Penne with pistachios , Asparagus and cream

For years Mary Ann Esposito  has been inspiring us with her Italian creations. There is really no greater convience food than pasta to me, it is the ultimate pantry staple, seriously. Here Mary Ann has combined this dish with fresh asparagus , but I have used fresh or frozen artichokes too, feel free to substitute pistachios for pine nuts or any nut of your choice.

Serves 4

1/3 cup pistachio nuts , toasted

1 lb thin asparagus , cut into thirds, sauted in 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 large clove garlic , peeled and halved lenthwise

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 lb penne pasta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano -Reggiano

Saute garlic in butter in a saute pan over medium heat, when the edges start to brown , remove and discard garlic.

Add the Asparagus and pepper. Increase heat to high and pour in the wine , stirring for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Pour the half and half and cream over Asparagus mixture and simmer about 2 minutes. season with salt; Keep warm while boiling the pasta.

Prepare penne according to package directions; drain and return to the pot. Combine Asparagus sauce with pasta, stirring over low heat. Add cheese, stirring until it melts; transfer to a platter.

Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve immediately.


Maccheroni Filetto di Pomodoro

recently I visited one of my favorite cities in Massachutes. Boston is brimming with some of the finest restaurants, especially in Italian cusine. The food is just one of the perks of visiting this beautiful city. This recipe comes from Lucia, restaurant and bar. The owner uses De Cecco pasta in this particular dish, a definite thumbs up from me.

1 lb De Cecco pasta

8 ripe plum tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic

2 bay Leaves

3 oz EVOO

fresh basil

salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small cross at the top of the tomatoes(this will make it much easier to remove the skin)

Once the water is boiling,drop the tomatoes in it for less than a minute. Remove them and place in a small bowl with cold water,remove the skins(they should easily peel).

With a good knife,slice them about a 1/4 of an inch thick.

Peel the garlic with the blade of a knife,crush them.

In a skillet,heat up EVOO,add garlic and cook to a golden color. Add chopped tomatoes,the bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Put a lid on the skillet and let it simmer for about 10 minutes,(if it gets too dry,add a little of the pasta water to it)

Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil,put the pasta in and cook to your desired tenderness. When done,drain and put the pasta in the sauce. Saute it for a couple minutes,put in a bowl,add a little parmigiano cheese and fresh basil and it’s ready to eat.

Triple tomato penne

Here is another great recipie from my favorite cooking magazine Food and wine. I have amended it to add Olives and capers which I feel go great with this dish, but, feel free to omit them if you wish. Although the original recipe calls for penne my family prefers Tri color fusilli, the choice is yours.


1 lb Penne

2 medium tomatoes, diced

4 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 large basil leaves

1 garlic clove1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

10 kalamata olives, sliced

1/2 tablespoon capers

Boil pasta till al dente

In a blender, puree the diced and sun-dried tomatoeswith the tomato paste,basil, garli and olive oil. Pour the sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Toss in sliced olives and capers.Stir.

Stir in the hot pasta and serve.


My brother’s wife, Karishma, (her name means Miracle, which she surely is ) loves Olives. During my recent visit to Malta I prepared this pasta adding roasted artichoke hearts too. Try my version of this simple, delicious pasta dish.  I use Fusilli or Bow tie pasta  but any pasta of your choice will do

Serves 4

1 lb pasta, cooked al dente, reserving 4-6 tablespoons cooking water

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups Kalamata olives, seeds removed and sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup Italian flat parsley

1/2 teaspoon red chili flake (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup roasted artichokes, home made or jarred, rinsed.

Warm oil, add chopped garlic and saute till light golden.

Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add dried oregano.Stir.

Add in Olives, Artichokes and parsley. Stir for about 1 minute.

Add in the reserved pasta water to moisten.

Stir in the pasta and toss well. Sprinkle in the ground black pepper. Off the heat.

Drizzle with a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil, Stir in the chopped basil and top with Parmesan cheese.

Pasta al limone(pasta with Lemon Sauce)

My fonest memories and greatest learning experiences were with the great chefs. One of my favorite being Guliano Bugialli. He never minced words and took great pride in his teaching and expectations. I love the simplicity of this pasta and its sweet slightly tart taste from the lemon peel. Feel free to use fresh or dry pasta,but to be true Mr. Bugialli made his own pasta!!!

Serves 4-6

1 lb dried pasta, cooked according to manufacturer’s directions minus 2 minutes to finish cooking in the sauce

12 tablespoons sweet butter, (I use half olive oil half butter)

2 cups heavy cream

grated rind of 1 large lemon(a microplane works best)

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper and salt

1 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

Heat a large skillet and warm butter. Add drained cooked pasta to the skillet. Place skillet over medium heat and add cream, lemon peel, salt, pepper and nutmeg.Mix very well and allow the sauce to reduce for 2 minutes till it coats the pasta well.

Off heat and stir in half the cheese. pour into a warm dish.Top with the rest of the cheese and Parsley leaves.

Orecchiette with No -cook Arugula , tomato and Pecorino Romano

Once again I love this pasta. I am a great fan of Orecchiette, cooked al dente(to the tooth) it is greatly satisfying. The cherry tomatoes are bursting with flavor in the summer ,and lets face it clean up is a snap…can’t help but love that!!1

1 lb orecchiette or Mezzi Rigatoni pasta


1 lb cherrt tomatoes, washed , dried and halved

1 lb arugula, washed and dried throughly

1/4 cup Basil oil or extra virgin oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

2-3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler.

2 ounces toasted Walnuts or Pine nuts

Cook pasta according to package , or till al boiling ,salted water

While pasta is cooking, Place rest of ingredients in a large non reactive serving bowl, except for the Pecorino cheese and Walnuts

Place the cooked, drained pasta into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and toss.

Garnish with the Walnuts and Pecorino.


Serves 4-6

Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette

I found this recipie years ago written by Michael chiarello . Over the years I have modified it using different seasonal vegetables, but I must say I totally love this dish in the hot summer months. It is so easy to make and clean up…too little to mention. This dish uses the Basil oil also posted on my site. Enjoy.

 Serves 6

8 medium Vine -ripened red tomatoes,peeled, seeded, and finely chopped.

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

6 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup fresh squeezed Lemon juice

1 cup basil olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 lbs Rigatoni or Orecchiette

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Mix together tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 1/4 cup parsley,lemon juice,basil oil,and salt and pepper to taste in a large ceramic bowl. If making ahead omit the salt till 15 minutes prior to serving or all the juices from the tomatoes will be drawn out.

When ready to eat, bring large pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta till al dente. Drain well and toss with vinaigrette.

Add 1/2 cup cheese and mix well.