Tag Archives: marinara

Fresh Fettuccine with Hooligan Marinara Sauce

My local library was showcasing their newest cookbooks last week. I checked out “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook” because it looked authentic and, let’s face it, I liked the font. When I saw his simple recipe for pasta dough, I had to try it. Flour, semolina and eggs. It sounded more authentic than pasta dough recipes I’ve made in the past. That he provided the gram weight of the flours made me think it was going to turn out perfectly. And it did.

My friend Ivan came over with a jar of smoked hooligans he and a friend had caught and canned last summer. They tasted a little like anchovies so my thought was to make a simple marinara with the umami flavor of the hooligans in the background. After simmering the sauce for a few minutes I tasted it and knew it needed one special ingredient to make it just perfect – capers. The sauce instantly became a bright, flavorful combination that reminded me of my dad’s puttanesca sauce.

Combine that with the best homemade pasta I’ve ever created and we had a heavenly dish that I think Gennaro Contaldo would be proud of.

Fresh fettuccine with simple marinara from alaskaknitnat.com

Fresh fettuccine with a hooligan caper marinara

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for pasta dough adapted from “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook”:

  • 300 grams (or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams (or 2/3 cup) semolina flour
  • 4 eggs

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 smoked hooligans, chopped (sub anchovies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions for pasta dough:

In a Kitchen Aid mixer, combine the flour and semolina. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients till combined and a shaggy dough forms. Turn onto a counter and knead for 3-5 minutes until a smooth ball forms. It should be firm and not sticky. Dust with flour and continue kneading if it’s too sticky. Divide into two balls. cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the garlic and sauté until garlic is soft and fragrant, about two minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, hooligans and capers. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, while you make the pasta.

Place a large pot of salted water to boil.

Using either a hand-crank pasta roller or a Kitchen Aid pasta roller, begin to make your pasta. Divide each ball of dough into four equal balls, covering the ones you aren’t working with. Flatten the ball with your palm. Run it through the largest setting on the pasta roller. Fold the piece into thirds and roll it through again. Do this about five times till the piece is evenly shaped and smooth. If it’s too sticky dust each side lightly with flour.

Move the roller to the next setting and run the dough through once. Continue running the dough through each smaller setting till it’s the thinnest it can possibly be. On the Kitchen Aid roller it’s setting 8. Drape the sheet of pasta on a laundry drying rack while you continue rolling out the remaining balls of dough.

When all the dough is rolled out, switch to the fettuccine roller. Roll all the sheets onto a tray dusted lightly with semolina. Boil the pasta for just a couple of minutes, until al dente.  If your pot isn’t large enough you may need to boil in two batches. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauce along with the chopped basil.

Drain the pasta and toss with a little bit of the sauce to keep the noodles from sticking. Grate some fresh pecorino Romano cheese over your pasta and serve with a simple salad.

Fresh fettuccine with simple marinara from alaskaknitnat.com

Wild Mushroom Marinara

Last week as I was scrolling through a local online events calendar I saw that Habitat Housewares was having a recipe contest. I’ve not entered a recipe contest save for last week when my husband’s work hosted a chili cook-off. I disqualified my recipe after discovering my husband failed to start up the Crock Pot properly and the beans were still crunchy.

That being said, I was determined to redeem myself purely for my own satisfaction. This contest also had some sweet prizes, namely a $500 gift card to a fantastic kitchen supply store and a Le Creuset dutch oven, retailing at $230.

The contest was for an original pasta sauce recipe. One of the judges was head chef at Villa Nova, one of the only originally Italian-owned restaurants in Anchorage (most Italian places are owned by Greek families here). The other judge was a local food writer who is all about local foods. The third was a local celebrity with whom I once performed “The Rocky Horror Show” at a local gay bar. I knew I had a chance.

Turns out I won second place and scored a pretty awesome dutch oven. First place was a stunning creamy Alaska seafood sauce that was a perfect blend of flavors.

I hope you enjoy my second-place pasta sauce.

Wild Mushroom Mariana Sauce | A recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Wild Mushroom Marinara Sauce


3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1.5 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

6 oz. baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms, sliced

½ cup chopped onion

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbs. red wine

1/3 cup reserved mushroom water

42 oz. crushed Italian tomatoes (1 ½ 28-oz. cans)

2 dried red chilies

2 tsp. sugar

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped

2 Tbs. butter

salt and pepper to taste


Boil 2 cups of water. Place the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a sieve and reserve the water. Roughly chop the porcini.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium and cook till garlic is lightly browned. Add the porcini, Portobello and onions. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Sauté till onions are soft and mushrooms have lost much of their liquid, about 10 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and a couple of tablespoons of mushroom water. Transfer to a saucepan and set over medium-high flame. Add the tomatoes, remaining mushroom water, chilies, sugar, basil, oregano and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for an hour.

Pour over pasta of your choice, cooked al dente. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve alongside Italian sausage and steamed green beans.