Saturday, July 29, 2017

7-29-17 Spaghetti with shrimp and asparagus


Tonight’s dinner is the result of our visit to the Farmer’s Market this morning where we bought a bottle of dill infused olive oil from the Paducah Olive oil store. I knew immediately what I would do with our new purchase. For a number of reasons, our crop of fresh herbs this year is short on dill, and I wanted to see if this olive oil would make up for that.


1.     Spaghetti
2.     Shrimp
3.     Asparagus
4.     Olive oil – plain – for cooking
5.     Olive oil w Dill
6.     Leeks
7.     Celery
8.     Garlic
9.     Fresh lemon juice
10. Fresh basil
11. White wine
12. Butter


While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce – cook the ingredients in any order you wish. (It’s late and I’m too tired to write everything out tonight.)  Mix in the pasta with some of the pasta water, and drizzle with the Dill infused olive oil before serving.


The new olive oil came through and imparted a dill flavor to the dish, which was quite delicious.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

7-25-17 Pasta fazool (aka pasta fagioli)

7-25-17   Pasta fazool (aka pasta fagioli)

Beans and pasta is a go to dish in Italian-American homes.  What makes tonight's dish a little special are the tomatoes I used, purchased online from Ditalia .com.


1.     Penne pasta
2.     Cherry tomatoes
3.     Small white beans (Goya -  available in Paducah at Midtown Market)
4.     Olive oil
5.     Onion and garlic
6.     Fresh oregano, basil, and tarragon
7.     Sweet vermouth


Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add the tomatoes and fresh herbs and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Add the wine and allow the liquid to cook off.
Add the beans and continue cooking over low-med heat while the pasta is cooking.
Add the pasta to the tomato-bean sauce, along with a splash of the pasta water and mix well. 


We really like this brand of tomatoes and try to keep some on hand in our pantry.  You can use any variety of white beans in this dish, and also add any vegetable you have available.  It is as easy to prepare as it is delicious.

Monday, July 24, 2017

7-24-17 Pasta-peas-cucumber salad

With fresh corn and tomatoes in abundance, it is the season for pasta salad, and that creates the challenge to avoid repetition. Two ways to do that is to vary the ingredients and the dressing. (In all of my pasta dishes I try to balance the pasta with an equal amount of non-pasta ingredients.)


1.     Campanelle pasta -  3 oz.
2.     Frozen peas – 1 cup
3.     One medium cucumber – diced
4.     Celery
5.     Fresh spearming (or mint) leaves coarsely chopped
6.     Mayonnaise
7.     Cream- about ¼ cup
8.     Fresh lime juice – ½ med. Lime
9.     Salt & pepper to taste


Cook the pasta, drain, and in a bowl add some olive oil to prevent sticking, and chill.
Later, mix in the vegetables and herbs, followed by the dressing.


The spearmint gives a refreshing new flavor to salad and goes well with the peas and cucumber. Of course having fresh corn and tomatoes lying next to it doesn’t hurt.  This is an easy summer meal and can be prepared hours ahead of time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

7-23-17 Campanelle with creamy carrot sauce

Cooking as much pasta as I do, it is hard to always come up with something different.  It occurred to me today that I have never used carrots as the main ingredient in a sauce. (They are part of a Bolognese sauce, and have been used with other roasted veggies, but never as the main player.)  Tonight we changed that.


1.     Campanelle pasta
2.     Carrots- sliced (3 medium carrots)
3.     Sundried tomatoes coarsely chopped
4.     Butter
5.     Shallots
6.     Garlic
7.     Olive oil
8.     Fresh basil and sage
9.     Sweet vermouth
10. Heavy whipping cream


The first thing I did was to nuke the sliced carrots with a bit of water in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Cook the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft, and add the carrots, sage, butter, and tomatoes and cook over medium heat.  When the carrots are soft (the timing here is not critical-more of a personal judgment or preference.) add the vermouth and allow it to cook off.  Several minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream and stir well.  Then add the pasta with some pasta water, and garnish with fresh basil.

I used sweet vermouth because I couldn’t fine the brown sugar in our pantry.


