I came to see Harry Styles for his first night in Chicago on Thursday, as I landed, I learned that it was postponed until Monday. After my emotional breakdown at the airport and I changed my whole life around, I decided to stay until Monday to see my man. Thanks to the generosity of my friend Claire, I stayed with her all week and she introduced me to Alison Roman. Not sure if I was living under a rock, but I am so happy to learn about her because she has some beautiful recipes. We decided to make Alison’s Pantry Pasta, with a Claire flare. I am considering this as the first post in an upcoming series on the blog; “Cooking with Friends”. These posts will showcase awesome recipes brought to me by my friends! First up we have this amazing pasta recipe that truly does utilize whatever we have in the kitchen.
4-6 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon, Halved
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 TBSP Olive Oil + 1 TBSP Chili Oil [or just 2 TBSP Olive Oil]
2 Large Shallots or 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
1 2oz Tin Anchovies [we didn’t have]
2 TBSP Capers, finely chopped
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
12 oz of whatever Pasta you have
1 Cup Herbs, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, finely chopped
1 Cup Pasta Water
Parmesan or Pecorino for serving
Let’s Get Cooking
Grab a large pot of water and boil, season it heavily with salt
Finely chop one garlic clove and place it in a small bowl. Thinly slice the remaining garlic.
Chop the lemon in half and squeeze half into the small bowl with the chopped garlic, season with salt and set aside.
Heat the 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over MED heat. Add in the shallots and thinly sliced garlic, and season with salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned at the edges. Add in the chopped capers + crushed red pepper + anchovies [if you have], stirring to encourage everything to melt into the oil. Set aside.
Cook the pasta until just al dente. Using tongs, transfer the pasta into the skillet along with about 1 cup of pasta water. Cook the pasta, stirring often until the sauce has thickened. Add in the herbs [whatever you have] + lemon and garlic + an additional squeeze of lemon juice.
There’s nothing more magical than homemade sauce and pasta. I got a pasta maker for Christmas and I have loved using it. There’s something about knowing all the ingredients that go into your meal. The pasta recipe is from Love & Lemons the Bolognese comes from Pasta Evangelist, I tweaked it a little as I found it worked better for me personally.
1 Cup Semolina Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour [if no semolina just do 2 cups APF]
3 Large Eggs
1/2 TSP Sea Salt
1/2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
1 Large Carrot, diced
1-2 Celery Stalks, diced
300g Ground Beef [about 1lb]
2 1/2 TBSP Red Wine
1 14oz Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/4 Cup Pasta Water
Salt & Pepper
Let’s Get Cooking
You’re going to start by making the homemade pasta first. I made the dough in the mixer, I found that it came out a lot smoother than doing it by hand. You can still do it by hand if you prefer of course.
Combine eggs + oil + salt + flour into the mixer and mix on low until combined into a shaggy ball. Flour the counter and knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes. If it’s sticky, add flour while kneading. It should turn into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temp for about 30 minutes.
Using a pasta maker, or rolling pin, roll out your pasta into thin sheets and cut based on your preferred pasta shape.
Onto the bolognese.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, add in the onions until soft. Add in the crushed garlic and cook until fragrant, turn down the heat to MED-LOW so you do not burn the garlic. Add in celery + carrots until soft.
Add in the ground beef, making sure to break it up with a wooden spoon. Make sure there is no pink left in the meat.
Add in the red wine + diced tomatoes + tomato sauce + salt + pepper. Cover and simmer on MED-LOW for about 40 minutes.
In a separate pot, bring salted water to boil. Cook your homemade pasta for about 3-4 minutes, the noodles will begin to float up to the top. Add in the reserved pasta water to your bolognese. Drain the noodles after cooking but do not rinse. Immediately add to the bolognese sauce. Let cook together for another 5-10 minutes.
My mom wanted spaghetti and meatballs the other day so that is just what we did. You can never go wrong with this classic. I got a new cookbook for Christmas that incorporates spicy sausage into the mixture rather than pork or veal. This gives the meatballs amazing new flavor, I added in more sausage and less ground beef than called for because I love the sausage flavor, but as usual, do what makes you happy. This makes about 12 meatballs
1 Cup Dried Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
2 LBS 85% Lean Ground Beef
1/2 LBS Spicy Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TSP Dried Oregano
1 TSP Dried Chili Flakes
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
2 Eggs, beaten
1 26 oz Jar of Marinara Sauce
Let’s Get Cooking
Preheat the oven to 400F and line your baking sheets
In a large mixing bowl combine with your hands: bread crumbs + milk + beef + sausage + cheese + oregano + chili flakes + salt + pepper.
Add in the eggs and mix until well combined. Don’t over mix, it will make the meat tough.
Using about 1/2 cup measure scoop the meatball mixture out and roll with your hands to make a ball.
Place on baking sheets and bake for about 25 minutes.
Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and pasta.
My mom gifted me with a container of saffron and I am trying to use it in the most responsible way. Saffron is so valuable and so freaking expensive so this is only the second recipe I have used it in the about 5 months of having it. I bought saffron noodles from Ohio City Pasta, which if you’re in the Akron/Cleveland area please check them out, and figured they would be perfect to pair with a saffron cream sauce. This recipe is so decadent and delicious, I am so proud of how this turned out and omg I want to eat it all the time now.
1 TBSP Unsalted Butter
1/2 Small Shallot, minced
Pinch of Saffron threads
2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 TSP Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 TSP Vanilla Extract
4 oz Saffron Pasta/or Pappardelle
2 TBSP Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TBSP Roughly Chopped Chives
1/2 TSP Grated Lemon Zest
Salt + Pepper
Let’s Get Cooking
Salt water & bring to a boil, cook the pasta per directions, slightly under al dente so it can finish cooking in the sauce. Remove 1/4 Cup of the pasta water to save.
Melt butter in a large skillet over MED heat. Add in the shallot & saffron and cook until the shallot is softened. Add in the cream + 1/4 TSP salt + pepper to taste. Increase the heat to MED-HIGH and let the sauce thicken and simmer. Stir in the lemon juice + vanilla.
Transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce + the 1/4 Cup pasta water. Stir in the parmesan + chives.
Transfer into a bowl & top with lemon zest and a few more chives.
Every major city has their own version of Little Italy. The one I know best is Cleveland’s, a strip of Mayfield road dedicated to some of the best Italian restaurants in the area. I have not been to every restaurant on the strip (it is a goal of mine) but I am going to share with you a few of my favorites.
La Dolce Vita
This may be one of my favorite places on this list. The food has always been amazing. The tomato cream sauce is a meal I would die for, you can’t help but eat every bite. I highly recommend their appetizer trio as well, it gives you an amazing sample of their stuffed peppers, eggplant parm, and meatballs. There is nothing on this menu that tastes bad.
Trattoria on the Hill
Another one of my favorites would be this classic. The menu is long, the service is excellent and everything is amazing. I’ve had the Veal Scallopini and the Gnocci al Burro and good lord I could eat it non-stop. It’s food made with love and you can tell.
Mama Santa’s is the first restaurant I went to in Little Italy and it will always have a place in my heart. They have an extensive menu, so everyone, even the pickiest eater, can find something that they like!
If you go to Little Italy, after dinner you have to go to Corbo’s. My mother introduced me to this place and explained just how good this place is. They have all sorts of baked treats, which is exactly the thing you need after eating a massive plate of pasta.
So if you are in the Cleveland area go check out the Little Italy area, not only do they have excellent restaurants but cute shops as well [I highly recommend the thrift shop Moonstruck]. It’s a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon.