes do vary, and some people might prefer the taste with the citric acid. The calcium chloride is a firming agent, so tomatoes that contain it do not break down as easily into a sauce. Once again, some might consider that a good thing, but I don't.

                                                    Jane, I don't know where you live, but Earth Fare is a chain of natural foods supermarkets based in Asheville, NC, and found mainly in the Southeast US. This is their store brand, so if you don't live where there is an Earth Fare, you're out of luck. Maybe some others will find brands available other parts of the country.

                                              2. re: qianning

                                                If you have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine or website, they just taste tested whole canned tomatoes in March.

                                                1. re: dmjordan

                                                  I've read their article, but I disagree with the criteria. For example, their winning tomato is exactly the one I've decided I won't ever buy again.

                                                  For example, from their review of the winning tomato, Muir Glen:
                                                  "The addition of calcium chloride gave the tomatoes a “nice firm texture” that held up even after hours of simmering."

                                                  This is not what I want for my tomato sauce. It is also not what the author of "My Calabria" wants. If that is what you want, fine, but not me. My recent experience with Muir Glen tomatoes is that they have been horrible. In addition to having the calcium chloride, which makes them not break down easily, they have tended to be under-ripe, and have a lot of large pieces of skin still on them.

                                                  I think if you want to use a canned tomato in an application where you want them to remain firm and intact, you will like Muir Glen and other brands that contain calcium chloride. But when I use a canned tomato, I want it to break down. Calcium chloride is only a problem for me. There is also a question of how much acidity you want. For me, I prefer ripe tomatoes with no added acid. Once again, others' tastes will vary, depending upon how they use canned tomatoes.

                                                2. re: qianning

                                                  I agree, I like the pomi crushed tomatoes. Along with the other attributes you mention, the packaging is BPA free, which is a big concern for me as I have young children.

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    My absolute Go To canned tomato was Pastene Kitchen Ready. All my family for several generations used that brand. (The company having been founded in the North End of Boston in the 1800s it was in the family's Rule Book, LOL) The product was just about all natural and made a tasty sauce. However, ever since I discovered Pomi brand when cooking with Mario Batali and River Cafe recipes Pomi has replaced the Pastene. It has a pure tomato flavor. The box instead of can appeals to me as well.

                                            4. re: angelsmom

                                              Sugo di Pomodoro, Quick Tomato Sauce, page 53

                                              Way behind the curve here, as tonight was my first time making Sugo di Pomodoro. I used the resulting sauce on a pizza with spicy Italian Sausage, grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

                                              I love this! What a deep flavor for so few ingredients. I made it exactly as instructed, including removing the garlic before serving. I used Pomi tomatoes since I had no tomatoes left after making Gunst's Roasted Tomato Sauce.

                                              1. re: angelsmom

                                                Sugo di Pomodoro, p. 53

                                                I made this quick sauce for the Eggplant Parmigiano recipe, and like others here, I was delighted with how easy and delicious it was. (The recipe is almost exactly like one my aunt gave me, from her Italian mother; I'm not sure, but I think she was from Sicily.)

                                                I wish I could have tried this with fresh tomatoes, but any good ones here are long gone. I made them with canned San Marzanos, Rega brand. I confess, I had never checked thelabel for ingredients, always assuming there would just be tomatoes. But the discussion here prompted me to check, and I was happy to discover that they have no additives, no citric acid, except for the annoying basil leaf. I buy these by the case and have been happy with them, but I have never done a side-by-side taste test. (I have also used Pomi and liked those as well, but they used to be almost impossible to find here.)

                                                1. re: angelsmom

                                                  Sugo di Pomodoro, pg. 53

                                                  Add me to the long list.

                                                  1. re: angelsmom

                                                    Sugo di Pomodoro, p. 53

                                                    I've made this sauce twice, once for the Dromësat soup recipe and last night for the Polpette alla Verbicarese (pork meatballs). I used Roma tomatoes from the farmers market both times. With so many reviews of the sauce already posted, there's not much new to say. The second time I made the sauce I added the hot red pepper. The result was very good, but I like the sauce better without the pepper. Still, an outstanding, yet simple, sauce to have in one's repertoire.

                                                    A question about equivalency, especially as most of us will be using canned tomatoes as good fresh ones disappear from markets. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes or one 28 oz. can of canned tomatoes. Now, 3.5 pounds = 56 oz., exactly double the weight of what's in the can, and that doesn't take into account the fact that the can isn't 100% tomatoes; it also contains juice or puree. When I made the recipe yesterday, I used 19 plum tomatoes. There certainly aren't that many in a can. I'm at a loss to understand how just one can of tomatoes would make the same amount of sauce. Am I missing something here?

                                                    1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                      Totally guessing here but... could it be that when we weigh our garden/farmers market tomatoes the tomatoes are full of seeds/core/meaty interior. When we use a 28 oz. can the tomatoes have been cored/seeded/skinned. Thus the disparity...

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        I did consider the loss from the skins, seeds and cores, but I can't imagine it amounts to anywhere near half the weight of the tomatoes. I guess I'll have to try the recipe with canned tomatoes and see how much sauce it makes.

                                                      2. re: cheesemaestro

                                                        I found this, might shed some light--
                                                        I admit, I just use what seems right at the time.

                                                    2. Soup with porcini and potatoes (from her website)

                                                      This one sounded simple but good to me, and that is exactly what it was. I would say it was better than one might expect, mainly because you sort of mash some of the potatoes which makes the soup slightly creamy. You cut potatoes, coat with heated olive oil in the pan and then add heated broth (I used chicken) and simmer for 20 minutes. Once that time is up, take a fork (I used a potato masher) and smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot. In a separate pan saute cut up mushrooms (I couldn't find fresh porcini, used baby bellas instead) with a sprig of thyme and olive oil. Combine the two, add a bit more broth and cook about 5 minutes more. Again, smash up a bit more of the potato. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish, if you'd like, with a drizzle of olive oil and some croutons (I just served ciabatta on the side, along with an Italian Two Easy green bean and parmesan salad). This hit the spot, even on a hot and thunderstormy day.


                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        LLM I saw this on the website and bookmarked it. So glad to know it was delicious. I've never seen fresh porcini here. The ones that were labeled as "fresh" were imported and damp. The baby bellas sound like a great sub and I have some porcini powder that I sprinkle in (pick it up at The Spice House in Chicago when we visit). I'll definitely give this a try. Thanks!!

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          I thought I must be crazy when I couldn't find fresh porcini. Thanks for letting me know it isn't just me. I think the idea of adding porcini powder is brilliant, although I'm not sure it needs it.

                                                          1. re: mbfant

                                                            Cremini mushrooms are sometimes marketed as Baby Bellas... they're just teenage portobellas.

                                                        2. Cavatieddi con Pomodori Gratinati al Forno (Pasta “Gnocchi” with Roasted Tomatoes and Breadcrumbs p. 57

                                                          Looking for a recipe to use up some of my roma tomatoes and found this one. The sauce is made in the oven. Pour a little olive oil into an oven safe dish, add roma tomatoes (peeled, seeded and sliced in half), season with salt and pepper (I did not use the whole amount suggested because the cheese added plenty of salt), add the breadcrumb mixture (toasted fresh breadcrumbs, fresh oregano, parsley and grated pecorino romano), drizzle with more oil and bake at 450F for 20 minutes. The tomatoes are very soft and are crushed to make the sauce. Add cooked cavatieddi and serve with additional cheese.

                                                          This is a rustic, hearty dish. It was so hearty that that my husband had asked if there was meat in the dish. The cavatieddi was a new shape to me and this is the first time I’ve made fresh pasta without eggs. It has been a while since I’ve made fresh pasta, but the dough seemed firmer (or maybe I have not kneaded in a long time). My execution could have been better as the pasta shapes were a little bigger than the picture in the book, but the larger shaped captured the sauce making for a tasty mouthful with each bite.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                            Cavatieddi con Pomodori Gratinati al Forno
                                                            Pasta “Gnocchi” w Roasted Tomatoes & Breadcrumbs, Pg. 57

                                                            What do you do with an enormous box of plum tomatoes in a CSA basket? Why make as much sauce as you can, of course. And that's what we did last night. I don't think I've ever made a roasted tomato sauce before, roasted tomatoes yes, but no sauce.

                                                            This was terrific...deep tomato flavor seasoned with plenty of garlic, and EVOO Instead of oregano I used basil and eliminated the breadcrumbs. Didn't need them. Included hot chili powder but mixed it with the freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Sliced 15 fairly large plum tomatoes, scraped out the seeds, etc. (refrigerated the scrapings in a covered bowl to use later.) Followed the baking and serving directions using Barilla Rigatoni. Because of the larger amount of tomatoes I roasted them about 45 minutes to make sure they were collapsed. Molto delizioso. There's about 15 tomatoes left to make More Sauce.

                                                          2. Polpette de Melanzane (Crispy Eggplant Meatballs) p.32

                                                            These tasty little spheres were surprisingly good, though calling them 'meatballs' is a far stretch of the imagination.....more like croquetas than anything. I made the mistake of calling them meatballs when I served at dinnertime, to much protest from the purists. All were gobbled up without delay in spite of that oversight.

                                                            Eggplant is cut up and boiled until soft. I used two asian eggplants, which worked out just swell. When cooked, it is drained and then wrung out as much as possible to ensure a dry mix. Then finely chop and add fresh breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsely, garlic, and egg. The balls are rolled out and dredged in dry breadcrumbs, then fried in olive oil to brown.

                                                            These were light and moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, with the pecorino taking the stage as the predominant flavour. They were excellent on their own, but even better when dipped in the simple tomato sauce. I will be making these again for sure, but I'll make a double batch--they didn't last long.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                              Glad to hear these were good. I've been curious about them and now they are on my to-make list.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                These polpette sound like something I'd like to try. I'm waiting for my book to arrive but have not had time to cook - or post - since school started. I'm looking forward to hearing more feedback.

                                                              2. Dromësat p. 60
                                                                This is a pasta dish with tomato sauce. I used the Quick Tomato Sauce (hooray for this sauce!) on page 53.
                                                                The pasta is funny -- a surface is covered with 1/2 inch of flour, then sprinkled with water (barely) and mixed (circular motion) until you've got a meal-like substance. It's not a mass of dough -- it's barely wet but wet enough. Then rub it between your palms. You've done this already if you've ever rubbed your hands together to get dough off -- little shreds fall, little icicle shapes -- that's it!
                                                                I put mine into a dark pan so you can see the sort-of texture (not expert!)
                                                                Then, mix some good tomato sauce with water & salt, boil, and stir the pasta a handful at a time into this. Stir stir stir for 3 minutes. You have soup! It is thick (filling!) and silky textured. The tomato comes right on through, it's the simplest stuff but very nice. I can't help but thinking that kids would love making and eating this.
                                                                The yellow color in the picture is just my shadow..

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    Oooh... I can't wait until I have the book so I can try this. Beautiful pictures.

                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      I made this today, starting with the book's recipe for Sugo di Pomodoro, commented on many times above in this thread. I used ripe plum tomatoes from my farmers market and left them chunky, which I think adds a complementary texture to the soup. I have to say that making the dromësat pasta is a bit of a messy process, though straightforward. The only issue is not accidentally adding a little too much water in places. I did wind up with a few small clumps, which I tried to salvage by isolating them and adding some flour to dry them. That didn't work. Once the flour is clumped, it's clumped! Luckily there weren't enough clumps to spoil the dish. Next time, I might try using a sprayer/mister to spread water more evenly over the flour. The finished result is delicious, though. The soup is thick enough for a spoon to stand up in and extremely filling. It's enough by itself with a salad to make a meal.

