Bottega Fiorentina

Bottega Fiorentina is a Florentine dining experience located in Coolidge Corner, just a short walk away from the C Line.  It serves a large number of pasta dishes, sandwiches,  fresh ingredients by the pound, imported grocery items, such as cookies, chocolates, drinks, desserts, and espresso and cappuccino.

Bottega Fiorentina sits on a small corner and when you walk inside, you are greeted with a picnic table, hanging lights, Italian related posters, and delicious smells, as if you were dining at a cafe in Italy.

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Everyday there are featured specials, and the menu is so extensive that anyone would be able to find something worth ordering.  I opted for the spinach gnudi topped with pesto.  Gnudi looks like gnocchi, but instead of having a potato base, its base is ricotta cheese.  Gnudi translates to nude because gnudi is “nude ravioli” since it does not have the outside layer of pasta dough, it just has the ricotta filling.

The pesto was very fresh and light compared to the oil ladened versions you find in the freezer section of your supermarket.  The gnudi were soft and pillow like, and were not overworked at all.  Bottega’s pastas are all reasonably priced, which makes this the perfect place for a college student on a budget.

The staff are very friendly and mandate a “pay once you have eaten policy,” trusting their customers to enjoy their meal and be loyal.  The only caveat to Bottega is that there is no bathroom for customers, since it is mostly a takeout place.

 

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Minestrone Pasta

Seeing as a couple of people in my family have become sick this past week, I thought soup would be a good choice for a comforting meal.  My aunt had told me about a minestrone recipe she had from a friend’s grandmother and I decided to try it.  I added in beans, bacon grease, and pasta, and forgot the peas!  The pasta proceeded to absorb the broth, which was delicious, but made it so that I could no longer call the dish soup!  I served this alongside pesto bread, which is just a crusty baguette slathered with pesto and finished off in the broiler.  I also topped the pasta with fresh romano cheese.  The vegetables all melded down beautifully together and it was really filling even though there is no meat.  Next time I think I will add a little bit of wine for added flavor. photo 2

Minestrone Pasta

olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup of cauliflower, chopped

2 cartoons of chicken broth

1 cup of water

1 can of tomatoes or 1 cup of fresh tomatoes

1 cup of asparagus, chopped

1 can cannelloni beans

1 pound small shaped pasta

a couple tablespoons of bacon grease

Directions

Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and add the bacon grease.  The temperature should be on high. Add the chopped onions, garlic, celery, garlic, carrots, and cook for a few minutes.  Add the broth.

Add 2 bay leaves, parsley, water, chopped zucchini, cauliflower and one can of diced tomatoes.

Let the soup boil for about an hour and a half, then add asparagus and pasta.

Allow to cook until the pasta is finished.  I proceeded to cover it up and let the flavors meld for around 6 hours.  I think this dish just gets better the longer you wait.  Enjoy!

Shell Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

Earlier this summer, I was begifted Jerusalem written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi by my friend Sheila.  The cookbook is so beautiful to look at, the pictures are stellar and the duo gives insight about traditional cuisine of the city.  The first recipe I tried of the book was this pasta dish and although my family did not seem to like the flavor combinations I thought it was delicious.  By warned, the chile flake pine nut garnish is spicy so make sure your guests like heat!

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Shell Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile (makes lb)

2 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

2/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 lb fresh or frozen peas thawed

1 lb shell pasta

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 tsp. chile flakes

1 2/3 cup torn basil leaves

8 oz. feta cheese

salt and ground pepper

Put the yogurt, 6 tablespoons of the oil, garlic, and 2/3 cup of the peas in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.

Cook the pasta according to instructions.  With two minutes left for the pasta to cook, pour the remaining peas into the pasta water to heat.  Drain both together.

As the pasta is cooking, heat the rest of the olive oil, pine nuts, and chile flakes at medium heat for 4 minutes.

When the pasta and peas are drained SLOWLY add them to the sauce so the yogurt does not split.  Then mix in the basil, feta, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  When plating spoon over pine nuts and drizzle some of the oil on top.

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Sesame Peanut Noodles

This pasta dish is adapted from Nigella and is perfect for summer weather.  The fresh peas, hearty whole wheat pasta, and creamy peanut butter work well together and make a healthy, yet satisfying meal.  The longest time taking element is boiling the water for the pasta!  Serve it as a main course or side dish for cookouts.

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Sesame Peanut Noodles (makes 1 lb pasta)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 tsp red pepper chili flakes

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1/2 cup pasta water reserved when draining

lb. whole wheat pasta

2 cups sweet peas, washed and ends trimmed

Boil and cook pasta according to directions on the box.  When draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

As pasta is draining, whisk together all the over ingredients to make the sauce in a bowl (not peas).

Place the peas and pasta in a large bowl.  Pour dressing on top and mix thoroughly.  I served this at room temperature and chilled.  Both tasted delicious!

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Balsamic Ravioli

This recipe is basically a spin-off from one of my favorite salads.  Spinach, feta, dried cranberries, walnuts, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  I swapped out the spinach for asparagus and ravioli to make the meal a little more substantial.  I love how there are tart, sweet, salty, and savory elements in this pasta dish, and it takes less than thirty minutes to cook!

