Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts


A few years ago for my birthday, Pete gave me 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, a cookbook I’d had my eye on for a while. Full of mouth-watering recipes layering spices and ingredients, there’s a huge section of both vegetable and legume curries to satisfy any vegetarian, plus biryanis, spice blends and pastes, and it starts with a detailed primer on curries. There’s also a large chapter called “Curry Cohorts,” that in addition to rice recipes, contains delicious curry accompaniments like coconut noodles, lentil pancakes, and all sorts of heavenly Indian breads from naan to roti to parantha.

After making a few recipes, I found several more I really wanted to try, but they called for fresh curry leaves. What!?! I had heard of curry powder, but never curry leaves. After searching large grocery stores and the co-op, I finally found them after checking several Asian food stores that, unfortunately, weren’t conveniently located for me.  Eventually, the book was set aside, and has been gathering dust.

Recently a Whole Foods Market opened up near our house and I had to check it out. Impressed with the variety of produce that includes items not found in other stores near me, I was so surprised and excited to see fresh curry leaves. Time to dig out 660 Curries again.

Fresh curry leaves


With my stock of fresh curry leaves, I perused the book to decide what to make. For a weeknight when there wasn’t a lot of meal prep time, Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts was deemed the ideal recipe. It had a manageable list of ingredients, some intriguing flavor combinations, and called for fresh curry leaves!

The combination of sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles piqued my interest, and smelled wonderful after being combined in the food processor. Not used to potatoes and tomatoes together, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this dish, but we weren’t disappointed. The sesame-peanut blend will release the most amazing aroma into your kitchen while cooking, and once combined with the rest of the ingredients, will morph into a delicious scent that makes it hard to wait until supper is ready.

The cookbook suggests this as either a side dish or stuffed into fresh pita. Since this was to be our main course (actually, our only course), and I didn’t have pita or naan (which would go so perfectly), I cooked up some brown basmati rice and served the potato dish over it. Gradually growing on me from one bite to the next, this spicy, hearty meal won me over and will definitely be made again . And I had plenty left over to take for lunch the next day (which I thought about and, even dreamt about, all night!). Enjoy!

Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts

From Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons raw peanuts or roasted peanuts (if salted, reduce salt later in recipe)

4 medium-sized cloves garlic, peeled

3 dried red Thai chilies or cayenne chiles, stems removed (I used about ¾ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper)

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning (I didn’t peel my potatoes and skipped the bowl of water because I cut them up at the last minute, quickly, while the sesame-peanut mixture was roasting)

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt (use only one if both your tomatoes and peanuts already contain salt)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you are cilantro-averse)

12 medium to large-sized fresh curry leaves (if you can’t find curry leaves, this dish will still be delicious)

Combine the sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and pulse to form a gritty, sticky, mellow-smelling blend.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Scrape the sesame-peanut blend into the warmed oil and roast the mixture, stirring, until it starts to release it’s own oils and loosens, turning crumbly and nutty brown, 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the potatoes, if they were in water.

Stir the turmeric into the sesame-peanut blend and cook for a few seconds. Then add the potatoes, tomatoes, (with their juices), 1 cup water, and the salt. Stir once or twice, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the sauce has thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and curry leaves and serve. Great as a side dish, stuffed inside a pita, along-side warm naan, or over brown basmati rice. Makes 4-6 main dish servings.

Tomato Corn Skillet Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

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With the bonanza of tomatoes our garden is producing, I’ve been searching for recipes beyond sauces, jams, and chutneys, looking for a main dish where the tomatoes could be the star of the show.

101 Cookbooks, one of my go-to sources, had my mouth watering with this Tomato Tart Tatin recipe. I imagined it with the addition of fresh sweet corn and easily topped with packaged puff pastry from my freezer. The harissa and lemon zest options intrigued me, as well, and I went to bed Sunday night excited to make this after work on Monday.

Fast forward to Monday, 5:00 PM, apron on and ready to get cooking, and I pull the box of puff pastry out of the freezer. Damn! It’s not puff pastry! It’s phyllo dough. Shoot—that’s just not going to work. I didn’t feel like driving to the store either. My sails were totally deflated!