                                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                        I can agree with your whole post -- from the little clumps to the filling and delicious ending. From such a odd simple method comes a really nice soup -- I have to admit I was surprised.

                                                                    2. Riso con Fagioli (Spicy Calabrian Rice with Tomato and Borlotti Beans), p.m109

                                                                      If you've been attuned to the news at all, you know that in the Charlotte area, we've had some dreary, and occasionally stormy, weather this week. It's put me in mood to cook up some beans. This recipe has you cook up some cranberry beans, but doesn't give instructions for the beans themselves. As much as I liked the idea of a pot of beans simmering on the stove, I didn't have that kind of time. So I cooked the beans up in the pressure cooker. These were expensive "heirloom" cranberry beans, bought at the Whole Foods that just opened in Charlotte. I should have known better. Freshness matters in beans, and for the freshest beans, you should go to a supermarket with a significant Latino customer base, and buy Goya. These beans were not fresh. They took over twice as long, in the pressure cooker, to get tender, than they should have. But that is neither here nor there as far as the recipe is concerned. I'm just venting. The gist of it is, get yourself some cooked beans, with some broth.

                                                                      The other components are the by now famous quick tomato sauce, but in this case made with parsley instead of basil, and perhaps some ground red pepper. I went ahead and used red pepper flakes here. The sauce is also made in a larger pot, large enough to hold the rice and beans, as everything ends up here in the end.

                                                                      The rice is cooked by the pasta method. I have cooked rice by this method many times before, but I can't recall cooking arborio rice this way. There's a first time for everything. Once you have the sauce, beans, and rice cooked, you combine them all together in the pot with the sauce. Stir that around for a bit, taste for seasoning, and that's it.

                                                                      The recipe doesn't call for cheese, but I grated a little pecorino on this and I don't regret it. This is red beans and rice, Italian style. It's simple and delicious, like so much in this book. Another winner.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                        Riso con Fagioli (Spicy Calabrian Rice with Tomato and Borlotti Beans) p.109

                                                                        This was dinner for one tonight. My husband is on a short business trip and knowing he would not be excited about this recipe, I planned on making this in his absence (premeditated vegetarianism).

                                                                        I made the borlotti beans (Rancho Gordo - boy, are their beans delicious) yesterday and I added chopped parsley and extra red pepper flakes to the already made sauce.

                                                                        Unlike MelMM, this was my first time making rice using the pasta method. It makes for a wetter rice, but it works in this context.

                                                                        I was able to pull this together quickly after work and I was a very happy diner. This made a humble and completely satisfying meal.

                                                                      2. Pasta with Wild Fennel and Sausage (http://www.calabriafromscratch.com/?p...


                                                                        I couldn't find wild fennel so I used regular, and I used turkey sausage, so I'm not sure reviewing this is really worthwhile for others, but here goes. I cut whatever fronds I could off the fennel. Did not get as much as apparently I should have from wild fennel, and so I didn't bother with boiling them before adding to the sausage I was sauteing. I added some fennel seeds (maybe a teaspoons worth) to the fennel, sausage mix. Tossed in my cooked rigatoni along with a bit of the pasta water. We're big fennel fans (served the bulb as fennel salad) and we liked this dish. I imagine that wild fennel must be pretty amazing stuff, and if I ever come across it at the farmers market I'll try it again following the directions.

                                                                        1. Calabrian Pasta: A Glossary of shapes, pg. 48
                                                                          Homemade Fresh Pasta, pg 59
                                                                          "Fusilli", pg. 86

                                                                          OK, so I've made this pasta dough twice and am loving it. Ignorant me I had no idea anyone in Italy ate egg-less pasta, and since that's my personal preference in noodles, I'm just loving this. I have been substituting 1/3 white whole wheat flour for the all purpose, with good results.

                                                                          The first time I made this dough I cut the pasta as "Lagani", and all was fine.

                                                                          My second attempt I tried to form the pasta into "Fusilli" and that endeavor was quickly sliding into disaster territory, I could get the pasta to form (using a tapered lacquered chopstick, I admit sheepishly, not a knitting needle), but no-way no-how would they slide off. After struggling with three or four, I gave up and cut ribbon pasta again. But I really want to figure out how to make "Fusilli" work. Advice? Suggestions?

                                                                          19 Replies
                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                            "...using a tapered lacquered chopstick..."
                                                                            I pictured this ultra Italian procedure, definitely my smile for the day!

                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                              blushing...I'm no knitter, but chopsticks, that's something I've got plenty of in all shapes sizes and materials (but no metal ones--yet).

                                                                            2. re: qianning

                                                                              Qianning, knitting needles are made with either a plastic material, wood, or metal (although I have some old ones made out of Bakelite). What I'm thinking is: did you flour the lacquered chopstick before forming the fusilli? Next, I haven't read the recipe but if simply a knitting needle is used perhaps it's either plastic or wood. In which case for the wood you could one of your wooden chopsticks or use a thin dowel, or sturdy reed from the hardware/big box store... If it's a plastic needle off you go to the yarn store to buy a set of KNs, probably the set of 4 used for knitting socks would be long enough. (Buy 2 long ones and use one to shore up a plant... or something. LOL)

                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                thanks, gio, good ideas. i did try flouring (both the chopstick and the dough) and that didn't seem to help. i also tried chopsticks made with bamboo and wood, the lacquered was the best but still not good enough. i'm kind of wondering if the flat head at the top of the knitting needle is part of the trick. keeping the tension/pressure in line or something like that.....i see knitting needles in my future!

                                                                              2. re: qianning

                                                                                I'm a knitter, and they do sell teflon coated knitting needles. I think those would certainly work! Another idea would be larger metal skewers (as long as they're round) of the kind you would use to make shish-kabob

                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                  teflon sounds just about right.....getting these to not stick to the surface of the mold is definitely the "trick"....how much is the right equipment versus the right skill set/technique, now that's an open question for me.

