Tag Archives: Pasta

Spicy Eggplant Pasta Bake… and a bit of Housekeeping!

Oh boy… it has been a while, hasn’t it?   You know you’ve let your blogging-self go when you log back in and find that your blog needs all these updates for security, looks and what not.  

Spicy Eggplant Caponata Pasta Bake - Great Food 360

Double authentication settings? Check.  Shiny new WordPress plugins? Check. A whole new Cook the Book Fridays adventure?  Ohmygod, yes. I mean, check. 

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French Fridays with Dorie: Storzapretis


“I’m melting.  I’m melting”

Guess the Wicked Witch of the West was not the only green thing capable of disintegrating at the touch of water.  If the storzapretis – Corsican spinach, herb and cheese dumplings reminiscent of gnocchi – I made for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe could talk, the very same words would have escaped them.  It was automatic: the quennelles hit the water, they swelled up, and the spinach bits wanted to escape the dumpling. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Dressy Penne Pasta

Dressy Penne Pasta

It’s the first French Friday of 2014!  Mon Dieu, where does time go?

Today’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is a Dressy Pasta Risotto, a take on macaroni and cheese where small-shaped pasta is cooked with chicken stock and aromatics and finished with a cream and Parmesan and Mascarpone cheeses.  Instead of a side dish, I prepared two main dish servings of dressy penne pasta with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a dash of truffle oil.  We eat a lot of pasta on weeknights and this technique creates a lot of depth in the taste.  That is no small feat when cooking whole wheat pasta. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Mussels and Chorizo

Mussels with Chorizo Without Pasta

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!  Predictably enough, I saved this week’s French Fridays with Dorie selection, Mussels and Chorizo, to celebrate the manufactured holiday and a successful presentation at the office.   Other than the tedious process of sorting, rinsing, and debearding five pounds of mussels, this was an easy, tasty meal.  We love our bivalves with pork and tomato during this time of the year! Read More…

Recipe Roundup: Carb-Loading Edition

I will be running my first half-marathon on Sunday, November 13th and can’t wait to start carb-loading.  Carb-loading involves consuming large amounts of carbohydrates to provide extra energy during physically demanding exercise.  Endurance athletes typically increase their intake to 2 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight (or roughly 70% of their food consumption) in the three days leading up to their event.  I’m only planning on doing it for the two days before the race, because it’s just a half-marathon.  I pulled off my 12-mile practice run with one day of carb-loading, so I’m just adding an extra one to be on the safe side.

To start celebrating this accomplishment, I’m rounding up a few favorite carb-rich, healthy meals that I should definitely look into making in the next couple of days.

Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Salad with Chicken Read More…

Fettuccine with Tempranillo Sauce, Beef Tenderloin and Goat Cheese

Some time ago, Eduardo and I were walking around downtown Miami, looking at menus and arguing about our inability to just pick a restaurant and go.  With my MILs glowing review in the back of our heads, we finally chose Perricone’s, a trattoria and Italian deli.  I ordered a fettuccine dish with sliced filet mignon, wild mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese in a Barolo sauce.   I am not sure if it was the hour (midnight approaching), the cold (low fifties temperatures normally not associated with Miami), but it was the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs and memory.  The sauce was rich from the wine, beef, and mushrooms, the goat cheese cutting through the acidity with its tang.   Fancy steak dinner gets a pasta bowl makeover! Read More…

Chicken and Collard Greens Lasagna

I have always loved lasagnas.  I don’t know what it is about layered dishes and sweets that I enjoy so much, besides the fact that dismantling them seems like the closest acceptable thing to playing with your food.  Mama’s meat and cheese lasagna is pretty amazing too.  I was one of those spoiled kids in college who would get overnight packages with all sorts of perishable goodies.  Once a semester, that happened to be a rock frozen homemade lasagna. Read More…

Shrimp Puttanesca


I am joining the chorus today and singing the praises of a well-stocked pantry.  I always keep on hand diced tomatoes and anchovies, which are convenient for whenever I feel like throwing a twenty-minute pasta dish like a pasta puttanesca.  This salty, briny, spicy pasta sauce is one of our favorites.  To bring it to weekend ‘woo food’ levels, I added shrimp and used squid ink linguine I purchased at the monthly ‘Mercado Urbano’ in the Condado area of San Juan.  The ‘Mercado Urbano’ is a very cool open air market for local farmers and artisanal food producers, sponsored by Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce; it’s usually held on the first Sundays of the month.   Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Beggar’s Linguine

“Por una Fig Newton yo hasta me baño sin que me lo digan” – popular Puerto Rican advertising campaign from the 1980s, which translates to “I would take a bath without being told to” for that famous fig cookie.


