Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Different Putanesta!

As you no doubt know the word "putanesta" means prostitute. As the story goes, when Italian Naval Officers came to port in Naples women were cooking pasta sauce - gravy in my family-and the smell of the sauce so enticed the naval officers that they had to find the women cooks --

Without venturing a guess as to the veracity of the legend -- here's a twist on the typical "putanesta" sauce.


1 lb of pasta -- penne works best ( I never use spaghetti or fettuccine with this sauce. It works best with a short pasta that has some body) (no pun intended)

2 tbs of tomato paste (if you want a thicker sauce you can use plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes about 1 cup)
1 bunch Swiss chard - rainbow is more interesting but not essential (wash and towel dry the Swiss Chard then pull the leaves from the veins and break apart into pieces that are larger than "bite size") (I never chop the Swiss Chard)
6 - 10 oz black olives kalamata olives - pitted work best
1 10 oz can of chick peas rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 -2 tbs of olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock

In a large stock pot bring water to a boil - add 2 tsp of oil to the water. When the water comes to a boil - add the pasta. Cook stirring moderately until the pasta is slightly firm.
In a large skillet (I use a very large frying pan) heat the oil and then saute the onion and the garlic until translucent-- do not brown. Then add the tomato paste and cook for about 3 minutes. Turning the mixture so that it does not stick or burn. Slowly add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Swiss Chard and simmer until the Chard is nearly cooked. Add the kalamata Olives and 3/4 of the cans of Chick Peas. Simmer for another 5 - 8 minutes.

Warm a pasta bowl by placing it under hot water and towel dry. Immediately add about 1/3 of the sauce (now cooked) into the bowl. Drain the pasta and then add it to the bowl on top of the sauce. Toss slightly. Add the remaining sauce to the pasta. Toss well and serve.

This should serve 4 hungry people -- If you are serving fewer people cut the amount of pasta you cook not the sauce. The sauce will store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Bon Appettito!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Vegetarian Cooks Meat Loaf

I know it has been awhile since my mom and I posted a recipe-- we will spare you the details of the last three months -- and instead provide a recipe for some good "old fashioned" comfort food - meatloaf. Personally, I have not eaten meat - red or white-in about 35 years so why should I know anything about cooking meatloaf let alone know that this is a good recipe. But I've made this one - flawlessly - for many years and my mom has too albeit it for many more. So if you are in Washington, DC, Baltimore or Philly and you are snowed in or just don't want to go out to eat tomorrow evening - try my mom's meatloaf.


I lb ground beef (80/20)
1 cup tomato sauce-reserve a tablespoon
1 cup "old fashioned" oats (NOT INSTANT)
1 egg
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 carrot grated
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 375 degrees
Grease 9" loaf pan with vegetable shortening or spray with cooking spray

Start with one pound of ground beef -- mom recommends NOT using extra lean or even lean - she's recommends 80%- 20%. (20% chuck) Her belief -- you need some fat. Mix into the ground beef the wet ingredients first: egg and the tomato sauce (Hunt's works well)- reserve a tablespoon. Then, work in the oats (Quaker), onion and carrot.

Put the mixture in a loaf pan - 9" Top with tablespoon of tomato sauce

Place in oven on the rack for one hour. (Insert tester which should remove clean if meatloaf is cooked)

Remove from oven and place on rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn loaf pan upside down and meatloaf should remove easily from the pan. If not, tap on bottom of loaf pan and you may need to use a butter knife to loosen meatloaf from pan edge.

Serve warm. Enjoy!