Strozzapreti with Roasted Tomatoes

My husband is SPOILED. He said that this dish was “standard” fare. “We always eat fresh tomatoes and basil, ” he said. What could be better than two (plus) pounds of local farm stand tomatoes smothered in backyard basil, garlic, and loads of cheese? (That’s what I say!) Yummy!

Well… It would have been better is I had made fresh pasta, I suppose. I substituted store-bought (but special) pasta. I did include the directions to make the homemade strozzapreti because it would bring this tasty dish to a new level. It was absolutely delicious with dry pasta too! This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Chris Warde-Jones. I tripled the recipe, reduced the oil, and used dry (store-bought) pasta.

BTW- I am so proud of my backyard basil! I told my kids (who ALWAYS want to set up a lemonade stand) that they should have a basil stand! 🙂

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Yield: 6 servings

For the Sauce:

  • 2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more to taste
  • 15 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups finely grated pecorino cheese
  • 3/4 cup, firmly packed, fresh basil or parsley leaves
  • 14 to 16 oz strozzapreti (or fresh pasta- recipe below)


For the Fresh Pasta:

  • 1 cup grano duro flour or unbleached all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, 3 tablespoons oil and 12 minced garlic cloves. Toss well, then spread tomatoes on a baking sheet, cut sides up.
  3. Roast until soft and collapsing, about 45 minutes; do not allow to dry or brown.
  4. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine remaining minced garlic, cheese, and basil (or parsley). Process until very finely chopped.
  5. When tomatoes are soft, immediately spread cheese-herb mixture on top and lightly mash with a spoon so cheese melts. Drizzle with 2 more tablespoons oil (or more to taste), and set aside.

For the Fresh Strozzapreti: (I substituted store-bought pasta.)

  1. On a wooden counter or large cutting board, mound 1 cup flour and make a well in center. Break eggs into well.
  2. Using your hands, mix eggs in well, gradually pulling in more and more flour to make a pasty dough. Knead dough briefly, using lightly floured hands if dough is very wet; it should be moist but not sticky.
  3. Scrape wooden board clean. Using a wooden rolling pin (and a very light dusting of flour if necessary), roll dough out as thinly as possible into an approximate rectangle.
  4. Using a knife, score rectangle into strips an inch wide and about three inches long. Pick up one piece of dough and press it around a bamboo meat skewer about the diameter of an umbrella spoke. This is most successful if done quickly and not too carefully, so that dough fits tightly round skewer with an overlapping, visible seam. Slide skewer out of pasta and set pasta aside on a plate. Repeat to use remaining dough. Pieces should be irregular in size and shape.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. If desired, return baking sheet of tomatoes to a 300-degree oven just to reheat.
  2. Add strozzapreti to pot and cook until tender, slightly chewy and no longer raw in center. This is best done by tasting after strozzapreti float to surface; be careful not to under- or overcook. Alternatively, if using store-bought pasta, cook according to package directions.
  3. Drain cooked pasta and pour into a large bowl; immediately add tomatoes. Toss quickly and serve hot.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Basil, & Ricotta

Zucchini and cheese are a heavenly match. Not to mention adding summer basil… lemon… You get the picture. 🙂 This bright and creamy dish is a perfect use for summer’s bounty of zucchini. I have been receiving TONS of zucchini in my CSA share. This dish is the first of three zucchini dishes I plan to share.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. It’s no surprise that it has been one of their most popular recipes recently! I used fresh Italian orecchiette pasta and we ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Quick, simple, and delicious.

