Kuster Dental: Food & Wine

Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

A Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

Posted on: October 22nd, 2013 by James No Comments

The other night I was craving pasta.  More specifically, I was craving the taste of fresh, crushed tomatoes combined with basil and oregano.  Not having a tomato sauce handy I did what anyone with an Internet connection and a tablet would do and I surfed for a recipe.  I came across this one and it sounded both delicious and something I could tackle with limited time (I didn’t get my craving until 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday night and knew I’d still have to go to the grocery.)

The sauce was delicious, but be warned, the red pepper gives it more of a “bite” than I’d anticipated.  I put this over whole wheat spaghetti, garnished it with fresh basil, oregano, and shaved parmesan cheese, and served it with a simple salad.  Unfortunately, as a result it didn’t satisfy my craving for the flavor of fresh, ripe tomatoes, but I’ll make it again regardless.



Makes about a quart of tomato sauce.

Active Time

30 minutes

Total Time

45 minutes



1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon



  1. Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan.
  2. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat, saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and carefully take a taste.  If the sauce needs more salt add it now.
  5. Stir in the lemon zest.

Ever Make Pasta at Home?

Posted on: September 13th, 2012 by James No Comments

Have you ever made your own pasta?  I don’t mean boiling water and adding dried noodles you bought at the store, but actually making the noodles yourself at home.  I found this recipe by Jenn Louis in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago and it sounded easy enough that I might actually be able to tackle it without it consuming an entire day.

While the recipe says it only takes 30 minutes to make, I actually found it took me 2 hours, but I was still able to put it all together on a weeknight without any stress.  My roommate loved it and we both look forward to try this again substituting fresh basil and/or oregano for the marjoram to see how this might change the flavor.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ricotta Gnudi with Cherry Tomatoes and Marjoram


4 servings

Active Time

2 hours

Total Time

2 hours



salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh ricotta cheese

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

1 egg

2 teaspoons melted butter, plus 4 tablespoons chilled butter

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 large shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, sliced thin

Generous pinch dried chili flakes

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh marjoram leaves, roughly chopped



1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Make the gnudi: Mix together ricotta, Parmesan, egg, melted butter, and nutmeg.  Stir in flour until just combined.

3.  Set a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Saute shallot, garlic, and chili flakes  in oil and chilled butter until onion is translucent but not colored, about 3 minutes.

4.  Raise heat to medium-high and add tomatoes.  Smash some to create a textured sauce.

5.  Simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

6.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and keep warm.

7.  While sauce simmers, roll out gnudi.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough into 1-inch thick ropes.   Dust with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking.

8.  From the ropes, cut 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks.  Arrange gnudi on flour-dusted tray.  If making gnudi in advance (these keep, covered, for 24 hours), refrigerate until poached.

9.  Poach gnudi in simmering water until they begin to float.  Just as they start to bob at water’s surface, after about 4 minutes,transfer dumplings with a slotted spoon to warm sauce.  Add 2/3 cup hot pasta water to saucepan.

10.  Turn heat to medium-high.  Saute until sauce is shiny and clings to dumplings, 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.

11.  Stir in marjoram and divide gnudi among four plates.  Top with Parmesan, to taste.


Iberian-Style Sausage & Chicken Ragù

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by James No Comments

Iberian-Style Sausage & Chicken Ragù

This hearty sausage and chicken ragù was inspired by a fabulous stew Bruce Aidells enjoyed when he was traveling in Spain. My roommate and I first found it on Eating Well and have made it a couple of times now.  We reallly enjoy it and have found it is even better the second day.  We really enjoy it with a hearty, red wine.

Serve it over a heartier pasta, such as whole-wheat penne, or gnocchi. Garnish with grated sheep’s-milk cheese, such as Manchego.


About 8 cups, 16 servings

Active Time

1 hour

Total Time

2 hours 10 minutes



1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces linguisa (Portuguese-style sausage) or Spanish-style chorizo, diced

3 cups chopped onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons Pimentón de la Vera (see Note)

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups white wine

4 cups diced seeded tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 generous pinch saffron threads (see Note)



1.Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges begin to color, 5 to 10 minutes. Add onion and garlic. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is quite soft.

2.Sprinkle Pimentón de la Vera over the onion mixture; stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute. Add chicken, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to high; cook until the wine is reduced by about a third, about 8 minutes.

3.Stir in tomatoes, broth, parsley and saffron; reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is beginning to thicken, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Season with more pepper, if desired.

Cavatappi With Yellow Tomato Sauce

Posted on: April 19th, 2012 by James No Comments

I found this recipe first in the Off Duty section of the weekend Wall Street Journal last Fall and then when adding it to Pepperplate I found it on the Food Network.  This is an amazingly delicious pasta dish that tastes like it is made with heavy cream, yet the healthy beauty of the dish is that there’s not a drop of cream in it.


4 servings

Active Time

10 min

Total Time

40 min



5 yellow beefsteak tomatoes, washed, core removed, a small “x” cut on the bottom of each

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin

3 large shallots, peeled and sliced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 pound dry pasta, such as penne or cavatappi

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

25 to 30 basil leaves, washed and dried

Grated Parmesan, to taste



1.Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt the water generously. Prepare an ice bath for the tomatoes by filling a medium bowl with cold water and some ice cubes. Use a slotted spoon to plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 1 to 2 minutes. The skin should show evidence of peeling away from the flesh of the tomatoes. Remove them from the water and plunge them into the ice bath. Allow the tomatoes to sit in the cool water so they stop cooking.

2.In a medium skillet, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oregano and sugar. Stir to blend. Allow to cook, over low heat, until the shallots and garlic become tender and translucent.

3.Meanwhile, remove the tomatoes from the ice bath, peel off and discard the skin from each. Place them on a flat surface, quarter them and scoop out the seeds and “jelly” from each piece. Gather all the seeds in a strainer and push through the liquid that naturally surrounds the seeds. Discard the seeds. Reserve the liquid and tomato flesh.

4.Add the tomato and liquid to the shallot mixture and stir in about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the tomato flesh starts to lose shape, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If there are still some hard pieces, add a little more water and cook for a few more minutes. Taste for seasoning.

5.In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. The pasta water should taste like sea water. Add the pasta to the pot and stir so none of the pieces stick to the bottom as they cook. Cook the pasta until “al dente”, chewy but not hard or raw tasting, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain the pasta in a colander until the sauce is finished. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking liquid in case you need it later.

6.Put the tomato sauce in the blender and puree until smooth. Slowly add the vinegar through the top of the blender as the sauce is blending. Next, pour the remaining olive oil through the top in a slow, steady stream. Blend in another cup of water then remove the sauce from the blender and taste for seasoning.

7.Pour most of the sauce into a large skillet and add the pasta. Toss to blend with a wooden spoon. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta liquid to thin it out. Taste for seasoning. Add the basil leaves and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.