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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

 

Just like last year, I’ve been buying up my beloved dry farmed early girl tomatoes like crazy.  They are the best tomato ever, and if you are lucky enough to find them at your farmers market, buy them.  You won’t regret it.

With those tomatoes on my mind, I was quite excited to stumble across this recipe in this month’s Food and Wine.  The tomatoes don’t get cooked, so it’s really a perfect recipe to savor the last of the amazing summer tomatoes.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Almonds
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds  tomatoes, cored and finely diced.  I used dry farmed early girls, but the recipe recommends beefsteak.  I think any meaty tomato that doesn’t have a lot of water in it would work.
1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds
3 large oil-packed anchovies
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup grated fresh pecorino cheese.  I used parmesan, but the recipe recommends Fiore di Sardo.
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 pound pasta.  I used fetticine, but the recipe recomments spaghettini

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes with the shredded basil, scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper.  Season lightly with salt and black pepper and let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the almonds with the anchovies and garlic until finely chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of cheese and the capers and pulse to combine.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, shaking off the excess water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes along with the chopped almond mixture and toss well. Serve the pasta, passing extra cheese at the table.

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I’ve been buying up elephant garlic from Happy Boy Farm at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.  Elephant garlic is about the size of a normal head of garlic, except it’s just one giant clove.  Apparently, it’s not really garlic, but closer to a leek or onion.  It tastes like garlic, except a little more mild.  And it’s delicious roasted.

To roast the garlic, I preheated the oven to 400.  Then, I wrapped each head individually in tin foil with a drizzle of garlic and a small sprig of rosemary.  I put the cloves in a baking dish (they might leak and you don’t want garlic oil burning at the bottom of your oven) and baked them for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven, unwrap, let them cool, then remove the skin.

At this point, you can mash them up and do whatever you want with them, like spread on crostini.  To make the pesto, I tossed three heads of the roasted elephant garlic in the food processor with the roasted rosemary needles, a half a cup of walnuts, and about two ounces of parmesan cheese.  I pulsed it a few times until it started to come together, then slowly added some olive oil, about 1/3 of a cup or so, lots of freshly cracked pepper, and a large pinch of salt.

To serve, I tossed it over some linguine with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts.  It should make enough to cover about two pounds of pasta.  I wound up freezing half the pesto to use for another meal.

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I have a girl crush on Ina Garten.  I want to move in with her, into her gorgeous house in the Hamptons, and cook and drink French wine with her and her friends every night.  We’ll pick fresh herbs from the garden, Michael will bring the flowers for our table setting, and Miguel will take the photos for my food blog.  Jeffrey is out of town most of the time, so surely she has room for one more, right?

Until that dream comes true, I will have to live out my fantasies making her recipes from my old kitchen in Berkeley.

This recipe of Ina’s is really good.  It’s fast and simple, since you can prep the other ingredients in the time it takes the pasta to cook.   It’s a really unusual combination, but it works.    When she made it on her show, she included cherry tomatoes.  While the Food Network website’s recipe doesn’t include the tomatoes, I did because I found a pint of this season’s first tomatoes at the farmers market.  I wouldn’t skip them – they add a sweetness that balances nicely with the pepper.  I also used penne instead of noodles because I think the tomatoes mix in a little better with shorter pastas.

Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper
Recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients
1 tablespoon whole black Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 pound dried pasta – I used penne, but Ina recommends an Italian egg pasta, such as tagliarelle
1 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino cheese (4 ounces), plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons heavy cream – I used half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter – I used about half that amount
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions
Place the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them until you have a mixture of coarse and fine bits. (You can also grind them in a small food mill or coffee grinder.) Set aside.

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, mince the parsley, grate the cheese, and halve the tomatoes.

 When the pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.  After you drain the pasta, return it to the pot.   

Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of the grated Pecorino, the crushed peppercorns, cream, butter, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing constantly. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water.  Once everything is combined, turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes and the remaining cheese.    Serve immediately with a big bowl of extra grated Pecorino for sprinkling.

And because at Ina’s house, no meal is complete without a glass of wine, I served it with some lovely sauvignon blanc from St. Supery.  How bad can that be?