                                                                                2. re: qianning

                                                                                  I always had good luck using those cheap bamboo skewers found in most grocery stores. The paste slides right off.

                                                                                  1. re: Novelli

                                                                                    i'm beginning to wonder if my dough was too wet (although i used a little less water than the recipe calls for, and after giving up on the fusilli it rolled out perfectly for noodles)....because i did try bamboo and it really stuck.

                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                      Check the video link:


                                                                                      Shows Rosetta making them during a class. May pick up some tips. I know, for me, it makes it easier when I see it actually being done.

                                                                                        1. re: Novelli

                                                                                          The video really helped, thanks so much Novelli. My technique still needs work, but I just formed a batch of these for dinner, a long way from pretty, but not in the disaster category.

                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                            OK, so these weren't exactly pretty, but they got the job done. And, believe me much better than the initial attempt. Thanks to all for the much needed advice. I ended up using a piece of coat hanger wire, searched the house for the thickest coat wire hanger I could find, then snipped it and steel wooled it. Which brings me to my two points, one-the diameter of the pin needs to be much smaller than I had originally thought and two-after also trying bamboo skewers I preferred the wire rod, things seemed to stick less.

                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                              *Homemade* fusilli! Cool!

                                                                                              Once you had the metal smooth, how long did it take you to do this ?

                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                Not including making and resting the dough, maybe twenty minutes. I can see where this is a "practice makes perfect" kind of an exercise.....but not sure how often I'll practice!

                                                                                                The results are amazingly like a noodle from northwest China that I love (duh, it is virtually the same dough!). This whole egg-less pasta from Italy thing has been an eye opener for me.

                                                                                              2. re: qianning

                                                                                                Qianning that looks marvelous. Brava! Now if you twist the pasta on the wire you'll get fusilli lunghi bucati. Long pierced twisted macaroni...

                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                  LOL! You sure know how to up the ante!

                                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                                    Hey... you're definitively up for it after your brilliant recoup...
                                                                                                    Perseverance thy name is Qianning.

                                                                                                2. re: qianning

                                                                                                  Fantastic! I'm so glad it worked out for you!
                                                                                                  Looks excellent.

                                                                                        2. Creamy Chick Pea Soup with Shrimp and Anise Seed, p.103

                                                                                          The "cream" in this wonderful soup is a puréed mix of garbanzo beans and cooked onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. This is added to shrimp stock flavored with parsley, thinned if necessary with a little cooking liquid from the beans. This is a new combo of flavors for me, (chick peas with seafood) and I liked it immediately. The shrimp you peeled for the stock are of course added too, and the fennel seeds (crushed) to garnish are just right. Highly recommended.
                                                                                          Made a half recipe.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                            Oh wow, this has so many things I like. Is there any way you can post a rephrase of the recipe for us?

                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                              Sure! (For 6 servings, according to the book.)

                                                                                              First make the beans--

                                                                                              1/2 pound dried chickpeas Soak, drain, and cook with fresh water until soft -- I think you don't need instructions for this, but ask if you want them! Drain the beans but reserve the liquid.

                                                                                              Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt -- about 10 minutes before beans are done.

                                                                                              Then make the stock--

                                                                                              18 large shrimp peels (save the shrimp!)

                                                                                              and 2 flat leaf parsley sprigs

                                                                                              and 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

                                                                                              simmer the shells, parsley and salt in 2 quarts of water until reduced by half -- about 45 minutes. You now have 1 quart (4 cups) stock. Set aside.

                                                                                              Then sauté in olive oil, in a pot, these veggies:

                                                                                              1/2 yellow onion,diced

                                                                                              1 large carrot, diced

                                                                                              1 celery rib, diced

                                                                                              1 garlic clove, minced

                                                                                              when soft, not browned, add 3 cups shrimp stock and the (drained) chickpeas. Simmer about

                                                                                              10 minutes. Then purée ( I used immersion blender) it all -- thin with bean liquid if you like.

                                                                                              You have one cup shrimp stock left -- use it to cook the shrimp, it only takes a very few minutes as you know. You can use this liquid also to thin the soup if you like.

                                                                                              Garnish with a shake of ground red pepper and or crushed anise seed.

                                                                                              I hope you like it as much as I do!

                                                                                            2. re: blue room

                                                                                              I echo LLM's comments blue room, this looks and sounds sensational! Thanks for posting, I'm adding this to my ever-growing list!!

                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                Very excited to try this one after reading your post. Intriguing combination of flavors.

                                                                                                For LLM- I found the recipe online: http://www.projectfoodie.com/cookbook...

                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                  For heaven's sake why didn't I think of that? I look up 9 zillion things a day, and it didn't occur to me to try --
                                                                                                  I guess cuz the book was sitting open next to me!

                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                    Thanks to blue room and BigSal - I really appreciate it. These are some of my favorite flavors. I'm looking forward to trying it.

                                                                                                  2. re: blue room

                                                                                                    Sounds delicious Blue Room. This is on my list to try as soon as my book arrives.

                                                                                                  3. Fusilli Calabrese con Sugo di Capra (Pasta w/ goat Sauce) pg.85

                                                                                                    Having resolved my "knitting needle" pasta problems the rest was easy. I was drawn to this recipe because it uses bone-in goat, which is much easier for me to find than boned goat meat, plus we like sauces/raise that use bone-in meat. This one really works, very tasty, hearty but not overly rich.

                                                                                                    I followed the steps in the recipe exactly, but did change a few proportions. The recipe calls for 3lb I had just shy of 2lbs of goat, and still opted to use the full amount of tomato and garlic and basil. I did reduce the olive oil to 2 TBS from 4, and the salt to 1 tsp from 2tsp (even w/ fresh tomatoes that was plenty of salt for us--RC really seems to like a lot more salt than we do).

                                                                                                    Brown the meat in the oil, add chopped tomatoes (I used have fresh and half pomi) garlic, basil, salt, crushed red pepper. Simmer. That's it. And it is so tasty.

