Weekend cooking – pasta arrabbiata (video)

I love pasta and could easily eat it every day. Unfortunately, Jojo is allergic to wheat so pasta is generally reserved for dinner when she has work dinners. Making your own pasta sauce is so incredibly easy and it’s always going to be so much better than that sugary, gross garbage they jar and call pasta sauce in the store.

Preparing this meal could not be any easier or faster. In fifteen minutes (max) it’s on the plate. What’s not to love about this?

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • emjayay

    Cooking on a gas flame transfers much less heat to the food and much more to the air than electric. The coil does not have to make good contact with pan to transfer heat but the transfer is better with more contact. If your pans are not flat you need new ones anyway. A gas flame is hot right away, but if you are heating a pot of water the electric will win because of the greater energy transfer, unless maybe you have a commercial stove with huge gas flames.

    The one thing gas does better is transfer more heat to the sides of the pan because of all the hot air going up the sides. An electic wok works well and gives you precise heat control instead of guessing.

    Using an oven thermometer I have never noticed any swing in oven temperature with an elecric oven. The element will turn on and off quite often.

  • emjayay
  • emjayay

    Or corn based. Even regular supermarkets have a selection.

  • Asterix

    Same here–Pacific Northwest where electricity reigns supreme. I’ve considered propane, but it’s heavier than air and canl collect in low spaces (such as a basement or garage) if you have a leak. Natural gas, on the other hand, is lighter than air and is quite a bit safer to have in your house.

  • Asterix

    Sometimes the solution is to put your dough up as close to the ceiling as possible (on top of a kitchen cabinet is fine). Ceilings tend to be quite a bit warmer than counter-level temps.

    If it’s really cold, I’ll put the oven on to warm with the door partly open, then turn it off and leave it to cool to about 100F or so. Put your dough in to rise and close the door. Most modern ovens are very well insulated and will hold the heat for quite while. If you can turn on the oven light, that also helps.

  • Asterix

    I grow tomatoes during the summer also, but wintertime is definitely canned tomato time. That’s okay–I’ve seen Lidia Bastianich use canned tomatoes as well. The trick is to use whole canned tomatoes and chop them up–canned diced tomatoes just don’t seem to have as good a flavor.

  • Bookbinder

    Chris, there are now some pretty good rice based pastas out there.

  • Ryan

    You have got to try the new Paleo Recipe book over 370 new Recipies1

  • Monoceros Forth

    The problems I’ve had with the electric stoves and ovens I’ve used have been as follows:

    1. They are slow to heat in comparison to gas appliances. In applications where rapid, high heat is needed, such as in doing a proper stir-fry, an electric range is markedly inferior.

    2. Temperature regulation is poor. I’ve never had a recording thermometer to check this for sure but I have observed very wide excursions in temperature in electric ovens when checking with a probe thermometer. The feedback loop on the typical electric oven I’ve been forced to use evidently has a very great hysteresis.

    3. On an electric range, the coil only makes contact with the bottom of a pan in a few places, so there are always hot spots and poor heat transfer, which also means much wasted heat.

    I can imagine many improvements that can be made to electric ovens and ranges that would lessen these problems but you’re not gonna find them on the appliances that come with your typical cheap rental.

    It’s also hard to imagine what possible advantage there is to an electric appliance when it comes to the actual cooking. The one thing I can think of is that because the combustion of natural gas produces water vapor, you’ll never get a truly “dry” heat from an open flame, such as you’ll get from an electric heater, and this might have some effect in certain instances.

  • Monoceros Forth

    In my sporadic–not to say spasmodic–attempts to eat less starch, I’ve tried other things than ordinary pasta. I’ve never cared for whole-wheat or similar pastas; they are simply too gritty or grainy tasting. One friend used Japanese shirataki noodles, whose chief constituent is a carbohydrate different from starch, but they are very expensive and have an odd texture. As a different sort of “substitute” I’ve put sauces on broccoli or peas instead of pasta. It’s certainly not bad but it’s not quite the same either.