I haven’t had much experience with figs, other than eating my share of the aforementioned cookies during my childhood and maybe enjoying them stuffed as appetizers once or twice.  That changed during our visit to Châteaux Loudenne in the Médoc wine region, just north of Bordeaux.  After doing some grape picking as part of the winery visit (documented by France 2!), we went back to the main house for lunch.  Dessert was a luscious fig tart, made from fruit that grew just steps from the dining room!  As it usually happens, I remembered to take the picture after that first bite…   Read More…

Spaghetti with Oven-Baked Clams

Oven Baked Clams

The weekend right before Valentine’s Day was very busy in our kitchen with what I’d like to call “woo food”.  “Woo food” involves a bit of splurging, a great wine pairing, and trying to recreate a restaurant-quality experience at home.  We decided to split the workload: I would cook on Saturday and DH would take over on Sunday.  I have to admit that I was so tired by the end of the weekend that for Valentine’s Day I got us the best Turkish takeout within a five mile radius.

I had been craving mussels for a while so when we went food shopping on Saturday, so I was disappointed when the only ones available in the store came in a kit with pre-made sauce.  So much for my vision of moules mariniére, with freshly baked bread… What we did see was a five pound bag of live New England wild-caught littleneck clams.  We have always enjoyed spaghetti with clams, and my go-to recipe from Tyler Florence is quick and super reliable, and mighty tasty.  It fits our definition of ‘woo food’ – we have made it before to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

The most difficult part of this recipe involves cleaning and inspecting the clams.  Clams must be thoroughly scrubbed, and any ones that are open must be discarded.  You can tell if they are still fresh/alive if when tapped against your countertop the shell closes.  Two of them actually did shut!  While prepping the clams, preheat the oven to 400F.


Littleneck clams – Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Once the clams are cleaned, set a roasting pan in your cooking range, taking up two burners, and render the fat of four slices of bacon (chopped) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  The original recipe calls for pancetta, but I liked the smokiness of the bacon in the dish.  Add red pepper flakes to taste and ten smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about three minutes.

Pancetta for Oven Baked Clams

Once the oven reaches the temperature, the add to the roasting pan about a pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, or quartered vine tomatoes, the clams, 1/4 cup of white wine (the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc steps through again!), the juice of one large lemon, and a lot of black pepper. Do not add any extra salt at this point – between the bacon and the clam juice released there should be plenty.

Oven Baked Clams with Tomato and Pancetta

While the clams bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, boil the strand pasta of your choice according to the package’s directions and prepare a pretty garnish of basil and parsley.  Keep in mind that the larger the clams, the longer they will take to steam until open.  Monitor the clams from outside the oven and once most of them are open, take out the dish.  Discard any clams that have not opened during the cooking process and toss the pasta in the sauce.  I served it in shallow bowls with plenty of clam juice.

Spaghetti with Oven Baked Clams

Should you have enough broth left over, save it.  It would make a great base for rice with squid, poaching liquid for white fish fillets… just as a warm dip for bread it should be great. The flavors really develop after a day or two.  If there are any leftover clams, remove them from the shells and store them in the leftover liquid.

Quick Veggie Stir-Fry

Weekdays are hectic by nature, but when coupled with the work busy season and life’s little curveballs, it is hard to picture myself spending much time in the kitchen.  At the same time, stress brings out comfort food cravings.  This ten-minute veggie stir-fry with whole-wheat thin spaghetti hits the spot: the comfort of pasta and that feel of fast food coupled with whole grains, veggies, and healthy fats.  Keeping the preparation meatless makes it even faster to put together.  This is not a recipe – more like a method to adapt to your favorite vegetables and Asian condiments.


The Hardware

  • Wok or large fry pan
  • A pot to boil pasta – anything 3 quart or larger would do.
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Colander

Get your water to boil and place the wok over medium-high heat.  Add to the work about three tablespoons of grapeseed oil and a teaspoon of sesame oil for flavor.  I’m hooked on grapeseed oil – not only it is great for cooking due to its high smoking point and neutral flavor, it is also higher in omega-6 and vitamin E than olive oil. To the warming oil add a piece of ginger or two (at least 1/2″ thick) and two smashed clove of garlic and let them cook until fragrant.

While that’s taking place, cut an onion in half and chop it in big slices, separating the layers before getting them to hit the oil.  Toss the onions in the flavored oil – they will soften while the spaghetti boils.  Slice carrot with a vegetable peeler, adding them to the wok as you go.  At this point, season the stir-fry with soy sauce and black pepper to taste.  Steam about 1/2 cup of edamame (I used frozen) in either a steamer over the boiling pasta or the microwave oven.  Rough-chop bok choi leaves and wait to add them until you are ready to drain the pasta so they don’t wilt too much.  After draining the pasta, add it to the work, along with the edamame and toss with the cooked vegetables and toasted sesame seeds.


Remember to fish out the pieces of ginger and garlic, unless you don’t mind taking that pungent bite!

Quick Veggie Stir-Fry