Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Linguine*

Summer pasta dreams do come true… this recipe is proof.

Ripe tomatoes lined my windowsill this morning and they looked like summer’s precious jewels. Either raw or cooked, heirlooms tomatoes have the most incredible burst of sweet flavor. After coming up with about 20 different ideas for my ‘maters, I landed on making this perfect summer garden linguine dish since I was really keen on twirling pasta around my fork in that moment. If you are Italian, you can especially understand what it means to be in a particular mood to twirl your past. A sentence my mother has often uttered in her true Brooklyn form, “No, I don’t feel like rigatoni today, I am really in the mood to twirl.”

My future self six months from now in the dead of winter will look back on this meal and try to remember a time when we could eat tomatoes that looked and tasted this good every single night. I’ll wonder, “Did I eat this outside?”  “In a tank top and shorts?” I will be so jealous of the lucky bitch duck that I am today. But for now, I am obsessed with myself for whipping up such a SIMPLE and incredibly DELICIOUS recipe that I can now share with my readers.


Banza makes linguine out of chickpeas and I think if I blindfolded you and put a bowl of regular linguine and a bowl of chickpea linguine in front of you– it would be hard to tell the difference. I can just feel my skeptical brother rolling his eyes at this last sentence, as he tends to do towards me more than anyone I know… but I will keep you guys posted on his reaction when I serve him a bowl with chickpea spaghetti. Spoiler alert: He’s gonna love it.

Channeling my inner “Barefoot Contessa” as I was making dinner this evening, I put up a large pot of boiling water and added “lots of salt”. She also always advises her viewers to use “good olive oil.” She is my goddess.

The pasta took 10 minutes to cook and I find that the trickiest part about getting chickpea pasta to taste amazing is making sure that it gets cooked the right amount. Too short or too long of cook time can make it go from “YUM” to “MEH” and that’s just not acceptable.

The creation of this dish was actually inspired by a tomato pasta dish I usually make in the WINTER by Giada DeLaurentiis. Canned cherry tomatoes are what make it more of a winter meal.

Can this dish be made vegan?



Can you use regular pasta instead of chickpea?

Of course.


Either version will be delish, but this version was what my heart was calling for on the day of creation. I even had burrata in the house that I put right on top, but if you don’t have that, you can alternatively add cubed mozzarella, ricotta, or omit the soft cheese all together.

One day soon, hopefully, I will have videos of these recipes in my very own kitchen!

Tips for this dish:

1. I used kosher salt because it really draws out the juices of the tomatoes.

2. I save my Parmesan rinds in the freezer and then whip them out and add them into sauces, but you can always buy parmesan rinds at a reasonable price at many grocery stores. I know Whole Foods has them since I am there pretty much every day.

3. If you want this to be vegan, my advice is to blend half of the sauce so that it isn’t too dry.

4. I have made this kind of dish with macaroni (like penne rigate and rigatoni) as well and it is fantastic.

How beautiful is this pasta dish?


It just looks like summer. Mangia! Let me know what you think of this tomato recipe and please enjoy these precious days of summer.


Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Linguine*
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 nice pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 medium to large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • the rinds of 2-3 parmesan wedges
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for pasta water)
  • 1 pound Banza chickpea linguine pasta (Can use regular pasta as well, even penne)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, ribboned (leave a little extra for the end).
  • ½ cup parmesan, grated
  • 2 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese or 4 oz mozzarella, cubed or burrata (optional)
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté on medium, high hear for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is lightly caramelized, golden, and fragrant. Slowly add the tomatoes and any juices left on your cutting board. Add the parmesan rind. Adjust the heat to medium to keep the sauce at a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir often to avoid sticking. Stir in the salt.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
  3. Once the sauce has thickened, you can either puree the sauce in a blender or leave it in this chunky form. Remove from the heat, remove the parmesan rinds from the sauce. Stir in the pasta, basil, parmesan cheese and butter. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, and pepper. If needed, thin the sauce with pasta cooking water.
  4. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with ricotta cheese (or mozzarella or burrata, black pepper, cherry tomatoes and basil. EAT!


Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)

Pasta and Lentils

I’m not sure if this was a dish on the original Yom Kippur table when they were breaking fast thousands of years ago, but lentils with pasta has always been on the Wolfson table that evening. We had a guest over during the occasion last month and he has been hounding me to post this recipe ever since. The best part is that he isn’t Jewish, so it wasn’t like he was fasting all day long and would’ve thought anything was delicious at that point– he was just hungry for dinner, as usual, and was blown away by this simple, yet flavorful dish.




There was a point when my mother made this dish so much when I was a little girl that I could hardly look at lentils, so it took me a few years to get back onto the lentil bandwagon. Despite my personal protest, my mother taught me how to make this meal and I am so grateful that she did because it is now one of my favorites.




Now that summer is a thing of the past, I am really trying to make the most of it by cooking fall/winter friendly recipes such as pasta e lenticchie. It is very easy and cheap to make while doubling as a figure-friendly dish! For my super-skinny variation, I make Lenticchie e scarola, aka lentils with escarole. I leave out the pasta and in its place add a 1/2 – to 1-pound head of escarole, chopped or shredded. This variation will have a soupier consistency.


Lentils and pasta are a traditional pairing in Italian cooking, and most of the regions in the southern part of the boot enjoy pasta con lenticchie in some form, usually in soups. In the future, I will post a variation of this dish where the lentils are cooked with other vegetables into a sauce that served as a delicious dressing for rigatoni. It was excellent that way—this sauce seems to me even more delightful as a dressing for whole-wheat or barley pasta.

