Displaying items by tag: pasta and rice

Baked pasta (or pasta al forno in Italian) is very easy to make. Combining sauce, cheese and pasta couldn't be simpler, but produces a taste that is greater than the sum of its parts. In terms of additional ingredients, such as meat or vegetables, simply use what you have on hand. The cheese I used, pecorino, is a hard, salty sheep's-milk cheese that is used for grating.

1 pound (500 grams) penne or other short pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 cups chopped onion

1 pound (500 grams) sweet or spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled

1 pound (500 grams) cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 6 cups)

1/2 cup red wine

1 796-millilitre can ground Italian tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

11/2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 cups grated provolone cheese (about 12 ounces/375 grams)

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving cooking water separately. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and sausage meat and sauté for 3 minutes or until sausage meat loses its pinkness. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes or until slightly limp. Add wine and bring to a boil. Stir in tomatoes, 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, balsamic vinegar and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 cups provolone and 1/2 cup pecorino, then add pasta and extra-virgin olive oil and stir until combined. Pile into an oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle remaining 1 cup provolone and 1/2 cup pecorino over pasta and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until sauce bubbles and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Serves 8.

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This is a tasty vegetarian dish with lots of long noodles. Substitute oyster mushrooms if king mushrooms are not available, but use only 4 ounces (125 grams).


6 ounces (175 grams) fresh Chinese noodles

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 red onion, sliced

4 ounces (125 grams) green beans, topped, tailed and cut in 1-inch lengths

1/2 red pepper, sliced

7 ounces (200 grams) king mushrooms, slivered

1 cup vegetable stock or chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 to 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce such as sambal oelek

1 teaspoon sugar

8 ounces (250 grams) baby bok choy, cut in half

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander


Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and reserve.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add onion, green beans, red pepper and king mushrooms and 1/2 cup stock, then stir-fry for 2 minutes or until vegetables soften. Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Combine remaining stock, soy sauce, Asian chili sauce and sugar.

Add bok choy and stir together, then add stock mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute, then stir in noodles and toss to coat. Sprinkle with coriander. Serves 4.

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This recipe - a salute to the Olympic rings - doubles easily.


8 ounces (250 grams) tubetti pasta, whole-wheat if possible

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 pound (500 grams) squid, bodies cut into rings

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup halved and seeded cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup torn basil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons toasted fresh bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain reserving some pasta cooking water.

Heat oil in skillet on medium low heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook gently for 2 minutes. Raise heat to high and add squid. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until white, add white wine and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and capers.

Add pasta and basil and toss together, adding ¼ cup pasta cooking water if too dry.

Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs over pasta. Serves 3.

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One of my favourite restaurants in Rome is Trattoria Monti, which is owned by a family from Le Marche. The menu there was reflective of the nearby region, featuring fresh pastas and game in winter. It doesn't change much, as locals are staunchly devoted to their favourites - something we found in many of the family-run trattorie that characterize much of the dining scene. We had a huge tortello al rosso d'uovo, a large ravioli-type pasta filled with ricotta, spinach and a deep-orange egg yolk that breaks as you cut into it. It's a decadent dish, so one tortello per serving is enough.


6 cups packed baby spinach

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 sheets fresh pasta

4 egg yolks

1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter

12 sage leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Steam spinach until tender. Drain and squeeze out any water. Coarsely chop. Mix with ricotta and Parmesan and season well with salt and pepper.

Place a sheet of pasta on the counter and, using a plate as a guide, cut a 6-inch round with a sharp knife. Repeat until you have 4 rounds. Divide spinach-ricotta mixture into 4 portions. Spread one portion on one side of each round, leaving a small border. Make a well in mixture and slip in egg yolk. Brush the edge with egg wash and fold over to make a half-moon shape. Seal edges, removing any air pockets.

Bring a large shallow pot of water to boil. Add tortelli carefully and cook for 3 minutes, making sure yolks remain runny. Immediately remove from pan and place on serving plates.

Heat butter and sage together in a small skillet over low heat for 2 minutes or until butter is hot and melted. Add lemon juice and salt. Place one tortello on each serving dish and drizzle sauce over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve at once. Serves 4.

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This recipe is a great Roman favourite, dating back to the cucina povera tradition. It can be prepared with any pasta, although tagliatelle or a slimmer version called tonnarelli work best. Although the sauce is often made with grated Pecorino alone, we found that version to be quite salty, so we opted for this mixed-cheese take from the St. Regis Grand Hotel. It is best to freshly grate the cheese.


1 pound (500 grams) fresh tagliatelle or dried tagliatelle made with eggs

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano

1 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup grated ricotta salata

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley


Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to boil (you will only need a littlesalt because Pecorino Romano cheese is salty). Add pasta, stir once and cook until al dente (about 3 minutes for fresh and 9 for dried).

Combine cheeses in a small pot, reserving 1/2 cup. Add 1 cup pasta cooking water over low heat, stirring occasionally to help cheeses melt. You can use an immersion blender to help emulsify the sauce if desired. Stir in remaining cheese for texture. Keep sauce warm over low heat.

Drain pasta and toss with butter and cheese sauce. Season well with freshly ground pepper to taste and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 4.

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This recipe is inspired by a dish I had at La Rosetta, an upscale restaurant in Rome that serves only fish. It's expensive but charming, offering exceptional fresh fish simply prepared and a great wine list. To make our version, we used passata, which comes in bottles and is essentially Italian puréed tomatoes.


8 ounces (250 grams) rigatoni

12 ounces (375 grams) grouper

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon chili flakes

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup fish or chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium)

Pinch sugar (optional)

Sea salt to taste

12 basil leaves, torn

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces (60 grams) ricotta salata


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.

Cut grouper into 1/2-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and chili flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add wine and let bubble for 3 minutes or until reduced by half. Add tomato sauce and fish stock and cook together for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste and add pinch of sugar if needed.

Add grouper and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until grouper is cooked through. Season with sea salt to taste. Add cooked pasta to skillet, stir in basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil. Grate over ricotta salata and serve at once. Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entrée.

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The main ingredient in yellow rice is turmeric, one of the healthiest spices.

1½ cups water

1 cup long-grain rice, preferably Thai scented or basmati (rinsed)

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 pieces cinnamon stick

½ cup raisins

Salt to taste

Combine water, rice, turmeric and cinnamon sticks in a pot and bring to boil over high heat. Turn heat to low, stir in raisins, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Season with salt to taste. Serves 4 to 6.

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This chelo is based on a Persian dish that would probably be made with ground lamb in Iran, but I used chicken for this version. There is a degree of difficulty in turning it out, but confidence is the best weapon. This dish looks spectacular when unmoulded, its crisp layer of rice cradling fragrant chicken and another soft, steamy layer of rice underneath. The dish can be made ahead of time and reheated before unmoulding. If you mess up the unmoulding, just heap it onto individual plates. You can also omit the unmoulding step if you cook the rice and filling separately and serve a scoop of rice with the filling spilling over it. If you do this, cook the filling another 15 minutes. We used Thai rice with good results, but you could use any long-grain rice. Serve with a radish, olive and cucumber salad.


2 cups water

1½ cups long grain rice, rinsed

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 cups peeled and diced apple

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch saffron

2 pounds (1 kilogram) ground chicken, preferably dark meat

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

6 cups packed spinach, washed, stemmed and sliced

1 cup chopped prunes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


Combine water and rice in a pot, bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 4 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Stir in apples and garlic, paprika, cinnamon, ground ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper and saffron. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to skillet and sprinkle in soy sauce. Sauté for 5 minutes until beginning to brown. Add tomatoes and sauté until combined.

Add spinach and prunes and cook until spinach wilts (about 2 to 3 minutes). Stir in mint and cook together for another minute. Taste for seasoning.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until oil shimmers. Remove pan from heat and carefully add half of rice, spreading it evenly over base of skillet, using a spatula to compress it slightly. Layer with all of chicken mixture and finish with remaining rice, again compressing rice. Use a wooden spoon to make a hole down through the centre of the mixture to let steam escape. Cover, place over low heat and cook for 35 minutes or until rice has formed a golden crust on the bottom. Use a spatula to loosen sides. Reverse pan onto a large serving plate and contents should turn out beautifully. Serves 6 to 8.

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Essentially noodles with vegetables and lamb, this dish originates in Turkistan. Use a lamb sirloin chop cut off the leg for the best results; you can also use thinly sliced beef or chicken. To serve, either mix the noodles in with the meat and sauce or pour the dish over noodles. Add seasonal vegetables you prefer.


2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ teaspoon dried chili flakes

½ teaspoon sugar

½ cup beef stock or water

1 star anise, broken up


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces (375 grams) thinly sliced lamb

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 cup sliced onion

½ red pepper, sliced

1 mild green banana pepper, sliced

1 cup thinly sliced carrot

2 cups diced tomato

3 cups sliced Napa cabbage

12 ounces (375 grams) udon noodles

¼ cup coriander sprigs

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Heat a wok over high heat until very hot. Add oil and gently swirl to coat. Season lamb with salt and pepper and add to pan along with garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute or until beginning to brown. Add onion, red pepper, banana pepper and carrots and stir fry until vegetables soften (about 2 minutes). Add tomato and cabbage and stir fry for 2 minutes or until cabbage has wilted. Stir in sauce, bring to boil and boil for about 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Drain and add to wok, stirring to combine with vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle with coriander sprigs. Serves 4.

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I had this dish at a stall at the Tokyo fish market during a recent visit. It featured fresh shrimp with the heads still on, but we made do with extra-large shrimp here. This is my take on the recipe, as the people at the stall spoke no English. You can use chicken or pork in this recipe, which is a great way to use up leftover vegetables. Bottled yakisoba stir fry sauce is available in stores, but my version comes very close to what I had and is easy to pull off.

Yakisoba sauce:

½ cup light soy

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce, such as sambal oelek

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

Noodles and vegetables:

8 ounces (250 grams) Japanese dried noodles (called chuka soba)

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped ginger root

1 teaspoon finely chopped chili or 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce

8 ounces (250 grams) extra-large shrimp, peeled

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 carrots cut in matchstick pieces

3 cups sliced Napa cabbage

4 green onions, chopped

3 tablespoons slivered pickled ginger

Combine all sauce ingredients and set aside. Place noodles in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until al dente. Drain. Toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil and remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, chili and shrimp and cook for 1 minute or until shrimp are beginning to turn pink. Add onions and carrots and cook for 2 minutes or until softened. Add cabbage and stir fry until wilted. Add noodles to skillet and stir fry together with vegetables and shrimp for 1 minute. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in green onions and toss everything together. Reheat until very hot. Garnish with pickled ginger. Serves 4.

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