Fettuccine Pasta in Garlic Sauce with Fresh Garden Basil


Fettuccine Pasta in Garlic Sauce with Fresh Garden Basil | Culinary Compost RecipesThis Italian pasta recipe is a variant on my classic garlic pasta sauce, but with fresh garden basil. For more years than I care to remember, my summer basil crop was a total disaster, due to increased seasonal rain. I was blessed this year with a bumper crop so I put it to good use in this recipe, and in my classic Italian pesto.

Take care not to scorch the garlic. You must stir it constantly until it just turns a light straw color. A good heavy pan is essential for this technique. Remove from the burner and set aside until you’re ready to mix it with the pasta. This recipe can be made as a meal, including grilled marinated chicken breast, or as a side with swordfish. Amazing — Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 box fettuccine noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 cup XV olive oil (do not skimp on quality)
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
30 shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely-grated hard Parmesan cheese
2 cups finely sliced fresh garden basil leaves
Pinch of ground red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a 12″ heavy cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the minced garlic and chopped pistachio nuts, the red pepper flakes, kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Stir constantly until the garlic is slightly softened and straw colored. Remove from the burner and set aside.

While preparing the sauce, bring 2 quarts of water with a pinch of salt to a boil in a soup pot. Stir frequently to dissolve the salt. Add the fettuccine noodles and cook al dente, according to package directions. Time the noodles so they are done when the sauce is finished.

Drain the noodles and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4

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Classic Italian Pesto


Italian Garden Pesto | Culinary Compost RecipesThis stunning recipe is classic Italian. Using only seven simple ingredients, its vibrant color and aroma elevates any meal. Toss with pasta or spread on thinly-sliced grilled Italian or French bread. It’s also amazing on grilled fish and pan-fried eggs.

Pine nuts are expensive and can be hard to find; a 4-oz. package runs about $4. Most major supermarkets should carry them, but you can substitute walnuts or pistachios in a pinch. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups packed garden basil leaves
1/2 cup XV olive oil
4 cloves crushed garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup grated hard Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
Kosher salt and fresh-ground coarse black pepper, to taste.

DIRECTIONS:

Trim and rinse the basil leaves under cold water. Blot dry. Place in a food processor with the minced garlic and pine nuts. Pulse until smooth, about thirty seconds, while slowly adding the olive oil. Fold in the Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Mix gently until incorporated. Serve immediately – best used within one day.

Makes a little over 2 cups.

Italian Garden Basil | Culinary Compost Recipes

Italian garden basil grown in a patio pot. Make the most out of your hard-won harvest by making authentic pesto.

Penne Pasta in Parmesan-Garlic Sauce with Italian Parsley and Scallion


Penne Pasta in Parmesan-Garlic Sauce with Italian Parsley and Scallion | Culinary Compost RecipesI created this simple recipe as an alternative to purchasing high-priced store-bought pasta salad at a ridiculous $5.99/pound. You can use either penne or orecchiette pasta with fantastic results. The quantity shown here will set you back a whopping two dollars.

This is a cold pasta salad that should be chilled before serving so the flavors have time to set. Enjoy—

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups penne or orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente
1 pinch table salt
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup XV olive oil, plus more for mixing
1/4 cup finely-sliced scallion greens
2 tbs. minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. crushed dry Italian basil
1 cup coarse-grated hard Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

Heat one quart of water in a saucepan with a pinch of table salt until boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until just al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain and run under cold water in a colander to stop it from cooking. Shake off all the water and place in a large mixing bowl.

While preparing the pasta, heat 1/4 cup of XV olive oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced raw garlic and sauté until fragrant. It should just start to turn a straw color. Remove from the heat and let stand to cool.

Add the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and fold in with a spatula. When cooled, add the garlic and olive oil and mix to incorporate. You can add more olive oil if necessary based on preference. Correct the seasoning if needed and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Mike’s ProTip: Take the time and sauté the garlic. This step is critical. It mellows the acrid bite while infusing the olive oil, adding an incredible depth of flavor.

