Cheese and Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe)

Kosher salt
6 ounces pasta (such as spaghetti or penne)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in the 8 quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 3 quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Parmesan, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat.  Add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts and the sauce coats the pasta. Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry. Serve right away.

Italian Tomato Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro Soup)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 
4 to 6 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped 
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
One 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes 
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
Salt and pepper 
1 quart chicken broth 
7 to 10 fresh basil leaves, torn or diced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more as garnish


Heat the 3 quart sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and turn to coat the pan. Add the garlic and the chopped onion and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the diced tomatoes and the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and basil and raise the heat until the soup bubbles.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the soup as it simmers until it thickens.  In the last fives minutes, add the Parmesan and stir. Turn off the heat, adjust the salt and pepper and ladle the soup into shallow bowls. To serve, top with the grated Parmesan.

Baked Skillet Rigatoni

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed or thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 28-ounce can of crushed or pureed tomatoes
3 cups of water
12 ounces of Rigatoni (or penne or other large noodle pasta)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup minced fresh basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 475 degrees. In 3 quart skillet, combine oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Add rigatoni. Adjust heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cover and cook. Stir often until rigatoni is almost tender, but still firm to the bite. About 15 to 18 minutes.

Stir in cream, parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella over the rigatoni. Transfer skillet to middle rack of the oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.