    Also I once made a determined effort to cook spaghetti squash properly and failed, always, getting only a watery, pulpy material that presented a rather discouraging aspect for something that was supposed to be eaten. But I’ve never much cared for squash except as a vehicle for cinnamon and nutmeg in a bread or pastry.

  • dave3137

    Putting aside a true celiac disease condition, “gluten intolerance” is often a matter of the highly refined, processed American-style flours, which have very deliberately discarded the germ and the bran. Stone ground flours tend to be far less provocative of reactions among those whose systems don’t tolerate milled flour breads and other baked goods. It’s a thought, at least.

  • Betty McG

    Chris I love your weekend cooking posts. After I get done trying Chinese dumpling recipes this
    week-Dragon Boat Festival on June 12-I’ll need to try more hand made pasta. I just read about La Graineterie du Marché 8, Place Aligre (12th) Paris, it’s open 6 days a week, closed Mondays and has a wide variety of flours. Maybe you could try making some simple non-wheat pasta for Jojo.

    On the bread front, it’s only a problem to leave the dough out if it is uncovered or for longer than 24 hours if the room is warm unless you are trying to make sourdough. Monoceros, does forming the dough into patties (maybe something around 6-8 inches) and freezing take up too much room? It would thaw quicker. I’ve been leaving about 200gms of dough in a container in the coldest part (32F) of my fridge and taking out small amounts to make small pizza though the week. (I turn the oven on, get the dough out and roll it out, a good smear of tomato paste, some toppings and cheese and into the oven. It only gets until the oven is 425F and I get the toppings on to rise.) If I don’t use it I put it in with the dough that i make bread with once a week, pulling out another 200gms to put back it the fridge for the next weeks baking. I use a basic Italian recipe from Giuliano Bugialli. Unless you are making sourdough or artisan bread and trying to culture your own yeast you don’t need to keep starter unrefrigerated.

    Have you tried the hot water in the oven method? Use a skillet or pan that a baking sheet will sit on. Bring water in the pan to a boil. Set the pan in the oven. Put a baking sheet on the pan and the dough in the covered bowl on the baking sheet. Shut the oven door.

  • Oh yum! What a delicious sounding dinner.

    I think if you added some Brie to that, I’d about dissolve in envy.

  • Oh, and yeah — I don’t like electric ovens or stovetops either. Unfortunately, what we have here is propane, and it is ridiculously expensive as compared to natural gas. So we’re thinking about swapping it out for electric…but if we do, I’m gonna push the wife to spend a bit extra and try for one of those new combination heating-element / induction cooktops. (Dual for extra control and so we can also use non-induction capable pots on it when necessary.)

    While we were in India, we cooked partly on propane, but getting refills was a pain in the keester, so eventually we bought a single burner induction unit, and after we finally found some steel pots what would actually work on it, it was great — and very efficient.

  • We just finished off Mr. K #2s birthday dinner, which consisted of a platter of various colors of heirloom tomatoes slathered in lemon, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a chiffonade of fresh garden basil,a crispy sourdough loaf and a ice cold glass of champagne ……..puts a smile on life and leaves politics miles behind in the dust.

  • Food and Pets are lifesavers. I keep going back to John’s voguing cat and laugh my ass off.

  • Sometimes I need a break from the constant outrage of politics and foreign affairs. It gets to be too much.

    Which was why the other day I resisted going anywhere with the suggested remarks that ‘gee, shouldn’t people get as upset about drone strikes as they were for the Game of Thrones wedding episode.’

    I try to keep my entertainment and quality-of-life sustenance separate from the other stuff.

  • You’re right — my grandpa probably did get the idea from an egg incubator, just scaled down smaller and without much as much concern as to getting the temperature exactly right.

    All righty: Improvise. Get a light socket of that size on a cord and a 40w bulb (probably will need the larger wattage). Invert a laundry basket. Throw a blanket or sheet of plastic over top. Plastic preferable due to less risk of fire.

    The only things really necessary are (1) enclosed space and (2) low-output heat source. Even the smallest places usually have something that’ll do. If not a light bulb, then an electric blanket. If not a laundry basket, just a thick-walled cardboard box.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Yes. I think I said as much.

  • emjayay

    I like electric much better for many reasons and besides you can run it on wind power instead of fracking power.