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tablespoons chopped green garlic
  • 1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
  • 1 pound ziti or other dry pasta (I’ve used fresh & dried orecchiette)
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning.
  3. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, basil and a little salt into a rough paste (or use a mini food processor). Stir (or pulse) in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Salt the pasta water well and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep pasta quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  6. Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high.
  7. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute.
  8. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary.
  9. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir to incorporate.
  10. Spoon pasta onto warm plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Roasted Vegetable Moussaka

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I was inspired to make a roasted vegetable moussaka after seeing a recipe on El Chino Latino Cocina. It sounded like such a wonderful vegetarian version and had Greek yogurt in the topping to lighten the dish. I had made a similar, but non-vegetarian, light version for mom in the past because she LOVES Greek food. 🙂 When my mom was visiting us recently, I planned to make her a special birthday dinner. I decided that birthdays deserve indulgence- and special, labor-intensive meals…. so I chose to make this “less light” vegetarian moussaka adapted from Tori Avey. 🙂

This dish was hearty and absolutely delicious. I loved the use of lentils instead of meat; I loved my choice of tiny black lentils too because they kept their shape. My mom really enjoyed it! We had carrot cake cupcakes (her favorite) for dessert as well. 🙂 Just when I thought that my mom couldn’t be more pleased, my kids outshined my efforts by buying my mom a birthday gift at our local historic General Store with their saved allowance money. So cute. Happy HAPPY Happy Birthday, Mama!! ❤

I’m bringing this dish to share with my blog friends at Fiesta Friday #42 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 lbs. small eggplants
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • cooking oil spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup black lentils (about 1 1/2  to 2 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers or 1 large roasted red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 3 cups diced ripe red tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose white flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or more to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

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  1. Place lentils in a sauce pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lightly salt, and then lower heat to a simmer; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Place racks on the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection roast. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Spread out the zucchini in a single layer across the baking sheets. Brush the exposed tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place one baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven and the other on the lower half. Roast veggies for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and place them back in the oven, switching racks. Roast for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until veggies are tender and starting to turn golden brown (check the bottoms of the veggies for browning).
  4. Repeat this process with two additional parchment-lined baking sheets of sliced potatoes; include the garlic cloves.
  5. While potatoes and zucchini are roasting, remove the stem ends from the eggplants. Peel strips from the eggplants so that they have thin stripes of peel remaining down the sides (they will be half-peeled). Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise.
  6. When potatoes and zucchini are done roasting, remove them from the oven and set aside. Take the 3 roasted garlic cloves and chop them, reserve.
  7. Line two additional baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Spread eggplant slices into a single layer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, switching the baking sheets on upper and lower thirds halfway through cooking, until the slices are tender and lightly golden (check the bottom edges of slices for browning).
  8. While eggplant is roasting, place a sauté pan or sauce pan (I used a 4 quart sauce pan) on the stovetop. Warm up 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Sauté diced onion until softened and translucent. Add roasted bell pepper slices and chopped roasted garlic, saute for another 2 minutes. Add cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, fresh dill, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp salt to the pan; stir well. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook for about 5 more minutes until warmed through. If using fresh tomatoes, let the mixture cook for 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  9. When eggplant is done roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (convection). Lightly grease your baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place a single layer of half of the roasted eggplant slices on the bottom of your dish.
  10. On top of that, place a layer of half the potatoes and half the zucchini.
  11. Spread the lentil mixture evenly in a single layer across the surface.
  12. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated pecorino or parmesan and ½ cup crumbled feta across the top of the lentil mixture.
  13. Place the rest of the potatoes and zucchini in another layer on top of the cheese.
  14. Finish with a layer of the remaining roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkle top of the moussaka with 2 tbsp more of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. (I refrigerated the pan at this point.)
  15. (Return the reserved pan to room temperature.) Place moussaka in the oven for 20 minutes to bake at 375 degrees F (convection).
  16. Meanwhile, while the moussaka is baking, make the béchamel sauce for the top of the moussaka. In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the melted butter till dissolved and thick. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the flour/butter mixture turns a light sandy brown color.
  17. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.
  18. Whisk in 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add Âľ tsp salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Whisk the beaten egg slowly into the sauce (drizzle the egg while whisking constantly).
  19. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Pour sauce evenly across the top of the moussaka. Sprinkle ÂĽ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  20. Put moussaka back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the moussaka is cooked through.
  21. Serve hot. Don’t expect it all to hold together neatly when served; it will slice more cleanly and pieces will hold together better after it has cooled.

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