I thought about making a homemade pie crust, but that’s more butter than I wanted in my dinner (yes, I know the puff pastry probably had just as much, but I wouldn’t have seen it all by itself sitting in front of me). Then I remembered in the notes of Heidi’s recipe, she mentioned this would be good with a biscuit crust. Bingo! How about a cheddar biscuit crust!?! Yes, please!

I haven’t made enough biscuits to be able to pull a batch together without a recipe, but after a quick Google search, I had a plan to adapt the biscuit crust from this Epicurious recipe. Subbing half the all-purpose with whole wheat pastry flour would make it a little healthier, and I decided to reduce the butter a bit too. Skim milk with a little apple cider vinegar would replace the buttermilk I didn’t have, and all was once again right in my culinary world.

Considering all my starts and stops, this came together quickly and we were eating before evening starvation mode set in. Enjoy!
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Tomato Corn Skillet Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Adapted from these 101 Cookbooks and Epicurious recipes

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kernels cut from one ear fresh sweet corn

1 1/2 pounds (24 oz. small tomatoes)—I used larger cherry tomatoes from our garden)

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons harissa (or 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar)

1 tablespoon flour

Zest of ½ a lemon

Cheddar Biscuit Crust (recipe follows)

Garnish with chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 C).

Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and a couple pinches of salt, stirring regularly, until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Stir in corn during the last minute or two of cooking. Remove from heat.

While the onions are cooking, cut any larger cherry tomatoes in half. You can leave the extra small cherry tomatoes whole. Add to the caramelized onions and corn, along with the ½ teaspoon sea salt and harissa. Stir in the flour and sprinkle mixture with lemon zest.

Plop spoonsful of biscuit dough over the tomato mixture, until it’s evenly covered and you’ve used all the dough. Bake until the crust is deeply golden and the tomatoes are bubbling a bit at the sides, 25 – 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Cheddar Biscuit Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk (I used skim milk mixed with a tablespoon cider vinegar; let stand 5 minutes after mixing)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add cheeses and toss to coat. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms.

Lemon Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

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Whenever I see a photo or recipe for stuffed pasta shells, I think of my late Great Aunt Betty. Betty was my grandma’s youngest sister and lived in the far-off land of Los Angeles with her husband and kids. We took a family road-trip to visit them the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school, along the way camping in the mountains of Wyoming, a hotel night in Las Vegas, and on the return trip home, driving through California’s wine country and a stop in San Francisco, a city that stole my young heart.

In LA, we stayed with Aunt Betty and Uncle Tom and they and my cousins took us unsophisticated Midwesterners sightseeing to the worldly locales of Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Tijuana, Universal Studios, and beautiful sandy California beaches. But the best memories from that trip aren’t the roller coasters, bargaining at Mexican market stands, movie sets, or the Pacific Ocean. Me being me, aside from getting to spend time with extended family, the best memories are of the food Aunt Betty made. Specifically her stuffed pasta shells and Napoleons. This 14-year-old was uber impressed with both and we got the recipes so Mom could make them back home. The wonderful flavors are forever imbedded in my mind.

Recently  I saw a recipe for stuffed pasta shells on Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks, and thought back to Aunt Betty and her recipe. It wasn’t vegetarian, so maybe Heidi’s version could take its place? Yes, indeed!
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I’ve been cooking with whole wheat pasta almost exclusively for years, but have yet to find a source for whole wheat or whole grain jumbo pasta shells, even after searching ginormous supermarkets, my co-op, and online. Ultimately I opted for a package of unique (non-whole wheat) lumache giganti found in the Italian section at said ginormous supermarket. In retrospect, regular jumbo shells would have been better vehicles for stuffing, but I love the way these “snail” shells cook to a perfect al dente that held its toothsome bite even after baking.