  • emjayay

    Interesting that the cooking posts get so many comments. More fun than politics. This recipe has not much protein. You could just use Barilla Plus pasta which has protein and fiber and Omega 3 and who knows what else. If you are a purist you won’t like the taste however.

  • emjayay

    The warm oven setting is probably about 140 F and would kill the yeast.

  • emjayay

    My sister puts it on the toilet lid with an electric heater in the bathroom.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Argh, I hate electric ovens, and electric stoves for that matter, but no household I’ve ever lived in here in Seattle has ever had gas laid on.

    Sounds like your granddad made an incubator, only for bread instead of chickens! I’d love to build something like that myself for multiple purposes, most of them baking-related. I’ve experimented for instance with bread “starters”, both sourdough and salt-rising, but without a means to keep the starter incubated at a warm temperature often for days on end my results have been very erratic. But there’s no room in this little place for a dedicated incubator.

  • Same. I love next day, leftover spaghetti.

  • Now that you’ve mentioned the warming problem, you remind me of something my grandfather rigged up.

    Way back in ‘the olden days’, a gas oven would often have a pilot light that was always on. (I know, go further back and gas stoves were always lit with matches.) As a result, the inside of the oven was always fairly warm. Anyway, there came a time when for whatever reason they switched to an electric range, and my grandmother complained bitterly that she couldn’t rise her bread properly because the oven at any setting was too hot.

    So my grandfather built a wooden box out of plywood, a cube roughly 18″ on each side (large enough to hold two breadpans. He lined it with several layers of aluminum foil, tacked down with thin wooden strips. And through the top he put a light socket. It turned out that a 25w bulb was about perfect for warming the space inside; they tried 40w but it was a bit too much. Later on, he added a few drilled holes in the top, so my grandma could fine-tune the temperature by covering or uncovering them with an inverted plate or just a dishcloth as needed. (I suppose a light on an in-line dimmer would work well, too. And wireless thermometers are common so one could really fine-tune it.)

    Anyway, we don’t have a stand mixer, but our large-capacity cuisinart does have a dough-kneader. You’ve given me the encouragement to at least consider trying. I figure if I mess it up, at worst I’ll have wasted only a few cheap ingredients.

  • Monoceros Forth

    It took me forever to get bread-dough making to the point that I could get reliable results to the point that it’s become somewhat routine for me. Having a stand mixer with a “dough hook” has been absolutely vital. For a recipe useful for pizza crust I’ve settled on the basic white bread from the Fannie Farmer baking book. I’ll make up a full-sized batch, do the first kneading and rising, then punch it down, divide it up and shape it into balls (about 7 oz. each…I just sort of settled on that figure as about right given the size of baking sheets I have), then toss the dough balls in the freezer to keep. This saves a bit of time later but not a ton, because…

    …to use one of the frozen portions of dough you have to thaw it and then let it rise in a warm place. Getting that “warm place” has been a real pain in the butt for me. Every oven I’ve had with a “warm” setting always gets too hot and in any case a lot of ovens don’t have it. I resort now to power-cycling my oven, turning it on for maybe thirty seconds at most perhaps every half-hour, but you have to remember to do it periodically otherwise the oven cools off too much. Anyway, I’ll either let one of the dough balls thaw overnight in the refrigerator before , or (if I’ve forgotten to plan ahead) I’ll put the frozen dough directly in the warm oven. Thawing frozen foodstuffs by moving them directly from the freezer to a warm place is usually something you’re never supposed to do but I’ve told myself that’s a rule applying only to meat, where you’re inviting bacterial contamination, but I figure that’s not likely with a bread dough. Anyway, I’ll oil up a bowl, put the portion of dough in there and cover with Saran wrap, and park it into the warm oven until it’s roughly doubled in bulk. This can take a while, especially if you’re starting directly from frozen. Then roll it out, spread on a little olive oil, then the sauce and cheese, some toppings, and bake until the edges are browning.
    I’ve done this many times now but it is not the simplest thing. Despite the large number of steps it’s not an enormous expenditure of time but it does require planning and much preparation in advance. My partner and I love the results, though, and I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper overall than frozen pizza.

