Spaghetti Carbonara for #SundaySupper

The theme for this week’s #SundaySupper is “Celebrate Your Heritage” and, in case my last name didn’t give it away, I am Italian-American (and Hungarian, and other stuff too, but mostly Italian). Although my family hails from the South of the boot, I couldn’t resist bringing Spaghetti Carbonara – a decidedly Roman dish – to the table. Although I didn’t grow up eating it, a family trip to Rome my senior year of high school was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. Today it’s something my husband and I make often if we have the ingredients on hand. It’s actually a specialty of my husband’s, and a dish I would venture to say he makes better than I.

Family Photos
My Italian great grandmother in the kitchen, and my Italian family gathered around the table

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Pesto Pasta for #SundaySupper

I am very excited to be participating in a new group this week – the #SundaySupper movement! After seeing that some of my favorite bloggers were involved, I was of course intrigued. “Our Mission,” according to founder Isabel “Foodie”, “is to Bring back Sunday Supper Around the Family Table in every home. The Family Table can be anywhere as long as the main ingredient is Love.” Cheers to that!

Pesto Pasta

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Edamame, Basil, and Ricotta Pasta

Here’s another simple, delicious, healthy weeknight pasta for you. Spring is in the air, and this dish is the perfect way to celebrate. Shelled soy beans are combined with plenty of chopped fresh basil and creamy ricotta to create a simple, flavorful sauce for pasta. I used try-color penne here, but any shape or flavor would be delicious. To save time, cook the soy beans briefly in the pasta water. This dish is on the table in about 20 minutes flat and is packed with nutrients – not to shabby! Don’t you just love easy pasta recipes like this?

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Skinny Penne a la Vodka

And I’m back! Thanks for bearing with me while I traveled and spent time with my sister. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. I promise I’ll catch up with all of you soon. Penne a la vodka is one of my favorite pasta dishes. It’s not one that I ate much growing up, but I remember ordering it as a teenager in restaurants and feeling very grown-up. My most vivid memory of this dish is from one of our high school haunts called Stingy Lulu’s on St. Mark’s Place in New York City, where the drag queen waitresses would pretend to check our ids before serving us frosty margaritas and steaming bowls of penne a la vodka.

Skinny Penne alla Vodka Recipe

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Spaghetti with Mushroom Cream Sauce and a Pasta Blog Hop

Spaghetti with Rosemary-Mushroom Cream Sauce

I don’t think that it’s an exaggeration to say that growing up we ate pasta every single night with dinner. In today’s carb conscious, diet crazy world that may elicit gasps, but in my Italian-American family it was just the norm. And while I was a picky eater, I never got sick of pasta. My dad – the cook in our family – mixed up the shapes and sauces, served it with chicken parmesan or steak pizzaiola (ok, we also ate a lot of meat and cheese…) and well into my 20s I could not understand how or why anyone would want to cut pasta from their diet. Today my dinners are a bit more diversified, but pasta remains one of my favorite foods. Continue reading “Spaghetti with Mushroom Cream Sauce and a Pasta Blog Hop”

Red Beet and Barley Risotto

Red Beet and Barley Risotto

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow I thought it only appropriate to give you a bright red recipe in honor of the holiday. And, since you’ve probably been inundated with red velvet and chocolate (ahem, like Friday’s Chocolate Covered Strawberries), I figured I should provide a savory, somewhat healthy counterpoint. Beets are nutritional superstars, boasting high levels of folate, maganese, fiber, vitamin C, betaine, and more. And they taste great. Here they add vibrant color and sweet, earthy flavor to barley risotto – a slightly healthier alternative to traditional arborio rice. Although it takes a little longer than steaming, my favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them as I think it brings out the most flavor. I’m sure you can purchase cooked beets to speed up this risotto, but the roasting time is entirely hands off. The barley gives the dish a pleasantly chewy texture, but you could use half or all arborio rice instead. Continue reading “Red Beet and Barley Risotto”

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

If you’re looking for another weeknight pasta recipe to add to your repertoire (I know I always am), then allow me to suggest Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. Hailing from the Central Italian town of Amatrice (hence the name – aha!), this flavorful dish comes together in less than half and hour and uses mostly pantry items. Although guanciale, or pig jowl, traditionally provides the flavor base, pancetta or bacon work as well. I find it’s a great alternative to carbonara, and its spicy, smoky red sauce will keep you coming back for more. Continue reading “Spaghetti all’Amatriciana”

Pollo Fritto per Chanuka

Our Italian Jewish Hanukkah
Our Italian Jewish Hanukkah

Christmas may have come and gone (did you have a nice holiday?), but there’s still two days of Hanukkah left! If you’re tired of latkes and sufganiyot (as if that could happen), allow me to suggest a few recipes from the Italian Jewish canon. Italian Jews make up one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities, combining two great culinary traditions. After doing a good bit of research for an article in the Jew and the Carrot (check it out here), I learned that while Hanukkah traditions vary by region, one dish is universal throughout the country: Pollo Fritto per Chanuka, or Fried Chicken for Hanukkah. Continue reading “Pollo Fritto per Chanuka”

Precipizi and a Holiday Blog Hop

Precipizi, an Italian Jewish Hanukkah treat
Precipizi, an Italian Jewish Hanukkah treat

Can you believe that we’re midway through Hanukkah and that tomorrow is Christmas Eve? It’s wonderful to be home in New York celebrating the holidays with friends and family. My husband and I are fortunate enough to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, and so get the best of both traditions.  In honor of my Italian heritage, this year I did a bit of research into how Italian Jews celebrate Hanukkah for an article in the Jew and the Carrot (check it out here). And so I was introduced to Hanukkah Precipizi, which is similar to the struffoli that is also popular around Christmas time in Italy. Hanukkah is all about fried food, a celebration of oil in all its glory, and these certainly fit the bill. Continue reading “Precipizi and a Holiday Blog Hop”

Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto

I know I’ve already shared a Risotto Milanese recipe with you, and in many ways this Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto is similar. But there are a number of key changes that set it apart, make it worth its own post. The obvious change, the addition of butternut squash, makes this dish even heartier, and even more appropriate for Fall. I also added some leftover shredded chicken to make it even more of a meal in one, but without it the risotto is a great vegetarian main or side. The other big change I made here is to use a mix of the usual arborio rice and barley. The barley adds a chewy texture, while the arborio rice becomes creamy with constant stirring. Continue reading “Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto”