Tag Archives: cherry tomatoes

Spaghetti al Cartoccio with Arugula, Tomatoes, & Garlic

Cooking ‘al cartoccio’ in Italian usually refers to baking in parchment or foil packets, but grilling al cartoccio is a great technique, as long as you use foil and not parchment. It opens up so many possibilities for outdoor cooking, including pasta on the grill.

Grilling pasta in aluminum foil packets allows you to forgo last-minute boiling and saucing of pasta; this is a great advantage when entertaining, since you can boil and sauce the pasta, and prepare the packets up to 3 hours ahead, then just pop them onto a hot grill (or in the cooler months, into a hot oven) a few minutes before you are ready to serve. It’s also a fabulous way to enjoy outdoor cooking when the craving for pasta strikes.

Since the pasta will cook further once it is on the grill, remember to cook it slightly under al dente so it is not overcooked by the time you pull the packets off the grill. And be sure to allow guests to open their own steaming packets at the table: the aroma exuded upon opening the packets will enthrall even the most jaded guest.

Serves 4

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bunches arugula, leaves only, washed, dried, and cut into fine, thin strips
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Pecorino Romano

For the pasta:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti

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Make the sauce: Place the olive oil, garlic, and chili in a large pan. Set over medium heat and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, season with the salt and pepper, and cook 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices. Stir in the arugula until wilted and transfer to a large bowl; stir in the Pecorino and set aside.

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Make the pasta: Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the spaghetti, and cook until the spaghetti are almost, but not quite, al dente, about 7 minutes (if using fresh spaghetti, cook less long, just until barely tender). Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the spaghetti with the sauce in the bowl and adjust the seasoning if needed. Stir in the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta cooking water; the spaghetti will dry quite a bit as it cooks later.

Cut heavy-duty aluminum foil into four large squares. Place the aluminum foil on the counter, shiny side up. Mound the spaghetti, along with its sauce and any liquid that has collected in the bowl, on one side of each piece of aluminum foil (if you don’t include the liquid in the packets, the spaghetti will come out dry after cooking).

Fold the short sides of the aluminum foil over first, then seal the long side of the aluminum foil tightly as well, rolling the foil over itself a few times so that the cooking juices cannot run out once the packets are placed on the grill. (The recipe can be made up to this point 3 hours ahead; do not refrigerate or the spaghetti will become tough in the refrigerator.)

Heat a grill on high for 10 minutes (or preheat the oven to 400 degrees).

Arrange the packages seam side up on the grill and grill for 5 minutes (or if baking, place the packets on a baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes), or until the spaghetti inside feels hot to the touch.

Place each aluminum foil packet on a dinner plate and serve immediately, letting guests open the packets at the table.

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Reginette with Burst Cherry Tomatoes & Herbs

Winter lingers too long for my taste here in the northeast. Granted, it was even worse when we lived in Montreal, starting in December and dragging through April… But sometime around late January, I start craving the flavors of summer, the simplicity of summer cooking, the bright colors of the summer table. So I cheat a little and cook something that feels summery even though I’m using anything but seasonal ingredients. Here is an easy and superbly flavored pasta that owes its summery flavor to cherry tomatoes that are cooked to bursting in a searing hot pan, creating a soulful, deeply flavorful sauce in no time at all.

You can make this dish with half a pound of store-bought pasta instead (something thick and sturdy like penne rigate or mezzi rigatoni is ideal). But if you have the time to make the pasta from scratch, the result will be even more memorable. And if you need a little practice before making fresh pasta, join us at one of our hands-on cooking classes in NYC. Reginette are frilly pappardelle, named after the collars worn by queens (regine). Pappardelle or tagliatelle are a good substitute if you do not have a reginette attachment for your pasta machine.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer

For the reginette:

  • 3 and 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) semolina flour, plus extra as needed
  • 3 and 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs

For the sauce:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, washed and left whole
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves only

To cook and serve:

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) freshly grated Pecorino Romano (optional)

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Make the reginette: Place the flours on a counter and add the salt; combine with a fork. Make a well in the center and add the eggs to the well. Incorporate the eggs into the flour, forming a firm dough. Knead 5 minutes, or until smooth, adding a little water if the dough is dry or a little semolina flour if it is sticky, shape into a ball, wrap and let rest 30 minutes. This relaxes the gluten and makes rolling easier later.

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Cut the dough into 2 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping the other covered, roll out each piece into a nearly transparent sheet using a pasta machine. Cut with a reginette attachment or cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips with a sharp knife. Toss with semolina flour to prevent sticking.

Spread out in a single layer on a semolina-dusted tray and toss every few minutes to prevent sticking. (The pasta can also be dried at this point and stored in airtight containers for weeks, but it tastes much better when fresh and supple.)

Make the sauce: Heat a heavy pan large enough to accommodate the pasta later over medium-high heat for 2 minutes (if using nonstick, do not allow the pan to get so hot that it smokes). Toss in the cherry tomatoes and cook 5 minutes, shaking the pan once in a while. When the tomatoes start to blacken in spots and burst, add the the olive oil, salt, chili, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Sauté 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes fully burst and start to form a chunky sauce. If the sauce dries out too much, add a splash of water to the pan; there should always be about 1/2 cup of liquid in the pan. Remove from the heat. (The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated; warm gently before proceeding and adjust the seasoning.)

To serve: Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the reginette. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute for fresh pasta (much longer for dried); drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the reginette into the sauce in the skillet and sauté over high heat for 1 minute, diluting with some of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed; the sauce should be fluid and coat the pasta nicely. Stir in the olive oil and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve hot, passing Pecorino if desired at the table.

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