Serves 4.

Pane Bianco Torsione (Italian White Twist Bread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil)


Pane Bianco Torsione (White Twist Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil) | Culinary Compost RecipesI stumbled upon this recipe in an effort on further honing my bread-making skills. It is shown here, verbatim on King Arthur Flour’s website.  Quite simply stated, it blew me away and was a huge hit with my family. The preparation is tedious, but not overly complicated. The visual presentation is stunning and if you follow the directions step-by-step, it’s virtually impossible to screw up. Trust me, if I can make this, anyone can. In my version, I added a bit more salt and also added sugar to the dough, based on other bread recipes from my family.

 

INGREDIENTS:

~For the Dough:

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tsp. instant quick-rise yeast (one package)
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tbs. XV olive oil

~For the Filling:

3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (1/2 of a 7-oz. jar)
3 to 6 cloves garlic, roasted, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

 

PREPARATION:

Prepare the dough by combining all of the ingredients shown in a large mixing bowl. Using a silicone spatula, fold by hand until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.
Remove and set on a floured work surface. Fold and knead by hand for six to ten minutes, until the dough has firmed up. Add a bit more water or flour if needed. The consistency of the dough should be tacky and soft. Gently form it into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl about double in size of the dough ball.

Place the bowl in your oven and turn on the oven light. Cover with a towel dampened with warm water. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size. Your time may vary.

While you are waiting, drain the tomatoes on a paper towel. Squeeze out the excess olive oil. Mince and set aside.
Finely chop the basil and set aside.
Measure the shredded Italian cheese and set aside.
Roast, peel and finely chop the garlic. Add to the tomatoes and mix to incorporate.

After the dough has risen, gently deflate and then roll into a 22″ x 8″ rectangle. Spread the cheese, basil, tomato and garlic evenly over the entire surface.

Carefully roll the dough into a 22″ log by turning it the long way. You will need to turn it over itself at least once. Crimp the edges together and pinch the ends shut.
Turn it so the seam side is down. Carefully place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using a kitchen shears, cut a slit down the length of the loaf, at the top, stopping about 1″ from each end.
Twist the log into an “S” shape and tuck the ends under the center of the loaf, forming a figure-8, while keeping the slit to the top.

Cover with plastic wrap and let the loaf rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Uncover the bread, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature, drizzled with quality XV olive oil. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

Serves 6
Makes one loaf

Pane Bianco Torsione (White Twist Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil) | Culinary Compost Recipes

Pane Bianco Torsione (White Twist Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil) | Culinary Compost Recipes

Pane Bianco Torsione (White Twist Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil) | Culinary Compost Recipes

Creamy Mushroom Risotto


Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Carefully cook the Arborio rice until al dente, so it retains a firm, creamy texture.

This is a comforting, hearty Italian recipe loosely based on several by Mario Batali and Ina Garten. You’ll note that in my version, the process and ingredients are simplified. This recipe makes a wonderful side dish. It can also be served as a main course meal with a nice, crusty Italian bread and butter or XV olive oil for dipping.

You don’t need to constantly stir the risotto in order for it to turn out correctly. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 small white onion, diced
1 strip bacon, diced
1/2 pound sliced and stemmed Cremini mushrooms
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
48 oz. chicken stock
1/2 stick salted butter
2 tbs. minced flat-leaf Italian parsley, OR  4-6 stalks minced fresh summer chives
2 leaves fresh Italian basil, minced (optional)
Kosher salt to taste, about 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh-grated hard Parmesan cheese (plus a bit extra for serving)

 

Directions:

In a heavy saucepan, heat the chicken stock until simmering. In a large, heavy, 5-qt. cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced bacon. Saute for two minutes until the fat starts to render out. Add 2 tbs. of the butter, the onion, garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute, until the onion is translucent, about five to seven minutes. Do not carmelize the onion or scorch the garlic.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat. Continue to stir for two minutes until the rice is very lightly toasted. Reduce heat on the Dutch oven to medium-low. Add the white wine, salt and pepper and continue to cook until reduced. Next add six ounces of the heated chicken stock to the rice and stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue to add stock in six-ounce increments, stirring occasionally, and cook for at least 25 minutes. At this point the rice should be cooked al dente and appear creamy.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the remaining butter, parsley or chives, the basil and the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well to incorporate. Serve immediately in large bowls with more grated Parmesan cheese on top, as a garnish.