                                                                                                    Served the sauce w/ the fusilli, the meat on the side, followed by a simple green salad.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                      That ragu sounds luscious. Must make... The only goat meat I've found so far around here was at the Asian market in Malden and then it was very bony stew meat. That would probably work though if I cook it long enough.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        Gio-just noticed your post. My goat was definitely bony (a mix of mostly shoulder and back bone, with a couple of rib cuts) and it worked perfectly in this.

                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                          Thanks so much Q. Then I'll just get that mix as well. Bones do have a lot of flavor and contribute to the richness of the ragu. Kudos for your ricotta, BTW. That looks wonderful...!

                                                                                                      2. re: qianning

                                                                                                        [Fusilli Calabrese] con Sugo di Capra, Pg. 85
                                                                                                        Pasta with Goat Sauce

                                                                                                        First, just let me say that this goat sauce is absolutely delicious. Instead of serving it with the fusilli, though, I ladled it over baked polenta and served the goat meat along side with steamed broccoli. We loved it and will definitely make it again.

                                                                                                        The goat meat I had was 1.87 lbs. of meaty bone-in hind shank butchered into about 1 1/2 inch chunks. Following Qianning's lead I too reduced the oil and salt amounts but kept the full amounts of the other ingredients. I used 1 box of chopped Pomi tomatoes that was rinsed with about a third of a cup of dry vermouth. Because our basil has gone past I used leaves that I had dried last week. The crushed red pepper flakes. and tomato paste were included. Keep in mind that after searing the ragu simmers, covered, for 1 1/2 hours so plan ahead.

                                                                                                        Tonight I intend to use the sauce and meat I had put aside to make goat enchiladas. We shall see how That goes. but for the time being I'm already looking for more goat recipes to make. We like the flavor of this meat and even though it Is a bit chewy the meat alone is very tasty.

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          So glad to here you had a chance to try this and liked it too. I'm always on the hunt for more bone in goat recipes, so if you find any that you like, please do share!

                                                                                                      3. Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings, p. 96

                                                                                                        Oh we loved these! So excited to find I can successfully make them. Mr. blue room inhaled several before I could restrain him.
                                                                                                        Using homemade ricotta from the same book (page 144), you mix in fresh breadcrumbs, eggs, pecorino cheese, chopped flat-leaf parsley, black pepper. Let this dough chill for easier handling, then roll into 3/4 inch balls. Roll these balls in flour to coat, and add to very gently simmering broth. In about 3 minutes they float to the top. The first couple I tried seemed too soft (I made them a little too large, I think) so I simply let the rest simmer longer after coming to the surface -- maybe 1/2 minute or so. This firmed them up to perfection.
                                                                                                        The broth came straight out of a box (Swanson's) but of course homemade stock would be even better.
                                                                                                        I don't know what size "fresh breadcrumbs" are correct for this, I just tore up white bread into pieces about the size of peas.

                                                                                                        1. Tonight's dinner will be what I refer to as Italian fusion food -- Veal cutlets parmigiana. I know that it would never be made this way in Italy, but I don't care! Mine will be pan fried and then covered in my homemade marinara, some sliced mozzarella, and then baked. With that will be some eggplant parm, and since I have some ricotta in the fridge, I am going to make the version in My Calabria that I've been reading about in the COTM. If my husband would eat tomatoes, I would make a tomato salad with the lovely tomatoes I just harvested from our garden, so I guess it will be a green salad instead. My husband will eat tomatoes in bruschetta for some reason, so I will have to get some good bread and make that.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                            Sounds wonderful! I wish we were neighbors - I'd bring the wine!

                                                                                                            1. re: bkieras

                                                                                                              Ooops, I had meant to post this on WFD, and con't figure out why it wasn't on that thread. Anyway, the eggplant was terrific! I had only one eggplant, so I cut the recipe down considerably. I love that the eggplant was baked, not fried. Even though I wouldn't particularly characterize this as a "light" dish, it is certainly considerably lighter than the standard version. I will certainly make this again.

                                                                                                            2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                              My husband is the same - he wouldn't touch tomato salad with a 10-foot pole, but dice it fine, slap it on some bread and call it bruschetta and he inhales it. Men are weird. :)

                                                                                                            3. Tonight's dinner was Pasta e Patate "Santo Janni" - Spaghetti with a Creamy Potato and Pancetta Sauce.

                                                                                                              This is my second recipe from the book and it was as easy and tasty as the first. The potato made a really interesting sauce. My husband called it mild; I prefer subtle. I guess we liked it, because two people devoured the four serving meal. We couldn't find the suggested wine, but got a very nice syrah and ate outside with some nice Rat Pack tunes to set the mood.

                                                                                                              A little salt really enhanced the meal. I also could not find ricotta salata - apparently there is a recall? But the "cheese guy" at Whole Foods recommended a Greek farmer's cheese that was a nice substitute. I think any semi-soft, mild cheese would be fine.

                                                                                                              The pictures show the ingredients, a little "fuel" for the chef, and the finished product.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: bkieras

                                                                                                                Wow I completely missed this on page 66, and really want to try it. Sounds simple and delicious.

                                                                                                                The ricotta salata recall is (sigh) a sad sign of the times I suppose.

                                                                                                                I see your kitty snuck into the picture!

                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                  Yep, Kitty graced us with her presence. I think she hoping for a little pancetta to find its way to her.

                                                                                                                2. re: bkieras

                                                                                                                  bkieras I loved everything about your post. I felt as though I was right there w you in the kitchen, enjoying the tunes and a delicious meal. Your first photo is a still life worthy of a magazine. Your finished dish had me salivating. I completely missed this recipe on first pass of the book but I've tabbed it now. Thanks so much for pointing it out and for such an engaging post!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                    Thank you so much! It was a lovely dish and a lovely evening...

