for those who burn to learn


Apr 2019

Spaghettini with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Toasted Garlic, Olive Oil and Breadcrumbs

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Italy, Recipes /

Val likes to clean out the fridge when I’m gone. So it was not really surprising that when I arrived home hungry  after my long trip to Italy, I found only a few tidbits in the kitchen–just a cup of slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, a little bread, a chunk of cheese, a bit of wilted parsley and some imported spaghettini. Fortunately, in my suitcase I had packed a bottle of newly pressed extra virgin olive oil from a farm in Umbria, a bottle of “Colatura di Alici” ( a subtle almost buttery tasting anchovy extract) and a bottle of Sicilian capers from a specialty food store I visited in Rome. I was going to save these expensive treats for a special occasion, but I realized there was no time like the present. I was  already missing Rome and feeling as tired as the parsley.  And so I did what any good Italian would do. I made do.  And I  prepared everything with care.  Frankly, I was a little shocked the pasta dish that I made up as I went along turned out so well. I loved it so much that I wanted to write it down and share it with you. Sometimes a humble meal made with the right attitude and just a few excellent ingredients is all you need to satisfy your soul.

Spaghettini with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Toasted Garlic and Breadcrumbs
Serves 2
An improvised pasta dish that is soul satisfying
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
  2. pinch of red pepper flakes
  3. 1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  4. 1/2 cup Reggiano Parmesan
  5. 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  6. 2 tablespoons capers
  7. 1 cup of slow roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil
  8. 2 teaspoons "Colatura di Alici" (anchovy extract)
  9. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  10. Kosher salt for pasta water
  11. 1/2 pound of spaghettini
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat (The water should taste like the sea).
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil to a 12 inch skillet, add the slivered garlic and turn the heat up to medium low. When the garlic is golden brown, remove the garlic to a paper towel to drain. Turn up the heat to medium and add the breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes. Stir until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden brown. Remove breadcrumbs with a slotted spoon and place in a medium bowl.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and make sure there are no burnt crumbs left in the pan. Rewarm the clean pan and add the capers, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and accompanying olive oil. When tomatoes have warmed through, remove from heat.
  4. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of salted starchy pasta water and drain the pasta. Immediately return the pasta to the pan of warm tomatoes and capers, turn on the heat to medium, add 3-4 tablespoons of salted pasta water and finish cooking the pasta. When pasta is done, remove from heat. Add breadcrumbs, toasted garlic, grated parmesan and a drizzle of anchovy extract. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
  1. You can use fresh cherry tomatoes for this dish, but it's better with slow roasted tomatoes. To roast cherry tomatoes, slice 10-12 of them in half, place on pan lined with tinfoil. Sprinkle tomatoes with a little sugar, salt, and olive oil. Roast in a 250 degree oven for 60 -75 minutes. Scrape roasted tomatoes into a small condiment jar and barely cover with extra virgin olive oil.
  2. If you don't have anchovy extract, you can leave it out or add an anchovy filet to the skillet and dissolve before you add the roasted tomatoes.
Jillyanna's Cooking School

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    Jun 2015

    Crab Cakes for Jackie

    Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /


    When the weather gets hot in Maine, I love to eat things from the sea and from my garden. One of my favorite summer meals? Maine crab cakes perched on a pretty, crisp salad, drizzled with honey basil vinaigrette. When WCSH6 anchor Jackie Ward let me know she is moving to San Francisco and would appreciate a good crab recipe, I offered to show her how to make this appetizer or luncheon dish. In Maine, it’s best to use peekytoe crab (the the most delicate variety of all Maine rock or sand crabs). Peekytoe crab is not as meaty as Wild Atlantic Jonah crab or the crab Jackie will find in San Francisco, but she can always substitute Dungeness Crab for Maine Crab. Both work beautifully in this recipe. There is no point in masking the subtle flavor of fresh picked crabmeat so when I make crab cakes, I stick with a few simple ingredients. I am fond of using some fluffy white bread (Standard Baking in Portland makes a killer Pain de Mie )as a bit of filler and I coat my crab in Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for a little crunch. The glue that holds everything together is a little tartar sauce and some egg. Please remember to let the crab cakes sit quietly in the fridge for an hour. The cold temperature allows the seafood, bread and sauce to marry and congeal and the crab cake then holds together pretty well. I like to pan-fry my crab cakes in organic canola oil for a couple of minutes, flip them, and let them continue cooking until they turn golden brown.

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