Damn the dishes! Full speed ahead! I am the Queen of Pasta! All bow down, before your queen!
25 Random Pasta Tidbits That You Didn't Know About Me...
1. Let me just say, that I have never met a homemade pasta dish that I didn't like.
2. I cooked macaroni and cheese in my popcorn popper pan during my college dorm days.
3. I have seriously considered having "She loved her macaroni." as my epitaph ... not that I'm rushing things.
4. One of my favorite childrens' stories is the Tomie dePaola story about Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot.
5. I have a photo of myself gleefully posing outside the Pasta Museum in Rome.
6. I love pasta, but hate the song, ' On Top of Spaghetti ...'
7. When my children were young sprouts, I fed them obscene amounts of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese... and they loved it.
8. I inadvertently insulted my mother when I told her to put red and yellow food coloring in her macaroni and cheese casserole so that my children would eat it ... she just didn't get it.
9. I think linguini is too thick for clam sauce and prefer plain old spaghetti.
10. I have never made my pasta from scratch, but have fantasies about doing just that ... when hell freezes over.
11. I have just discovered Barilla brand lasagna noodles that don't require boiling before loading in the lasagna pan ... I am in heaven.
12. I don't consider gnocchi a pasta... sorry. In my humble opinion, it's like polenta ... only white.
13. My Grandpa Miller turned me on to spaghetti loaded with butter, salt & pepper, and good Parmesan cheese ... he is enjoying his reward in heaven. I'm positive!
14. When I was in Spain, my third daughter Maria introduced me to Fedeos with Squid Ink and Seafood. I have been obsessed with finding the recipe ever since.
15. One of the most interesting recipes for pasta that I've ever had is Pastitio ... tomato sauce and Alfredo sauce ... killer.
16. I make a mean Fettuccini Carbonara ... the key being toasted walnuts and excellent grade Prosciutto.
17. Several months ago, I had a nightmare that I was diagnosed with ciliac disease. I woke up muttering, "Shit, shit, shit...". This is the truth, folks.
18. The first 'candlelight dinner' that I made for Silent Bob and I was Chicken Cacciatore with Angelhair Pasta...
19. My favorite Disney flick is 'Lady and the Tramp' ... I am Lady. Silent Bob is Tramp. Enough said.
20. I think Chef Boyardee Ravioli is nothing but catfood wrapped in gummy pasta... and wonder how the American public can continue to keep the Chef in business.
21. I have daydreamed about having Ina Garten prepare a lovely cold pasta lunchen for me ... I am the honored 'friend' that she's cooking for that particular day. We drink Pinot Grigio and chat over yummy pasta salad. I am in 'Ina Garten heaven'.
22. I once stepped into an Italian restaurant in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood in DC for a pasta dinner. I was all by myself ... for a while. I got 'picked up' by two businessmen at an adjoining table. They insisted that we push our tables together, no kidding! We shared pasta, good conversation, wine, and the best 'homemade house mozzarella' that I've ever had. I left the restaurant that evening (by myself!) and returned to the hotel to meet Silent Bob after his 'dinner meeting' thinking, 'Wow! What a great time at dinner!'.
23. I am somewhat jealous of my sister-in-law, Alison. She makes the very best baked Ziti in the world. I can never make it like she does... damn it!
24. When I don't want to cook, I make tuna noodle casserole... processed ingredients, but easy and yum.
25. I share all this randomness to impress on you, dear reader, how seriously I take a good pasta and a good gravy.
Now, to dinner talk. My friend Kay sent me an arrabbiata sauce recipe last year and I have blessed her at least three times since... this is a sauce to toast you from the inside out, a sauce to make your lips tingle, your heart fill up with warmth, your eyes close with a sigh of delight. That being said, I puttered with it this afternoon and made a sweeter and winier sauce. Then, I made a lasagna that was sublime... a cheesier filling that has a bit more tang because of Asagio replacing the Parmesan ... four sweet sausages cooked up with added fennel and black pepper ... and the jazzed arrabbiata sauce... oh, my goodness!
So... for your enjoyment...
Please excuse this sick and sorry photo... the salad is feeling pretty put out too... it got shoved aside for the lasagna ...
Arrabbiata Lasagna - printer friendly
Susan's Arrabbiata Lasagna
1 ½ c. pancetta, small dice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. hot spiced olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ c. good red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 ½ tsp. sugar
1 large can crushed tomatoes in sauce
1 small can fire-roasted tomatoes in chunks
½ small can tomato paste
1 ½ - 2 c. water … rinse out the cans and use to thin the sauce after adding the tomato paste
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Sweet Sausage Mince:
4 links Italian sweet sausage, squeezed out of casings and broken up
¼ tsp. fennel seeds, smashed
½ c. onion, small dice
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 ½ c. grated mozzarella cheese
¾ c. grated Asagio cheese
½ c. whipped cream cheese
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt
16 flat lasagna noodles (one box - Barilla no-cooks are SO easy!)
1 ½ c. grated mozzarella cheese for topping
Making the Dish:
1. Sauté the pancetta in the oils until browned and then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for a minute or two.
2. Add the tomatoes and paste, rinse the cans out with the water and add it to the sauce.
3. Add the sugar, basil, and wine. Reduce heat and simmer covered for about an hour. Stir and taste.
4. Meanwhile sauté the sausage in a fry pan with the onion and smashed fennel seed. Set aside when browned.
5. Mix the cheeses, spices, and eggs in a large bowl and set aside.
6. When the sauce has simmered for an hour, use a 13 x 9 inch baking dish to assemble the lasagna. Four noodles per layer, four layers.
7. Place 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay four noodles overlapping on top of the sauce. Layer a generous layer of cheese and some arabbiata sauce. Place four more noodles overlapping on the cheese/sauce layer. Top with the meat and onions and some more sauce. Place four more noodles overlapping on the meat and onion layer. Top with more cheese and sauce. Place the last four noodles overlapping on top of the cheese/sauce layer. Finish the cheese mixture and add the last of the sauce. Top with the additional mozzarella cheese.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 350º F for about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking to brown the cheese topping for another 10 minutes or so.
9. Let sit for about ten minutes when it comes out of the oven; it cuts and serves better when it ‘sets up’ a bit.