Friday, January 19, 2018


Here is a recipe that includes Italian sausages, fennel and sun-dried tomatoes. Farfalle (pronounced far-fa-lay) translates to "butterflies". Get the onion, fennel, peppers, and garlic chopped up on a cutting board ready to toss into the skillet. Dinner in under 40 minutes!

2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil, divided
1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages

1 T sea or kosher salt, for the pasta water
1 lb farfalle (butterfly) pasta

1 large sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t freeze-dried or fresh basil, chopped
½ t red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup red or white wine
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into bitesize pieces

1 bunch Italian parsley, trimmed and chopped
½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the sausages for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat until brown on all sides. I put a splatter screen over my skillet to keep most of the grease from popping out on the stove.
Remove to a cutting board and discard grease and carefully wipe out or wash out skillet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt.  Boil the farfalle pasta for 10 minutes.
Save 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.  Drain pasta and set aside.

In the same large clean skillet add the rest of the oil and cook the onion, fennel, and peppers over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  
Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the wine and cook another minute.

Cut the sausages into ¼ inch circles and add to the skillet along with the sun-dried tomatoes.  Add 1 cup of the pasta water and cook another 3-4 minutes.
Spoon in the pasta and add the basil, red pepper flakes and parsley.  
Toss to combine and add more pasta water, if needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the grated cheese and spoon pasta into 4 heated pasta bowls.
Serve with extra grated Pecorino Romano cheese at the table and a green salad. . .and of course a glass of vino rosso or vino bianco!

Serves 4

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish from Rome. It translates to "cheese and pepper". I added pancetta for extra crunch and flavor. I also added lemon zest and juice to brighten up the dish. This is a simple dish but you must have pancetta and Pecorino Romano cheese. I added Parmigiano because I like the combination of the two, but traditionally it is made with only Pecorino cheese. This could become your favorite quick pasta dish.

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 T freshly grated black pepper
1 T sea salt
½ lb spaghetti
3 to 4 oz pancetta, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
2 T unsalted butter
Zest & juice of ½ lemon
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T minced Italian parsley

In a bowl mix together the cheeses with the black pepper and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
Add the salt and the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pancetta in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat until crisp.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a towel-lined plate and set aside.

Drain off most of the fat but leave the brown bits in the pan.
Lower heat and add the butter and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the cheese mixture and cook until cheeses are melted and smooth.

Drain the pasta but save 1 cup of the pasta water.
Add the drained pasta to the pan along with some of the pasta water.
Heat through then add half of the pancetta, lemon zest and juice.
Transfer to 2 warm pasta bowls, sprinkle on the rest of the pancetta, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish with parsley.

Serves 2


Ernesto Noviello (Ernest Novello) was born in the little village of Montefalcione on 2 Aug 1895.  He was only fourteen years old when he first arrived in New York on 12 May 1910 as a stowaway, he claimed with a twinkle in his eyes. He and his older brother, Nazareno, (Nat) finally arrived in New York on 28 Feb 1913 on the ship "Cedric" from Napoli, Italy. Ernest was seventeen and Nat was 21.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Shrimp come in so many sizes and are usually sold by count per pound. Here is a helpful guide. 
Extra Jumbo = 16-20 
Jumbo = 21-25 
Extra Large = 26-30 
Large = 31-35 
Medium Large = 36-40 
Medium = 41-50 
Small = 51-60 
Extra Small = 61-70.
Serve the baked scampi with a green salad and crusty bread and of course a glass of vino bianco.  

½ cup panko bread crumbs
1 t freeze-dried or finely chopped fresh oregano
6 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 medium shallot, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
Grated zest and juice of ½ large lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb extra large or large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix the bread crumbs and oregano together in a small bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the oil and sauté the shallot for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute.
Add the wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange shrimp in two individual baking dishes.
Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp, top with bread crumb mixture, and sprinkle on the grated Parmigiano cheese.

Place dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 2 as a dinner
Serves 4 as a first course (in smaller baking dishes)

Friday, January 12, 2018


This is one of our favorite meals. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner and also great for serving to guests. Have all of your ingredients cut up and set aside on a pizza pan or platter, ready to add to the skillet. If you can't find chicken tenders, cut up boneless, skinless chicken breast halves into smaller pieces. The addition of olives and lots of fresh herbs captures the taste of sunny Italy!

1 lb chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
½ cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup avocado oil or extra-light olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
½ cup pitted or stuffed green olives, cut in half
½ cup pitted Italian black olives, cut in half
2 T capers
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Pour flour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken in two batches and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.

Add the rest of the oil and cook the bell peppers and onions for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the wine and cook for a minute, while stirring with a wooden spoon.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the peppers and onions, stir and cook about 3 minutes.
Lower heat and add the olives, capers, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. 
Toss to combine.

Transfer to 4 plates or one warm large platter and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. 

Serve with roasted potatoes or orzo and a bottle of Frascati, known as "gold wine" by the Romans.

Saturday, January 6, 2018



This recipe is a version of my Spaghetti alla Puttanesca but made with cherry tomatoes instead of crushed canned tomatoes. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner. In the Italian language a puttana is a "lady of the night." This pasta dish is quick and easy to make, and perhaps that's how it got its name. . .because the ladies of the night could make it quickly between customers.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I chop up the onion, garlic, anchovies, basil, black olives, and cherry tomatoes and place in piles on a pizza pan or individual small bowls. Then you just add to the skillet, when needed.

½ lb spaghetti
1 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil 
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 anchovies, mashed
3 T minced basil
½ cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives, such as Cerignola and/or black Gaeta
2 T capers, drained
½ t red pepper flakes 
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing 
¼ cup minced parsley, for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes,
until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, but save ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. 
Add the garlic and anchovies and cook another 2 minutes. The anchovies will melt into the pot as it cooks.
Add the basil, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, and wine. Cook another minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook another minute.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the drained spaghetti and pasta water and heat through for another minute or two.
Divide between two heated pasta bowls.

Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves 2