  • Yep, we do that too when we can’t get fresh tomatoes. Canned-diced and prepped the way you say is still light-years better in taste than that bottled crap.

    I’ve been meaning to attempt a from-scratch pizza one of these days. The dough-making process kinda daunts me though. For sure if I did it, I’d go with pureed/blended sauce.

  • Monoceros Forth

    We make our own sauce here all the time but we just use canned diced tomatoes or similar. Probably the flavor is inferior but they’re cheap and available all year. I’ll chop up the aromatics and cook them first in olive oil and a bit of salt (onion and garlic always, sometimes celery and peppers if I have them on hand), then add the tomatoes and spices (usually a bit more salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, a couple of bay leaves, and always a dash of cayenne because it enhances the flavor) and cook for a few hours. It’s not the best recipe but it’s easy.
    I like chunky sauce for many purposes but since I often make pizza or calzone from scratch I almost always blend the sauce afterward with a stick-blender.

  • Looks very tasty. I assume the leafy stuff was fresh parsley? I couldn’t quite tell because to my ear his accent was too thick for me to make out clearly.

    And yes — we always make our own tomato sauce here. Sometimes we have to resort to canned tomatoes, but during tomato season ideally we use our own home-grown to make the sauce and then freeze it in meal-sized bags. Or, in the years when we haven’t had a garden or just not enough to provide the tomato sauce we need, we’ll watch for when tomatoes are on sale at the local farmers’ markets. (I wouldn’t bother with the artificially-ripened cardboard-tasting ones from most supermarkets.)

    It’s really easy to make homemade tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, too, and simply involves learning how to blanch. A decent-sized batch of sauce will take about three pounds of fresh tomatoes.

    – Boil a large pot of water
    – Have a large bowl ready with ice-water in it
    – Boil several of the tomatoes at once. The amount of time needed will vary according to size and ripeness. Typically it’ll be around 2 minutes, but could be as little as one minute for small-ish Romas. Once you’ve dealt with a few of your tomatoes, you should have a clear idea how long it should be for the current batch.
    – Pull the tomatoes out and pop ’em into the ice water for about 2 minutes or until it’s clear that the skin has been loosened. If the skin is still impossible to peel, you can put the tomato back in the boiling water for 20-30 seconds, ice-water bath again, and then try. (If/when the ice water bath gets warm, change it out or add more ice.)
    – With a paring knife, peel away the skin. It should come off easily. If it doesn’t, the tomatoes probably weren’t boiled long enough. If the tomato falls apart, they were boiled too long.
    – After you’ve peeled the tomatoes, trim away the stem bases, quarter and chop them. Some folks like to try to remove most of the seeds at this point — we don’t bother because we mostly use Romas which don’t have that many, plus they add some flavor. Up to you.
    – Put the chopped tomatoes into a large stock pot and mash ’em with a potato masher. Cook on low-medium heat uncovered, because in most cases the sauce will seem thin to begin with; what you’re doing is cooking it down to boil off the excess water.
    – (Optional) Don’t like any ‘chunkiness’ to your tomato sauce? You can puree the peeled & chopped tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Personally, we don’t bother.
    – Add your favorite spices. We often go with basil, parsley, oregano, dill, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and a few others. Want a spicy sauce? Add a dash of cayenne.

    – You can also add some veggies if you like — we’ll often fry chopped onions, bell peppers, and Hatch chiles in a little butter and olive oil and add that to the sauce as it’s cooking down.
    – Keep the sauce on a low simmering boil for as long as it takes to get it to the consistency you like, usually a few hours.

    As I noted above, once the sauce has cooled, you can store it in freezer-safe containers or zip-lock bags in meal-sized portions. For us, we like to try to make at least four meals worth (for 2 people) in each go. One thing you can do to stretch the sauce from those delicious home-grown vine-ripened tomatoes is to use a smaller portion of your prepared sauce and add some canned tomatoes and/or tomato paste + water. In most cases, the good flavor will dominate over the added stuff.

  • Monoceros Forth

    I’d have pasta for breakfast if I could. But I am trying to cut back, albeit unsuccessfully.

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