Category Archives: Italian

Conchiglie con Langostinos un Pomodori Secchi Salsa di Mornay

Last evening as I wondered what to make for dinner, I decided to head to the local market for some inspiration.  I was so very pleased to find that our local fish monger had gotten some langostinos in from Chile.  My mind began humming.  How would I choose to prepare these tonight?  There are some favorite answers for those familiar with langostinos:  scampi, “mock lobster” casserole or bisque, little appetizers.  However, I was feeling the need for comfort food since the weather was cold and rainy, and well on its way to stormy.  I decided to cook what is essentially a very tasty gourmet mac n’ cheese.

“But, Lady Eva, first things first.  What are langostinos?”

Langostinos are commonly referred to as ‘langostino lobsters’, but in reality are not actually lobsters at all.  Also called squat lobsters (the mind wanders thinking about the classic B-52s song rewritten as Squat Lobster, but I digress), these tasty creatures are actually crustaceans of the families Galatheidae, Chirostylidae and Kiwaidae and are most closely related to crabs.

Langostinos - rinsed and thawed

And now the recipe (admittedly, I merely added things to taste so not everything has measurements for you):

Ingredients:

For the saute

  • 8 ounces frozen (or fresh) langostinos, rinsed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • pignoli
  • fresh basil

For the Mornay Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heated milk
  • kosher salt
  • white pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar
  • Worcestershire sauce

~ 12 oz conchiglie (fresh or dried)

conchiglie pasta

Directions:

  1. Prepare the conchiglie according to package directions and set aside with a drizzle of oil to coat.

Meanwhile prepare the Mornay Sauce

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add flour and stir until mixture is well blended.
  3. Gradually stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil and thickens.
  4. Simmer, stirring frequently, over very low heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in white cheddar cheese, and continue to stir over low heat until cheese is melted
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste

For the langostino saute

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Once oil is hot, saute the sliced garlic for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add langostinos and cook for ~3 minutes
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stir-in sun-dried tomatoes until flavors are incorporated
  6. In a separate bowl stir the conchiglie and the Mornay sauce together

To plate, top the conchilglie with the langostino mixture.  Finish with toasted pignoli and fresh basil.

Buon Appetito!!

Eva

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Filed under Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Italian, Seafood

More Simple Things: Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce

When I was a kid my mom used to make tomato sauce that was heavenly. Every summer we’d can fresh tomatoes and she’d use them throughout the year in many thing. By far my favourite was her tomato sauce. She’d cook it for a day or two in the slow cooker using whatever leftover meat we had in the house or just normal ground beef.

I don’t have any freshly canned tomatoes, but I do have tinned tomatoes. These are just as good and turn out as lovely of a result.

The ingredients are simple and need only a little prep for a great result.

I put a lot of herbs in mine, but you really only need 3 herbs and some salt and pepper. Dried herbs are always a good option when slow cooking with plenty of liquid. As long as they aren’t too old they’ll give plenty of flavour to your cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 4x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes (Plum or Romas suggested)
  • 2 Medium White Onions – Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 250g Ground Beef (optional)

If you’re using ground beef, brown it in a pan now.

Combine the tomatoes, chopped onion and any meat you’re adding in your slow cooker. Using one of the tins from the tomatoes, fill it with water and add to the mix.

Add all of the herbs and spices and stir everything together.

That’s it. Just pop the lid on and turn the heat to medium. Let cook for 20-24 hours. Check on occasion to stir or maybe adjust seasoning, but remember that it will reduce and intensify, so the herbs and spices will also intensify.

This should make enough for 2 batches that will feed 2 adults. I like to make this up and freeze it for later use.

This is a good base recipe that can also be added to. Some suggestions would be mushrooms or even diced bell peppers. Substitute meat suggestions would be sausage or even Chorizo. And if you like things a bit spicier you could always add Cheyenne, Paprika or even finely chopped fresh chillis.

 

~Kostika

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Filed under Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Italian, Long but worth it!, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter

Simple Things: Pasta with Spinach, Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes

In my younger days, I used to go through a lot of effort to make perfect pasta sauces… long-simmering marinaras, or alfredos that were quietly and slowly heated to perfection. And while those are still worthy chores, in my harried existence now, I much prefer fast and fresh. Most of my pasta dishes now are of the ‘toss together’ variety – pick a few ingredients, boil the pasta, toss it all together.

And ingredients are in fact key. I know I am not alone in feeling the economic crunch these days. But I find if I ‘invest’ in a few really nice ingredients here and there, it goes a long way to making me feel like things aren’t quite so dire. For example, spending an extra £/$ or two on a lovely flavoured Dijon that I can then use to season my sauces and salads is for me a worthwhile expenditure. And as a condiment, it goes a lot further than splurging on a dinner out, or even a really choice cut of steak (Alas!).

So, with that! I popped in the lovely little deli on my street, and picked up some nice imported pasta (egg pappardale) and a little wedge of parmigiana to make with some things I already had: sun-dried tomatoes, capers, good olive oil… and everyone’s favourite: bacon!  Oh, and spinach.  You know, to be healthy.

Step 1: Cut up some bacon (I used 3 strips of back bacon) and cook in a non-stick skillet over medium-high until starting to brown.

Step 2: Toss a whole big bag of spinach in on top, cover, and wait a couple minutes for it to wilt.

 

Step 3: Uncover, stir, add a dash of olive oil, the tomatoes (and their oil!), a tablespoon or so of capers, stir... cover and remove from heat.

Meanwhile… boil the pasta of your choice – Al Dente, always!!

Pasta done? Toss in a nice big bowl (see top pic), drizzle with olive oil, top with the yummy mixture. TOSS! Add fresh grated parmigiana. TOSS!  “Plate up”, top with a bit more cheese, then serve with a bottle of San Pellegrino, a vanilla scented candle, and two 19th century volumes of Dante!

Bon appétit!

Rowan

PS – I should say that you should obviously mix this one up however; not everyone likes capers (I love ’em!) and the tomatoes and bacon are perhaps salty enough. I’ve also been known to make this with baby roma or grape tomatoes, sliced in half and cooked in some olive oil and garlic with the capers tossed in at the end; then with slices of prosciutto torn up (not cooked) and tossed into the pasta.

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Filed under Bacon!!!, Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Italian, Mediterranean, Quick