 

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I think I have made up for my food blog neglect with preparing one of the most labor intensive dishes I’ve ever made.  This dish was really good and it makes a ton, so it was worth the work.  Shelling that many favas takes a while, but my DVR was filled with Glee and the Good Wife, so I set to work shelling while catching up.

Ravioli Stuffed with Fava Beans, Ricotta, and Mint
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Makes about 3-4 dozen

3 cups shelled fresh fava beans (3 pounds in pods)
10 ounces ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve (I used homemade)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt

Pasta Dough – I used the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid pasta attachment

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add beans. Cook approximately 1-2 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.  Remove the beans from the skin. 

Place about 2 cups of the beans in the food processor and pulse.   Add the parmesan and ricotta, mint, lemon juice, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Refrigerate filling at least 1 hour (up to 2 days).   At this point, it would be a really yummy spread.

Roll out the dough however you prefer.  If you’ve got the Kitchenaid attachment, I rolled mine out to the 5th setting.

Dust 2 rimmed baking sheets with cornmeal or flour and set aside.  Place 1 piece of pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface (keep unused pieces covered). Space heaping tablespoons of filling  evenly across the sheet.  Using a wet pastry brush, moisten pasta around each mound of filling. Fold top half of sheet over filling to meet edge; press around mounds to eliminate air and to seal.

Cut pasta into 2 1/2- to 3-inch squares and place on dusted baking sheets.  Roll out remaining pasta dough, and repeat. (If serving that day, cover ravioli with plastic wrap, and refrigerate on baking sheets until ready to use. If making ahead, freeze on baking sheets until firm, about 1 hour, and then transfer to an airtight container; freeze until ready to use, up to 1 month.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt.  Cook at a gentle boil until ravioli are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a colander using a slotted spoon; drain.  

To serve, I heated a couple tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and added the remaining fava beans.  I gently tossed in some of the ravioli and served it up with grated parmesan.  I enjoyed the fruits of my labor with a Napa Sauvignon Blanc – perfection.

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I had an insane week, running around to meetings all over the place.  When Friday came, I just wanted some good food and a giant glass of wine.  There wasn’t much in the house, but I had a head of escarole crammed in the back of the fridge that I had forgotten I bought last weekend at the farmers market.   Still good!  My lucky day.  With a bit of pancetta and a couple of leeks on hand, I figured I could toss a quick pasta dish together.

I really think you can’t go wrong by just tossing a bunch of spring produce into a pot, and this dish proved to be no exception.  Yum.  Best of all, I could prep and cook the vegetables in the same amount of time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.  After just 20 minutes, I was eating my yummy spring dinner and drinking my wine.  The bonus was lots of leftovers for easy weekend lunches. 

Pasta with Pancetta, Escarole, and Leeks

Ingredients
1 pound pasta (I used linguine)
1-2 heads of escarole (1 was fine, but next time I’ll do two because I like lots of greens in my pasta)
4 ounces finely diced pancetta
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to serve

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the escarole and chop into thin ribbons, and prepare the leeks and garlic.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the pancetta.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the leeks, sauting for another 5 minutes or so until they start to get soft.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Around this point, the water should be boiling, so add your pasta.

Add the wine to the leeks, scraping up any brown bits from the pancetta from the bottom of the pan.  Add the escarole, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Stir every three or four minutes or so. 

Just before you drain the pasta, take the lid off, add a half cup or so of the pasta water to the escarole, and continue to simmer.  Drain the pasta and add it to the escarole mixture, mixing well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesan.  A glass of wine too – I went for St. Supery’s sauvignon blanc, perfect with the dish.

 

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I don’t really have that much to say about this dish, except that:

1. It’s really good, really easy, and you should make it.  And quickly, because spring is almost here (exhibit A – asparagus at the farmer’s market last week). 

2. It makes a ton and reheats relatively well.

3. Between this and the sweet potato gnocchi with arugula I made a few months back, I’m now convinced that arugula and orange vegetables go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga de dinga a dong.

4.  Leave out the cheese and it’s great for the vegans.  Or, go the other direction and add bacon. Which, since I’m not a vegan, would be the way I’d go. 