                                                                                                                3. Lagani e Ceci – Summer Variation with Fresh Cranberry Beans – p. 65

                                                                                                                  Like his imaginary Tuscan forefathers, mr bc is a bean-lover and this simple, market inspired dish beckoned him. I was only too pleased to oblige, especially since I picked up what I expect to be the last of the season borlotti beans at the market this week. This dish seemed like a great way to profile them.

                                                                                                                  I was not as adventurous as a number of folks who have gone before me this month as I did not make my own pasta. I opted to pick up fresh linguini from a local Italian bakery.

                                                                                                                  Prep is straightforward. Beans are shelled and boiled until tender (15 mins did the trick in my case). Beans are then set aside while pasta cooks and the sauce is made.

                                                                                                                  This is another dish with a quick and delicious tomato sauce. A halved clove of garlic is sautéed until golden before adding 400g of San Marzano tomatoes that have been whizzed in a blender. 3 basil leaves are torn and tossed in along with the interesting addition of 1 tbsp sweet paprika. This sauce is tossed into the drained pasta along w the beans and some pasta water. Hot pepper flakes are optional and I opted to pass at the table to please all palates.

                                                                                                                  We served this w a light dusting of freshly grated parmesan and the dish was delightful. So simple but fresh and flavourful. The bright tomato flavours complimented the rich creaminess of the beans. I’ll definitely make this again.

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: bkieras

                                                                                                                      Thanks so much bkieras, it was good to find a quick, easy or tasty dish.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                      I had tabbed this dish, then untabbed it when I noticed the recipe calls for 2 cups of pasta water and the dish is described as "brothy.". I imagined long noodles and chickpeas in a soupy tomato broth and thought that sounded weird - but your photos look great. Did you add the full 2 cups water?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                        I added 2 ladles full of pasta water Westminstress so likely 8- 10 oz. That was enough to loosen the sauce but as I continued to toss, all the liquids were absorbed and as you may be able to see in the second photo the sauce was thick enough to smear on the bowl. We wouldn't have liked it soupy either.

                                                                                                                    3. Raviolini Calabresi (Large Ravioli with Fresh Ricotta and Soppressata), page 80.

                                                                                                                      First I must confess that I didn't use her pasta recipe, just the filling. We were having guests for dinner and thought it would be safer to use our tried and true egg pasta, as opposed to something untried. So I am really reporting on the insides of the raviolini only. Said filling is composed of fresh ricotta, finely chopped soppressata, grated pecorino, minced parsley, egg, salt, and pepper. It's all just mixed together, then enclosed betweem pasta rounds for the large, rustic ravioli, which are topped with the Quick Tomato Sauce.

                                                                                                                      And these are absolutely delicious! I love ravioli, and I'm always happy to try a new filling. This one is a definite winner, and I'll make it again. The simple tomato sauce is perfect, and lets the flavors in the filling shine through. Not a great photo, but it was a great dish.

                                                                                                                      19 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                        Hmm the not so great photo didn't post. Trying again...

                                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                          Your ravioli look perfect. I'm impressed!

                                                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                            L.Nightshade, do you have a machine for the pasta? I'd love to try to make some and have it come out as pretty as that picture.

                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                              Thanks bkieras and blue room. We have a hand crank Atlas-type machine that Mr NS has had for about 40 years. We use that to make sheets and then I used a biscuit cutter for the circles. It's easier than you'd think! We have made hand-rolled pasta, and don't think there is much advantage to it, but it's a great experience.

                                                                                                                          2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                            These look wonderful. I love ravioli but hate making them as mine always seem to fall apart. But that filling sounds lovely. I may have to try again.

                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                              It's funny, I know you're supposed to dot filling on the pasta sheets, then cover it with another sheet, and THEN cut the ravioli. But when I made ravioli with a corzetti stamp design, I had to cut the circles out first, then fill them and then seal them. It worked very well; it was easier to get the air out, and they didn't all apart. I always do it that way now, tradition be damned!

                                                                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                I ordered a pasta roller last night, this one


                                                                                                                                as a result of that picture! I didn't know air getting in was a problem, I'm ignorant of ravioli traditions, and I absolutely can't wait to make all the mistakes! Also ordered King Arthur flour -- their pasta blend


                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                  Nice blue room! Can't wait to hear about your adventures!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                    Very interested in hearing about that pasta flour blend--and any comparisons to pasta dough made with reg. flour if you've used that.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                      The pasta maker has arrived, the fancy flour will be here in 1-2 days. I will definitely post here about my results, but can't compare with other recipes, this is all new to me. I have used "00" flour for pizza dough and found it superior, of course fresh pasta isn't the same.
                                                                                                                                      My first attempt will be covered with the Sugo di Pomodoro, of that I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                        Well I've done my first fresh ravioli! Except for the page 53 tomato sauce this is not a recipe from My Calabria. nomadchowwoman asked about the King Arthur pasta flour, and L.Nightshade's ravioli pictures were my inspiration.

                                                                                                                                        I'm very happy with the special pasta flour -- but I really don't have fine/authentic Italian food to compare this to -- I just know it was toothsome, tender and tasty! Learning how to use the hand-crank machine was lotsa pasta fun too. Two pics -- one before cooking, one after. Mr. blue room is fatter and happier, and I am astounded that I never tried fresh pasta before this. I used the pasta recipe from the King Arthur website (slightly different from the one on the back of the flour bag.) I used my food processor to mix the raw eggs, flour -- took just seconds. For the filling I just grated and stirred up a mash of everycheese -- including cottage, from my fridge. I included an egg and a shake of Penzey's freeze dried chives, good filling!

