Tag Archives: Italian

Recipe: Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu

Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu

Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu

I always enjoy the “challenge” of cooking vegetarian. I use challenge in quotation marks, because it’s pretty damn easy, but I find it scares most people.

Using the fresh eggplants and mushrooms I had on hand, I decided to make a Pappardell with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu. There are a lot of simple flavors in the dish, but what really sends it over the top for me are the fresh garnishes of orange zest, parsley and ricotta cheese.


  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (peeled or skin-on)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBSP chili flakes
  • Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu

    Eggplant is the Key Ingredient

  • 2 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 lb. pappardelle
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Grated orange zest
  • Fresh parsley, minced


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Put the olive oil in a large skillet (I used a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, saute the onion and garlic for 1 minute, careful not to let the garlic to burn.
  3. Add the eggplant, chili flakes and Kosher salt. Lower the heat to medium. Saute, stirring occasionally until the eggplant is nearly tender.
  4. Add the red pepper and mushrooms then cook for 3 or 4 more minutes. Pour in the red wine, and continue to cook until the eggplant is fully tender. Reduce heat to very low so ragu comes to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu

    Simmering the Veggies in a Dutch Oven

  6. Boil the pasta according to package directions (usually about 5 minutes). Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 cup of the water. Toss the noodles with the ragu, gradually mixi in some or all of the pasta water to achieve a light glaze on the noodles.
  7. Plate the pasta then divide the ricotta, placing a few dabs on each plate. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, orange zest, parsley and black pepper then serve.

This is a delicious vegetarian dish full of some classic flavors. The veggies, garnishes, cheeses and pasta work together in perfect harmony.

If you can’t find or make pappardelle, I would suggest boiling lasagna then cutting it into strips. Make sure you use all of the garnishes, they really elevate this Pappardelle with Eggplant and Mushroom Ragu.


Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Cookin', Entrees, Recipes


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Recipe: Homemade Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce

Mark the day and time because this will probably one of the only tomato-centric recipes I ever post. I don’t like tomatoes. But, oddly enough, I like ketchup, tomato sauce and most form of tomatoes that have been pummeled, pureed or simmered. Maybe tomatoes just taste better after they’re destroyed.

Tomato sauce is on my approved tomato dish list and is one of those simple sauces that can be used in thousands of ways. I enjoy making my own rather than buying it from a can, jar, bottle, etc. The ingredient list is short, but the cook time is high. You really only need tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and patience.


  • 12 fresh tomatoes, halved and clean (squeeze out juice and set aside)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 springs fresh basil
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • Olive oil

*This will make a pot big enough for a lasagna or a spaghetti dish to serve 4-6 people. Multiply the ingredients based on the amount of people you plan on feeding.


  1. Prep a large sauce pot by placing it on the stove and adding a thin layer of olive oil.
  2. Tomato Sauce in the Pot

    Tomato Sauce in the Pot

  3. Fill a food processor (or blender) with tomato halves that are cleaned to remove spots. Make sure to save the juice and set aside in another bowl.
  4. Add garlic, salt and basil and blend until the mixture is frothy.
  5. Add the tomato mixture to the sauce pot.
  6. If necessary, repeat step 2-4 with remaining tomatoes. (You may have to blend more than one batch depending on the size of your appliance.)
  7. Simmer (uncovered) over low heat for hours. Yes, hours. You want to reduce the mixture until it was half the size of what it initially was. However, you can keep simmering for even longer if you want. The longer you simmer, the more flavorful the mixture becomes.
  8. Adjust seasoning while the sauce is simmering to your liking.
  9. Once it’s cooked to your satisfaction, serve with pasta or any other ingredient you have in mind.

If you don’t planning on using the sauce right away, you can jar it and refrigerate or freeze the tomato sauce until you’re ready to use it.

I’m not Italian so I’m sure many people have more/better ways of making a basic tomato sauce, but I can attest that this is a good one that will serve you well with your everyday cooking.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Cookin', Recipes, Sauces


Tags: , , , ,

Review: Pomodoro (Boston)

Pomodoro's Bread

Pomodoro's Bread

I ventured into Boston’s North End (think Boston’s version of Little Italy) on Monday night to have dinner at Pomodoro with friends. The place came highly recommended from one of my friends (who happened to be in our party) and he was spot on.

The place is small and intimate with a definite allure — I wouldn’t hesitate to call it romantic. I’m pretty sure there was only one server for the entire restaurant. For me, that added to the charm and she was never stressed or rushed so it worked.

Normally, I wouldn’t pay any attention to the complimentary bread basket a restaurant, but let me tell you, the bread at Pomodoro is insanely good. The crust has a nice crack and the bread on the inside is light and fluffy. The olive oil is also great. They had olives in the actual olive oil which was something most places don’t do and it really pulled out the olive flavor from the oil. Don’t skip the bread if you go in.

Pomodoro's Antipasto

Pomodoro's Antipasto

We started by ordering the antipasto plate which was an Italian smorgasbord. It was loaded with Tuscan white bean salad, roasted sweet red peppers stuffed with a tuna salad, prosciutto, green beans, poached calamari, lightly fried potatoes, arugula, parmesan, fried artichokes, goat cheese toast and fresh olives. I don’t like olives much, so I skipped those, but the standouts of the board were the stuffed peppers (sweet heat), the calamari (amazing taste and texture) and the goat cheese toast (because it’s goat cheese). I wasn’t a big fan of the prosciutto, it was sliced too thick and didn’t have the saltiness I’m accustomed to. The potatoes had a nice crispiness to them, but completely lacked seasoning so there wasn’t anything to send them over the top. All the beans and arugula tasted fresh and complemented the other elements very well.

One of my friends ordered the Classic Linguini. Pomodoro tosses their linguini with a slow roasted plum tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. That’s it.

Classic Linguini

Classic Linguini

It may sound boring since there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles attached, but let me assure you that sometimes the most simple dish can have the most impact. This linguini was a perfect example. Light, acidic, herbacious, it had all the elements one expects out of a classic tomato sauce and pasta dish. Add some parmesan cheese and the flavor is taken to another level.

My other friend ordered the Veal Scaloppini. The veal was cooked with a sweet onion balsamic sauce and paired with a green olive risotto. While my friend thought it was overloaded with balsamic, it actually worked for me. I liked the acidic balsamic-onion combo especially when a piece of the veal was taken with a bite of the much subtler risotto.

Chicken Carbonara

Chicken Carbonara

I ordered what we all agreed was the best dish of the night: the Chicken Carbonara. Pieces of chicken with wild mushrooms, Italian ham and cracked pepper on a bed of rigatoni. The chicken was juicy and cooked perfectly. The white sauce on everything was beyond belief. All of these elements worked together in harmony to create one of the best traditional Italian dishes I’ve had in year.

After dinner, do yourself a favor and head over to Mike’s Pastry across the street. They have some of the best desserts you’ll find in Boston.

North End in Boston is full of Italian places and everyone who’s ever been to or lived in Boston seems to have their own unique opinion on the best place to go. After dining at Pomodoro, I’ll happily go on record saying it is one of the best Italian places in Boston. The ambiance, food and setting were all exactly what I wanted out of the experience.

Pomodoro is located in Boston’s North End at 319 Hanover Street. Hours are Mon. through Fri. 5 to 11 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Eatin'


Tags: , , , , ,