Marinara Sauce – Our Best, Authentic Marinara Sauce Recipe

Ah, yes, a classic authentic Marinara Sauce recipe!

Authentic Marinara Sauce is probably the oldest sauce in Italian cooking. And, with our recipe, a very simple sauce to prepare properly.

It’s not only the correct ngredients that make an authentic Marinara Sauce recipe great, it’s using the proper technique, or recipe process. No recipe is easier to make than this classic sauce recipe.

marinara sauce

Our classic, authentic Marinara Sauce recipe serves 4 – 6 People)

  • 3 28 oz. Cans Tomato (packed without citric acid)
  • Garlic – 12 medium cloves, more if you really like garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Fresh Basil – a good sized bunch, washed well, spun dry, and chopped very fine
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Dry Spaghetti or Macaroni – 1 lb.

Start this authentic Marinara Sauce recipe by chopping the cloves of garlic medium to fine.  On a high heat, sauté the chopped garlic in 4 tablespoons of olive oil until it just turns blond (follow recipe, “blond” not “brown”).

Once the garlic is blond (again, follow recipe), add crushed tomatoes & bring sauce to a brisk boil, stirring constantly.  Lower heat to medium.  Add the salt & black pepper to the sauce.

Lower heat to low & cook sauce, uncovered, for about 30 minutes (or less) until the authentic Marinara Sauce has become creamy (follow recipe, “creamy” not “thick”), stirring sauce regularly.

Remove the sauce from the heat & add the prepared basil (follow recipe, do not overcook) to the sauce & stir.

Next up in this authentic marinara sauce recipe, cook the pasta (follow recipe, refer to our article Boil Spaghetti – The Magical Art of Preparing Pasta 101) until it’s ready for the sauce.

Return pan to the stove & over a medium heat pour in about one cup of the cooked authentic Marinara Sauce. Throw the pasta back into the pot & toss it with the Marinara Sauce until all of it is coated with sauce.

Serve pasta and sauce in a dish or bowl & add additional sauce to the top of each dish.  Sprinkle the top with fresh, extra virgin olive oil & a heavy dusting of Pecorino Romano cheese for an incredible flavor.

Our Authentic Marinara Sauce recipe is as perfect as it gets!

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce – quick and easy recipe

The internet is an amazing place. Full of (recipe) fact and fiction. Particularly when it comes to homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipes. Many of which claim they are “the recipe to die for”

In Italy, because a homemade spaghetti sauce is so regional there is no such thing as a right or wrong. BTW, there are 20 regions in Italy. Homemade spaghetti sauce is a/k/a “gravy” and “ragù” (with meat). Each region often adds its own twist to a recipe. There are so many American versions of a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. And many are so far afield they don’t approximate ANY regional recipe. They are purely American recipe inventions. And they lack the heart and soul of any of the authentic homemade spaghetti sauce versions.

Here are two of the stupidest homemade spaghetti sauce recipes I’ve seen.  As opposed to dying for these, you might want to kill instead.

One is a YouTube video. In this video the “chef” mixes up a recipe with umpteen different spices and herbs. And also adds ground turkey. He calls it a meat sauce recipe. This chef would be hung by dawn if he tried this on anyone in Italy.

The other recipe is from a web site that is the first Google search result when you type in “spaghetti sauce recipe”.  In their purportedly “authentic” homemade recipe these incompetents direct you to add everything but the kitchen sink. That includes Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Sounds like a ketchup recipe to me.

HHHHHEEEEELLLLLPPPPP !!!!

I’m not sure if either recipe wins the award. For what? For stupidest homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. But it’s a close race. Here’s as simple, inexpensive, and easy as a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe gets.

Homemade Spaghetti Ragù (with meat) Recipe – serves 8 (approx. $1.00 per serving)

  • 1 lb. ground beef.
  • 1 lb. ground pork.
  • 4 Medium White Onions chopped fine.
  • 3 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes. Preferably packed without citric acid.
  • Olive Oil – six tablespoons.
  • Sugar – two tablespoons.
  • Sea Salt – one tablespoon.
  • Black Pepper – two teaspoons.
  • 1 1/2  lb. Spaghetti or Macaroni.