                                                                                                                                        Another tempting dish --haha -- blame it on Chowhound (BIOCH)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                          Lovely, blue room! I think I'll have to try that flour.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                            Great job, BR! Looks mighty fine. BIOCH.....now that's an acronym I can remember! LOLZ.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                              Beautiful blue room! Congratulations on a lovely job.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                      Raviolini Calabresi
                                                                                                                                      Large Ravioli with Fresh Ricotta and Soppressata
                                                                                                                                      Large Shell Variation, Pg. 81

                                                                                                                                      The minute I read through this recipe I knew I had to make it because the filling is similar to the filling one of my aunts made for her homemade ravioli and which my mother adopted sans meat. We simply call them Stuffed Shells. Instead of Soppresata though, I had a 4.2 oz. piece of Coppa so used that and to gild the lily G made a with sauce diced Pancetta that was very like the Pork Rib sauce on page 88. bkieras made the pork sauce on the 16th, report just below, and found it to be too thin, but last night's sauce was thick and meaty.

                                                                                                                                      I used store bought dry shells and all the necessary ingredients Nightshade listed including a fresh ricotta from the salumeria that was delicious. For the shells Ms. Constantino states that 32 shells or 7 oz, be used for the amount of filling mixed. That left 8 in the box so we cooked all 12 oz. and had more than enough filling. The shells are cooked to just before the al dente stage, drained, filled, placed in one layer in a large baking dish beginning with a smear of sauce on the bottom. The sauce is ladled over all, then the dish is put into a pre-heated 375F oven. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes till everything is bubbly and cooked through.

                                                                                                                                      We thought this dish was terrific. Although I must say that one should be very sparing with salt use because the meat tends to be salty. This is definitely a filling I'll be using again, because I too use my aunt's recipe without the meat... It's perfect for lasagne. I also served a salad of Celery, Radish, and Apple with crumbled Blue Cheese. Great meal.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                        Raviolini Calabresi, pg. 80.

                                                                                                                                        Sorry to buck a trend, but these didn't wow us. Some of the trouble was execution, this was the first time I've tried rolling this egg-less dough in my machine rollers, and I definitely rolled my pasta sheets too thin. But wish I'd gone the egg pasta route like LN & Gio. As Mr. QN put it "perfect wonton skin". That was NOT a compliment, believe me.

                                                                                                                                        As for the filling, I used home-made ricotta, soppressata, good pecorino, parsley, egg, & pepper (i.e. left out the salt, but otherwise followed the directions exactly); and didn't like the results at all. For me the soppressata dominated the cheeses in an unappealing way. For Mr. QN there wasn't enough soppressata! Go figure. Sauce was the quick tomato sugo, which we did love. Anyway, here they are before cooking.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                          I forgot to post about using up the leftover filling and tomato sauce. I used these to make the alternate version the author describes: stuffed shells. I just used a few lumaconi, as I didn't have too much leftover filling, and baked them in a loaf pan. The hardest part was following the direction to remove the pasta from the boiling water 2-3 minutes before they are al dente! I was lucky with my estimate, and they came out perfect after they had baked in the oven. This is a lot simpler than making ravioli, and pretty tasty. We'll never give up on homemade pasta, though!

                                                                                                                                        2. Tonight I made "Maccheroni Larghi con Sugo di Costate di Maiale" - wide noodles with pork ribs and tomato.

                                                                                                                                          This is probably the recipe I've most looked forward to. There is a local restaurant here that makes a tomato sauce with braised short ribs that is out of this world. The version from My Calabria was different - pork ribs, and they were removed and served on the side - but it was outstanding. The sauce was lick your plate good. Honestly, I had some doubts during the process. It didn't smell that great at first, and the sauce was pretty thin. The sauce was just a little olive oil, salt, fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and the ribs. It's amazing to me that such simple, basic ingredients can come together like this sauce did.

                                                                                                                                          I did make my own pasta - meh. It wasn't as hard as I thought, but the noodles were a little slippery, then got gummy after draining. They tasted okay, but they didn't add much to the meal. I'll have to do a little research before I try again to see if I can improve my technique.

                                                                                                                                          Finally....dessert. Not from the book, but I thought I'd share anyway. I made brownies from Small Batch Baking and served them with Talente pistachio gelato. I love desserts from this book, because you make just enough for a few people.

                                                                                                                                          Uploading pics...no appearance from kitty tonight. Sorry, they are a bit blurry.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: bkieras

                                                                                                                                            Looks wonderful. The sauce sounds pretty similar to the sugo di capra, there is something about these simple sauces cooked with the bone in meat that is just fabulous, no?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bkieras

                                                                                                                                              I'd marked this recipe, with a question mark, but you've erased it for me. Will have to try this one.

                                                                                                                                            2. Paccheri con Pesce Spada e Pomodori Pacchini (Large Pasta Tubes with Swordfish and Cherry Tomatoes) p. 73

                                                                                                                                              Last night the Mr. came home with swordfish from the fishmonger and we decided that this would make a quick dinner. Swordfish cubes, minced garlic, and Thai pepper are sautéed briefly, then halved cherry tomatoes and salt are added just to draw out the juices. Add minced parsley and paccheri, a large tubular pasta. This came together quickly which is always welcome on a work night.

                                                                                                                                              I was concerned that the dish was too salty, but it balanced out when the juices of the tomatoes released and the pasta was added (we are not salt averse- so be advised).

                                                                                                                                              We enjoyed this much more than we expected to. Because the swordfish is cooked so quickly, the result was very tender (LuLusmom- this might be a good one to ensure you do not get the pork-like texture from your swordfish). We really enjoyed the paccheri pasta too. The meal was satisfying, but not too rich or heavy.

                                                                                                                                              For those that prefer a more complex flavor, Rosetta mentions variations that include capers and olives or even fried eggplant or zucchini. I would happily try some of the variations, but last night we were perfectly content with this version.

