Post by Aine Davis
Full disclosure: I’m not Italian. Not even close. But I am #1 Big Time Italian Food Fan Extreme. That being said, this is one of my favourite Italian dishes, I learned it when I was in Italy and over the years its grown into my own delicious concoction. If you’re looking for a carb-filled splendor well then look no further, and feast your eyes on my spicy Italian Arrabiata.
- 660ml strained, crushed, organic tomato puree
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil, divided in half
- 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
- 1 tbsp dry red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp dry thyme
- 1 tsp dry parsley
- Salt, to taste
- Pasta of your choice, to serve 2
- In a large, heavy bottom pot with a lid, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. While the olive oil is heating, thinly slice the garlic cloves and rough chop the fresh basil.
- Once the olive oil is hot, add garlic, dry red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Once the oil is fragrant and a little red from the dry red pepper flakes, add half of the fresh basil. Saute for about a minute.
- Add the tomato puree, olives, oregano, thyme, parsley and salt. Stir together until combined. Put the lid on the pot and simmer over medium-low heat, making sure to stir it every so often so that the bottom doesn’t burn.
- If you want extra yummy sauce, simmer for a few hours. If you’re in a time crunch, no problem! Prepare your pasta and by the time it’s ready, your sauce will be ready too.
- Once ready to serve, stir in the other half of the chopped basil. Serve immediately over pasta.
Enjoy! Serves 2.
Guest post by Amanda Spinosa
One of the first questions I am always asked when someone finds out I’m vegan is “Don’t you miss ____?” And the short answer is no. This is often a surprising answer because A. “How can you live without cheese?!” and B. I am a born and raised New Yorker living in a multi-cultural foodist’s mecca.
However, there are some foods that I don’t miss in a traditional sense, but rather the personal associations I have with them or the feelings I get from eating them, and one of those is mozzarella sticks. It’s one of the ultimate junk foods for people of all ages, and can make the worst marinara sauce taste great. I went to Champ’s Diner
in Brooklyn, and to my obnoxious delight, they had mozzarella sticks on the menu! For me, vegan cheese is a hit or miss, so I was skeptical to say the least. To make a long story short, they were out of this world and I knew I had to try to replicate them. Here’s my recipe for delicious vegan mozzarella sticks
- 1 block vegan mozzarella*
- 1/2 C flour + 1/4 C
- 1/2 C water
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 C vegan seasoned Italian bread crumbs**
- 1 C panko
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Neutral frying oil
* Although we all love Miyoko’s mozzarella, it’s too soft so I opted for Follow Your Heart
**Most seasoned Italian breadcrumbs contain milk, so be careful! If you can’t find vegan, just use panko in its place and give it some extra seasoning
- Mix 1/2 C flour, water and corn starch in a large bowl to create a batter, then on a separate plate combine the breadcrumbs, herbs and spices. Place the remaining 1/4 C flour into a ziplock bag and set aside.
- Cut the mozzarella block into 1/2 inch sticks – I very annoyingly ended up with nine, so after it was fried I immediately ate it to make it an even number.
- Place all mozzarella pieces into the ziplock bag with the flour and give it a good shake to ensure they’re all evenly coated.
- Shaking off the excess flour, one at a time, dip each piece into the batter and allow the excess to drip off. Toss it in the breadcrumbs, leaving no breadless spots.
- Repeat step four until each mozzarella stick is breaded, lay them out on a small cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for at least one hour. I would imagine these can be prepped the night before.
- When it comes time to cook them, if you’re like me and don’t have a deep fryer, heat an inch of neutral oil (I used canola) in a deep pot. To see if it’s hot enough I like to throw in a few bread crumbs to see if they sizzle right away.
- Once hot, fry mozzarella sticks in batches for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and a tiny bit of melted cheese peeks out, then place on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Keeping the oil hot is what keeps them from falling apart.
Serve immediately with hot marinara sauce. The cheese stretches like the real thing, so you’ll want to show it off to everyone. If you’re like me, it serves one, but I guess it could serve two people if you really want it to.
From contributor Aine Davis
I am madly, truly, deeply in love with Italian food. After visiting Italy a few summers ago, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all of the rich and flavourful foods I devoured abroad.
I recently whipped up this dish for a romantic evening with my “fidanzato” and the results were to die for. Use my following recipe for a hearty dish that takes only 15 minutes to make:
- 1 box rice pasta
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 large head of garlic (roughly 10 cloves)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Boil water in large pot on stovetop.
- Place basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in blender or food processor. Combine until smooth.
- Following box’s instructions, cook pasta accordingly. Drain, then mix thoroughly with pesto.
Serve immediately on a bed of arugula. Makes 4 large portions.