Tag Archives: chianti

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

One of the first meals that Sam had made for me was this sauce, and I loved it!  He’s been perfecting this baby for years, so it is delicious.  I couldn’t wait until the tomatoes were in season, since this pasta is significantly better with deep red fresh tomatoes.

It’s finally tomato season!  Hopefully, my pasta sauce recipe will help you figure out how to use them.

It looks like a lot, but really, this one is pretty easy.  I developed this recipe over a couple years of trial and error.  Originally, I prepared the sauce as noted below, but then simmered it for about an hour over the stovetop.  I’ve found that omitting this last step and serving it with the tomatoes and herbs in their raw state gives the sauce a really nice, fresh-from-the-garden flavor.  I hope you like it.

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

1 box, dry pasta (I recommend penne or rigatoni)
3 large, ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 zucchini, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
2 squash, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
5 garlic cloves, minced
handful of fresh basil
6 sprigs of fresh oregano
¾ can, drained, pitted, black olives
Dry red wine (a nice Chianti works well)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter together with the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Then add the squash, zucchini, and onion together with the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Now is a good time to start boiling your pasta.  I recommend cooking in liberally salted boiling water until al dente.  When done, drain and rinse in cold water to ensure it doesn’t continue to cook.

When the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms and garlic.  Continue to sauté until the mushrooms soften but still have a bit of a bite.  Remove from heat.

In a large food processor, add quarter of the sauté mixture together with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, olives, and a splash of wine and olive oil.  Pureé and add more salt, pepper, and olive oil as necessary.

Serve the sauce with the remainder of the squash mixture over the cooked pasta and top with a little fresh, grated parmesan (not that powdered stuff!).  Oh, and don’t forget to drink the remainder of that wine!

Buon appetito!

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A Delicious Birthday Dinner

Over the weekend our friend B* had a birthday, and we decided to treat him to a delicious dinner.  I’ll give Sam all of the credit- this was all done by him! 

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce, Cheesy Shrimp ‘n Grits, and Oven Roasted Broccolini

Oven Roasted Broccolini

This is definitely the easiest part of the meal, but delicious nonetheless.  Roasting (rather than steaming) maintains the crunch, while adding wonderful flavors of caramelization.  Incidentally, substituting with asparagus, brussel sprouts, or baby red potatoes is a scrumptious alternative.

2 bunches of broccolini (regular broccoli works fine too)
Extra virgin olive oil
Bacon Salt®

On a cookie sheet, coat the broccolini (use your hands here) in olive oil and season liberally with the bacon salt.  Add to a preheated, 400° oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Once the broccolini florets begin to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.

Shrimp ‘n Grits

A southern classic!  The deep flavor and richness of this one is certain to impress.

1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb smoked bacon (we bought ours at the Farmer’s Mkt)
½ lb shredded sharp cheddar (we recommend a higher-end cheese, not just the yellow block cheese; ours was from Cowgirl Creamery)
1 cup of dry grits  (instant grits are sacrilege)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, diced (don’t even think about discarding the seeds!)
1 quart whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, bring the milk and butter to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pan cook the bacon until crispy, then set aside on a paper towel to dry.  Roughly chop once cool.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan.

Next, add the onion and peppers to the hot bacon fat and cook until the onions are translucent.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the milk.  Add the grits and chopped bacon to the simmering milk as well, whisking occasionally.

Coat the shrimp in salt and pepper and add to the bacon grease for about 4 minutes, or until pink.  Remove them from the grease and stir into the grit mixture.

Once the grits are thick, stir in the cheddar cheese, and season with salt and cracked black pepper.  You can also add more butter if you like.

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce

Filet mignon; that heavenly cut of beef you’ve probably only eaten in restaurants.  Believe it or not, it is surprisingly easy to cook and will rival anything you can find at an expensive steakhouse.  One note: now is not the time to go cheap!  Splurge and get the best, grass-fed, organic meat you can find.  It really does matter.

1 filet per person
2 cups Bourbon
Butter
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup of half-and-half

A half-hour before you plan to cook, season the filets liberally with salt and pepper, and allow them to come to room temperature.

In a very hot skillet, cook the filets for 3 minutes on all sides.  Then add the skillet to a preheated 400° oven for about 6-10 minutes, depending on how rare you like it.  I like to put a slice of butter on top just before I add to the oven.  When done, remove the pan from the oven and set the filets aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest.

Bourbon Sauce

First off, let me state that this step involves igniting alcohol vapor and can thus be very dangerous.  Read and familiarize these steps before you begin.  If you’re uncomfortable with dealing with an open flame, substitute the bourbon with a dry, red wine (Chianti works well), which will not ignite.

After you’ve removed your now perfect filets, put your skillet on the cook top and turn your burner off.  Add 2 cups of good bourbon to the hot skillet.  Cover the skillet about ¾ of the way with a pan lid or cookie sheet.  Using a long match, set the alcohol vapor ablaze.  Adjust the pan lid or cookie sheet such that the flame is allowed to burn but that it is not too high.  Turn your burner back on to low.

After about 10 minutes, the alcohol will burn off and the fire will extinguish itself.  If you’re using wine instead, just allow it to reduce by about half, no ignition necessary.

Next, add half-and-half, 1 tablespoon of butter, and a little salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each) to the bourbon.  Reduce the sauce by about half, whisking occasionally.  When done, plate your finished meal and coat each filet with the rich sauce.

Bon appétit!