To Heidi’s quick and simple tomato sauce I added some dried herbs for a little more depth and also sautéed some onion and spinach to include in the filling. Both Pete and I had to really hold ourselves back from eating till our bellies burst. A stuffed shells recipe that even outdoes Great Aunt Betty’s. Next time I might tackle Napoleons! Enjoy!
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Lemon Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks Stuffed Shells

 

Zest of one lemon, divided

Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more if you like lots of heat

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 28-ounce and 1 14-ounce can crushed red tomatoes (San Marzano, if you can find them)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

Filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large yellow onion, chopped

3-4 big handfuls fresh spinach, chopped

1 15 or 16 ounce container good quality ricotta cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 cup grated mozzarella

Additional:
About 25-30 jumbo dried pasta shells or lumache giganti (if you can find them)

½ cup freshly grated parmesan

A couple tablespoons sliced scallions, green part only

Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and sprinkle half the lemon zest over the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the sauce, combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook only about 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and marjoram and heat to a gentle simmer, just a minute or two. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Set aside to cool.

For the filling, in a medium sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook several more minutes until spinach is wilted and soft. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg, then add the ricotta and salt and mix to combine. Stir in the mozzarella and remaining lemon zest, followed by the onion-spinach mixture. Set aside.

Cook the shells according to package instructions the boiling, salted water until barely al dente. If you overcook, the shells will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain and let cool long enough to handle.

Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of the prepared pan. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the parmesan, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through. Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve hot.

Toasted Quinoa, Sweet Corn & Tomato Salad with Harissa Lime Vinaigrette

Salad on platter
I’m certainly no farmer, but based on the outstanding quality of the farmers market finds this year, and from the amazing bounty our garden has produced, it must be a great growing year. There hasn’t been a so-so ear of sweet corn or a flavorless cantaloupe. Every onion, eggplant, cabbage, berry or broccoli head from our local growers has been fantastic and I don’t remember that happening before. Usually the corn seems to vary in sweetness and flavor from week to week and I’ve certainly experienced totally disappointing melons from time to time, but this year it’s all been great!

This morning's garden harvest

This morning’s garden harvest

With our beginner to novice status as gardeners, I’ve got to think it’s more the conditions and not anything we’ve done that has yielded the most beautiful tomatoes I’ve ever grown and the best tasting cucumbers I can remember. Whatever the reason for all these fabulous veggies and fruits, I’m just basking in the happiness it brings to my kitchen.

With September almost here in Minnesota, I know this local fresh food joy will soon start winding down, but I will eke every delicious moment out of the season.

One recipe I’ve been playing with is a corn and tomato salad. I’ve made a version with small balls of mozzarella, then swapped in black beans as the protein, varied the additional veggies, and tonight, a quinoa version, which ended up being our favorite. All were dressed with a spicy harissa-lime vinaigrette, my new favorite!

I toast the quinoa before cooking to bring out a more nuanced flavor. It only takes a few additional minutes and I think the extra time is definitely worth it. You can substitute some of the veggies with what you have on hand or to your preference, but corn and tomatoes are musts this time of year. One version I made included our yummy crisp cucumbers, and it was wonderful when eaten immediately, but the cukes released a lot of water and the leftovers were a bit soggy, so I’ve opted to leave them out here. Enjoy the flavors of summer!

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa, Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette

Harissa is a spicy Moroccan red pepper sauce. Substitute sriracha or Asian chili paste if you can’t find harissa.

1 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red—either works)

1 ½ cup water

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cups cooled cooked sweet corn, about the amount scraped from two ears (if using frozen, thaw first)

1 Anaheim pepper (or small sweet green bell pepper), seeded and thinly sliced into rounds

A couple handfuls cherry tomatoes, preferably more than one color, halved or quartered, depending on size

1/8 cup sliced or torn fresh basil Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Harissa Lime Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water. Drain. Transfer to a 2 qt. saucepan and toast quinoa over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until it starts popping and is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover pan and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for a few minutes and stir in scallions.

Once quinoa/scallion mixture is cooled to room temperature, stir in corn, Anaheim pepper, tomatoes, and most of the basil (reserve a little for garnish). Toss with about half of the vinaigrette, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Add more vinaigrette, if needed, and toss again. Transfer to a platter and serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 6 servings.

Harissa Lime Vinaigrette:
2-3 tablespoons honey (or agave for a vegan version)

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon harissa

A pinch of salt

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together first six ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until it’s fully incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, lime or honey, if needed.

Oven Fried Green and Red Ripe Tomato and Egg Breakfast Stacks with Hot Cherry Pepper Aioli

Breakfast Stack
They say impatience is a character flaw and I’m the first to admit I’m occasionally (frequently?) impatient (hey, I’m working on it!). But impatience isn’t truly a flaw when it leads to a really great meal, right? Such was the case with Sunday’s breakfast.

