Archive | September, 2011

Linguine all’Aragosta and Spanish Style Crostini – Bringing Spain and Italy Together

29 Sep

Linguine all’Aragosta (Lobster Pasta) Recipe with Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini
Recipe by

Linguine all’Aragosta is a signature dish from my mother’s kitchen that is very easy to make despite it’s fancy title. In fact, there are just a few ingredients needed and the most difficult part of the dish is determining whether you want to cook the lobster yourself or pick one up that has already been steamed. This recipe consists of garlic, shallot, and parsley and while you can make it richer with cream and/or sherry, I prefer the simplicity of my mother’s take on this Italian masterpiece. To go with this I’ve also prepared some Spanish style crostini with artichoke, mushroom, goat cheese, and arugula that serve as a tasty appetizer to wet your palate before the lobster pasta is ready. The crostini is also fairly simple and straightforward with the choice to either boil your artichoke before hand or, do what I do, and buy the marinated jarred artichoke. It’s a great combination of Italy meets Spain in this edition of Paggi Pazzo.

Linguine all'Aragosta recipe from Paggi Pazzo

For the Linguine all’Aragosta it’s important to remove all the lobster meat from the shells and clean the not so attractive intestines and green juices (unless you really like that stuff). Then chop all of the ingredients finely and add to a large pan with olive oil. Add the crushed tomatoes and lobster meat to the pan and slow cook the sauce for about 25-30 minutes (it’s important not to cook the sauce at a high temperature because you don’t want to make the lobster meat tough – keep it tender, and keep it classy). The crostini recipe is something that I’ve come across at almost every Tapas restaurant I venture to. My favorite one, Dali, makes a fantastic artichoke, mushroom, and goat cheese tapas that just melts in your mouth. My rendition is a little bit different because I don’t go as heavy with the mushrooms and I add arugula, which compliments the goat cheese so nicely (try adding goat cheese, arugula, tomato, and red onion to a baguette and you’ll see what I mean). I chop the artichoke and mushroom into small little chunks and add it to a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. I saute it for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat and I’m careful not to add too much artichoke juice from the marinated jar because it will overwhelm the other flavors. After that, it’s as simple as slicing a baguette or ciabatta at a wide angle to create the crostini look and then toasting. Quick and easy and pretty tasty to boot, for both recipes! But whatever you do, the only request I make – is – DO NOT, under any circumstances…..add grated cheese to your Linguine all’Aragosta! Don’t do it, it’s a sin – and the pasta police will find you, trust me on that one.

As always, I’m going to suggest a red wine for this meal and you really can’t go wrong with a Spanish Rioja or Chilean Carménère. One Rioja in particular, the Conde de Valdemar, is an absolutely delicious wine under $15 and is really fantastic! A good friend of mine whose father was from Spain introduced this wine to me and I’ve been drinking it ever since. The Carménère is a staple of Chile and is excellent with fish (sea bass anyone?), so you can’t go wrong with either. So there it is, Linguine all’Aragosta recipe with Spanish style artichoke, mushroom, goat cheese, and arugula crostini from the countries that have won the last 2 World Cups and of course, from yours truly, Paggi Pazzo. Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Linguine all’Aragosta Recipe

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 50 min
Yield: 4 servings


  • 8 ounces crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 pound linguine (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 (1.25-1.5 lbs.) lobster
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley

Cooking Directions

  1. Buy lobster already steamed or boil pot of water and add lobster for 12-15 minutes.
  2. Once lobster is cooked, remove lobster meat from shells and pull apart into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.
  3. Chop finely garlic, shallots, and fresh parsley.
  4. In a large pan, add olive oil, shallot, garlic, and parsley and cook at medium-to-high temperature for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and lobster meat to pan, lower heat to slow cook and cover with lid for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Add pot to stove for the pasta, when water is boiling add linguine and let cook for 7-8 minutes or until al dente.
  7. Drain pasta and add linguine to pan.
  8. Mix and stir for 2 minutes and then serve.

Linguine all’Aragosta recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 11 ratings and 1 review.

Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini Recipe

Recipe by Paggi Pazzo

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 20 min

Yield: 12 crostini


  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke
  • 1/2 cup white or bella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1 baguette or ciabatta

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop marinated artichoke and mushrooms into small chunks
  2. Add olive oil to pan and let simmer at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add artichoke and mushrooms, salt, and pepper to pan
  4. Cook for 8-10 minutes, constantly stirring until mushrooms turn dark brown
  5. Slice baguette or ciabatta at an angle to create long crostini like slices and toast for 5-8 minutes until crispy
  6. Spread goat cheese on crostini
  7. Add arugula over goat cheese and top with mushroom and artichoke
  8. Ready to serve

Click here for full Linguine all’Aragosta (Lobster Pasta) Recipe, Spanish Style Crostini Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Grilled Greek Style Chicken & Pork Kabobs – By the Beard of Zeus!

22 Sep

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe
Recipe by

Greek cuisine is some of the best in the world and grilling is a big part of their culinary culture (lamb in particular). During holidays, such as Greek Easter, grilling meat over a big open fire is common and celebrated (on the topic, my brother makes amazing grilled lamb balls filled with Feta cheese on his gas grill – but save your SNL Shwetty balls comments please). I myself wasn’t going to wait for a holiday to prepare Greek style kabobs with classic ingredients, such as Kalamata olives, lemons, Feta, mint, oregano, onions, olive oil, etc… (this is not an authentic recipe you will find in Athens so don’t go askin’ and if someone shouts at you half-dressed that this is Sparta, start runnin’!). Grilling these kabobs over a wood fire with apple and/or cherry wood illuminates a beautiful and light smokey flavor….that floats to the sky – as if I were sending signals towards the heavens, directly to Zeus and the Gods themselves. The message? I’m philosophizing about going all Olympic on some Greek style kabobs baby!Grilled Greek Style Chicken and Pork Kabobs from Paggi Pazzo

What I love about making Greek style kabobs, whether it be with chicken, pork, lamb, beef, etc…is that you can have them over rice or create a Gyro or Souvlaki, or even prepare them in a (Greek) salad. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a grandmother from the Greek Islands (my dad’s mom) and a good friend whose parents are from northern Greece. So like my appreciation for Italian food, I have a special fondness for Greek cuisine and Mediterranean dishes (throw some Spanakopita in front of me and see how long that lasts!!!). For this dish I chose chicken and pork kabobs with onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and oregano (I prefer to separate the meat and vegetable skewers as putting them together can be difficult for even cooking over a wood charcoal fire). I use 1/2 of the tomato, pepper, and onion in the kabob and save the other half for a small vegetable salad mix with lemon, olives, and mint. Now, I’m not much of a Tzatziki sauce guy (I’m likely to get flogged in front of the Parthenon for that remark), as yogurt isn’t my thing but feel free to substitute the lemon, mint, and olive dressing for Tzatziki.Marinating grilled Greek kabobs recipe from Paggi Pazzo

For the kabobs, any number of woods over your hardwood lump charcoal will do the job but I prefer apple or cherry for chicken and pork (and rather than dress your grates with olive oil, use a 1/2 cut onion with a long grill-fork and slide it back and forth across the grates). Add the kabobs to the grill and keep a medium-to-high temperature, turning them every 4-5 minutes per side while the vegetable kabobs will likely cook faster so keep an eye on them. The remaining halves of pepper, onion, and tomato should be placed over very high-heat so that they can be roasted and eventually peeled and seeded. I like a Gyro like dinner for my kabobs so I threw some flatbread (or pita bread) on the grill for about 1-2 minutes a side to give it a slight crispy flavor, but not too crispy that you can’t fold it. Once your kabobs are ready and off the grill, peel and de-seed the 1/2 red pepper and tomato and chop (along with the onions and mushrooms) and place into a bowl. Then squeeze over with lemon, add olive oil, very fine chopped mint, chopped olives, and mix together. In another bowl, add Feta, oregano, pepper and a little olive oil (most Greeks would have me sacrificed off a mountain in Crete for suggesting to crumble up the Feta, but this acts as a nice topping to the kabobs). Put it all together with the kabobs over the flatbread, topped with the vegetable and Feta dressings, add another squeeze of lemon and a few extra olives – and BAM! “By the Beard of ZEUS” (or any other frequently used expressions), you have Greek heaven! If you have a lot of disposable income, feel free to smash some plates in true Greek style (I’ve already broken enough things in my kitchen and disposable income is a foreign language to me – and you thought I was gonna say Greek, didn’t you?).

