Cooking With Chef Mario

Posted by Casandra Properties on Friday, September 21st, 2018 at 9:44am.

Many of you know Staten Island Real Estate is a passion of mine, but when I’m not selling homes as a top producer at Casandra Properties, Inc., my other passion is cooking. 

I was born in Monopoli, Italy, which is 40 km south of Bari in the Puglia region on the Adriatic Sea.   As with all family who has moved away, each and every time I return to my birth home, my family always asks what is it that I wish to eat.  I always reply the same! 

Pasta con Fagiolini Salsa di Pomodoro Fresco e Cacio Ricotta Salata

In English, this means pasta with fresh green beans and fresh tomato sauce topped with ricotta salata cheese.

           This is considered a local “peasant dish”, a recipe with just a few ingredients which is very easy to make and easy on your food budget.  Everything you need can be found in your local grocery store.  The one ingredient which some of you may be unfamiliar with is the Ricotta Salata cheese.  Don’t worry, many local grocery stores now carry this in the cheese section. You will be looking for a white semi-hard salty cheese which can be shaved or thickly grated.  It is made with sheep milk.  If you cannot find it in your grocery, any Italian specialty store will have it on hand. Anyone who has ever set foot on Staten Island knows that you can’t travel far without coming across an Italian specialty store.  Be careful when you walk in one.  The chances of you leaving with just the cheese is slim!!

            I am pleased to share one of my favorite recipes with you.



Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ yellow or other onion chopped

1 can San Marzano whole tomatoes

Salt & Pepper to taste

Fresh Basil

1 lb. pasta – Orecchiette is recommended

½ lb. green beans

1 cup shaved Ricotta Salata


In a three (3) quart pot heat about 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil then add onions and cook until translucent. Crush tomatoes by hand (just give them a few squeezes) and add to the onions.  Stir, add salt, pepper, and some fresh basil to taste. Bring the mixture to slow boil, lower the heat and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add enough salt so that water is on the salty side. Add pasta to vigorously boiling water. Make sure you stir your pasta while it is cooking so it does not stick!  Cook per directions on the package.  About four (4) minutes prior to the pasta being ready add green beans to the boiling pot of pasta.  You do not want to overcook the beans nor the pasta.  Drain beans and pasta together.  Mix well with ½ of the sauce and ½ of the Ricotta Salata cheese.  

For plating, divide pasta among four plates, top with several spoonfuls of sauce, several sprinkles of the remaining ricotta salata and a few fresh basil leaves.

Enjoy with a nice glass of red wine and a green salad of your choice.

CIAO!!  Buon appetito!  See you next time!

For more information contact me at

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