OMG THIS WAS GOOD – he said with all due modesty. Patience loved it, and she is the "go to" food critic.  We will definitely add this to our "must serve to guests" list.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

7-22-17 Fettuccini w Salmon and fresh corn in cream sauce

I’ve been thinking about this dish for several days, but something always seemed to thwart my plans…but not tonight. 


1.     Fettuccini- wanted linguine but there was none in the pasta pantry.
2.     Salmon – skin removed and diced into bite size pieces
3.     Fresh corn – nuked for 2 minutes then removed from the cob
4.     Olive oil
5.     Shallots – chopped
6.     Garlic – pressed
7.     Fresh basil and tarragon coarsely chopped
8.     Marsala wine
9.     Heavy whipping cream


Cook the shallots and garlic until soft, then add the salmon and cook over med-high heat.  Follow several minutes later with the fresh herbs.  When the salmon is cooked through add the corn and a splash of wine and continue cooking over low heat.  Several minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream and mix well.  Then add the pasta and some pasta water, mix well, and serve.


In keeping with the “eclipse season” we decided the best description of tonight’s dinner would be -  “heavenly”.

I forgot to mention the pad of butter I added to the sauce along with the cream.  Hey…it’s good for you.

Accompanying the pasta was a Caprese salad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7-18-17 Cavatappi with chicken and asparagus

We’re giving the porch garden a break tonight – except for the oregano and tarragon.


1.     Cavatappi
2.     Chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
3.     Asparagus
4.     Olive oil
5.     Leeks, cut vertically into slender pieces
6.     Garlic
7.     Sundried tomatoes in oil coarsely chopped
8.     Fresh oregano and tarragon
9.     Dry white wine


Cook the leeks and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add the chicken and cook over med-high heat.  After 5 minutes add the tomatoes and herbs and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the asparagus, cover and continue cooking over low heat.  Before the pasta is ready add a splash of wine.  When the pasta is done add it to the pan with the chicken, mix well and serve. 


I have no choice but to give this a ten. The caramelized leek and the sundried tomatoes add a special flavor to this dish.  We will definitely do this again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

7-17-17 Mixed greens with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes

Being true to traditional Pugliese cooking – cooking with seasonal fare – tonight will be our 7th dish with mixed greens from the porch garden.  (They apparently are the gift that keeps on giving.) I’ve done my best to keep each dish at least a little unique.

Note – unless specified, all my recipes call for 4 oz. of pasta for two.  And in almost all or our dishes, there is an equal amount of vegetables, meat, and or seafood.  We are eating more than just pasta every night.


1.     Spaghetti
2.     Mushrooms
3.     Shallots – celery – garlic
4.     Olive oil
5.     Mixed greens – chard and beet greens
6.     Grape tomatoes – halved
7.     Sweet Vermouth
8.     Fresh basil and oregano
9.     Salt & pepper


Cook the shallots, celery, and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Add the mushrooms and herbs and cook over high heat – stirring frequently – until they start to brown. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes and a splash of wine and continue cooking . While the pasta is cooking add the greens, cover, and continue cooking over low heat until the greens are wilted.  When the pasta is al dente, add it to the sauce, along with some of the pasta water, and cook for another 1-2 minutes before serving. 


I don’t know what else to say about the mixed greens.  We have enjoyed each of the 7 dishes over the past 6 weeks, and anticipate at least one or  two more.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

7-12-17 Campanelle with mushrooms-chicken-sundried tomatoes


1.     Pasta
2.     Grilled chicken tenders
3.     Mushrooms
4.     Sun dried tomatoes in oil coarsely chopped
5.     Leeks
6.     Garlic finely chopped
7.     Sweet Vermouth
8.     Heavy whipping cream
9.     Red pepper flakes
10. Olive oil
11. Balsamic vinegar glaze
12. White wine
13. Fresh basil and tarragon, coarsely chopped


Marinate the chicken in a mixture of olive oil, white wine, balsamic vinegar glaze, garlic, and chopped tarragon and basil in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour or more.  Grill the chicken and set aside to cool.  The chicken I used in this dish was leftover from the night before.  Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Cook the leeks and garlic in olive oil until soft, without burning the garlic.  Add the pepper flakes and mushrooms and cook uncovered over med-high heat until they just start to brown. Lower the heat and add the chicken and tomatoes and a splash of the sweet vermouth and continue cooking for about 20 minutes.  Several minutes before the pasta is ready add about ¼ to 1/3 cup of cream and stir well.  Add the pasta, along with some of the pasta water and cook for another 1-2 minutes before serving.