Penne with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Bitter Greens
Recipe by me

Ingredients
1 pound of penne
1 1/2-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, and cut into a 1 inch dice
1/2 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
A few large handfuls of greens.  I used arugula and radicchio, probably about 5 or 6 cups.
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

Directions
Preheat oven to 425.  Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss in a roasting pan.  Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until squash is soft and lightly carmelized around the edges.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta.  Return the pasta to the pot.  Slowly mix in the squash, along with any juices from the pan.  Add the greens in bunches, stirring until just wilted.  Add the toasted walnuts and stir to combine.

Serve with grated cheese.

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A couple weeks ago, I signed up for a meat CSA program through Marin Sun Farms.  Once a month, we’ll get a random assortment of braising and roasting cuts and ground meat from grass fed, pasture raised, humanely treated animals.   Our first shipment arrived February 11 and the meat looked amazing.  We celebrated Valentine’s day by cooking up these beef back ribs, which were included in our first shipment.

To go with it,  I decided to try my hand at homemade pasta.  This was the first time I’ve made homemade pasta and it was much, much simpler than I ever imagined.  I’ve got a Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment, bought ages ago with a William Sonoma gift card.  It had languished unused in the box for over a year, but I’m happy to report that its maiden voyage was a smooth one.  I used the recipe that came with the roller and I had no problems whatsoever.   I bought some beautiful mushrooms at the farmers market, but unfortunately, the name of them escapes me.  I sauted those with kale and served that with the beef over the pasta.  Fantastic, especially with a nice bottle of cabernet from Jessup Cellars in Napa.

I didn’t have time this week to prepare a completely local meal, so I’m counting this as my Dark Days contribution for the week.  Everything here is local, except for the flour I used in my pasta.  I realize that’s a pretty substantial exception, so this isn’t the my best work.  But, it is what it is.  For next year’s challenge, I’ll hopefully own a car and I can drive around in search of local flour.  Until then, I’ll just count my local blood, sweat and tears in making it myself.

Braised Beef Back Ribs with Mushrooms and Kale
Recipe by me

Ingredients
1.5-3 pounds of beef back ribs
4 cups of red wine
3 or 4 carrots, sliced in three inch chunks
One onion, cut into large chunks
A few sprigs of thyme
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 small bunch of Tuscan kale, thick stems removed, and chopped into 1 inch ribbons
1 large shallot
1 tablespoon of butter
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 pound of pasta, preferably a wide, flat noodle such as pappardelle

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a dutch oven or oven safe pan, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the rack of ribs in and brown all over, about 5 minutes.  Add about 3 cups of wine, the carrots, onions, and a few sprigs of thyme.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and put in the oven for about 1.5 hours, checking after an hour or so to see if more liquid is needed, and if so, add a bit more wine or some water. 

When the meat seems tender, take the pot out of the oven, remove the meat, cover, and set aside.  Remove the thyme springs.  Transfer the vegetables and cooking liquid to a blender or food processor, pureeing until smooth.  Add a little more wine if the mixture seems too thick. 

Pour the liquid back in the dutch oven and put the meat on top.  Cover again and put it back in the oven.  If the meat is done enough for you, just set it on warm.  Otherwise, keep it at 325 or so until you are ready to eat.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon butter.  When the butter melts, add the diced shallot, and slowly cook until it begins to carmelize.  Add the kale, tossing to coat.  Add one cup of wine and cover.  Simmer over medium low for about 10 minutes, until kale starts to soften.  Add the sliced mushrooms, cover again, and continue to cook another five minutes or so.  Add salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta.  When draining, reserve a cup or so of the water. 

To put everything together, take the meat out of the oven and slice the ribs.  Add a bit of the pasta water to the vegetable puree if needed.  Toss the pasta with the kale and mushrooms, adding a bit of pasta water if needed.  Serve the pasta in bowls, with a rib and some vegetable puree spooned over it.

We cooked a pound of pasta because that’s what the recipe called for, but we only had three beef ribs.  So we just tossed the vegetable puree in with the rest of the pasta and ate it without the meat for leftovers.  But doubling the amount of meat would probably result in 6 hearty portions.

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