Pasta Giardiniera AKA Farmer’s Market Pasta

Penne Giardiniera

Pasta Giardiniera translates Garden Pasta. It is a vegetarian (and vegan) pasta, but of course you can always add some meat if you prefer. Feel free to use any pasta you like.

In my first novel, Deception in Siena, Antonio Cortese and his Aunt Chiara go to the garden to see what they can find. If you don’t have your own vegetable garden, the next best option is to go to your local Farmer’s Market and see what fresh, seasonal produce is available.

I’ve named my version “Farmer’s Market Pasta” because I love to support the local farmers and believe that local farmer’s markets are one of the best places to buy fresh, full-flavored local produce.

Recipes for Giardiniera sauces are very flexible. You can use whatever fresh, seasonal vegetables that you like. Often the base sauce would be a standard tomato or Marinara sauce. I’ve chosen to do this version with our un-cooked Pomodoro sauce which is a little lighter and fresher.

Fresh Asparagus
Farfalle (Bow-tie) Giardiniera
Crook neck zucchini

Frankie’s Tips:
♦ If the weather is nice, consider grilling your
vegetables on the barbecue! This is my favorite
way to cook them for optimal flavor. If you don’t
have a vegetable grilling pan for your barbecue,
then cut the vegetables in larger slices for grilling and then cut them smaller afterwards. You could also skewer them.
♦ Another good method is to cook them in a grill
pan with raised ridges. If you don’t have one, any sauté pan will work.
♦ Depending on the season, some of my favorite
veggies for this are asparagus, peppers, zucchini or other squash, eggplant, broccoli raab, and onions (small onions like Cipollini’s are perfect).

Heirloom Tomatoes

Suggested Wine: Nebbiolo
The name Nebbiolo comes from the root word nebbia which means fog in Italian. It hales from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. There, the fog sits upon the valleys and hillsides throughout the autumn, slowing the ripening process, and developing great depth of character.


Giardiniera Recipe – serves 5-6:

  • 1-pound pasta of your choice
  • 1 recipe Pomodoro Sauce (recipe below)
  • Fresh vegetables of your choice–cut into bite size pieces
  • Extra Virgin olive oil (to toss vegetables with)
  • Parmesan or other hard Italian cheese–grated or curled
  • Fresh herb of your choice for garnish

Giardiniera Procedure:

  1. Prepare Pomodoro sauce and set aside. It’s even better if made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.
  2. Toss vegetables with olive oil and cook until tender (See Frankie’s Tips above).
  3. Heat 4 quarts of water and add a tablespoon of salt when it begins to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water before draining.
  4. While pasta is cooking, combine sauce and veggies and warm gently over low heat. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When pasta is al dente, add to sauce along with the 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Toss together.
  6. Garnish with cheese and herbs.
  7. Tell God “mille grazie” for the delicious meal that is going to make you vibrant and healthy!
Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro Sauce recipe – makes 5-6 servings

  • 1 – 28 oz. can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic—pressed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil—julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably Sea Salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pomodoro Sauce Procedure:

  • Smell the fresh basil and say “thank you” to God for the good things in life.
  • Place tomatoes with their juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. I told you this was quick and easy!

Printable PDF for Pasta Giardiniera (AKA Farmer’s Market Pasta)

Printable PDF for Pomodoro Sauce

Pasta al Limone con Gamberi

Pasta with Lemon & Shrimp: An Antonio Cortese Mystery Recipe

This is my first post in a long time. For those who don’t know, I have begun to write mystery-detective novels set in Italy. The protagonist is an Italian American, an ex-detective who now owns an Italian restaurant. He has a lot of family in Tuscany (where his mother comes from), so when he returns, a lot of cooking and eating takes place. People have started to ask me for the recipes of foods featured in the stories, so I decided to begin posting them here on my food blog.

Find out more about my novels at…

https://www.frankcurtiss.com/

This recipe is featured in my second novel, Missing in Firenze, of the Antonio Cortese Mystery series. In the novel, this dish is prepared by Antonio’s Zio (Uncle) Pasquale and Zia Frankie.

Pasquale and Frankie are the owners of a lovely little boutique hotel in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This is a traditional recipe from that area, where lemon trees abound. It is often made without the addition any meat or seafood, but it is not uncommon for the locals to add seafood of some kind. Feel free to make it either way, or with any other seafood that appeals to you. Buon appetito!

As with any recipe I highly recommend you do your Mis en Place (French term for pre-prep, meaning Everything in Place) before you start the actually cooking.

You’ll be using every part of the lemons for this recipe. The lemons I used were very large, so I zested and juiced two instead of the three medium lemons called for in the recipe. After zesting and juicing, throw the lemon rinds in the pasta water.

Now it’s time to start cooking. This is just an overview. Check the recipe for the details. First, start your pasta water heating. Next, heat your butter and olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add your shrimp and capers, cook some, then add your garlic. Next add the white wine.

I like to use a high-quality, grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold.

It’s important not to overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery. When they are ALMOST fully cooked turn off the heat.

