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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grandma Lucy's Pasta E Patata (Pasta & Potatoes)

This recipe is from my Grandma Lucy (Lucia Casolaro DeMaria) she was my father’s second cousin and my Mom’s step Mom. She was the original Jersey girl with big bleach blond hair, bright red lips, big sparkly earrings. Everything about her was excessive and exaggerated but in a very pleasant way. She always smelled of Oscar De La Renta's Ruffles Dusting Powder and strong Espresso. I miss her but especially around Christmas time because she absolutely lived for the Holidays. She would place hundreds of flashing lights on her tiny Christmas tree and then  turn out all the lights in the house to give the effect of a Disco Tek. One year she asked  for a whip for Christmas-- a leather whip to be exact-- and then she walked around all morning smacking it hard against the floor.This was a favorite recipe of hers and you may be thinking, "Pasta & potatoes, carb overload!" but that is just what makes this dish so Grandma Lucy: Ridiculously Excessively Good!

(Feeds 8-10)
one pound potatoes peeled & cut to a medium dice (2 large, or 4 medium, or 6 small)
 Red Sauce (6 cups) 
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Fresh basil leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
16 oz. pasta (orecchiette, cavatelli, ditali etc..)
Optional: 2-3 left over cooked and sliced Italian Sausages (See variation below)
Put the potatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, and olive oil, in a large pot and saute for a few minutes until golden brown. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Add tomato sauce and if needed enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for about 35 minutes, very tender. If it starts to become too dry add a little water, a ladle spoonful at a time. In another pot boil some pasta in well salted water, (orecchiette, cavatelli, elbow, or ditali) until aldente and reserve 1 cup of the water. Drain well and add the pasta to the pot with the sauce mixture. Add some of the reserved water if it is too dry. Add some torn fresh basil leaves and let cook another minute. Cover and turn off the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes turning twice with a wooden spoon. Serve with plenty of grated cheese.
Pasta e Patata e Salsiccia (Sausage)

For this I add  left over Italian Sausage to the mix. All you do is prepare the above recipe adding about 2-3 links of cooked and sliced Italian Sausage. Do this at the same time you add the pasta to the sauce allowing it to cook until heated through.. This makes this a more hearty dish and is especially good for those who need to have a little ~CARNE~ at each meal.