Chicken Cacciatore

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 60-90 simmer time

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Cacciatore means “hunter style” in Italian, and this savory, slow cooked dish features chicken with loads of peppers, tomatoes, wine, garlic and fresh herbs. The bacon adds a smoky flavor and mixes beautifully with the vegetables to create this simply delicious simmered stew. I serve this over thick spaghetti but any pasta will do.
Double Duty Recipe: make a double batch of the cacciatore and spread on top of toasted Italian bread topped with mozzarella, broil for one minute and cut into bite-size pieces and serve warm as an appetizer with your weekend cocktails.

INGREDIENTS

* ½ pound bacon, chopped
* 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
* 6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
* 1 4 ounce can tomato paste
* ½ cup dry red wine or chicken broth
* ½ large red onion, cut length wise and then thinly sliced
* 1 each small red, yellow and orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
* 1-14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons capers, drained
* 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
* 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
* 2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* A few sprigs fresh basil, chiffonnade for garnish
* 1 lb thick spaghetti, cooked for serving
* 1/2-3/4 cups Parmesan, grated, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Fry the bacon in a large oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the fat. Add the onions and stir until slightly browned.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
5. Add the mushrooms to the fat in the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high, stirring a few times, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant.
7. Pour in the wine or broth into the mushroom mixture and let it come to a simmer. Scrape the browned bits up from the bottom of the pot.
9. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, capers, oregano, red-pepper flakes and stir to combine.
11. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of fresh pepper and stir.
12. Put the pot in the oven on the middle rack. Cook on low until the chicken is very tender and the flavors are blended, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
13. Remove the chicken from the pot and on a large cutting board, using two forks, break the chicken up into large chunks. Add the chicken back into the pot and stir in the parsley, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with basil and Parmesan.

NOTES

Spaghetti with Creamy Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

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This is a take on a popular Italian recipe called Cacio e Pepe, aka, cheese and black pepper. It is made with pasta, its cooking water; Pecorino Romano and loads of freshly ground black pepper. The pleasing piquant flavor from the pepper pairs perfectly with the savory cheese and wraps around each noodle like a warm and cozy blanket. I combined a few recipes to come up with this easier version.
Serve with a simple green salad and good white wine.

Duty Recipe Recipe: consider making a double batch of this creamy pepper sauce to stir into mashed potatoes or add a couple of dollops to warm rice for an easy side dish during the week.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 lb spaghetti or other long pasta
* 8 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated and about 2 cups, plus more for serving
* 1 ¼ teaspoons coarsely grated black pepper, plus more for serving
* 1/2 cup filtered water or more as needed
* 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, optional
* Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a generous amount kosher salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until el dente. Save 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta back into the pot and cover to keep warm.

2. While the pasta cooks, add the cheese and pepper to a high speed blender or food processor and half the water and blend until a thick paste forms. Add more water as necessary until the paste becomes smooth and glossy but still thick like the consistency of hummus.

3. Add 3/4 cup of the paste 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, and mix well pulling the pasta up from the pot as you go to incorporate. Add more pasta water and paste as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency.

4. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with toasted walnuts, optional, additional grated cheese and a few cranks of black pepper.

NOTES

Tomato Peach and Panzanella Salad

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS plus 20 MINS marinating

COOK TIME | 25 MINS with grilling

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This recipe is a take on the classic Italian Panzanella bread salad. I decide to take full advantage of this seasons gorgeous tomatoes and ripe, juicy peaches. I omitted the onion and basil and added mint and oregano to brighten the dish. Grilling the peaches highlights the rich, sweet flavors of the peach and combines beautifully with the fresh tomatoes. The burrata, optional, adds a creamy cool note that brings this salad together.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 loaf crusty bread, torn into chunks about 5-6 cups
* 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to drizzle
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 3 large tomatoes, quartered
* 3 large ripe peaches, pitted, sliced. I like to grill the peaches but this is optional
* 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1-8oz ball burrata cheese, ripped into pieces, optional
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper plus more as needed
* 2-3 sprigs each, fresh mint and oregano, stems removes and chopped
* 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts


INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil. In one layer, place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet I and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through the cooking time and bake until golden brown. 

2. While the bread toasts, in the same large bowl, add the tomatoes, (if grilling the peaches do this now, let cool) and then add the peaches, remaining olive oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of kosher salt and mix gently. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.
3. Place the tomatoes and peaches onto a serving platter but leave the accumulated juices in the bowl. To the bowl, add the remaining olive oil, vinegar and a few cranks of fresh ground pepper.
4. Scatter the bread mixture evenly over the tomatoes and peaches, sprinkle on the fresh herbs and then nestle in the burrata cheese into the salad. Pour the dressing evenly over the salad.
6. Finish with a garnish of pine nuts, a generous drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste.