Brown the onions in the six tablespoons of olive oil until dark brown. Add the ground beef and pork. Sauté until it loses it red color. That takes several minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweetener, salt, black pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a medium simmer. Then cook this homemade spaghetti sauce for approximately 30 minutes. Stir regularly.

When the ragù is finished, cook the spaghetti or macaroni until extra firm or al dente. Be sure to use salted water. This means far less time (see our Pasta-101) than the cooking instructions on the box call for.

Drain the spaghetti. Add two large ladles of the ragù sauce to the same pasta pan over a low heat. Then return the drained spaghetti to the pan and toss. Much like you would a large salad. Make sure all the spaghetti is covered in the homemade spaghetti sauce. Add more as needed. But not so much the spaghetti is swimming or dripping in it. Serve spaghetti with several additional spoonfuls of the homemade spaghetti sauce on top of each dish. And add a heavy dusting of either Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

NO dried herbs, particularly oregano. That’s for a pizza sauce recipe only. Trust me. And NEVER, EVER, mix onion and garlic in the same recipe. Either ONE or the OTHER, but not both in the same recipe.  Period. It’s simple things like this that make American tourists swoon about the food in Italy.

Hope you enjoy this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe!

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel writer, Italian cook extraordinaire, entrepreneur and raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former principle/writer for About.com Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposed “authentic” Italian recipes.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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Is Italian Food Healthy?

Italian Health Food

Is this an oxymoron or reality?  Just what constitutes food that is healthful?  There are many opinions but very few scientific studies.

The massive Nurse’s Health Study, the largest ever conducted, concluded that a Mediterranean Diet consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, fish and low fat meats, and olive oil as a primary source of fat, dramatically lowered incidents of disease and made for a longer, healthier life.

Italian cuisine is one of the cornerstones of the Mediterranean Diet.  Unfortunately, what most people here in the U.S. consider this type of food to lean toward the “unhealthful”—pizza with extra cheese or veal parmigiana, a veal slice breaded and fried, topped heavy with cheese and then baked.

Much of the truly healthful foods Italians and other Mediterranean people eat every day escape most of us.  But the tide is slowly turning and a true Italian food revolution is upon us.  Americans are beginning to notice that food matters, not only to one’s health, but as one of Nature’s most enjoyable gifts, and are turning to authentic Italian recipes in droves.

Here’s a pasta recipe that fits perfectly into the Mediterranean Diet.  It’s easy to prepare, very inexpensive, and as healthful as it is, you’ll crave it time and time again.

Pasta with Beets and Radishes – serves 6 ($1.25 serving)

  • Beets – 4 raw with tops, peeled, cut into thin julienne strips, tops chopped fine
  • Radishes – two bunches, about 16 individual radishes, cut into thick julienne strips
  • Red Onion – two large or four medium onions chopped fine
  • White Wine – 1 1/2 cups sweet wine
  • Tomato – two medium, diced into small cubes
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil – 8 tablespoons
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 lb. Pasta – either Spaghetti or Macaroni

ON A HIGH HEAT, in a large, high sided pan, sauté the red onions in the eight tablespoons of olive oil until it wilts.

Add the chopped tomato and stir until the tomato is sizzling in the pan and the onion is now browned.

Add the julienned beets and finely chopped beet tops and radishes and stir until they being to sweat, about five minutes.

Add the 1 1/2 cups of sweet white wine and let the alcohol steam off for a minute or two, cover, and remove from heat.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cook the 1lb. of pasta extra firm (read our  Pasta 101 article) drain, and add to the beet and radish mixture on a high heat and stir and toss the pasta until all the olive oil and wine juices have been absorbed.   You should have a nice smooth, thickened sauce that is just barely dripping off the pasta.

Serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

This simple dish has an overpowering flavor.  It also includes virtually all of the elements that every recent scientific food and health study indicates will help you live longer and feel better.

Each serving is VERY HIGH in anti-oxidants, loaded with vegetables and fiber, high in mono-unsaturated fat (olive oil) and very low in saturated fats.

