Opinion: Give the Gift of Good Food

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By Jonathan Anzaldi

Food brings us together to unify, conversate, enjoy and create memories with one another. For me personally, cooking has always been a way to express myself, share creations, showcase gratitude and provide an outlet to connect with others. This form of expression was something that I first learned from my 99-year-old grandmother, Mary.

I spent many Saturdays of my childhood at my grandmother’s house. On Wednesday evenings she would call to “take my order” and ask what I wanted her to make. Food has always been my grandmother’s greatest passion. As immigrants from Sicily, her family settled on a farm in Massachusetts and from an early age my grandmother understood the importance of fresh and natural ingredients. She was an incredible cook (she’s retired now) who seemed to make everything look so effortless. Her kitchen was a meeting ground for friends, neighbors and family alike – everyone waiting patiently at the table to be served. I was enamored by the way she used her cooking and creations as a way to bring together those she loved. It is something that has stuck with me decades later and a custom I now practice myself.

As we fast approach the holiday season, now is the time of year that we find ourselves gathering to enjoy meals together. And while I get to planning the holiday menus for this year’s festivities, I wanted to share an original and seasonal pasta recipe. Halloween may be behind us but pumpkin season is still in full swing. If you’re looking for a comforting, hearty fall pasta this pumpkin pasta recipe has your name on it. This dish combines the sweetness of pumpkin, the spiciness of Italian-flavored turkey sausage, creaminess of mascarpone and the saltiness of freshly grated Pecorino Romano for a perfect balance of flavors. For a full video tutorial of this dish and many more simple recipes, head to YouTube and subscribe to my channel. Enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni with Spicy Italian Sausage

1 lb Rigatoni

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 15.5 oz can of Pumpkin Puree

½ cup white wine (sub low-sodium broth)

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

1 Tsp Dried Oregano

½ Tsp Fennel Seeds

½ Tsp Smoked Paprika

1 Tbsp Calabrian Chili Paste

6-8 Chopped Basil Leaves

½ cup Unsweetened Unflavored Milk

3 tbsp Unsalted Butter

½ Mascarpone

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano

Salt & Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a deep sauté pan and raise heat to medium-high

2. Add in chopped onion and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper

3. After 2-3 minutes, add in garlic powder, Calabrian Chili Paste and white wine

4. Add in the basil

5. Once the onions have absorbed about half of the wine, add in ground turkey

6. Season turkey with thyme, fennel seed, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper

7. As turkey cooks, begin boiling water for pasta. Generously salt water before boil

8. Once the turkey is cooked, set aside in a bowl and add in 1 tbsp of butter to the pan

9. Lower heat to medium. Once butter melts add in pumpkin, milk, additional butter

10. Add in the mascarpone stirring occasionally until all ingredients are melted

11. Cook pasta to al dente and add to the pumpkin mixture plus grated Pecorino Romano

12. Include the turkey and mix evenly. Top with additional Pecorino and fresh basil

Jonathan Anzaldi is a personal trainer, home cook, former restaurateur, content creator and a Laguna Beach resident. He hosts private training sessions and group fitness classes throughout coastal Orange County. Learn more about Jonathan by subscribing to his YouTube channel where he shares home workouts and simple, flavorful recipes. For more information about working with Jonathan email him at [email protected] and follow him on Instagram: @jonathanryananzaldi

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