Serves 6

Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Adding the Arborio rice to the mushrooms, onion, garlic and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash


Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

The final product, after topping with shredded hard Parmesan cheese.

This is a recipe based on one from an Italian friend who uses halved zucchini. After receiving verbal instructions on the preparation, I winged it with an acorn squash I had on hand. Precook the squash in the oven before stuffing it with the sausage and vegetables to ensure it is fork-tender and mellow.  It takes time to set up, but you’ll be impressed by the result. This is an amazing mid-summer garden recipe your whole family will enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

1 large acorn squash – about 8-9″ in length and 6″ in diameter
2 tbs. XV olive oil
2 Johnsonville mild Italian sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium-sized green or red bell garden pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium-hot Hungarian wax garden pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium vine-ripe garden tomatoes, diced
2 large, fresh garden basil leaves, minced
Small handful fresh garden Italian oregano leaves, minced
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded hard Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic granules
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°-F. Cut and prep all ingredients so you have them on hand and ready to go.

Wash and pat dry the squash. Using a very sharp chef’s knife and a steady hand, carefully slice the squash in half around the middle, perpendicular to the stem. Use EXTREME CAUTION so you don’t slip and cut yourself. The flesh and outer rind are very tough. Remove the seeds and membrane with a soup spoon. Cut a narrow section off of the base of each half so they sit flat. Place in a medium-sized shallow baking dish with the cupped interior facing up. Brush with 2 tbs. olive oil and season lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper. Bake uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the squash halves are baking, fry up the Italian sausage over medium heat in a heavy cast-iron skillet, breaking it apart as it browns with a spatula. Drain off the fat. Add the chopped onion. Stir until just translucent, about 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 tsp. garlic granules. Add the cayenne pepper. Add the diced bell and Hungarian pepper. Continue stirring until slightly softened. Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, basil, oregano and Mozzarella cheese. Fold in lightly to combine.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°-F.  Using thick oven mitts, carefully remove the baking tray from the oven. Spoon in the mixture, dividing between the two squash halves.

Place the baking dish back in the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes at 375°-F.

Remove again and carefully top each half with the shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake again uncovered for ten minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Remove, let stand for ten minutes and serve.

Serves 2

NOTE: When perfectly done, the texture of the squash should not be mushy or soupy. It should easily peel away from the outer rind with a spoon, but still have some firmness.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Pre-baking the squash at 400°-F with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Preparing the Italian sausage mixture in a mixing bowl.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

The sausage mixture after roasting in the squash for one-half hour at 375°-F.

Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Pizza


Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Baked Pizza | Culinary Compost

Burnt, but not forgotten….

This is a recipe loosely based on one presented by Geoffrey Zakarian of Food Network. His recipe was great, but I wanted more toppings to properly fill a 12″ cast-iron skillet. My version is in between a thin-crust and deep dish pizza with a wonderful smoked Gouda-stuffed crust.

On my first attempt, the kitchen smoke alarm went off six times, the cat hid in the basement, and the crust was slightly burnt. Lesson learned. Every oven cooks differently — and knowing how blistering hot cast-iron gets, my next attempt will be at 475°F for 20 minutes, with no preheat on the crust. I’ll update ya’ll on my progress. Overall, it had great flavor, and an intense, rich, smokey undertone from the gouda cheese. I stressed over making pizza dough from scratch for the first time, but it was easy.

