Tag: weeknight dinner

Easy Weeknight Pasta From The 19th Century

Easy Weeknight Pasta From The 19th Century

(Above: This pasta dish pairs well with garlic bread and an arugula and kale salad. And if you’re feeling ambitious and hungry, make some authentic Italian meatballs to go along with it.)

Sometimes you need a recipe like this to remind you how easy perfection can be.

This is a simple tomato and pasta dish that dates back to the classic Italian cookbook, “The Art of Eating Well,” published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi. Artusi travelled throughout Italy collecting the best family recipes from each region.

This dish is from Naples and is called, “Neapolitan-Style Macaroni II.”

 

Tomatoes, onion, and basil
These are only three ingredients for this sauce: tomatoes, basil and onions (and you discard the onion after frying it until brown). All three are cooked in olive and butter.

 

You can use whatever type of pasta you like, but it should be one that absorbs the sauce well. So textured pastas, tubular pastas, and large fat noodles work well. I used some pappardelle but I’ve also used penne in the past and both work well.

 

Chopped tomatoes
Peeling, chopping, and deseeding the tomatoes is the most work needed for this dish.

 

This basic sauce is made by cooking tomatoes and although fresh tomatoes from a garden would be best, I used what I could find in February in Boston (rubbery tomatoes sold on the vine) and it still came out delicious.

 

 

Bowl of tomato sauce
The recipe creates a light, but flavorful, tomato sauce that tastes fresh.

 

The sauce is simple to make but takes a little work as you have to peel the tomatoes and then take the seeds out. I found using this vegetable peeler to be much easier than trying to peel the tomatoes with a paring knife.

 

Bowl of pasta with tomato sauce.
This old classic is quick, easy, and delicious: perfect for a weeknight.

 

This recipe is what Rootsliving is all about. It’s an ethnic recipe from the past that is tried and true, and simple. Buon Appetito!

 

EASY WEEKNIGHT PASTA (AKA: NEAPOLITAN-STYLE MACARONI II)

February 28, 2019
: 30 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • One pound of pasta (Penne can be used as it absorbs the sauce well)
  • Two large slices of onions
  • 1 1/4 pounds of peeled, seeded tomatoes (4 or 5 will do)
  • Fresh basil (a couple of tablespoons minced)
  • Butter (1/2 stick, plus two tablespoons)
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Saute onion in two tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The onion will split into rings as it cooks. When it browns, press it down with a spoon and then discard.
  • Step 2 Stir in the tomatoes. Add basil, salt and pepper.
  • Step 3 Simmer until done. About 1/2 hour or until it’s not watery.
  • Step 4 Cook pasta until al dente. Add sauce, 1/2 stick of butter and grated parmesan cheese. Serve with garlic bread and a salad, if you like.

 

Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole

Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole

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This dish is similar to eggplant parmesan but without the cheese and without as much work. It is, however, as delicious as that Italian favorite. And a dash of cinnamon sends it to another world.

 

Tomato sauce in a frying pan
The tomato sauce is pretty easy to make. Use a box of chopped tomatoes.

 

This is a take on the classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi (which translates to “the imam fainted”). The classic dish is a stuffed eggplant but here you slice the eggplant and then layer it instead.

 

Eggplant slices on a cookie sheet
Brush the eggplant slices with some olive oil and bake them in a hot (425 degree) oven.

 

Other casserole versions of this recipe call for frying the eggplant and if you do that you can get away with using just one pan to create this dish. However, I found that baking the eggplant slices is just as good and probably less calories. It does, however, require you dirty an additional two cookie sheets.

 

Turkish eggplant casserole with salad
Slices of this pair well with a simple arugula salad.

 

The Bitter Myth of Eggplant

Most eggplant recipes tell you to salt the eggplant slices to get the bitter juices out. I’ve found this to be a myth and contrary to popular belief believe salting it may actually add some bitterness.

 

Eggplant with stripes
I know there are plenty of grandmothers out there who recommend salting eggplant but this only makes the eggplant mushy.

 

I’ve found that the best way to avoid making bitter eggplant is by carefully selecting the eggplant. Look for one that is a dark, purplish/black color. It should be firm without any scarring and without any soft spots. Next, I recommend peeling the eggplant, leaving purple vertical stripes.

 

Eggplant dish in pan
If you use a cast iron skillet to make the sauce you can layer the eggplant in it and then bake it in the oven (using only one pan).

 

I based this recipe on one I found on the “Feed Me Phoebe” blog. Phoebe describes herself as a gluten-free chef, obsessed with finding the sweet spot between health and hedonism. And I can attest that this casserole feels very indulgent while you’re eating it.

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Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole (Imam Bayildi)

November 30, 2018
: 20 min
: 1 hr
: 1 hr 20 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant or two medium eggplants (I don’t salt it as recommended in the original recipe as I believe that makes it more acidic. Instead, be careful to select a very firm eggplant with little or no blemishes. The color should be a deep purple. And then peel it vertically in strips so that it looks like it has thin purple stripes before you slice it into 1/4-inch slices, horizontally.
  • Sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil. Use a good grade regular frying-style olive oil, not extra-virgin
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • About 27 oz of diced tomatoes from a can or box.
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided in half
Directions
  • Step 1 Take eggplant slices and brush olive oil on both sides. Put them on a cookie sheet that has been drizzled with a little olive oil (to prevent sticking).
  • Step 2 Bake slices in batches on two cookie sheets. When one side has turned brown, flip them over the bake on the other side. This should take about 10-15 minutes per batch.
  • Step 3 Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet.
  • Step 4 Add onion to skillet and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.
  • Step 5 Remove most of the tomato sauce from the pan, leaving only a thin layer (about 1/4 cup) spread evenly over the bottom. Add one layer of the eggplant in the pan over the sauce and then top with more sauce. Continue to add layers of eggplant and sauce, as if you were building a lasagna.
  • Step 6 Cover with foil and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until eggplant is soft and sauce is reduced. Garnish with remaining parsley and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.