Penne Con Spinaci e Funghi-Penne with Spinach & Mushrooms

Penne Con Spinaci e Funghi, Penne with Spinach and Mushrooms is such a quick and uncomplicated Italian recipe to make. The title of this dish pretty much says it all. Penne pasta is served with creamy spinach, mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic and of course Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. The sauce for the pasta is Italian simplicity at its best.

What I love about this recipe is that like a lot of Italian dishes there are so many ways to make this dish different.  Since it is Lent, I have chosen my meatless version of this recipe.  When I want a more heartier meal I would add cooked chicken, sautéed pancetta or bacon and other times I might add cooked sausage, or pork to the basic recipe.

Penne with Spinach & Mushrooms
Penne Con Spinaci e Funghi

Ingredients

12 ounces Penne
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 onion chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese freshly grated

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Drain and set aside. Keep warm.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
When skillet is hot add olive oil.
Stir in garlic, onion and thyme and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in mushrooms and cook for about 8 minutes.
Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes.
Slowly stir in milk.
Bring mixture to a boil and cook stirring, for about 3 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Stir in spinach, basil, salt and pepper.
Cook just until spinach is wilted.
Pour mixture over the Penne pasta and toss well.
Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and the Italian recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different Italian recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family Italian recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be happy to share them with the rest of the world.

Con tanto amore – With Lots of Love

Maria

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Basic Pasta Dough-Pasta,Pasta di Base

When I think of Italian Cuisine, usually the first thing that comes to mind is pasta. Pasta comes in so many different shapes and sizes it is hard to know where to start.  There are over 200 different types of pasta so I thought the best place to start is with the basics – making your own pasta dough.

Yes, I know, pasta is readily available and can be purchased at your local supermarket either dry or fresh.  But there is something to be said for making your own pasta.  First off, in my option, store made pasta does not taste as good as homemade fresh pasta.  Second, I think making your own pasta is not only rewarding, but it can be fun.  All you need are some simple ingredients and a rolling-pin.  You can use a food processor to mix the ingredients if you have one, but you can mix the pasta dough by hand.  And yes, if you are going to make homemade pasta on a regular basis, a pasta machine is a great tool to have.  But, you don’t need these to get started on making homemade pasta, but these tools can make things simpler.

I am including two recipes for homemade pasta.  If you have never made homemade pasta, I would recommend that you start with the first recipe that is made out of regular flour.  The dough in this recipe is easier to work with.  Pasta dough made with semolina flour is harder to work with than dough made with regular flour so you might want to try this one after you have gotten used to making pasta dough.

If you are not using a pasta machine to roll out the dough, you have to let the dough rest for 15 minutes before rolling out the dough.  Just wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let the dough rest and then roll out the dough.

Basic Pasta Dough

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

To mix by hand

Add the flour into a medium mixing bowl and make a well (a hole) in the center of the flour.  Add the eggs and olive into the well.

Gradually stir the flour into the eggs and olive oil using a fork until the mixture comes together and comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl (comes together to make a ball).  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes.  If the dough is too wet or sticky, add a little flour, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is not sticky.  If the dough is too dry or crumbly, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, but is not sticky.  Knead the dough until it is smooth and flexible. For about 10 minutes.

Dough Ball

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.  After the dough has rested, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and using a knife, cut the dough into strips.


(If you are using a pasta machine to knead the dough, skip these steps and run the dough through the pasta machine until the dough is smooth and flexible, You can also use the pasta machine to cut the dough.)
After cutting the pasta dough and before you cook the pasta, the pasta needs to dry for 15 minutes or so. Dry fresh pasta by hanging the pasta on a dowel or other object (a clothes drying rack works wonderful). You can also lay the pasta flat on a kitchen towel to dry.


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Fresh pasta cooks very quickly so it only takes a few minutes to cook.  I like to start testing the pasta for doneness after 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce.

Semolina Pasta Dough

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-cup semolina flour
½ cup water

Add the flour into a medium mixing bowl and make a well (a hole) in the center of the flour.  Using a fork Gradually stir the water into the flour a little at a time until the flour mixture comes together and comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl (comes together to make a ball).  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes.  If the dough is too wet or sticky, add a little flour, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is not sticky.  If the dough is too dry or crumbly, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, but is not sticky.  Knead the dough until it is smooth and flexible. For about 10 minutes.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.  After the dough has rested, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and using a knife, cut the dough into strips.
(If you are using a pasta machine to knead the dough, skip these steps and run the dough through the pasta machine until the dough is smooth and flexible. You can also use the pasta machine to cut the dough)
After cutting the pasta dough and before you cook the pasta, the pasta needs to dry for 15 minutes or so.  Dry fresh pasta by hanging the pasta on a dowel or other object (a clothes drying rack works wonderful). You can also lay the pasta flat on a kitchen towel to dry.


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Fresh pasta cooks very quickly so it only takes a few minutes to cook.  I like to start testing the pasta for doneness after 2 minutes.  Serve with your favorite sauce.
I hope you enjoy making your own homemade pasta. Once you get the hang of it-the possibilities are endless.