I’ve been to restaurants before where orriechetti (also known as “little ears” macaroni) is used in this dish, but in my family, we always used Capellini, also known as capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), broken into 2- or 3- or 4-inch lengths. I prefer using this very thin pasta and I love it because it cooks so quickly. Be warned: This is not soup. It should be very thick and it is eaten with a fork.

Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)
Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils) Author: Michele Wolfson
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can or jar or tube of tomato paste (6 oz)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 bag of lentils
  • 1- 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 lb of capellini pasta, broken into 3 inch pieces or Fideo Cut Spaghetti
  1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add minced or pressed garlic, cook for a few minutes, but be careful not to brown.
  3. Add tomato paste, then put the stove on a on low flame. Watch carefully stirring frequently for 20 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the lentils. Once it comes to a boil, add lentils and simmer for about 30 min.
  5. Add the lentils to the pot with tomato paste and stir. Add the tomato sauce and additional water to the consistency that you want, 1-2 cups.
  6. Check the salt and pepper. Add if needed.
  7. Boil salted water for pasta. I usually use capellini and break it into about 3 inch pieces, but there is a new pasta that I found out there called Fideo Cut Spaghetti that is perfect because it's already broken all up. Drain and put the pasta in a serving bowl and add enough lentil mixture to keep it from sticking together. Put some in a soup bowl and add more lentils. I keep some of the pasta and the lentils separate so that the pasta doesn't suck up all of the liquid.

Farro in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil & Pecorino Romano


Farro in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil & Pecorino Romano Recipe

The first time I pitched this dish to one of my clients and told her that she and her family would fall in love with a steaming dish of farro in a fresh tomato sauce she looked at me and simply asked, “farro? Really? You’re going to use your fresh tomato sauce on FARRO?”

As I picked fresh tomatoes from my garden with my cousins over Labor Day Weekend, I knew I had to make this dish for my family that day. I told them of my plan, and right away someone responded, making eye contact with the juicy red tomatoes, “maybe wait to test this recipe when these are no longer in season and you are recipe testing with canned tomatoes.” I knew that they were being crazy and that it was time to bring this comeback grain back to my dinner table.

My 2 year old cousin Jackson enjoys our garden tomatoes.


As a chef and a food lover, I adore farro for its roasted nutty flavor, delicate chew, and versatility. First of all, I believe that one of the reasons farro has a leg up on most grains is because it’s Italian and has more of a sexiness to it than most of the others (How can farro be sexy? Didn’t I mention that it is Italian?) It is definitely sexier than say… kasha (no disrespect to my fellow Jewish peeps… Jews are sexy too in spite of kasha varnitchkes). After all, this is the first farro to rule the Jews since Moses led them out of Egypt.  Sorry, I tried not to add that but I couldn’t help myself.

So what exactly is farro? According to Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Ten Speed Press, 2011), by Maria Speck, who writes that the term farro is “commonly used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and still grown in Italy: farro piccolo (also known by the German einkorn), farro medio (also known as emmer, the Hebrew word for mother), and farro grande (also known as spelt).” With a higher fiber and protein content than wheat that is more commonly used, farro is also especially rich in magnesium and B vitamins. Farro was actually eaten in ancient Roman times and was a grain for the poor. It’s funny that some of the healthiest and most delicious of foods were once only for the peasants.

Farro comes whole/unpearled, prelato, or pearled and also semi-perlato, or semi-pearled, meaning it retains some, but not all of its bran and nutrients. Many recipes call for semi-pearled farro since it eliminates the tedious soaking process and puts your dish on the table a lot faster.

I am urging you to go out and get some locally grown tomatoes while the gettin’ is good, because it won’t be long before that window closes and you’re left with colorless, tasteless, sad tomatoes that you can inconveniently find at your grocery store.

This dish is simple to make and people may think you’re fancy (in a good way) because you made farro instead of typical, run of the mill, pasta. There are so many things you can do to this dish to add your own little twist! You can add a poached egg on top! You can add beans or even peas at the end. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with! This recipe is only slightly tweaked from


Also, a quick shout out to my little brother, Matthew who turns 23 today (and isn’t technically so little as he stands at 6’3” and has a size 15 shoe, but he will always be “little” to me). He is my greatest editor and the best gift my parents could have ever given me. This post is dedicated to you.

“Editor’s note: Thanks, Michele!”

Farro in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil & Pecorino Romano
Farro in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil & Pecorino Romano Author: Michele Wolfson but tweaked from As mentioned above, pearling describes how much of the exterior bran is removed, but some packages are not labeled. If your package says it will cook in less than 15 minutes, it's most likely pearled; if it takes around 30 minutes, it’s probably semi-pearled. And if it takes 60 to 80 minutes, it is whole or unpearled. This recipe works for all three versions, but in this recipe I used semi-pearled farro. In any event, if your package gives you a different cooking time than the 30 minutes suggested below, use those instructions instead. Yield: Serves 6 as a hearty side and 3-4 as a main course
  • 2 cups semi-pearled farro + water seasoned with salt (see Note above for farro types)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion thinly sliced (read below in method)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1½ to 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (read below in method)
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • Up to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • Grated pecorino romano cheese, for serving
  1. Soak farro for 5-7 minutes in water while you prepare your other ingredients.
  2. Cut onion in half and then in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Press or mince garlic cloves as well. Quarter tomatoes and then slice each quarter in half.
  3. Go back to your farro and cook it in a small pot according to package.
  4. In a large pot add your oil and put heat on medium. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic for one minute and watch so it doesn't brown.
  5. Add tomatoes and add salt, pepper flakes (to taste) and set a timer for 30 minutes. Bring uncovered pan up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
  6. When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a delicate chew), seasoned and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. If needed, cook it for 5-7 additional minutes, until farro is more tender. Add farro to the fresh tomato sauce.
  7. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Scatter with basil and pecorino romano. Enjoy!