Cook your pasta a little less than al dente (about 1 minute less than package instructions). Don’t forget to reserve some starchy pasta water before you drain your pasta! It is used to add viscosity and thicken your sauce. Combine it with your lemon juice mixture.

Now, turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.

Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love. Buon appetito!

Wine Recommendation: This pasta would pair beautifully with a white wine from Campania, such as Fiano di Avellina. If you can’t find one, I suggest a good Pinot Grigio

5-6 servings:

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguine)

4 medium size lemons

Fresh ground black pepper—coarse ground

sea salt (or other high quality salt)

2 ounces butter (preferably grass fed)

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup capers (rinsed and drained)

3-4 cloves of garlic

3 ounces white wine

Italian parsley—chopped (for garnish)

12-16 ounces shrimp—peeled & deveined (and at least partially thawed if frozen)

PROCEDURE:

1. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and set aside.

2. Zest the remaining three lemons into a bowl.

3. Juice those same three lemons into the bowl with the lemon zest. Add lemon rinds to the pasta water.

4. Rinse and drain capers and set aside.

5. Slice garlic thin. Set aside.

6. Chop parsley and set aside.

7. Grind a generous amount of pepper into the lemon mixture. Add salt (start with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon).

8. Begin to heat 4 quarts of water. When water begins to boil, add a tablespoon of salt.  

9. Add butter and oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.

10. Add shrimp and capers. Sauté for about two minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

11. Add white wine and allow to simmer (watch out for flame-up!). Turn off heat when shrimp are almost fully cooked.

12. When water is boiling, cook pasta until nearly “al dente” (about one minute less than package instructions).

13. Before you drain the pasta, ladle 3-4 ounces of starchy pasta water into lemon mixture. Drain pasta.

14. Turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked.

15. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.

16. Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi… a perfect comfort food for Autumn

Happy chef!

Autumn has already arrived here in the Pacific Northwest.  Not many leaves have changed color yet but we’re getting plenty of cool and wet days.  So let’s warm you up with some comfort food.  This dish feels like Autumn to me.  Maybe it’s the color of the sweet potatoes that make it feel that way.

Making your own gnocchi takes a little time and practice but it really is not difficult and once you start to get the hang of it, it is great fun. If you want to double or triple the fun, make them with some friends or family.  Or even more fun still, hire me (Frankie) to come and do a cooking class party in your home!

Peeled sweet potatoes

There are really two different recipes here, one for making the gnocchi, and the other for the way I recently made mine with Butter, Pancetta, Onions and fresh Sage.  I wanted something that would complement, not overwhelm, the flavor of the sweet potatoes, and this really turned out great.  If you wanted to make this vegetarian you could leave out the pancetta; and if you wanted it completely vegan, leave out the butter and use only a good extra virgin olive oil.

Using a potato ricer

If you’ve never made gnocchi be sure to read the Tips for Making Homemade Gnocchi  before you launch into the recipe.

The key is getting the dough right… not too moist… not too dry.  I instruct you add most of the flour but then you add more as needed until you get just past the point of the dough being sticky. You don’t want to overwork it or it will get tough.  You want it

Adding flour

to be no longer sticky but still supple, workable, and holding together (not crumbly).  I can’t tell you exactly how much flour because different potatoes will have different moisture levels depending on the type of potato, the baking, etc.  Besides, the amount of potato may vary also.  If your weight is a little over or under, just adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Mixing dough

A Couple of tools are really handy when making gnocchi.  Using a potato ricer helps so the potatoes are not lumpy which will cause them to crumble.  Most cost under $25 and they are awesome to use when making mashed potatoes.  If you don’t have one, just mash the potatoes well.

Form a ball

Rolling dough

Cutting dough

Adding ridges with gnocchi board

The other tool is a gnocchi board, used for putting ridges on the gnocchi.  These are only about $6 on Amazon.  Order it today and you’ll have it in a day.  Here is the one I bought…

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Fantes-Gnocchi-Beechwood-8-Inches-Original/dp/B0019R7SPS/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15YRPY0G6TRGD&keywords=gnocchi+board&qid=1568750620&s=gateway&sprefix=gnocc%2Caps%2C213&sr=8-2

Finished gnocchi

Another tip or two:
  1. Instead of cutting the dough into balls, it will make it easier to roll out if you cut it in longer, narrower pieces.
  2. Also, if you over-flour the work surface it will make the dough harder to roll.  It will want to just slide around under your hands.

HOW I SERVED MY SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI:

Making the butter, pancetta, onion, sage sauce

As mentioned earlier I wanted something that would complement, not overwhelm, the flavor of the sweet potatoes.  A very common way to serve potato gnocchi in Italy in with a simple butter and sage sauce.  I wanted to take it to another level so I added pancetta (Italian bacon) and onions to that.  There are lots of other good ideas online. A friend told be about a sauce she did with butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cranberries, and pecans. Sounds great, and the sweetness would work with these.

 

 

Vegetarian Option: Easy just leave out the pancetta.