I’m always a fan of suggesting wine (especially red) and the Greeks have some very tasty wines. One wine in particular, Tsantali Makedonakis, is a red that is fruitful and smooth and goes well with meats and pastas (I first tried it at a nearby Greek restaurant called the Aegean but could not pronounce it for the life of me! So I pointed at it on the menu like my daughter does when she wants a toy, “dat-dat-dat”!!). Greek wines can be hard to find but most places will carry a few if you ask. If Greek wine isn’t your style, try their national beer – Mythos! So there you have it, a little bit of Greece for your grill, compliments of Paggi Pazzo – OOMPA!

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 45 min

Yield: 8 servings


  • (2) 8 ounce pork chops or chicken breasts
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 white or red onion
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 8 large mushrooms
  • 2 lemons
  • 2/3 pound Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 pound Feta cheese
  • 2 tablesoons mint
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut pork or chicken into kabob chunks
  2. Cut onion, pepper, and tomato in half (leave 1 half whole) and cut into square chunks for kabobs and trim off mushroom stems
  3. Place pork and vegetables onto skewers
  4. Season both with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and oregano
  5. Crumble Feta into a bowl with olive oil, oregano, pepper and then mix
  6. If using charcoal grill, ignite chimney starter with paper towel dressed in olive oil to start hardwood lump charcoal fire and place wood on top once fire is ready (apple or cherry recommended but oak and mesquite will work as well)
  7. Place down grates and rub 1/2 onion across grates, put kabob skewers on grill and turn every 5 minutes. Then place remaining vegetables over high-heat of grill for charring
  8. When kabobs are almost done, place flatbread for 2-3 minutes a side on low heat of grill
  9. Remove food from grill then peel, de-seed and chop remaining 1/2 red pepper and tomato
  10. Chop peeled pepper and tomato, onion, Kalamata olives, mint, and put into bowl with olive oil and squeeze of 1/2 lemon (no seeds) then mix
  11. Take kabobs off skewers and place 1 serving onto a piece of flatbread, covered with a tablespoon of vegetable, lemon and mint topping, and a teaspoon of Feta and oregano dressing
  12. Add extra Kalamata olives, squeeze of lemon and sprinkled mint for additional flavor
  13. Sit back, open your mouth, and be one with the Gods!

Grilled Style Greek Kabobs Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 8 ratings.

Click here for the Chicken Kabobs (Greek Style) Recipe, or the Pork Kabobs (Greek Style) Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Renassaince This for a Taste of Enlightenment!

16 Sep

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe
Recipe by

Among the many jewels in the beautiful city of Florence, such as the statue of David, the Uffizi and Accademia galleries, the Giotto Bell Tower, the Jersey Shore cast recently, Il Duomo, Fontana del Nettuno, Ponte Vecchio, Roberto Baggio (he’s not actually from there but he did electrify the F.C. Fiorentina fans playing for their beloved “La Viola” in the late 80’s prior to starring in the 1990 World Cup)… the one signature dish that deserves it’s own statue is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence style steak). Surprisingly to most, the Tuscan’s graze some of the best beef in all of Europe, produced from the Chiana Valley area of the region. The beef even has it’s own name; Chianina beef, do you have a name for your beef? I didn’t think so!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe from Paggi Pazzo

I remember my last time in Florence (I’ve actually only been to Florence once, but it just sounds cool when I can say the last time I was in blah, blah, blah…), I wasn’t aware of the great popularity and pride the Florentine’s took in their steak. One evening I ordered Firenze’s finest and requested it to be served as the locals do. Thankfully, the waitress noticed my accent (and how I was butchering her language) and in perfect American English, suggested I have my Bistecca alla Fiorentina cooked a little longer. Even after that recommendation, the dish came to my table and was fairly bloody by American steak standards. However, the tenderness and seasoning of the beef was incredible! So outstanding, I wanted to scream like the dude from SteelHeart!

