Spaghetti with Littlenecks

One of my favorite seafood dishes is spaghetti with littlenecks. It’s a simple “sauce” but packed with flavor. Although we don’t have many seafood markets here is Northern Virginia, we are lucky enough to have 4 Asian grocery stores within a 2 mile radius of our house. These grocery stores have an incredible selection of ethnic foods and have amazing seafood departments.

I was lucky enough to find littlenecks at the La Lotte Market near our house. Littlenecks are the smallest type of clam (typically 2″ in diameter) and you can normally get about 7-10 per pound. These are my favorite kind because the small size makes them easy to work with – especially in a pasta dish.

Spaghetti with littlenecks

Spaghetti with Littlenecks

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  •  1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5  garlic cloves,  finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pounds littlenecks (about 25-30)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the littlenecks, parsley, wine and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until most littlenecks have opened (discard any littlenecks that did not open). Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.
  3. Drain the pasta and place into the littlenecks pan and mix thoroughly. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese* and serve immediately.

*I have to note that most Italians are probably cringing at the fact that I put cheese on my seafood pasta – even though it’s not “traditional” to do so, I still love the way it tastes!

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Mac n cheese has got to be one of our favorite side dishes with BBQ. Normally, I use a crock-pot mac n cheese recipe that my mother-in-law gave me. It’s perfect because it cooks long and slow – just about the same amount of time it takes Jon to smoke or grill ribs. However, the other night we wanted to make this dish but didn’t have all of the time needed for the crock pot recipe. That’s where this skillet recipe, inspired by a recipe from Southern Living, came into play. This dish is flavorful and is the perfect base if you want to add any additional items (like bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, etc…..)

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 qt. milk
  • 6 TBSP butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1 lb pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded extra sharp cheddar
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 8-9 inches from heat.
  2. Bring 1/4 cup salt and 4 qt water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave milk in a microwave safe 1-qt glass measuring cup covered with plastic wrap at HIGH 3 minutes. While milk is heating, melt butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add flour, and cook whisking constantly. 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, whisking often.
  4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook 8 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, continue to cook sauce, whisking often. 6 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in cheeses, hot sauce, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cover.
  6. Stir together panko and olive oil.
  7. Drain pasta and fold into cheese sauce. Sprinkle with panko mixture.
  8. Broil 1 to 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve immediately.
Skillet Mac and Cheese

Mom’s Meatballs & Pasta Sauce

This is my mom and grandmother’s meatball and pasta sauce recipe. It’s really the only meatball and sauce recipe you need to know. The sauce is simple, flavorful, and perfect for any type of pasta you want to use it with. It’s a simple meal, but nothing tastes better than a homemade sauce.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

For the meatballs, mix together ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Roll the meat into small balls, about an inch in width (one pound of ground beef should get you about 35 meatballs). Heat oil in a large pan and fry the meatballs until they are browned on all sides, about five minutes.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Remove the meatballs from the pan, reserving the liquid, and set aside. In the same pan, add tomato paste, tomato puree, 1 can water of each, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and a basil leaf. Simmer sauce for 30 minutes, add meatballs back in and simmer together for an additional hour.

Meatballs & Pasta Sauce

Use sauce for pasta, lasagna, ravioli, or freeze for later use.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can each water
  • 1 basil leaf
Directions
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven with oil. In a medium bowl, mix together ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Form into small ball.
  2. Place the meatballs into the Dutch oven and cook until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Reserve the liquid.
  3. Add the tomato paste, tomato puree, 1 can each water, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 basil leaf, salt and pepper to taste, to the Dutch oven. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for another hour.