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Balsamic Ravioli (serves 1)

Cheese ravioli (cooked per instructions on the package)

Asparagus, rough ends removed, and cut into one inch pieces

Butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Feta cheese to crumble on top

Dried cranberries

Chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Heat the butter in a skillet at medium heat.  Add the asparagus and salt and pepper.  When the asparagus is cooked through add the balsamic and olive oil.  Turn the heat on high and cook for a few more minutes, stir the sauce so the vinegar does not burn.  Add the ravioli, cheese, walnuts, and cranberries, and cook until the ravioli is warmed through.  Then plate and dig in!

Baked Broccoli and Pasta

This is a “healthier” alternative to straight up mac and cheese because there is an addition of broccoli!  You can serve this as the main course, or as a side as well.  It is great to make on a busy night because it only takes around an hour to prepare.  It is my mom’s recipe and starts off by making a roux based cheese sauce.  Then you toss pasta, broccoli, and the sauce together and finish it in the oven.  It is pretty filling and perfect for a winter meal.

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Baked Broccoli and Pasta (8-10 servings as a side)

1 pound pasta

8 oz of grated cheese (I used Fontina this time, but have also used mixtures of cheddar, mozzarella,  etc.)

2-3 cups of steamed broccoli

5-6 tablespoons of salted butter

5-6 tablespoons of flour

1 cup milk, or cream if you are feeling especially indulgent (may need more if the cheese makes the sauce too thick)

1 cup of panko (or any other type of breadcrumbs)

1/2 stick melted salted butter

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Start boiling water in a pot to cook the pasta.  Cook according to the box’s instructions, but remove the pasta from the heat a couple minutes early (because you will finish baking it in the oven).

Place the panko and melted butter in a small bowl and mix until incorporated.

Heat the butter in a pan on the stovetop.  Slowly add spoonfuls of the flour and incorporate it into the butter before adding more.  Then slowly add the milk to this mixture.  It will be thick and should coat the back of a spoon.  Add in the cheese and mix until melted.

In a large baking/ casserole dish place the broccoli and drained pasta.  Pour the cheese sauce on top and mix everything together.  Sprinkle on the panko to cover the pasta.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.

 

 

 

 

Asian Inspired Shrimp and Scallop Pasta

This seafood dish will add some variation to your life when compared to the traditional tomato sauce over spaghetti.  The fresh citrus, salty soy sauce, and honey create a deep flavor that is unmatched, and pairs perfectly with shellfish.  Light and delicate it will not make you feel the least bit heavy after eating it.  Experiment with whatever fresh seafood you have.  I particularly like the bay scallops because of their subtle sweetness.  I have also used salmon, which works as well.  Bobby Flay is the creator of this recipe I just prepare it a little differently.

unnamedAsian Inspired Shrimp and Scallop Pasta (serves 4)

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 limes, juiced

6 teaspoons honey

2 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely grated

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup canola oil, divided

2/3 lb pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 lb bay scallops

1-3 tablespoons butter

1 lb thin spaghetti (or angel hair pasta)

Place a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan at high heat.  Place the scallops in the pan.  Sear on both sides to get some crispiness. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the scallops get golden brown all over (probably around 10-15 minutes).

Boil pot of water.  Put in pasta and cook according to directions.

Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, garlic, and canola oil in a large bowl.

Place tablespoon of butter in large skillet/ pan at medium/ high heat.  Pour in the marinade.  Add the shrimp and cook on one side until that side gets pink.  Then flip to cook the other side until it gets pink.

Add in the cooked scallops.  Place the pasta in bowls.  Top with seafood.  Then pour some extra sauce over on top.  Then feast!

Spinach Avocado Pasta

This pasta dish is so creamy, albeit much healthier when compared to a traditional alfredo.  I adapted the recipe from Teaspoon of Spice.  It takes less than an hour to pull together, so it is an ideal weeknight dinner.

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Spinach Avocado Pasta

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • 8 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 avocados, skin and pits removed
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pasta water (or as much as needed to gain proper sauce consistency)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • Toasted pine nuts and extra parmesan to sprinkle on top

In a large pot of boiling water cook pasta according to instructions.  Save 1 cup of the pasta water for the sauce before you drain it.

In a large skillet heat the onion, garlic, and olive oil over medium heat for one minute.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted, around 5 minutes.

In a blender, add the avocados, spinach mixture, yogurt, lime juice, salt, pepper, and puree.  Add the pasta water slowly in until it reaches the texture you want.

Mix the pasta with the sauce in a big bowl.  Add the cheese and red pepper flakes.  When serving, sprinkle on toasted pine-nuts and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

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Spicy Tomato Pasta

This pasta dish is actually called Bucatini all’Amatriciana and is a recipe from Bon Appétit.  Not only is it very easy to whip together, but it is so satisfying.  The spice from the red pepper flakes, richness from the pancetta, and sweetness from the tomatoes all combine to create a memorable meal.

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Spicy Tomato Pasta (serves 3 people)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive

4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta ( you can use unsmoked bacon too)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup minced onion

2 cloves of minced garlic

28 oz. can peeled tomatoes with juices, crushed by hand

Kosher salt

12 oz. spaghetti

1/4 cup grated Pecorino

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and sauté until it reaches a golden color and is crispy (see below picture).

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Add pepper flakes and black pepper.  Add onion and garlic, stir until soft.  Add tomatoes and reduce the heat to low.  Keep cooking with occasional check back in stirs, it will take another 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente according the instructions on the box.

Add drained pasta to sauce and toss.  Finally add the cheese and then feast!

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