Monthly Archives: September 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

Some foods are just naturally associated with comfort. Mashed potatoes. Mac n’ cheese. Roasted chicken. Chicken curry. They are the things that I find myself making (or, in the case of curry, asking my mother to make) when I’m frustrated and in need of a foodie-hug. This past week was just one of those weeks where nothing seemed to be going my way. I consistently got up late and had to rush in the mornings; I forgot things left and right; I didn’t meet personal deadlines for papers. Mostly, I felt tired and a bit run down. Which of course all culminates in frustration with myself and a need for comfort.

To break my funk, I decided to make gnudi. Having lived with the greatest host family on the planet my junior year, my list of comfort foods has grown to include all things Italian. Gnudi are essentially pasta, designed to emulate the filling of ravioli (hence, they are “nude.” Get it?). They are ricotta-based, mixed with herbs and greens (traditionally spinach), then boiled before being topped with either a simple tomato sauce or some brown butter and sage. Since I was too lazy to dice up tomatoes last night, I opted for the latter.

Despite their appearance, gnudi are incredibly easy to make. They require few ingredients–most of which can be found in your kitchen already. Plus, because they are protein-based, I find that 6-8 of these are incredibly filling, so you wind up with plenty of leftovers.

There is something so wonderful about simple, comfort food. Here’s to a better week ahead. Happy eating!

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Snacktime: Roasted Squash Seeds & Eggplant “Fries”

I’ve been doing a lot of researching and writing these days, so, naturally, this mandates an appropriate amount of snacking. These are my latest go-to snacks. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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Incredibly Easy Tomato Sauce

This is my go-to quick sauce recipe, or, as I like to call it, “weeknight sauce.” It goes on pasta. It goes on pizza. It sometimes gets used in eggplant parm. Prep takes roughly 5 minutes. Cooking averages 15 to 20. You can adjust anything and everything to suit your taste, and it can be multiplied easily to serve a crowd. It’s got a bit of a spicy kick, but feel free to tone down the heat. If you prefer your sauce to be slightly chunkier (as I did for my pizza), don’t cook the fresh tomatoes for quite as long–only about 2 to 3 minutes–or add them in with the canned tomatoes and wine. If you plan on freezing some, leave out the fresh basil.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (I use a mix of rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 scant tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ to ½ cup red wine (For some inexplicable reason, I always think this tastes best with Malbec)
  • Salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil

Directions:

  • In a medium pot, heat your olive oil until shimmering over medium heat.
  • Add in the onions and garlic and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Add the tomato paste and about half of the dried spices. Stir to coat the onions and garlic and cook about 1 minute so that the tomato paste loses its raw flavor.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook three to five minutes until softened and starting to disintegrate.
  • Add the remaining spices, the canned tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, and the wine. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in some freshly torn basil.
  • Serve warm.

Makes about 2 cups.


Napoletana Pizza

NOTE: The pizza dough HAS to rise overnight–plan ahead!

I love pizza. Then again, show me a person who doesn’t. Actually, don’t. That’s depressing. Aside from it’s amazing flavor and versatility, my absolute favorite thing about pizza is the crust. I am incredibly picky about pizza crust. It needs to have a crisp bottom with a decent amount of chew–but not so much chew that the dough gets to be more soft than crisp. Am I making any sense? I’m probably not making any sense. I’ve tried my fair share of pizza dough recipes but none of them have even come close to replicating the kind of crust that I salivate over.

Until now.

I first saw this recipe on 101 Cookbooks about two years ago (if you don’t read that blog already, go read it. It’s fantastic), but set my heart on making it early last year. I went to the store, bought some yeast, got more flour, and thought I was ready to go–until I realized I had no large food-safe plastic bags. I finally managed to procure some over a weekend at home and came back to my apartment, ready to cook—only to discover what was to be the beginning of the great cockroach and mouse infestation. Needless to say, my cooking plans were shot.

So here I am, 1 year later, in a new apartment, finally making this pizza. Is it sad that I am bouncing in excitement right now? It is so good. I don’t even have a pizza stone, and I am obsessed with it. While this might not be instant gratification pizza, it is worth every stinking moment of anticipation. Here’s to pizza. Here’s to cooking. Here’s to having another slice. Happy eating!

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