NOTES

I like this salad served at room temperature. I let it sit for 15-20 minutes before serving to allow for the bread to soak up some of the dressing but not get soggy.

Cream, Tumeric & Cheese Pasta

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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I had a version of this dish at a fantastic restaurant , Bacari, in Los Angeles this summer, and it inspired me to try it at home. Although there are several recipes available for turmeric spaghetti, I like the simplicity of this version. I decided to use pecorino instead of Parmesan. While I like both flavors, I really like the sharpness of the sheep’s milk cheese in this dish. It plays beautifully with the earthy turmeric. I also like using a cylindrical pasta instead of spaghetti. The turmeric, cheese and cream seep into every nook and cranny. This recipe can also do double duty. See Notes below. Definitely a keeper!

INGREDIENTS

* 1 pound rigatoni or spaghetti
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
* 1 large shallot, sliced thin
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
*  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
* 1 cup half-and-half
* 11/2 cups freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan plus more for serving
* 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. and cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
2. While you wait for the water to boil, melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the pasta over medium-low heat.
3. Add the olive oil, shallot and garlic and stir until lightly golden and bubbly. Add the turmeric and stir to incorporate about 16-20 seconds.
4. Whisk in the half-and-half bring to a simmer.
5. Whisk in the pecorino or Parmesan.
6. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water gently mix until the pasta has a silky consistency. Add more pasta water as necessary.
7. Garnish with parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Double Duty Recipe:
Make extra sauce to use again during the week to mix into veggies or dollop over fish or chicken

Farro with Roasted Tomatoes, Greens and Pesto

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 30 MINS

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Farro is my absolute favorite grain. It’s nutty, robust, chewy and filling. Now, mix these flavors and textures with sweet roasted tomatoes and garlicky pesto for one if the most satisfying warm salad combinations ever.

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 425

* 2 pints cherry tomatoes or about 4 cups of various heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 1 cup farro, rinsed
* 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
* 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and then into about 8 wedges
* 2 cups baby spinach or arugula
* 1/4 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped plus more for garnish
* 1 lemon, zested and juiced, about 2 tablespoons
* 1/4 cup (homemade or store bought) pesto or more to taste.
* 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
* 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake or more to taste
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a medium to large pot of water to boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt (See notes about not over salting). Add farro, stir and bring water back up to a simmer.

2. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but still chewy. Drain and put the farro back into the pot.

3. While the farro simmers, toss the shallot, onion and tomatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flake and a few good cracks of pepper. Pour the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and roast until the tomatoes begin to crack and the onions are golden brown about 30 minutes.

4. Add the tomato, onions and shallots back into the farro and mix gently, spoon the pesto into the pot and stir just enough to incorporate.

5. Add the lemon juice and sprinkle in the lemon zest, add the arugula or spinach and gently fold into the mixture. Let cool for a few minutes.

6. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan, add additional kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste and garnish with additional basil and serve.

NOTES

Farro absorbs salt better than most grains so be sure to not over salt the water.
I like roast the tomatoes and shallot on parchment because it makes it easy to gather up the sides and pour the mixture into the pot or bowl.

Roast Tomatoes to Freeze for later

STORY

Got a bumper crop of tomatoes? Consider roasting them to freeze for later! I love the taste and versatility of roasted tomatoes and I like to preserve their wonderful flavor for later by freezing them to use in soups and sauces. It is best to use cherry tomatoes or smaller Roma tomatoes when roasting to freeze. I toss these frozen tomatoes into a hot pan with olive oil, garlic and stir until a bubbly sauce appears. Toss in your favorite cooked pasta, a little pasta water, some Pecorino and you have a fast and great tasting pasta sauce and meal.

Ingredients:
* 12-14 cherry tomatoes or 6-8 Roma tomatoes (depending on size) cut in half
* Olive oil for drizzling
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground pepper

Directions:
* Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
* Rinse, dry and half the tomatoes
* Line a large sheet pan with parchment
* Rinse, dry and cut the tomatoes in half and lay on sheet pan cut side up.
* Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and a few good cranks of freshly ground pepper.
* Roast for 40-60 minutes or until roasted to your preference.
* Let cool and then pop the sheet tray into the freezer for a couple of hours. When frozen, place the tomatoes into a resealable bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.