So, go ahead and eat healthy Italian food.  It’s good for you.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
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Julie Julia Child & Pasta “La Gigantessa”

Julie & Julia (Julia Child) & Pasta.  This is a short story about Julia Child, “La Gigantessa”,  and her “Kentucky Wonder Pasta” moment with my mother Lucrezia.

As the crow flies the farm I grew up on is less than 6 miles up Massachusetts Avenue to Harvard Square, smack dab in the center of the People’s Republic of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pippos Farm (Julia Child)My father, Giuseppe (“Pippo”) specialized in farming uncommon varieties of vegetables.  Many of the seeds originated in the sea side village we came from in Sicily. Most of his crops went to ethnic markets and restaurants in the Boston area.

We also had a farm stand which my mother Lucrezia (“Cicitta”) ran with my Aunt Rosina.  It was chalk full of things you couldn’t find anywhere else.  On most Sunday’s, in season, the stand’s parking lot overflowed onto the street.  Many customers were European and Asian immigrants, as well as African-Americans from Boston’s inner city who truly appreciated the host of vegetables he prided himself in making available.  These were the foodies of that era, except they didn’t know they were foodies; just people yearning for a taste of home.

It took Julia Child and the subsequent onslaught of television cooking programs to make many of these uncommon vegetables part of the average American diet.  By the mid-eighties the food and cooking phenomena in the U.S. had hit its stride.  Television cooking shows and food writing of every dimension ( howdy from The Pasta Channel !!!!! ) have now become an integral part of our lives.

Ms. Child was a Cambridge resident for many years.  She was also an occasional customer at our farm stand.   We had no idea who she was until her name became a household commodity in the late 60’s.  Up until then she was known as “La Gigantessa” (The Giantess) as my mother called her.

Imagine a six foot two inch, Waspish woman, and a four foot eleven and one half inch, plumpish Sicilian woman, who spoke halting English, chattering away about the best uses for Kentucky Wonder String Beans.  That would have been my mother, Lucrezia, and Julia Child sometime around 1968.

My mother waved me over one day to interpret for them.  We still didn’t know she was a cooking maven on our local public television station WGBH.  She wanted to be certain Julia, like all of our other customers she offered recipes to, was clear on the process for making Pasta with Kentucky Wonder String Beans topped with pan toasted, garlicky bread crumbs.

At the time I had little idea of the wealth of knowledge that was in front of me.  Not just Julia Child, but my mother, who cooked for a farm crew almost every day and would not repeat dishes for weeks at a time.

Here’s Lucrezia’s extraordinarily simple and simply delicious Pasta with Kentucky Wonder String Beans.

Pasta With String Beans – Serves 4

  • 1lb. Kentucky Wonder or any other String Beans – with ends removed
  • Garlic – 3 medium cloves chopped very fine
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dry Unseasoned Bread Crumbs – 2 cups
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – grated
  • 1lb. Spaghetti

In a large pan sauté a glove of garlic in two tablespoons olive oil.  Add the 2 cups of unseasoned bread crumbs, several pinches of salt and coarse black pepper, and shake or stir constantly over a medium heat until dark brown. Set aside to cool.

Boil the green beans in three quarts salted water for about four minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Do not rinse!!

In the same water, break the 1lb. of spaghetti in half, and cook until extra firm.

Brown two cloves of garlic in two tablespoons olive oil, add the string beans, stir, then add the pasta and toss well.

Top with Pecorino Romano and heaping amounts of the garlicky browned bread crumbs.  You will never forget this dish.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
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Basil & Basil – in Pesto Sauce & Italian Cooking !

In Italian cooking, basil is used quite often in pesto sauce and many other recipes.  Pesto sauce was a mainstay at our house.  My mother insisted on the classic Italian version which she made from scratch in season. My father raised some of the most incredible basil I have ever tasted and the difference that this great herb makes in this sauce is indescribable; it’s scrumptious. My father’s basil was always dark green and thick and crisp, yet tender.  You could smell the basil patch on our farm from a distance.  For those who know only the limp, thin, yellowish green hydroponically raised basil you find now in most supermarkets I pity you.

