Friday, March 13, 2009

Recipe of the week: An Italian Feast

I made a hearty Italian dinner last night and it was fab. I have a lot of requests to make it again! So if you are looking for dinner ideas this Friday or Saturday night---look no further. Pair this hearty penne bolognese with some delicious garlic bread.


Penne Bolognese

[Adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe on the food network]


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pounds ground veal
  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cups dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried penne
  • Handful freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 small can of tomato paste


In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat a 2-count of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender but not browned.
Raise the heat a bit. Take the ground veal and beef, break it up into chunks and add it to the pan. Cook, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated (wait until this is completely evaporated). Then add the tomatoes (make sure you drain all the liquid) and stock and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer very slowly for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is getting thick. Taste again for salt and pepper. Add the oregano, basil, and crushed red peppers. Add tomato paste to thicken the sauce. The longer you let it simmer the thicker and more flavorful it will be. Use a hand blender or emulsifier in the sauce to thicken it even further as well as give it a better texture.

Bring a big pot of lightly salted water to a boil for the pasta. When you're ready to serve, drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until tender yet firm (al dente) 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and put the pasta into a big bowl. Pour as much sauce as you want over the drained spaghetti and give it a good toss (usually about half to 3/4 of the sauce is enough). Freeze any left over sauce. Garnish with a handful of grated Parmigiano.
The sauce does take quite a while to cook- so make sure you leave yourself around 3 hours (maybe even 4). But it not a high maintenance sauce- you can walk away while it is simmering.


Garlic Bread

[adapted from Simply Recipes]


  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 16 oz loaf of a good Italian or French bread
  • handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the bread in half, horizontally. Mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together in a small bowl. Spread butter mixture over the the two bread halves. Place on a sturdy baking pan (one that can handle high temperatures, not a cookie sheet) and heat in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese (shredded works better than grated) over bread. Return to oven on the highest rack. Broil on high heat for about 2 minutes until the edges of the bread begin to toast and the cheese bubbles. Watch very carefully while broiling. The bread can burn easily if you aren't careful.
Easy and delicious garlic bread. Wait to pop these in the oven until right before you plan to eat.

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