If you ever have dinner at la Casa Renzulli, ask for this dish.  It was great.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

7-8-17 Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and herbs in a light cream sauce


This was a last minute dish when we learned our dinner guest could not eat the seafood sauce I had planned. It turned out to be a winner for everyone.


1.     Spaghetti
2.     Fresh tomatoes (2) coarsely chopped
3.     Fresh Rosemary, spearmint, tarragon, parsley, Thyme, and basil – chopped
4.     Olive oil
5.     Anchovy – 1 fillet finely chopped
6.     Panko - toasted
7.     Garlic and onion
8.     White wine
 9. Heavy whipping cream


Cook the onion, garlic, and anchovy in the oil until soft.  Add a splash of wine and all of the herbs and cook over low heat for about 3-4 minutes before adding the tomatoes.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. (Time is not critical)  Before the pasta is ready, add some cream to the sauce.  Mix in the pasta and some pasta water along with the toasted panko.  Serve with grated parmigiano or grana padana cheese.


God bless Ngan.  Without her food intolerance we would not have the pleasure of tonight’s dinner.  And it was indeed a pleasure. Did I mention the blueberry cupcakes Ngan brought for desert?  What a treat.

Friday, July 7, 2017

7-7-17 Porch pasta inspired by Tony Del Pozzo

My father’s cousin, Angelina Renzulli, came to America in the late 1950s and married Tony Del Pozzo, whose family had a restaurant in NYC.  Tony and Angelina visited my parents when they were living on our farm in Maryland, and Tony prepared a pasta dish with eggplants and mozzarella that Patience and I have never forgotten. Tonight’s pasta is a pale second to Tony’s, but it was his creation that inspired it.

My original plan was to combine mushrooms and Japanese eggplants for the garden.  But Patience reminded me we had some greens in the fridge that had to be used, so they were added to the mix.


1.     Linguine – I usually cook 3-4 oz. for the two of us
2.     Small button mushrooms
3.     Japanese eggplants – cut into long strips
4.     Beet greens and red Chard coarsely chopped
5.     Olive oil
6.     Fresh tarragon
7.     Onion and garlic
8.     Sweet Vermouth
9.     Toasted Panko
10. Mozzarella cut into thin strips


Cook the onion and garlic in oil until soft, then add the mushrooms and eggplant and cook uncovered over med-low heat.  After several minutes add a splash of sweet vermouth, the tarragon, and cook covered over low heat.  Add the greens about 10-15 minutes before the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is done, add it to the sauce, along with the panko, some pasta water, and the cheese, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.


This was not as good as Tony’s, but I never expected it to be.  Patience suggested I use basil instead of tarragon the next time I try this.  I give an 8/10.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

7-4-17 Penne with mixed greens and mushrooms

So far most of the pasta dishes have been dictated by our porch garden and its abundance of greens, fresh herbs, and our one mighty Japanese Eggplant plant. It won’t be long before the tomato plants begin providing a steady supply of fresh fruit, and the opportunity for some fresh tomato sauce.

Tonight’s challenge is to come up with still another way to use the mixed greens from the garden.  The solution is to pair them with mixed mushrooms and a splash of sweet vermouth.


1.     Penne pasta
2.     Mixed greens – kale, mustard greens, and Chard – coarsely chopped
3.     Mixed mushrooms
4.     Olive oil
5.     Onion and garlic
6.     Sweet vermouth
7.     Fresh lemon juice


Prepare the onion and garlic in olive oil as usual.  Add the mushrooms and cook over med-high heat.  Add a splash of sweet vermouth – or wine of your choice – when they start to brown.  Add the greens, cover, and cook over low heat.  When they are wilted down add some lemon juice.  Mix in the pasta with some of the pasta water and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Serve with grated Grana Padana or Parmigiano cheese.


It’s impossible to go wrong with fresh greens.  This was out 5th or 6th dish with them and we have yet to be disappointed.