By the early sixties my father, who farmed both in Sicily and in the U.S., was raising dozens of varieties of specialty vegetables and herbs that were sold to gourmet and ethnic markets, restaurants, and hotel kitchens. By the early seventies, basil had become one of the first fresh herbs to be sold regularly at supermarkets.  My father was always ahead of the curve so when the demand for this special herb expanded beyond the Italian and Middle Eastern specialty markets he supplied … in the late sixties he began seeding basil in his greenhouse in mid-February.  He raised several greenhouses full of this herb each year.

He would seed outdoor basil the third week in May and on June first of each year he would transplant seedlings started in the greenhouse to the one acre basil plot outdoors.  The year I turned fifteen he asked me to partner with him on 1 acre of basil.  My job was to insure the basil was watered, fertilized, cultivated and weeded.  The one acre turned into two acres and that year I succeeded as we had a bumper crop of tight, tall, firm green basil plants.

Once it was of marketable growth it was my job to harvest it.  Unlike the tiny handful of basil one buys for $2.99 a bunch today these were big, whopping, generous fistfuls of basil stalks and leaves.  Our customers were very serious about their basil and many of them made Pesto Sauce with it!

By summer’s end the basil patch was still yielding several dozen boxes of basil a day but I was released from my basil patch partnership to return to school.  I have yet to see basil of this quality in store shelves in the past twenty-five years since hybrid varieties raised in over wet, climate controlled greenhouses have taken over.  My end of the profits was enough to buy a cool pair of black English paddock boots that were all the rage.

Pesto sauce can have some interesting variationsClassic Pesto sauce is a perfect blend of fresh young basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. One variation is to slice very ripe, fresh cherry tomatoes into pasta and add pesto sauce just before serving.  Another is to top a baking dish full of pesto sauce covered macaroni with a thick layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano and placing it under a broiler until the cheese is golden brown.  A third is to add grated Swiss or Emmental cheese into the pesto and pasta along with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  The list of variations is endless.

In Italian cooking, basil pesto sauce is used in many recipes. My job was to insure the crops were watered, fertilized, cultivated and weeded.  The one acre turned into two acres and that year I succeeded as we had a bumper crop of tight, tall, firm green plants.

By the early sixties my father, who farmed both in Sicily and in the U.S., was raising dozens of varieties of specialty vegetables and herbs that were sold to gourmet and ethnic markets, restaurants, and hotel kitchens. My father was always ahead of the curve so when the demand for basil expanded beyond the Italian and Middle Eastern specialty markets he supplied … in the late sixties he raised several greenhouses full of this herb each year.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
Please follow and like us:

Olives – Important to Italian Cooking

Olives are important to Italian cooking.  In fact it’s difficult to explain just how important olives are to Italians and other Mediterraneans. Growing up I remember our kitchen being stocked with no fewer than four different types of olives at any one time.

From late August to November there were always fresh green olives from California soaking. My mother would crack and pit them with a large, smooth, white rock still in use in my kitchen. After the cracked and pitted olives sat in fresh water for a week or two they became part of a most incredible mixture. They were combined with chopped celery, thinly chopped slices of both sweet and hot red vinegar peppers, copious amounts of chopped garlic, oregano, wine vinegar, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil.

The fresh olives and ingredients were allowed to marinate for a day and were then used to add to salads or eaten on their own with hot, crusty bread. At the end of the season this fresh mix would be put into mason jars and would last us through the winter and spring until fresh olives were in season again.

Always in stock were large Sicilian olives prepared in brine. Not too bitter and meaty, these were the workhorse of olives at our house. They were eaten on their own with bread and cheese, added to salads, pasta sauces, stuffing mixtures, or as components of various meat, rabbit, fish, or chicken dishes.

Black oil cured olives had their own special place in the olive pecking order at our house. It was not uncommon to see three different varieties served at the same meal.

Our olive craze didn’t end with just Italian or Sicilian olives. My mother considered the black Greek Kalamata and Syrian and Lebanese varieties superb.

Here’s a fantastic pasta dish to try that takes less than twenty minutes from start to finish. It is sublimely simple and probably something you’ve never tried before.