                                                                                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                Thanks so much for the tip, BigSal. This does sound like something we'd really like (especially adding in either capers or olives), and I'm always looking for quick week night meals these days. I searched the web for the recipe but didn't find her version. I think I can do it with the info you've given though. I'll be making this soon. Do you think rigatoni would be a good sub for the paccheri? Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                  I agree that you'd prefer the version with capers and olives (based on your previous reviews). Rigatoni would work, in fact, that is what the author suggests as a substitute. Here are the ratios should you decide to try this. 1 lb swordfish (cut into 1/2" cubes), 1 lb pasta, 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 chopped fresh hot red pepper (cayenne or Thai), 1 lb halved cherry tomatoes and 2 T parsley. I hope you enjoy it (I'd hate to steer you wrong).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                    wow, thank you so much. I've cut and pasted that into the file I'm keeping on this book (since I don't have it, I'm keeping the recipes that work for me). It definitely sounds like the sort of flavors we like. LulusDad will be out of town a lot of the coming month, but I'm going to try to fit this in. I really appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                  I've never understood those big collapsed pasta tubes, always thought they'd be pretty hard to stuff/unstuffable! Now I figure they're not *supposed* to be filled. Do you use them for other dishes?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                    The Paccheri can be filled with a ricotta mixture, cooked only to before the al dente stage, drained then filled, placed into a baking dish, ladled tomato sauce over and baked till bubbly, etc. Just the way stuffed shells are made...

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                      Ah, I see, 2 cooking steps. Thank you, Gio.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                    Paccheri, p. 73

                                                                                                                                                    Made this tonight with quite a few variations. There is no swordfish available locally, so I used blackfish fillets, which I deemed the closest substitute. For the pasta I used a chunky shell-like shape (what we had on hand). I added capers and think it would have been very good with olives as well. as bigsal notes, the dish comes together quickly and has a nice fresh flavor. We are still getting gorgeous sweet cherry tomatoes at our farmers market, and they really shone in this simple preparation. Everyone enjoyed this dish.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                      Quick question for Big Sal if she's around: you mention that you were afraid of it being too salty. Is there something salty that I'm missing in the ingredients? I'm making this tonight, and adding in a few olives, and want to be careful.
                                                                                                                                                      Also, how long did you saute the cubed swordfish/garlic/pepper mixture?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                        On Big Sal's recommendation I made the Pasta (rigatoni) with swordfish and cherry tomatoes. We liked this very much; I may have slightly (for my taste) overcooked the swordfish, but only by maybe 30 seconds. We added black olives. The olive oil/garlic/hot pepper/olive mix was so delicious that it didn't even really need the swordfish, but it did add a nice texture difference. A nice, simple but different pasta - a hit. Thanks for the recco Sal!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom


                                                                                                                                                          Sorry I missed your earlier question. When initially making the recipe, I was concerned that adding a 1/2 T of salt with the tomatoes (for a half recipe) would have been too much. If I had added olives or capers, it might have been.

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry that the swordfish was a little overcooked for your liking. I love swordfish, but the timing can be tricky. Glad that you enjoyed it. I will try the recipe with olives some time.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                            Just the tiniest bit more cooked than I like, not to worry at all. My husband said "you really wouldn't want swordfish cooked less than this." So he thought it was perfect (and just polished off the leftovers for lunch and loved it again). Definitely worth trying with the olive addition.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                              One of our local restaurants in Minneapolis served swordfish medium-rare. I was taken aback as I had never had it that way (looking back I probably should have been more open to it, but wasn't and asked them to cook it until just done). I wonder if that is a new approach to swordfish or just an abberation?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                I thought I had eaten it med-rare too, but my husband insists I am imagining things and I cannot for the life of me think where it would have been so I'm confused. One thing is for sure - it doesn't need to be *as* cooked as some people (most?) do.

                                                                                                                                                      2. smtucker's Lasagne inspired by My Calabria

                                                                                                                                                        1. Homemade Fresh Pasta, page 59
                                                                                                                                                        2. Sagne Chine, page 77, Lasagna, Calabrian Style
                                                                                                                                                        3. Ricotta Cheese
                                                                                                                                                        4. Ravioloni Calabresi, page 80, Large Ravioli with Fresh Soppressata
                                                                                                                                                        5. Quick Tomato Sauce

                                                                                                                                                        In no way was last night's dinner a recipe from this book, but all of the components were taken from the book and so I thought it might be worth reporting. This is the first time that I have made a lasagne without any egg. No egg in the pasta and no egg in the cheese filling.

                                                                                                                                                        I started with the ricotta as written and let it strain until quite dry. Then I moved onto creating the pasta dough. I gave up on doing it by hand and threw it into the food processor and let it go. In fact, it did get soft and supple after being kneaded for about 6 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                        I was inspired by the idea of ravioli with Soppressata and ricotta, didn't want to fuss with ravioli. And I only had some pancetta in the house. So, I started the Quick Tomato sauce with by rendering some pancetta in the olive oil and then drained in a strainer. Then I browned some ground meat in the same pan, strained, and discarded the fat. The pancetta-infused olive oil was used to brown the garlic which was discarded before adding the tomatoes. After I cooked the sauce for a few moments, both the pancetta and meat went back into the pan to simmer for a bit.

                                                                                                                                                        The pasta was rolled into very thin sheets, and cooked for one minute per the instructions in the Sagne Chine recipe. The pasta sheet is then dropped into ice water, and finally, laid out flat on a towel.

                                                                                                                                                        The ricotta was combined with some grated provolone and romano cheese and just a bit of fresh minced basil. I used the pasta cooking water to loosen the ricotta as indicated in the book.

                                                                                                                                                        The pasta dough turns VERY sticky after being cooked and cooled. It was easy to rip while getting them into the casserole. I lost the first sheet to the pasta gods. But, with some success I was able to do a layer of pasta, layer of the tomato-meat sauce and then the ricotta. I was only able to do this once more and then finished with a third layer of the pasta topped with the two dry cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                        This was actually delicious and so much lighter than my "standard" lasagne. The pasta cooked to a phyllo-like consistency which was fascinating. I don't generally like lasagne, but loved this. Sadly, we were so hungry by the time we sat to eat, no pictures were taken.

                                                                                                                                                        I only used half of my pasta sheets and couldn't figure out a way to save them.