Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pasta Bella!

Pasta meals are my favorite and I'm always searching for new variations to mix things up a bit.  I happened to catch one of the best episodes of Barefoot Contessa I've seen yet . . . Ina prepared five or six different pasta dishes . . . the episode was aptly named Pasta Bella.  This post features two of my favorite pasta dishes she prepared.

You would think with all the pasta I make that I would crave something different when I go out to eat.  I'm actually very picky about the pasta dishes I order when eating out, but when I want pasta and someone to wait on me, Carrabas Italian Restaurant is my favorite.  I always order Shrimp Scampi that seems to be very similar to the first recipe.  Believe it or not, I've never made this at home, but now that I have this recipe, we will be making this very soon!

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes


Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

As I was watching Ina make this pasta dish, the thought occurred to me that this is like a very fancy macaroni and cheese.  Of course I would add a variation to it . . . grilled italian sausage cut in diagonal slices, but you could also add chicken for another variation.

Penne with Five Cheeses


  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup shredded imported Italian fontina (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound imported penne rigate pasta
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
Combine all the ingredients except the penne and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Drop the penne into the boiling water and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.
Divide the pasta mixture among 6 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2 to 2-cup capacity). Dot with the butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, 7 to 10 minutes.

Click on the link for more recipes from this episode
Source:  The Food Network


Kathy said...

Wow Gina! These sound terrific - love pasta! Thank you for sharing,

Catherine said...

Dear Gina, Some of my favorite dishes are spelled out right here! Blessings, Catherine xo

Gina Alfani said...

@Kathy and Catherine . . . I could probably eat pasta every day!

Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

Dolly's Daily Diary said...

Gina, Thank you so much for sharing these recipes. Shrimp scampi is one of my favorites and I don't have a good recipe to make it at home. I am half Italian too, my grandmother was from Sicily and my grandfather was from Naples. I could live off my mother's homemade spaghetti sauce and now that she is gone, every time I make it, it brings her back to me :) We use to watch the cooking shows on the food network too when she was sick towards the end of her life and in the nursing home, so it is still hard for me to watch them now, so I really appreciate that you share these recipes on here, sorry to babble so long LOL!
Take Care,

Gina Alfani said...

@Janet . . . you are very welcome! What you said about your mom is exactly how I feel about my Nana. Even after all these years, I still use a lot of her kitchen stuff and it is like a piece of her is with me when I cook.

In time you will be able to watch those cooking shows fondly. I know it is difficult going through the phases of grief.

Thanks for visiting and commenting paesana!

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