I’m back this weekend with a couple more Italian recipes, which I’m really digging again. I go through phases, eating a lot of a certain dish or cuisine until I’m sick of it. I’m definitely back in the pasta phase. And eating a lot of Caprese salad, even though tomatoes are out of season. This here Caprese has a bit of a twist–chunks of bread toasted with olive oil and drizzled with a balsamic dressing. It takes the concept of a panzanella and marries it to fresh tomatoes, chunks of fresh mozzarella, red onion, and capers. This type of dish is why I love Italian food so much; it’s so simple yet utterly delicious and satisfying.
Caprese Bread Salad
8 Campari tomatoes
1/3 Ciabatta baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
sliced red onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
1) Toss bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toast in oven at 350 or a toaster oven until golden brown.
2) Tear mozzarella into bite-sized chunks and arrange on a platter with tomatoes slices. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
3) To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl; pour evenly over tomatoes and bread and garnish with capers, slices of red onion and basil leaves. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
Rigatoni Baked in Vodka Sauce with Three Cheese and Garlic Crumb Topping
I love a Mac ‘n Cheese dish, especially when the cold and dreary winter months call for some good comfort food. Although I almost always make my food from scratch, sometimes I’ll buy a jar of good quality vodka sauce and have it with linguine or use it in a baked pasta dish. When I make it myself, I use Ree Drummond’s recipe, from The Pioneer Woman
To make this dish for six people, you will need the following ingredients:
4 cups rigatoni
3 cups vodka sauce
1/4 cup cubed pancetta
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup Panko style or homemade breadcrumbs (day old bread ground in a food processor)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper
1) Preheat oven to 375F. Cook rigatoni in lots of boiling salty water until al dente. In the meantime, saute pancetta in a bit of olive oil until golden and a bit crispy. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, pancetta, and sauce. Pour into a ten-inch casserole dish.
3) In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and cheese together. In another bowl, mix together butter, garlic, and parsley. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs over pasta, followed by a few grindings of fresh black pepper. Spoon bits of the butter mixture randomly over breadcrumbs.
4) Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.