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Easy Pasta

Chicken Fettuccini in a Mushroom Walnut Sauce

In America Italian food is almost as much a home grown national cuisine as any other. The large number of Italian immigrants brought all their wonderful recipes from Italy and over generations many of these have slow transformed into a sub culture of American cuisine. Many traditional Italian dishes have been worked into our daily lives to the point that we have almost taken ownership of them ourselves.

Don’t believe me did you know pizza is the only food in the telephone book (remember those) that has its own category. It is so much part of American culture that we have taken the wonderful recipes from all over Italy and transformed them into our own style of pizza and this has gotten to the point where even within the US there are distinct regional variations just like a Sicilian pizza is different from a Nepalese pizza so is a New York pizza distinctly different from a Chicago pizza.

In the restaurant business Italian food is among the most popular of all the ethnic cuisines second now only to maybe Chinese and Mexican. It is often said when going out let’s go for Italian food by many not that what they will encounter is anything short of what we Americans have made of traditional Italian fair. Just like food in a Chinese restaurant is highly Americanized so is Italian food. It does not make it right or wrong just what it is a blend of cultural influences that have melded together to just make great taste. Continue reading

3 Cheese Spaghetti Carbonara with Ham

If you are an Italian food purist this is not the recipe for you I break with the normal food conventions in this dish and expand upon the taste pallet to introduce this classic dish to a few new culinary friends. See one of the things I am constantly striving for in my sites is an angle that is new and fresh.

Now this isn’t to say I don’t respect traditional forms of cooking and don’t serve up some classic dishes the way they were intended. I am just saying I like to stretch the envelope of the food experience and say what if they had done this. Now most times it works as I have a very good understanding of how herbs, spices and ingredients combine and work together, but I too have my occasional flop that just falls short (those don’t make it to the sites). But when I get that look in my guys’ eyes I just know hay we have a winner and we have to share it with all of you.

The following is just such a recipe. It is similar to a family favorite I make called fried scetti but it is different and is most like a traditional spaghetti carbonara recipe with a few tweaks. One I use pancetta or ham in place of the bacon and two I add a three cheese combination for an extra cheesy delight. Now as I have sometimes been criticized in the past for being a bit heavy on the cheese if you feel this recipe is a bit too cheesy for your liking cut back on it a bit just try and maintain the ratios of the three cheeses. Now with that said a recipe is always just a starting point modify it to your liking if you are one way or another on any individual ingredient. It is not the law you can go over 65 and no ticket will be issued. Continue reading

Fregola Pasta Salad with Summer Flavors

This tasty salad is made with fregola pasta, or you can use orzo pasta if you like. Cook the pasta then drain it and let it cool. You can then combine it with chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, garlic, tomato, fresh herbs and parmesan. This makes a tasty lunch served with buttered ciabatta bread, or you might like to serve it as a side dish with veal, beef, fish, chicken, or another favorite. Make this fregola salad ahead if you like, and keep it refrigerated for several hours before serving.

Fregola, which is sometimes spelt fregula, is a type of pasta from Sardinia. It can be used in the place of pasta, or even rice in some dishes, or you can use another kind of pasta here if you prefer, such as orzo if you like the small grains, or macaroni, penne, or whatever else you have in the pantry. You can also change any of the other ingredients, such as switching the chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) for kidney beans or leaving them out, or using red bell pepper rather than tomatoes.

Serve the finished salad as a side dish with meat or fish, or enjoy it as a snack. You could even rustle up a big batch and take it to a potluck supper. There is something very salad about pasta salad recipes. There is never any left at the end of a meal because everyone just seems to love such a recipe! Make this and you can be sure it will all get eaten. This is a very light pasta salad, at least when compared to creamy ones, and the aromatic herbs and vegetables are just wonderful in it. Continue reading

Mandarin and Apple Chicken Pasta Salad

This tasty chicken pasta salad is healthy and appealing. The main ingredients are pasta, chicken and mandarin orange segments, and then we are also using carrot, cucumber, red onion, red apple, and toasted almonds. The dressing features ginger, orange, garlic, onion soup mix, and more, for a full-flavored taste. Make it ahead then chill it for the flavors to mingle. The salad is served on a bed of lettuce, and you can choose from iceberg, baby spinach, arugula, or simply some mixed baby leaves.

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey, or you could even use shrimp or tofu as your protein for a change of pace. If you do not have leftover meat, it is easy enough to chop and stir-fry some chicken in oil, or even poach it in slowly simmering water until done. The first way yields golden brown chicken, while the second gives you soft chicken, so it is just down to personal preference. The almonds, apple and onion add a distinctive crunch which balances out nicely with all the softer ingredients used in this recipe.

We used pasta shells but if you prefer twists, penne, wheels, macaroni, or another shape, any of those would work. This recipe would also work with egg noodles but that is getting away from the Italian-ness of the dish, so we usually use pasta here to keep it more authentic. This dish is Italian-influenced rather than traditional Italian, but it is still really good, and well worth making because the pasta, chicken and mandarin are beautiful together. Go ahead and make any tweaks you want though. Continue reading

Spicy Chicken Fettuccine

This is a very simple recipe. A pinch of chili powder transforms this from a simple chicken and tomato pasta recipe to something with a little more kick. If you want to use fresh chilies you can take your pick from any of them, using the kind of chili pepper you prefer. Ground chili powder also works, or try some chipotle for the slightly smoky flavor it imparts.

You can use any kind of tomato-based pasta sauce, either a very simple one or maybe tomato and herbs or even tomato and garlic. You could even use your own pasta sauce recipe if you have a nice one, perhaps something your mother or grandmother taught you to make. If you are in a rush though there is no problem using a jar of sauce instead. Some people like to use quite a lot of sauce while others prefer a light coating. In Italy not much sauce is used, and pasta is certainly not served swimming in sauce, so use your discretion as regards the ratio of sauce to pasta.

It makes sense to cook the pasta at the same time as cooking the sauce, then you can combine them at the end, rather than cook the pasta first and have it sitting in a colander getting cold and sticky. If the pasta is ready a minute or two early though, it really will not matter. Adjust the amount of chili if you want it spicier or milder, or even leave it out altogether if you do not want any heat in the dish.

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Quick and Simple Pasta Primavera

Taking just 20 minutes to make, from beginning to end, this is a wonderful dish for busy weeknights when you want something nutritious and appetizing but which does not require you to stand over the stove for hours. This is a smart recipe which blends pasta with frozen vegetables, some leftover chicken or ham if you have some, and your favorite pasta sauce, and the result is something that will appeal to the whole family.

This colorful pasta dish can be served by itself or with some garlic bread, salad or any other side dishes you like. It is a whole meal though because it has the pasta, vegetables, meat (if using) and sauce too, so you do not really need a side dish unless you particularly want to make one. Feel free to double the recipe and make extra if you want, because it can be reheated the following day or a couple days later, either in a pan or in the microwave. You could even serve the leftovers cold as a salad.

Feel free to make any changes to the recipe you want, such as swapping the penne pasta for another kind of pasta shape, using a creamy sauce if you want a change from tomato-based sauces, or even tossing the finished pasta in a little extra-virgin olive oil and sautéed minced garlic instead of using a jar of sauce. The kind of vegetables you use is up to you. Grab a package of mixed frozen vegetables, nice colorful ones if possible, and use that. Carrots, green beans, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, and other veggies work well. Continue reading

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Christine Szalay-Kudra


Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.


Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.


When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole

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Thanks for visiting.


Christine

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