This is a winning recipe. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Dough:
2 cups bread flour
1.5 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. breadmaker yeast
3/4 cup warm water + 2 tbs. (115°F)
1 tsp. honey
1 tbs. XV olive oil

For the Pizza Sauce:
2 tbs. XV olive oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne chili pepper flakes, to taste
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 can 8 oz. Contadina® tomato sauce
4-5 chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt, and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

For the Crust:
4 tbs. XV olive oil
White flour, for flouring the dough surface
4 oz. premium smoked Gouda cheese, cut into 2″ x 1/2″ slices
Cornmeal for dusting the pan
Kosher salt

Pizza Toppings:
1/4 cup crumbled, cooked bacon
1 Johnsonville® mild Italian sausage, casing removed, fried until no longer pink, crumbled and drained of fat
Premium Volpi® pepperoni sausage slices – 12-14, enough to cover the pizza
2-4 oz. premium smoked Gouda cheese, 1/4″ cubed, as preferred
1/4 cup black olives, thinly sliced and blotted dry
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 sliced red bell pepper
6-10 fresh basil leaves rough-chopped
3 large Cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced and sauteed in 2 tbs. XV olive oil for five minutes
4 oz. shredded hard Parmesan cheese

 

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the pizza dough by adding 2 cups bread flour, kosher salt, yeast, honey and olive oil to a food processor with a dough blade.
Turn on the processor and gradually add the warm water until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl. In my Breville Sous Chef processor, it only takes one minute.

Remove the dough and place on a sheet of nonstick baker’s parchment paper that has been sprinkled lightly with flour. Knead gently for one minute. Place in a greased mixing bowl covered with a damp, warm towel, and let stand for one hour. I prefer to let the dough rise in my oven with the oven light on. This is a great technique when temperatures are cooler in the winter.

Preparing the Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and then add the chili flakes and minced garlic. Saute for five minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t scorch. Add the tomato puree and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with Kosher salt and pepper. Shut off the heat.

Preparing the Pizza Crust: Preheat oven to 475 or 500°F. Grease a heavy, 12″ cast-iron pan with 2 tbs. XV olive oil. Dust the bottom of the pan with a bit of cornmeal to prevent the crust from sticking.

When the pizza dough has doubled in size, punch down, then roll out on parchment paper or a floured counter top into a 14″ circle (see note below.) Carefully place in the cast-iron pan. Press the dough into the corners of the pan to prevent air pockets from forming and leave about one inch overhang for the next step. Add sliced Gouda cheese around the perimeter of the dough, and then fold and crimp the dough over the cheese, forming a rolled crust. Brush the rim of the crust with the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil. Sprinkle the rim very lightly with kosher salt.

Add the prepared pizza sauce to the center of the dough and spread out evenly with a large spoon. DO NOT over sauce, or the crust will be soggy. Layer the toppings, finishing off with the remaining Gouda and grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake as instructed, 475-500°F, for 20 minutes, watching the crust carefully. Remove from heat, let stand for fifteen minutes in the pan to set*, and then cut and serve.

Serves 2-4.

 

Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Baked Pizza | Culinary Compost

Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Baked Pizza | Culinary Compost

Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Baked Pizza | Culinary Compost

 

3/12/16  UPDATE: Made a second pie and cooked it at 475°F for 20 minutes. Crust came out PERFECT. Results shown below. Experiment and have fun!

Gouda Stuffed Crust Cast-Iron Baked Pizza | Culinary Compost

 

NOTE: When rolling the pizza dough, you need to give it time for the glutens to relax and reduce their elasticity. If you try immediately rolling the dough to the full diameter needed, you will tear it and not get a circular shape. After punching down the dough, roll it out into an eight to ten-inch circle. Flip over and allow to rest on the work surface for five minutes. Repeat this step after rolling it larger. Repeat again to get the final size with a bit of excess for the rolled crust. This process takes a bit more time, but your crust will be very even and easier to work with.

*Finally, the more vegetables you add, the more rendered liquid you will have in the final product. If your pizza comes out soggy, even after standing for 15 minutes, reduce the amount of peppers, onions and mushrooms. They all have very high water content.