Impatience with our tomatoes was my motivation. We have a ton of tomatoes in our garden, but aside from a couple cherry varieties, they are all still stubbornly green. Every day I inspect the garden in the morning and again in the evening looking for the slightest blush on the bumper crop of beautiful orbs. And day after day, I see nothing but varying shades of obstinate green.

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

To avoid prolonging enjoyment of our bounty, I envisioned a baked version of fried green tomatoes similar to the eggplant in my Baked Eggplant Parmesan. I mixed up a spicy aioli for a topping, and since this was to be breakfast, I knew eggs would play into the finished product.

Aren't they pretty?

Aren’t they pretty?

Evolving in my mind as I went about the preparation, ripe red tomatoes picked up that morning at the farmers market were just begging to join the party, and I obliged. The resulting stack of “fried” green tomato, aioli, ripe tomato, over-easy egg, repeat, then topped with one more green tomato and another dab of aioli made for a breakfast that was downright stunning.

The stacked combo tasted so amazing, it was one of those recipes that immediately went into the “recipes so good they must be served in my restaurant” folder (yes, a restaurant that exists only in my mind).
Fried Green Tomatoes

The “fried” green tomatoes are delicious on their own with a little aioli and make a great snack if you have leftovers after breakfast, which we did. Arriving home sunburnt and hungry that night after an outdoor concert on a gorgeous summer Sunday, they hit the spot—satisfying and delicious like junk food, yet healthy. What more could you ask? Enjoy!

Oven Fried Green Tomato and Red Ripe Tomato and Egg Breakfast Stacks with Hot Cherry Pepper Aioli

3 large green tomatoes (or 4 smaller ones)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup flour

2 large eggs, plus more for cooking to your preference for the stacks (2 per stack)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

A pinch of cayenne pepper

½ cup mayonnaise (I use vegan Earth Balance Mindful Mayo)

2 hot cherry peppers, sliced (I use Trader Joe’s Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers)

1 clove garlic minced

One large ripe (red) tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a metal cooling rack on a large baking pan. Core green tomatoes and cut them into thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a large zip-lock bag. Mix eggs and buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Place panko in another shallow bowl and stir in the cayenne and a little salt & pepper.

Put a few slices of tomato in the plastic bag and seal. Shake (Shake ‘n Bake style) to dredge the tomatoes. One at a time, dip tomato slices in egg until coated and then in panko mixture to coat—make sure to get both sides and edges. Place on the rack in baking pan. Repeat with remaining tomato slices.

Spray tops of coated tomatoes with olive oil cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on rack for a few minutes.

While tomatoes are baking, prepare aioli by placing mayo, cherry peppers, and garlic in a mini food processor or blender and pulsed until combined. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

While the fried tomatoes are briefly cooling, cook two eggs for each stack, to your preference. I think over-easy with yummy runny yolks are the best, but however you prefer your eggs works.

To assemble stacks, place one fried tomato on a plate and spoon a small dollop of aioli on top. Top with a ripe red tomato slice, one egg, and repeat those layers. Finish with one more fried tomato and another dollop of aioli. Take a photo cuz it’s going to look awesome, then sit down with a hot cup of good coffee and dig in. There should be enough fried tomatoes for four stacks. Hearty appetites can handle a whole stack, but lighter eaters might want to split a stack.

Pete likes his eggs over-hard--no runny yolks for him!

Pete likes his eggs over-hard–no runny yolks for him!

Shakshuka

Shakshuka

The farmers’ markets near our house don’t open for another week, but I’ve had a yen for local produce shopping since early May, so on Memorial Day weekend, Pete and I headed to the lovely downtown St. Paul Farmers’ Market. It’s the most charming larger market I’ve ever been to and it’s always bustling.

I knew there would be lots of flowers and bedding plants, however, there ended up being more fresh produce than I expected. Pretty radishes, vibrant lettuces and spinach, spring onions, asparagus, green garlic, straight-from-the-farm eggs and even some potatoes (that must have been greenhouse grown)—we filled our totes to over-flowing.

