Thursday, August 22, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Pasta Pomodoro

I've always loved the light, clean taste of pomodoro sauce. It's much brighter than a traditional marinara sauce, and doesn't require all day cooking to get a rich flavor. Since there was a pile of tomatoes from the CSA slowly over-ripening on the counter, it seemed like the perfect time to try my hand at a favorite.


  • Two cups diced tomatoes, preferably local. Canned tomatoes just don't taste the same! Reserve all the liquid, pulp, and seeds; they're actually where most of the flavor is, and the liquids form the majority of the sauce. 
  • 1/4 lb. spaghetti or cappellini
  • About 5 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp. because I'm weak when it comes to spice!)

This recipe would comfortably serve 2 very hungry people, or 3 people with no leftovers remaining. Adjust amounts accordingly. 

  1. Get your pasta water boiling. Use less water than you normally would; you'll use some of the extra starchy water to augment the sauce. Salt the water; it's the only added salt you'll need. 
  2. Heat EVOO till shimmering, then immediately turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Don't let it brown at all, just let it soften. This will retain a mellow flavor so it won't overwhelm the brightness of the tomatoes. 
  3. Add all of the tomatoes, liquid, pulp, and seeds. Raise the heat and get it bubbling. 
  4. Start cooking the pasta. 7 minutes should do it. 
  5. Add your basil, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to the pan. Keep letting it reduce. 
  6. When the pasta is done, drain it but reserve about a quarter cup of the liquid, and toss it all into your pan. 
  7. Swirl in the butter - the added fat helps everything stick to the pasta. 
  8. Cook the sauce down for a few more minutes over medium heat. 
Now just pour a glass of wine, grate some parmesan for those who like it, and get eating! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two Days, Two Josh Ritter Concerts

I was lucky enough to attend two Josh Ritter performances (my 8th and 9th) on August 18th and 19th. First at Toad's Place in New Haven, CT, and again at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA. What a great experience both nights were! I got to Toad's Place very early, which landed me a dead center front row seat. At Tanglewood, Josh opened for Grace Potter, so there weren't many people seated yet - I just went and sat in the front, and no one seemed to mind!

At Toad's Place I captured some nice video, and 22 seconds into my video of "Joy to You Baby", guitarist Austin Nevins looks right at the camera. A nice moment to catch!

Here's the setlist:

Here are some of my best stills from Toad's Place:

New Milford, 2011

Friday, August 16, 2013

Get Cooking! Pasta that's healthy enough to enjoy guilt-free.

Today's cooking adventure turned out to be a crowd pleasing success. It's easy and healthy, but totally filling. The only time consuming element is all the chopping...but once that's done, you pretty much just toss it all in the pan and you're done! It's an astonishingly forgiving recipe; you really don't have to measure anything...just eyeball it or adjust based on your personal preferences.
Cavatappi with shrimp, veggies, and bacon
  • 1/2 lb Cavatappi
  • 1/4 lb shrimp, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cup baby peas
  • 1/8 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, chopped (I use Applegate Farms because it's nitrate free)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS capers, rinsed and minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and dried basil to taste
  • approx. 1/4 cup olive oil

Get a pot of water boiling for your pasta, which you'll add at the end. Pour some of the olive oil into a medium saucepan and heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute till slightly transparent, then turn up the heat and let the edges get a little brown. Add the peas, give them a stir. Now is a good time to add your seasonings; just keep sprinkling and tasting till it tastes right to you! I usually use half a teaspoon pepper flakes, a teaspoon each of oregano and basil, and several generous turns of the pepper grinder. 
Now throw in the artichoke hearts, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, and bacon. Stir it all together, add some more oil if needed (remember, you'll be adding pasta so it will "use up" a lot of the oil as it gets coated). Make sure the heat isn't too high; you don't want the bottom to burn. If it starts to stick or look like it might burn, just splash some white wine in the pan to deglaze it (and then pour yourself a glass!) Now you can cook your pasta; I let it boil for 7 minutes, cook longer if you don't like it al dente. 
Lastly, add the bacon, shrimp, fresh cherry tomatoes, and garlic. These don't need to cook much, so by the time the pasta is done they'll be fine. Now drain the pasta, add it to the pan, and stir it all around! Drizzle a little more olive oil if needed (if you're feeling indulgent, white truffle oil REALLY pops the flavors). 
You're done! It'll serve at least 4 people, especially with a salad and bread. Enjoy in good health and good company.