The preparation for Bistecca alla Fiorentina is quite simple but finding the right beef can be challenging. If you have a local butcher, inquire about Chianina beef and while it’s not likely they will have it, it’s worth asking (only recently has Chianina beef been raised in the US). If not, find a thick Porterhouse cut and by thick I mean REAL thick, like at least 2 inches thick! Once you have your steak, do as the Florentine’s do and other expert steakhouses, and air dry your steak before grilling by not allowing the bottom of the steak to rest (I used 2 bbq skewers to prop the steak above a plate). This will prevent some of the juices from exiting the beef and I would do this a few hours before grilling (be sure to allow the steak to be at room temperature before grilling as well for even cooking).

To really enjoy your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, get your charcoal grill smokin’ hot! I prefer to use hardwood lump charcoal and a handful of mesquite wood chips for a slightly smokey flavor (I also soak a few more for after the wood charcoal is in the grill pit). Most Tuscan’s season the beef with a lot of salt and pepper after the steak has seared and turned over on the grill but I prefer to season just before, with a very light covering of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put the steak on (with a forklift) and sear for about 5-7 minutes on each side. After, move the steak to a medium heat zone of the grill and not a cool zone, you want the steaks to continue to cook for another 5 minutes per side (this method that I’m suggesting would be considered blasphemy in Florence as they prefer the meat very rare, and I do prefer a rare steak but for a flavorful medium rare taste, cook it a little longer). Once the steaks are tender and ready, remove from the grill and sit for 5 minutes. The Florentine way is then to lightly dress the steaks with balsamic vinegar and lemon wedges before slicing to serve.

Since we’re talking about Florence and Tuscany, it’s essential to have a glass of Chianti to join your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, as some of the best vineyards in the world are from that region. I happened to have a bottle of Barolo on hand (guilty….) and it was a savory compliment to the beef but if you have the opportunity, find a nice Chianti Reserva, Super Tuscan, or Brunello di Montalcino and enjoy the blessings of Tuscany. So raise your glasses (and bottles)….here’s to Florence, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Dante, the mayor of Florence for trying to prevent the Jersey Shore cast from entering their city, and of course, Bistecca alla Fiorentina! Forza Firenze!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Paggi Pazzo

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 1 hour 25 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 porterhouse steak (2+ lbs.)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • splash balsamic vinegar

Cooking Directions

  1. Air dry porterhouse steak a few hours before grilling by not allowing bottom of steak to rest on plate and keep at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling (1 hour if removing from the refrigerator)
  2. Start chimney starter full of hardwood lump charcoal and some mesquite wood chips by using a match to paper towel dressed with olive oil under starter
  3. Allow wood charcoal to turn grey and dump into grill pit with soaked mesquite wood chips
  4. Raise fire pit tray under grates (but not at highest level) for best searing
  5. Just before adding steak to grill, lightly dress with olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides
  6. Place steak on grate over hottest zone of grill and sear 5-7 minutes on each side
  7. Move steak to less heat but still over coals on grill and cook for another 5 minutes per side
  8. Remove steak from grill and cool for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Slice steak meat away from bone and dress with balsamic vinegar
  10. Ready to serve

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 17 ratings.

Click here for full Florence Style Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Authentic Bucatini all’Amatriciana – Romans, Lend Me Your Pork!

9 Sep

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe, the Classic Eternal City Dish
Recipe by

Romans….lend me your pork!” This is it! The bomb! The master pasta mother-load! In my world, there is no other pasta than Bucatini all’Amatriciana (except for maybe Pasta alla Carbonara). This classic dish from the Eternal city was first presented to my lips when I was just a boy and we would spend time in Rome over the summer months (don’t worry, this isn’t gonna be one of those Dr. Evil, summers in Rangoon stories….) but I’ll never forget the first time I was old enough to appreciate it and I looked at my mom and practically yelled

, “HOLY….what is this?!?!?!?” Of course, having Bucatini all’Amatriciana from it’s birthplace is a lot different than having it anywhere else and I have grown to truly appreciate all of it’s ingredients, the preparation and the diligence to make it all come together (I’m totally exaggerating this by the way, it’s not that hard but I just wanted to build up some drama for my favorite pasta dish). The name of the dish was originated in the town of Amatrice within the region of Lazio, where Rome resides and the greatest soccer team ever is hailed, S.S. LAZIO and the other team of the city A.S. Roma is a bunch of imposters and frauds led by their captain-diva Francesco Totti (I am totally objective about this too by the way). Ok…I’m getting away from the story a little bit…
Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe from Paggi Pazzo