Once home, I wanted to get at least some of our cache into breakfast. An omelet or frittata seemed too predictable, so I looked to the “Morning” section of my new cookbook, sure inspiration would be found. Sunday Suppers: Recipes & Gatherings by Karen Mordechai is delightful and teeming with fresh recipes and ideas for creative twists on basic dishes. It’s broken down into sections—morning, noon, afternoon and evening, offering full menus for various themes, many of which adapt well to picnics and meals on the road.

Like so many of my cookbooks in recent years, this was purchased at the Lake Superior Trading Post in Grand Marais. They have an ever-changing selection of unique cookbooks tucked away in a corner of the rustic second floor. I read it from cover-to-cover on our drive home from the cabin last month, and remembered there were a couple breakfast recipes that intrigued me.

Shakshuka—it’s a Middle Eastern breakfast dish that’s much more fun to say than “poached eggs in tomato sauce.” I had never heard of it, but if a recipe makes my mouth water just reading it, I must make it! I had most of the ingredients on hand and suitable substitutes for those I didn’t. Plus it was fun to see the look on Pete’s face when I said we’re having shakshuka. After a brief stunned silence, he said “Gesundheit!”

This was so good I made it two weekends in a row. Make sure to have some good quality bread (sour dough rye is wonderful!) or fresh pitas to dip in those runny egg yolks and saucy stew. I guarantee, if you make this once, you will make it again! Next time, I’m making it for company. Enjoy!
Pan of Shakshuka

Shakshuka

Adapted from Sunday Suppers: Recipes & Gatherings by Karen Mordechai

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 green bell pepper or other bell pepper, chopped into 1” pieces

1 bay leaf

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (include the seeds for extra heat)

A couple handfuls fresh spinach, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

10 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 10 oz. full sized ripe tomatoes, diced)

One 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 eggs

Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped fennel fronds, green onion, parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Bread or fresh pitas, for dipping

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook a couple minutes more until spinach is wilted. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, fennel, cumin, and coriander. Cook for a minutes, stirring constantly, to release the fragrance (breath in, it will smell amazing!)

Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and the tomato paste, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove bay leaf.

With the back of a spoon, make four indentations in the sauce. Crack an egg into each indentation. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the eggs are done to your liking, 10-15 minutes. Scoop eggs and sauce into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds, etc., if desired. Serve with good quality bread (toasted or not) or fresh pitas.

Arrabiata Sauce with Pasta

Arrabbiata sauce and pasta
My house still smells of Italy! The aromas of garlic, olive oil, red pepper, and tomatoes floated from my kitchen as the sauce cooked and spread through every room. This Belgian-French-Irish girl actually feels Italian! And you happily will too if you make Arrabbiata sauce.

Just a few fresh ingredients come together for one of the most flavorful (and spicy) sauces in Mediterranean cooking. Roma tomatoes at the peak of freshness are easy to find at the farmers’ market, as are local garlic and flat-leaf parsley.

Roma tomatoes
Then you only need good quality extra-virgin olive oil, dried red pepper, sea salt, plus whole wheat penne (the pasta traditionally served with Arrabbiata sauce) or rotini (or use your favorite gluten-free pasta, if desired) for a dish to pair with a glass of robust red wine–a truly perfect meal (especially if you dine al fresco). And it’s so easy! Enjoy!

Garlic and red pepper

CookingJar o'sauce

Arrabiata Sauce with Pasta

2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds ripe roma or plum tomatoes

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 large or 6 smaller cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Dried red pepper, crushed to make 2-3 teaspoons (depending on your preferred level of heat)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 pound whole wheat penne or rotini pasta, cooked al dente (or use your favorite gluten-free pasta)

Wash tomatoes and, using a sharp knife, score each with an X just through the skin. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Transfer to ice water to stop the cooking for about 30 seconds. Drain and peel the tomatoes from where the skin curls back at the X. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and salt. Cook over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, breaking up tomatoes as they cook and the sauce reduces. For a chunky sauce, crush the tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher. If you’d like a smoother sauce, remove from heat and process with an immersion blender until smooth.

Serve in bowls over al dente pasta. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley. Makes about six main dish servings. Cin cin!