Con tanto amore

Maria

Strozzapreti-Stretched out Dumplings

Typically this pasta or dumpling is not really a type of gnocchi, but more like a stretched out form of hand rolled pasta, kind of like cavatelli. What I like about strozzapreti is that like gnocchi, you don’t need any special kitchen gadgets to make strozzapreti. I have seen other versions of this dish, which look more like Gnocchi Del Casentino. I think it is pretty neat that strozzapreti means priest choker in Italian. There are several legends that explain how this dumpling got it name.

English: Strozzapreti pasta

Dry strozzapreti

Tip: If you have never made handmade pasta before, put most of the flour into a large mixing bowl, but not all of the flour (you can add the rest of flour if you need it) and then continue on with the recipe. It can be a little intimating mixing the ingredients on a solid work surface if you have never done this before.

Ingredients
1-¼ cups flour
1 egg ¼ teaspoon
salt

Put the flour on a solid work surface and make a well in the center of the flour.
Add the egg and salt into the center of the flour. Using your hands slowly mix the flour into the center and knead until the mixture becomes smooth and even, but not sticky.
Dust the work surface with a little flour.
Divide the dough into thirds.
With a rolling-pin, roll each section of the dough into a thin sheet.
Cut the dough into 1″ wide strips that are about 3-4″ long.
Wrap each strip around a skewer and squeeze the dough around the skewer to make irregular shape tubes.

strozzapreti romagnoli

strozzapreti

Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until the strozzapreti float to the surface of the water. Strozzapreti should be tender and slightly chewy when done.
Serve with tomato ragu or your favorite tomato sauce.
I hope you enjoy this Italian recipe for Strozzapreti.

Con tanto amore


Maria

L’inizio – Maria’s Potato Gnocchi

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Con tanto amore, this to me is what Italian Cuisine is all about.  Made “with lots of love”.  Italian food is about simplicity mixed in “with lots of love”.  I think that is why Italian Cuisine has become popular.  Simple, fresh, local foods are fused with lots of love to create absolutely amazing dishes that anyone can make.  Throw in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic, fresh produce, fresh herbs and wonderful Italian wines and you get foods that are healthy, artistic, marvelous and yes, exciting. Not only do I have a passion for Italian food, but I also love cooking and creating Italian dishes.

I guess that’s what Italian Cuisine is for me.  Using foods and produce that are locally available and fresh to make simple,  wonderful and delicious dishes.  My passion is food, so what could be better than writing a blog about food. Sounds great but, food/recipes is really too big for just one blog.  So, after a lot of thinking I decided that I would write about my favorite type of food, which happens to be Italian Cuisine.

Mostra di pani e dolci tradizionali della Sard...

Well, this too presented some problems for me, since Italian food, not only varies from region to region but Italian cuisine is quite varied and vast. Italian cuisine has been around since the 4th century BCE. That’s over 2,000 years.

So, where to start. That’s when it hit me.  Why not start at the l’inizio “beginning”.  And the beginning of Italian food for me is pasta!  Sounds simple, but there are so many types of pasta and so many different dishes, my head was swimming with were to start.  So, I decided, why not start at the beginning.  The beginning of pasta or if you will the precursor or forerunner of pasta in my option is gnocchi.  So, what better way to start a journey of Italian Cuisine than with gnocchi or Italian dumplings.

Maria’s Traditional Potato Gnocchi
Patata Gnocco

Ingredients

2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4 large potatoes)
1-cup flour
2 eggs
1-teaspoon salt

Bake the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove potatoes from the oven and let the potatoes cool to room temperature.
Scrape the insides of the potatoes into a medium to large mixing bowl.
Mash the potatoes with a potatoes masher.
Add the flour and mix together with the potatoes.  Add the eggs and salt and mix until you have a firm, smooth dough.
Divide the dough into thirds.
On a floured surface use your hands to gently roll each section into a long rope about 1 inch around.
Cut the rope into 1 to 2 inch pieces.

Gnocchi

Take the cut pieces of dough and using your finger lightly press the gnocchi onto the back of a fork, to make ridges in the dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop the gnocchi, a few at a time into a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the gnocchi float to the surface and stay on top.
Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and drain.
Serve hot with melted butter, fresh chopped Italian parsley and your favorite Italian cheese or serve with your favorite sauce.

Tip: If you have never made gnocchi before, it takes practice to roll the gnocchi on a fork to make the ridges (the ridges or grooves hold the sauce).  If you do find this part difficult, you can just cut the gnocchi and cook them.

Gnocchi Paddle

You could also purchase a Wooden Gnocchi Board (also called a Gnocchi Paddle) to make gnocchi. Grooves in the surface of the board give gnocchi their characteristic texture as the dough is rolled down and shaped on the board.  I don’t have one of these, I make my gnocchi by rolling them on a fork.



I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and the Italian recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years.  I am always looking for new, exciting or different Italian recipes, tips and helpful hints.  If you have any family Italian recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be happy to share them with the rest of the world.

Con tanto amore – With Lots of Love


Maria