Olive Pasta – Serves 4

  • 1/2 lb. Sicilian Olives cured in brine – pitted and chopped coarsely
  • 4 Stalks Fresh Celery – chopped fine
  • 4 medium to large cloves garlic – chopped fine
  • 2 Fresh Roma Tomatoes – seeded and chopped into small cubes
  • Olive Oil – four tablespoons
  • Black Pepper – very coarse
  • 1/2 lb. grated Provolone Cheese
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 lb. Thick Linguini – 100% semolina pasta

Bring two quarts of salted water to a brisk boil. Break the foot long Thick Linguini in half, add to the water and stir well. Cook until it folds easily but is still extra firm, or al dente inside. Save one cup of the cooking water.

Over a high heat, sauté the fresh celery and garlic in four tablespoons of oil until the garlic is light brown and the celery is softened.

Add the chopped olives and stir until the pan is sizzling again, about two minutes.

Add the chopped, seeded, tomato pieces and stir for two minutes and remove from the heat.

When the pasta is done drain it well and add it to the mixture. Stir or toss well over a medium heat until all the pasta is covered in the mixture.

Add the 1/2 lb. of grated Provolone cheese and stir and toss again. Grind coarse black pepper all over the pasta and stir again.

Serve with additional grated Provolone on top of each dish and a splash of fresh oil as well.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
Please follow and like us:

Pasta Super Food ?

Pasta Super Food ?  In a recent blog “Is Pasta Healthy For You” we explored some of the most recent nutrition science and discovered that Pasta is indeed VERY healthy for you when prepared extra firm or AL DENTE.  We outlined the most recent finding about how healthy The Mediterranean Diet is based on the most complete human health study ever done, the Nurse’s Health Study, and how Pasta is a big part of it.  How extra firm/al dente pasta falls low on the Glycemic Index.  And we told you that when you combined Pasta with vegetables and or protein it has the potential to be even healthier.  It’s the right combination and technique that makes Pasta a Super Food. And it’s well worth the effort to learn how. So, yes, Pasta is a Super Food!

Here’s one “Super Food” traditional Italian recipe that you can make within twenty minutes all in one pot.  Fast, very inexpensive, extremely nutritious, and so flavorful you will think someone conked you over the head and you were eating in a small village restaurant in Italy.

Pasta and Broccoli – Serves 4  (20 minutes!)

  • Fresh broccoli florets 1.5lbs
  • Garlic 4 medium gloves – chopped fine
  • Fresh, extra ripe tomatoes – 3 tomatoes (or 1cup of canned crushed tomatoes)
  • 3/4 pound dry, 100% semolina pasta (rigatoni is great for this)
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Sweet White Wine
  • Grated Cheese – either Pecorino Romano or Parmiggiano-Reggiano

I get home, drop my laptop and papers on the desk and immediately fill a large 4 quart, high sided pan with water and add two to three tablespoons of sea salt to the water and set it on a high heat with a cover.  Next I undress and get into my cooking outfit: very casual clothes and my red “Dolly Sinatra Lodge, Order of Sons of Italy in America, Palm Springs, CA” apron.  By the time I have undressed the water is almost at a boil.

Next step is to wash the broccoli florets in cold water.  Once they are clean drop them in the now boiling water and, bring it back to a boil and blanche them for just thirty seconds.  Immediately extract the broccoli florets from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl.

Keep the water in which you’ve cooked the broccoli boiling and add the 3/4 pound of rigatoni pasta.

While the pasta is boiling chop 4 cloves of garlic extra fine and cube the three ripe tomatoes into very small sections.

Check the rigatoni after four minutes to see if it is still firm.  Cook until it is chewy, but still firm and drain immediately.

Now, take the same pot and put it back onto a high heat with three tablespoons of olive oil.  Sauté the finely chopped garlic until it is nice and brown, then add the tomatoes and stir briskly, always at the highest heat possible.  When the tomatoes have started to sizzle (about two minutes) add 1 cup of sweet white wine (Asti Spumanti is perfect for this) and watch it steam until all the alcohol is gone.  Add two pinches of salt, an ample amount coarsely ground pepper and stir again.  Add the well drained broccoli florets and stir.  Now add the rigatoni to this mixture and toss it like you were tossing a salad.  Reach into the middle with two large spoons toss and toss until everything is covered in the mixture and the gluten has started to thicken the sauce.  Remove from the heat and serve.

