This week’s Easy Recipe is a variation on a recipe I found in The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia (1997 ed).  I have made a few ingredient revisions, and a couple other changes to make this recipe one of the easy pasta meals for the new cook.  The basil and oregano used in my preparation were as fresh as possible, as it only had to travel from my herb garden to the sauce pot.



8 oz. – Spicy Italian Salami – such as milano, sardo, or black forest- have it sliced by butcher into about 1/4 inch thick slices and from there you will slice the salami into bite size pieces at home.

1 – medium size Sweet Vidalia Onion – diced

1 or 2 – Habanero Pepper (depending on the amount of heat you want)- finely diced and be sure to remove seeds prior to dicing.

1 1/2 –  Tbsp Fresh Basil – chopped

1/2 -tsp Fresh Oregano – chopped

1- Celery Stalk – chopped into 1/8 inch peices 

2 – Garlic Cloves – diced

14.5 oz can – Diced Tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

3/4 C – Red Wine

1 Tbsp Olive Oil for saute

14 oz  – Rigatoni – prepared per box instructions

Shaved Parmesan for garnish


In the sauce pot heat the olive oil and saute the onion, habanero pepper, and celery stirring often.  When the first batch of vegetables has a nice soft texture, add the diced tomatoes, wine, basil, oregano, and sugar. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer. Stir the sauce occasionally while simmering. The sauce should simmer at least 20 minutes.  It is fine to simmer the sauce longer but you may need to add a little water so it does not get too thick.

After 15 minutes or so of simmering, add the salami to the sauce.

Prepare the Rigatoni as directed on the package instruction. When the Rigatoni is  done, drain all the water and place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Next, add the sauce to the pasta and gently stir.  

To finish the presentation, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of parmesan cheese on the top of the pasta. Place remaining parmesan in a small serving bowl for use by guests at the table.

I hope you enjoy your Easy Recipe Rigatoni with salami and habanero sauce.    

 AND STUFF      

I had not been to the Midwest in many years.  It had been years since I even flew over the Midwest on the way to London.  But last summer it was time to return, for the first time, to attend a school reunion.  So, I boarded my SW flight and headed off to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since it was a SW flight, first we had to stop in Vegas for a quick plane change.  Vegas is usually one of my great vactation ideas.

Using all my will to fight off the urge to just stay in Vegas, and briskly walking past the video poker machines in the airport, I found my way to the gate for the long flight to Minneapolis. 

It is just amazing to me how much open space still remains in the US. 

Once clear of the Vegas suburbs most of the remaining flight path passed over mostly uninhabited terrain for hours on end.  The terrain slowly changed from desert, to canyons, to mountains, and finally to seemingly endless grass land. 

The Great Plains. The terrain below was only occassionally interrupted by a farm, or small city. But, for the most part there was only grass. 

Having lived in Los Angeles for the past 22 years, the sight of such wide open space was both beautiful and surreal. Where was everybody? Had I missed the Rapture after leaving Vegas?  After hours of growing concern that all land inhabitants were gone, trees started to appear, and then grow in number. Finally I saw blessed suburbs! I was over a city, it was going to be OK!

From the airport to downtown Minneapolis I was treated to a very long ride through the Minnesota countryside.  It turns out, the airport is so far out of the city it may very well be in a neighboring state.  I made a mental note that I should leave very early for the airport on my departure day.    

Minneapolis is a beautful city, with a tremendous downtown business and shopping area. The downtown is now topped off with a brand new state-of-the-art baseball stadium for the Twins.  Our reunion group rented a large box for the Twins v. Rangers game. Whenever I looked up from the field I was blown away by the wonderful cityscape backdrop.

Even though this photograph was taken with my IPhone camera, it nicely captures the scene.

But that’s not all the downtown area has to offer. Nope, prior to the game I went sightseeing. I explored the downtown area, stores, great buildings, and had a marvelous lunch. 

While walking around I was very taken by how clean the streets and sidewalks were kept.  Seemed as if the residents actually care about their town. There was no litter to be found anywhere.  Then I figured it out.  My theory was that the litter likely was being blown out of the city, and the state, by the winds blowing through the downtown area.  I felt pretty good about my working theory until I saw a city worker actually dusting off benches, trash cans, and whatever needed cleaning.  Now there is a winning combination, residents who care about their city, and workers who tidy up whats left.

So, ok, Minneapolis is a clean, pretty and vibrant city.  But, I wondered, does the downtown have great sculpture?  And, then I stopped in my tracks.  The sculpture in front of me immediately took me back at least 30 years.  There she was, bigger than life, on the sidewalk throwing her hat into the air. There stood a sculpture of “Mary Tyler Moore”!

I immediately got out my IPhone camera and started to get in position to get a picture. My next thought was that I had better hurry and get the photo before anyone from my class could catch me shooting a picture of the sculpture. 

The next morning my taxi drove me to the airport, across what seemed like much of Minnesota.  After boarding my flight, I started the journey home.  This time starting from a lovely city, and flying over endless plains, followed by mountains, desert, and finally about 35 minutes flying over warehouses, homes, businesses, and freeways upon which crawled endless streams of cars.  I was home.

Good Eating and Table Talk,


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