The true Bucatini all’Amatriciana, like many other Roman favorites, includes guanciale (a cured pork) and pork in general is a favorite of the Italian capital. However, guanciale can be difficult to find here in the States and you may only come across it in Italian specialty stores (aka “Salumeria”) and markets. Because of this, pancetta is the best and closest substitute for guanciale, but make sure it’s Italian pancetta as many imitations don’t provide the same flavor or texture. Also, don’t settle for another long pasta like spaghetti or linguine (and certainly not fettuccine). If you can find it, buy the bucatini as it’s thickness allows the sauce to enter the pasta through it’s hallowed center at the ends and the ingredients hang on well to the pasta itself. However, unlike many Italian dishes, there is no garlic in this pasta. I know, I know you’re saying….”what you talkin’ about Willis?” but the truth is, this slightly spicy recipe gets it’s flavors from a hardy helping of onions, peppers, guanciale/pancetta, and Pecorino Romano, hey – it’s a Roman dish, of course we’re using Pecorino – where’s your head?!?!?! You know the saying, “when in Rome….“.

When preparing Bucatini all’Amatriciana, buy 1 thick cut (1/4 of a pound) of guanciale or pancetta and cut into chunks and leave some of the fatty parts on as they provide a great deal of flavor to the sauce. I usually trim some of the fat off for my wife since she finds it aesthetically unappealing, but definitely leave some on because you don’t want to lose that flavor (trust me!). The sauce itself is a sweet and yet spicy mixture of onions and tomatoes coming together with peperoncino (hot dry Italian pepper and if you can’t find one, a habanero chili pepper will work as well), some chili pepper flakes, and Pecorino Romano that you actually add into the sauce while it’s cooking (I know, cooky-crazy hunh? Oh those Romans…..MAXIMUS!!!). In all honesty, I’m not one for “hot” and “spicy” dishes as most Italian sauces are fairly mild with the exception of Arrabiata and Fra Diavalo, but this one fits nicely between mild and hot and provides enough tanginess that it just melts in your mouth!

When it comes to selecting a Vino Rosso for this meal – I like to go with the big boys! Obviously I don’t have the luxury of splurging to buy a bottle of Barolo or Brunello for every meal (though I wish I did!), but in this instance I would absolutely say, “live a little”. I think the Brunello actually tastes better with the Bucatini all’Amatriciana but you can’t go wrong with the Barolo either. The local flavor is the delightful Cesanese from the Lazio region but when can you go wrong with a Brunello or Barolo? Anyone???? Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here it is below, my personal favorite – from Paggi Pazzo, “are you not entertained?!?!?!!”. Buon Appetito!

Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana Sauce with pancetta, onions, peperoncino, and Pecorino Romano

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 45 min

Yield: 6 servings


  • 12 ounces peeled tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 pound bucatini (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 peperoncino (dry Italian pepper) or dry habiniero pepper if peperoncino is not available
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut guanciale or pancetta into small thin chunks and cut onion into thin slices.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to small pan at medium to high heat.
  3. Add guanciale (pancetta) to pan with peperoncino and cook for 5-8 minutes or until pork begins to brown (I prefer to leave the peporoncino whole so I can remove it after the sauce is done but you can cut it into small pieces).
  4. In a different large pan, add teaspoon of oil and sliced onion and cook until onions begin to caramelize.
  5. Once pork is browned, add guanciale (pancetta) with peperoncino, peeled tomatoes, salt, pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes to pan of onions and turn down heat to low-medium (do not transfer grease from the pan).
  6. After 10 minutes of sauce marinating/cooking, add a generous handful of grated Pecorino Romano into sauce.
  7. Begin to heat pasta pot of water with pinch of salt under high heat.
  8. Add bucatini when water begins to boil and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.
  9. Drain pasta and add to pan of sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano.
  10. Stir for several minutes, salivate, crack open a bottle of Brunello or Barolo and then get ready to be overwhelmed with flavor!

Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 24 ratings.

Click here for full Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

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