Also known as pasta ca’ muddica in Sicily, this southern Italian dish is rustic food at its best. My version enhances it with walnuts and diced tomatoes. Though the breadcrumbs stood in for cheese when the latter wasn’t affordable, feel free to serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
- 1 pound linguine
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, preferably made from day-old Italian bread
- 2 ounces walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
- One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 cup diced canned tomatoes or 8 ounces fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta and salt; set a timer for al dente, about 9 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic and sauté until tender. Add the breadcrumbs and walnuts, if using, and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
In the same hot pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the anchovies, stirring constantly until the anchovies dissolve into the oil. Add the pepper flakes. Whisk in one cup of the water from the pasta pot. When the pasta is ready, transfer it to the frying pan with tongs or a Chinese strainer and swirl in the sauce to coat. Add the tomatoes and parsley. If it’s too dry, add more pasta water, 1/2 cup at a time. Fold in half the breadcrumb mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and taste, adding salt and pepper as desired. Plate and top each serving with more breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
What makes a flatbread different than a pizza? Traditional flatbread dough doesn’t require yeast, so the prep time is faster than that of the yeasted dough for pizza. My approach takes the best of both worlds by using freshly prepared pizza dough, available at most supermarkets, and shaping it into two thin rectangles—flatbreads are often just a 1/4-inch thick. After a 5-minute pre-bake, it’s up to you to customize the toppings to your liking.
- 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, white or whole wheat, at room temperature (multiply as needed for additional servings)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Your choice of toppings…
- Classic Margherita—crushed tomatoes, sea salt, basil, and mozzarella slices
- New Caprese—pesto, burrata slices, cherry tomato halves, and balsamic vinegar; finish with basil after baking
- White—ricotta, mozzarella, and fontina; finish with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano after baking
- Tomato sauce, sautéed sausage chunks, steamed broccoli florets, and smoked mozzarella slices
- Mushrooms, caramelized onions, and shredded fontina
- Aioli, sliced steak, gorgonzola, and pine nuts; finish with balsamic vinegar after baking
- Prosciutto, slices of goat cheese and figs, roasted squash or beet cubes, and hazelnuts
- Skyr or sour cream, smoked fish, capers, and red onion rings; finish with fresh dill after baking
- Tiny clams (canned), garlic, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and crushed red pepper flakes
- Salami or pepperoni slices, cherry tomato halves, quartered artichoke hearts, and dried oregano
Note: The dough can be fully baked for 10-15 minutes, if you want to top it with ingredients that don’t need cooking, or pre-baked, as described below, to get it crusty before you layer on fixings such as cheese to be melted. After baking, sprinkle on delicate ingredients that would quickly burn to a crisp in a 450°F or higher oven, such as arugula, cheese shavings, or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar along with more olive oil.
Heat your oven (not the broiler) to its highest setting, usually between 450°F and 500°F. Prepare a rimmed sheet pan by coating it with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Cut your dough in half and shape into rectangles with your fingers or a rolling pin. Use your knuckles to make a dimple pattern across the dough and gently brush the surface with more oil; sprinkle lightly with the salt.
Bake for about 5-8 minutes or until firm and light brown. Remove from the oven and top as desired. If using one of the above combinations, add everything except any finishing ingredient, in the order given.
Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted. Top with any finishes and another drizzle of olive oil, and serve.
Yields 2 servings
This breakfast strata is perfect when you’re entertaining overnight guests, as it can be assembled the night before baking. My version is vegetarian, but you can top the bread with cooked Italian sausage, diced ham, diced pepperoni, or cooked bacon before pouring the egg mixture over it.
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- 8 ounces cremini or mixed mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and diced
- 9 eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried basil
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups day-old Italian bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
- 12 pitted green or black olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided use
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 8 ounces baby arugula, spinach, or mixed greens
- Cherry tomatoes, for garnish (optional)
Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more. Let the mixture cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard, and Italian seasoning. Whisk, adding
1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Use one tablespoon of oil to coat the inside of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange the bread in a single layer in the bottom. Top with the sautéed vegetables and the olives, followed by 1 cup of cheese. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the strata, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover the strata with foil and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the foil from the strata and reserve. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Recover loosely with the foil and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center is puffy and the edges have browned.
In the meantime, make a vinaigrette: Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Lightly dress the arugula with the vinaigrette. Let the strata sit for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Garnish each plate with the arugula and cherry tomatoes, if using.
Yields 10 servings
A properly preheated frying pan makes fast work of scrambled eggs that stay tender. Black Urfa chili adds just the right amount of zest to the finished dish while the oregano adds brightness.
- 8 large or extra-large eggs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Black Urfa Chili and dried oregano
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and then the beaten eggs. Let the edges firm for a few seconds, then lower the heat and use a spatula to scramble the eggs, drawing the outer edges in and keeping them moving to prevent browning. Take off the heat just before fully set and let sit for two minutes to finish cooking. Season to taste with the black Urfa chili and oregano, then drizzle with olive oil.
Yields 4 servings