Vegan Option: Our granddaughter is vegan.  They don’t do butter.  For her’s we simply eliminated that in favor of a good extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil would be excellent).

 

Recipes are following.  If you’d prefer recipes in PDF format click below

Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe PDF

Buona sera.  May God richly bless your table with joy, laughter, and his abundant love!

Frankie

A great time for Tuscan Clam Sauce

Ciao friends!

If you are like me you sometimes think of summer as seafood season. But clams are best in the winter.  This recipe was published in my cookbook, Frankie at Home in the Kitchen, still available online as an eBook.

I really love traditional clam sauce, but this Tuscan variation with the addition of some crushed tomatoes is really amazing.  This recipe is best with fresh clams, but for a simple, and still delicious weeknight dinner, you can make it with canned clams.  You could make this with spaghetti or another long pasta if you prefer but I really like the linguine.  It holds the sauce better and has more body to it.

Nobody likes eating sand with their clams so be sure to read my Frankie’s Tips on how to purge the sand from fresh clams.  

One other Frankie’s Tip… this one for Food Safety.  Be sure to discard any clams which do not open up when you cook them!  This means those clams were not alive to begin with and may be contaminated with bacteria or toxins.

Buon appetito!  Frankie

Recipe for Linguine with Tuscan Clam Sauce

 

 

 

A wonderful spring & summer pasta … Mediterranean Shrimp Linguine

This is a pasta we served on out Spring menu every year at Frankie’s.  You can see photos of my line cook preparing it below.

This recipe is in my cook book, but since the book is sold out (you can still get it as an eBook on Amazon), I thought I’d share it here.  I call this pasta “Mediterranean” because the addition of feta cheese and kalamata olives takes it out of the typical sphere of Italian cooking, making it more Greek in nature.  The flavor combination is exceptional.  

This pasta is easy to make and is also a very healthy recipe.  I hope you’ll give it a try!

You need two recipes to make this… our Pomodoro Sauce recipe and the recipe for the pasta. Both can be found below.

Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

Mediterranean Shrimp Linguine Recipe

A delicious, nutritious pasta… Orecchiette with Salmon & Kale

Orecchiette Pasta with Salmon & Kale:

Orecchiette w Kale2Not all pastas are created equal. Some are delicious–and not so healthy.  Others are nutritious–but not so tasty.  Here is one with the best of both world’s… delicious, heart healthy salmon and fresh kale combine to give you both terrific taste and great health benefits.

Recipe

A wonderful summer pasta recipe… Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp & Grilled peppers

Whole Wheat Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp & Grilled Peppers:

Pasta with Shrimp & PeppersAt our restaurant, Frankie’s Pizza and Pasta, in the summer time we grill red and yellow bell peppers to serve with sausage in a seasonal gnocchi dish. One day when I was making lunch, I decided to put them together with some whole wheat pasta along with sautéed shrimp, mushrooms and Pomodoro Sauce. It was a stroke of genius!

View Recipe

Pasta with grilled Shrimp and Lemon-Artichoke-Pistachio Pesto

I made my first Lemon-Artichoke Pesto several years ago and was not happy with the

Pasta with grilled Shrimp and Lemon-Artichoke-Pistachio Pesto

results. I shelved it, thinking I would come back and work on the recipe another day. Then one day I was grilling some shrimp for an appetizer and it just sounded like the perfect thing to baste the shrimp with. It was! And this time it came out spectacular on the first try. I guess I’ve learned a few things over the years.
This time around I am doing this with pasta and shrimp. But it also makes a fabulous appetizer by simply brushing grilled shrimp skewers with the sauce after grilling.
You will have leftover pesto when you are done. It freezes well. You might even consider making a double batch and freeze what you don’t use in small containers for quick and easy dinners.

Recipe

A great late summer pasta with Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce & Chicken Italian Sausage

Orecchietti with Grilled Cherry Tomato Sauce and Chicken Italian Sausage

It has been a long time since I have posted any new recipes on the blog.  On April 1st, we lost our 26 year old daughter, just two days after I posted my article “The Journey to a Thankful Heart”.  Needless to say it turned our life upside down.  But I still love to cook and share my passion for food, so here is a delightful recipe I created for you.

We’ve had a beautiful September here in Seattle and I’ve got a tomato plant loaded down with sweet cherry tomatoes. So what to cook with them? They are great in pasta, especially if you roast or grill them in advance. This could easily be a vegetarian pasta but we chose to make it with a good Chicken Italian Sausage. It was very simple yet so delicious! I love cooking from the garden.

Click here, or on the photo above for the recipe

A quick, easy, delicious & healthy pasta recipe – Rhonda’s Tuna Pasta

Tuna Pasta

This delicious pasta was created by my wife Rhonda.  It was based upon a Tuna Puttanesca recipe, but since she was not in the mood for a tomato sauce, she used extra virgin oilve oil, with a fresh tomato added for just a little of that character.  This version is made with canned tuna.  You could replace that with fresh if you’d like.  This is a quick and easy recipe which would be perfect for a weeknight dinner.  It’s also a really easy recipe to cut in half if it’s just the two of you.

See Recipe