Dust it with ample amounts of grated cheese and a bit more coarse black pepper and stir.  The broccoli florets are still firm having cooked a total of about three minutes.  This way they not only retain flavor but essential nutrients.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
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Fabulous Chicken Pasta

This is one of my favorite dishes. Check it out plus another recipe you’ve likely never tried. They’re incredibly easy, delicious and healthy.

Chicken Pasta Salmoriglio (Citrus) – for 2 (20 minutes!)

  • Chicken Thighs – 3 skinless and boned thighs
  • Garlic – 3 medium cloves
  • Oranges – 2 medium
  • Lemon – 1 medium
  • Parsley – fresh only
  • Oregano – 1 tbls. dry flakes
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1/3 lb. dry spaghetti or macaroni

To start this Chicken Pasta dish put a two quart pot of water on to boil.  Sprinkle the thighs with sea salt and black pepper and broil them under a high heat until crunchy brown.  Peel the two oranges and the lemon and cube them into small sections and drop into a large, deep bowl.  Chop the garlic extra fine and add to the orange and lemon mix.  Add the dry oregano, chopped parsley,  black pepper, two pinches of salt, and mix well.   When the water comes to a boil drop in 1/3 pound of spaghetti or macaroni.  I prefer lined rigatoni for this.  Remove the thighs from the broiler, cut into bite sized sections, and add to the citrus mix along with the pan juices and stir well. When the spaghetti is still extra firm, AL DENTE, drain it well and add it to the citrus and thigh mix.  Toss it well like you’re tossing a salad and let sit for a minute while you set the table.  Pecorino Romano tastes better than Parmigiano-Reggiano with this dish.

Rigatoni With Fresh Mushroom Marsala Sauce – for 2 (20 minutes!)

  • Brown Crimini Mushrooms – 1 1/2 lbs. chopped into quarters
  • Onion – one large white onion
  • Parsley – small handful
  • Salted Butter – 4oz., 1/2 stick
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 tbls.
  • Marsala Wine – 1/2 cup
  • Light Cream – 1/2 cup
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 lb. dry rigatoni

This dish is so easy you won’t need the whole twenty minutes. Cook the rigatoni, in this case, EXTRA al dente, and drain.  You will want it extra firm as you will be finishing it “in padella” or in the pan with the mushrooms which will have considerable fluid.  Save a cup of the cooking water. Pasta recipe "Pasta With Fresh Mushroom Marsala Sauce"Chop the large white onion very fine.  Chop the small handful of parsley very fine.  Sauté the onion in 1/2 stick, or 4oz. of salted butter until it is soft but not brown over a high heat.  Add the coarsely quarter chopped mushrooms to the onion and stir for a minute.  Add the parsley, black pepper, and stir. Add the Marsala wine and stir for a couple of minutes until the alcohol is evaporated.  Don’t overcook the mushrooms.  Do this all over a high heat. Add the light cream or milk to the mushrooms and stir for a minute.  Drop the rigatoni into the mix and toss and stir over a medium heat until all the fluid is absorbed, leaving just a creamy mixture which is not too thick, still dripping off.  If it is too thick add a couple of tablespoons of the used water.  Just before serving add 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir.

There you have it – Magnifico Chicken Pasta and Rigatoni With Fresh Mushroom Marsala Sauce !

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
Please follow and like us:

Is Pasta Healthy for You ?

Is Pasta healthy for you?  Read on.

The “Pasta healthy for you” question we addressed by researching different studies, but, in reality, only one major study to date has any real science behind the Pasta healthy question and that is The Nurse’s Health Study (NHS).   Started in 1976 by Dr. Frank Speizer with funding provided by The National Institute of Health, it was expanded in 1989.  The NHS was originally designed to follow the effects of long term use of oral contraceptives.  Over 120,000 nurses answered the survey and tens of thousands of them continued in the research study.  Phase three, presently under way, has mailed out questioners to 1,000,000 participants.  The NHS provided scientists and physicians, for the first time, with diet and lifestyle information, from a statistically significant group of trained nurses who could better understand the nature of the questions asked than the average person.  The NHS has become a treasure trove of information vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including what we should eat (Pasta maybe?).  Dr. Donna Shalala, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, called the NHS “One of the most significant studies ever conducted.”

