National Spaghetti Day

National Spaghetti Day - Little Girl Eating her spagheti dinner and making a mess

Today January 4th is National Spaghetti Day (USA). Were you aware that 1.3 million pounds of spaghetti was sold at the turn of the 21st century (USA)? All those packages together would circle the Earth nine times. Now that’s a lot of spaghetti.

Wikipedia writes that there is controversy in respects to the origin of spaghetti.

There are records in the Jerusalem Talmud of itrium, writing about a kind of boiled dough, being common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries A.D.

A 9th century dictionary written in Arabic describes itriyyaas, string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking.

Record keeping was done for Norman King of Sicily in 1154, and itriyya is mentioned being manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily.

By the 14th century pasta became popular, and was even taken on sea voyages due to its easy storage. A century later, pasta was present around the globe during the voyages of discovery. In Italian spaghetti means “little lines.”

Pasta has always been associated with the Italians, who have established the dish by inventing a wide variety of pasta shapes. These include farfalle, conchiglie, rotini, penne, tortellini, and, of course, spaghetti.

Spaghetti with anchovies and sundried tomatoes

Spaghetti with Anchovies and Sundried Tomatoes – By Il Cuore in Pentola

Spaghetti dishes are traditionally served topped with grated hard cheeses such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Grana Padano.

March of 2009 The world record for the largest bowl of spaghetti was set in March 2009, and beaten in March of 2010 when the Italian RestaurantBuca di Beppo” in Garden Grove, California  successfully filled a swimming pool with more than 13,780 pounds of pasta.

Just about anyone loves a good plate of spaghetti. Here are some great spaghetti recipes to enjoy this day – National Spaghetti Day.

Spaghetti bundles

Spaghetti Al Pesto Genovese

7 ounce spaghetti

Spaghetti Al Pesto Genovese2 tablespoons pesto alla genovese

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/3 teaspoon salt

Pinch of pepper

Pine nuts (optional)

Have some pesto alla genovese basil paste on hand. If frozen, break off the amount you’ll need and thaw. The basil paste is similar to basil pesto, but prepared without the olive oil, and cheese.

Boil spaghetti in a large pot of salted water. Follow the directions if using packaged spaghetti, making sure to stop when it’s still al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix prepared basil paste with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until smooth. The amount of oil, cheese, and salt can be adjusted to your taste.

Add the spaghetti to the bowl and toss with a pair of forks until well coated.

Put on plates and sprinkle with whole pine nuts and more Parmesan cheese, if you like.

Recipe credit: The Delectable Hodgepodge 

Spaghetti bundles

Close-up of spaghetti bolognese in a cast iron frying panSpaghetti Bolognese

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, finely diced (1/2 cup)

1 carrot, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (optional)

1 pound ground beef, or a combination of beef and pork

Coarse salt

1/2 cup red or white wine

One 28-ounce can best-quality tomatoes, pulsed in a blender

1/2 cup cream or milk

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

1 pound spaghetti or other pasta

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a saucepan over low heat. Add the olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery and saute over low heat until lightly caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add the pancetta and beef and cook, separating the meat into small pieces, until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off most of the fat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt.

Pour the wine into the beef mixture to deglaze the pan; stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes and stir in the cream, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes. Gently simmer for about 40 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Start cooking the spaghetti when the sauce is within 10 minutes of being done. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Stir the butter into the bolognese sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Recipe Credit: Martha Stewart 

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Greek Grilled Chicken

 

Grilled Greek ChickenSusanna Hoffman wrote an article for the food magazine “Saveur” in 2010 stating that Greece is the fountainhead of European culture. The mysterious Minoans were among the first residents of Greece, arriving around 2700 B.C, writes Susanna.

Besides finding wild grapes and making wine with them, they also discovered a bitter native berry they began to cure and press, and if you guessed the olive, you guessed correctly. The olive, and its oil, became the economic foundation of their civilization (Food History Of Greece – Saveur).

Making Greek Grilled Chicken

We love barbecuing as the food always seems to have a special flavor. Our featured recipe is Greek Grilled Chicken, and before we bring out the recipe, we wanted to show you what we did to evenly and flavor-fully cook the chicken.

slits cut into chicken breastsWe cut small slits crosswise on each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. Doing this helps the marinade penetrate the meat, which disperses the marinaded flavor throughout the meat and not just on the surface. It also helps the chicken cook evenly.

We also did this method with roasted chicken breasts (Roasted Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze), and we have to say it always gives exceptional flavor to the meat, as well as the meat cooks evenly and retains its juices. Making those slits in the meat before marinading it, makes for awesome BBQ or roasted chicken.

A Greek food expert on “About Food“, expresses Greek seasoning as the “quintessential” Greek flavors, which are olive oil, lemon, garlic, and oregano (About Food).

With that said, our mouths are watering, so let’s bring out the recipe, and here is what you will need.

making Greek Grilled Chicken marinade The Marinade

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon Greek seasoning (bought at Whole Foods Market)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Dash black pepper

In a glass measuring cup or an equivalent vessel, add all 7 ingredients and mix well.

marinading chicken breastsUsing 6 to 8 chicken breasts, without the skin and bones, make those slits in the meat. I don’t like using plastic bags to marinate my food. In a large bowl, while layering the breasts, pour marinade over meat. If you noted in our first image, the chicken breasts are sitting on a piece of wax paper, take it, and invert it over the chicken. Place bowl in the refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Grilled Greek Chicken on the BBQHeat your BBQ grill, and place the meat on the hot grill with flame turned down. Turn chicken about every 4 minutes. If you are using some thick chicken breasts, it will take about 25 minutes or so to cook the meat to 165 degrees internal meat temperature.

Grilled Greek ChickenPlate and serve your Greek Grilled Chicken with a side salad or vegetable. Enjoy those “quintessential” Greek flavors!!!

Enjoy our other Greek inspired recipes:

  1. Greek Marinated Chicken with Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad
  2. Greek Yougurt Dill Spread with Ham and Red Cabbage On Wasa Crisp Bread
  3. Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing – (Figs and Eggplant are part of the Greek cuisine)

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