Pasta is healthy for you because it’s an essential part of the Mediterranean Diet. A recent analysis of The Mediterranean Diet, published in February of 2009, using the NHS  as a basis, concluded that it reduced the risk of heart attack almost 30% and strokes by 13% as compared to conventional diets. Furthermore, study participants whose diets most closely matched the Mediterranean-style diet, that includes Pasta, were typically very healthy, had a 39% reduction in combined coronary heart disease and stroke mortality compared to women whose diets least matched it.  Teresa T. Fung, Sc.D., lead author of the study and associate professor at Simmons College and adjunct associate professor in nutrition at Harvard was quoted: “Those are dramatic results.  We found that women whose diets look like the Mediterranean diet are not only less likely to die from heart disease and stroke, but they are less likely to have those diseases.”

Not including Pasta, Mediterranean diets include: an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, olive oil as a main fat source, moderate fish consumption, lower poultry consumption, very little red meat consumption, eggs consumed sparingly, and a low daily red wine consumption. Except for bread, the foods in the Mediterranean Diet have a low Glycemic Index (including Pasta).

What is a food’s Glycemic Index and why is it important?   The Glycemic Index measures (using pure Glucose, measuring 100 on the Index, as a basis) how quickly a particular carbohydrate effects our blood glucose levels.  The most recent science indicates that choosing a wide variety of foods that have a lower Glycemic Index (carbs that enter the bloodstream more slowly) can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to maintaining a stable weight.

Of further note, another major study done by the W.H.O. in 2009 found that men in the Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy, a Mediterranean country which best exemplifies the diet, have the longest life expectancy in the world.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
Please follow and like us:

Pasta In Padella

pastainpan, by TeenyTinyTurkey on Flickr

Pasta in Padella – those magic words!  The first step to perfect Pasta in Padella is to make sure it is cooked AL DENTE, or extra firm, never soft or soggy.

Step two, complete your Pasta in Padella, or literally, in the pan. This makes the difference between what you’ve been used to when you eat pasta and a whole new pasta experience.

Did I say “whole new pasta experience”?  Yes.  You were not mistaken. When you’ve tasted al dente pasta united with its sauce or flavor with the proper technique (In Padella) you will never, ever go back to a pile of flimsy, mushy soft pasta with a ladle of sauce plopped on top. NEVER.

Here’s how easy it is to PPP – Prepare Pasta Properly.  Let’s say you’ve prepared a classic sauce.  Fresh ripe tomatoes united with fresh garlic, well browned with olive oil, and completed, at the last second, with a copious amount of freshly chopped basil. When the pasta has reached its extra firm, AL DENTE texture, remove the water from the pasta immediately. Now, cover the bottom of the pan with a ladle or two of  sauce.  Once the water is removed form the pasta, but it’s not completely dry, add the al dente pasta back to the pan which now has  sauce on the bottom. Put the pan back on a medium or high heat and toss the sauce and pasta vigorously for 60 seconds or so, like a tossed salad (ah, Pasta In Padella).  Add spoonfuls of  sauce until the pasta is covered on every surface and is moist but not soggy with sauce.  Plate and serve immediately.  As you do, add a large spoonful or ladle full of  sauce to the top of each dish. Top with grated Romano cheese and you will have your whole new experiencePasta In Padella!

What happens when you complete this dish?   Two important items actually.  One, the sauce is absorbed because it has not been bloated with water.  Second, it will cook completely due to the short time that you mix these two together, to a slightly less firm texture and the resulting gluten will change the sauce to a creamy consistency which is unforgettable.

When you’ve tried this technique once it will become automatic. It works with any type of sauce from a fish broth to a vegetable primavera or a thicker cream sauce. The KEY IS to complete the process with the very sauce or flavor you’ve prepared. This maximizes the flavor as the sauce has literally been absorbed in preparation.  It also creates a texture that is sublime.

Written by Dino Romano, former Pasta Channel Italian Food Blogger, Italian Cook Extraordinaire,
Entrepreneur and Raconteur. Has taken Kyle Phillips (former Principle/Blogger for the About.com
Guide to Italian Food) to task on several supposedly “authentic” Italian recipes.
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