Pasta people

Apparently, we’re pasta people. I guess we’re kale people, too. And it seems we enjoy an unusual pesto every now and then.

Here’s a great recipe that I haven’t done in a while. Since I was de-ribbing one batch of kale, I figured I might as well do two. (This is a sucky job. Free advice: the bigger the ribs, the easier the de-ribbing, so do yourself a favor and buy some big ol’ wide-ribbed kale. There’s a reason why I like chard better than kale. But the attractive nuisance was practically begging for kale, so obviously I had to grant his request.) A little of this pesto goes a long way, especially with pasta water, so there was a good amount left over for the freezer. I’m sure it freezes well. (I’ll let you know if I’m wrong about that.) Another sucky job is peeling butternut squash. I also seem to mangle my hands. And they were so delicate to begin with… Anyway, it’s all worth it — this is a really tasty dish.

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Pasta With Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash (from the New York Times)

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more for squash
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound) lacinato kale, center ribs removed
  • 8 ounces pasta (penne rigate works well)
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a vegetable peeler to peel squash, then halve it lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Dice squash flesh into 1-inch pieces, place on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread pieces into an even layer, making sure there is space between them. Roast, stirring squash pieces once or twice, until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; have ready a bowl of ice water. Drop kale into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer kale to ice water. Bring water in pot back to a boil, adding more if necessary so there is enough to cook pasta.

3. Drain kale well, then wrap tightly in a dry kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop leaves. When water in pot comes back to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions.

4. In a food processor, pulse together kale, nuts, garlic, salt and lemon zest until mixture is smooth and salt has dissolved. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully incorporated. Taste and add more salt dissolved in a little lemon juice, if necessary.

5. Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water. Toss pasta with kale pesto and some pasta cooking water if necessary to help it coat pasta. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve topped with squash and more cheese.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

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Three veg night

Three for three!

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Stir-Fried Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage (New York Times)

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and grated, 4 to 6 cups
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 stick butter, more to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 20 sage leaves

1. Put oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add sweet potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until they change color and begin to brown, then stir more frequently until they are tender but not at all mushy.

2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sage; shake pan occasionally. When butter turns brown, turn off heat.

3. Use tongs to remove sage and garlic from butter. Serve potatoes drizzled with butter and garnished with a few sage leaves. Garlic can be served alongside, though it will not be super-soft.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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Rosemary Roasted Potatoes (Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds small red or white-skinned potatoes (or a mixture)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve.

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Snap Peas with Pancetta (from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?)

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound sugar peas, trimmed
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, sliced
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 5 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water and have a sieve or colander ready in the sink. Put the snap peas into the boiling water for only 10 to 15 seconds, drain, and put immediately into the ice water. Cool completely and drain. Cut each snap pea in half lengthwise and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the pancetta and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium saute pan and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is browned and crisp, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. The water will evaporate and the pancetta will render some of its fat. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. Pour enough vinaigrette on the snap peas to moisten. Add the red onion, crumbled pancetta, Pecorino, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.  Toss well, season to taste, and serve.

No need

Bittman’s No-Knead Bread? No need to buy bread anymore!

This was crazy easy and tasted awesome.

No-Knead Bread (Mark Bittman)
Adapted from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, this foolproof method of baking bread is striking on several levels. It requires no kneading. It uses no special ingredients, equipment or techniques. And it takes very little effort.

Ingredients
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

Preparation

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.

 

 

Zuppa

We’ve had soup. Ora è il momento per la zuppa!

This was super easy and incredibly good. A great way to use up stale bread. Bittman strikes again!

Zuppa Arcidossana (Mark Bittman)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch-diced carrots
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup stale bread (use coarse, country-style bread), cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ricotta salata, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (feta may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, optional

1. Put oil in a large pot or deep skillet and brown sausage over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When sausage is cooked through and leaving brown bits in pan, add carrots, onion and garlic, and continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Add bread to pan and stir for a minute or 2; add spinach and continue cooking just until it wilts, a couple of minutes.

3. Add about 2 cups water and stir to loosen any remaining brown bits from pan. This is more of a stew than a soup, but there should be some broth, so add another cup of water if necessary. When broth is consistency of thin gravy, ladle stew into serving bowls and top with cheese and some freshly chopped parsley if you have it. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

Save the rice

If you ever order Chinese (I’m not saying we do… this is about you), don’t chuck all those containers of rice. Freeze them and then defrost it and make this.

Bittman! Vongerichten!

Ginger Fried Rice (Mark Bittman, adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • Salt
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
  • 4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.

Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.

Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.

In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.

Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

Twice bitten

Second Mark Bittman recipe of the day!

Perfect while watching our favorite show, House Hunters International, in Thailand! Put that on the list!

Pad Thai (Mark Bittman)

Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 ounces fettuccine-width rice stick noodles
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 pound peeled shrimp, pressed tofu or a combination
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, quartered

 

1. Put noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit until noodles are just tender; check every 5 minutes or so to make sure they do not get too soft. Drain, drizzle with one tablespoon peanut oil to keep from sticking and set aside. Meanwhile, put tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Stir in red pepper flakes and set aside.

2. Put remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when oil shimmers, add scallions and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add eggs to pan; once they begin to set, scramble them until just done. Add cabbage and bean sprouts and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt, then add shrimp or tofu (or both).

3. When shrimp begin to turn pink and tofu begins to brown, add drained noodles to pan along with sauce. Toss everything together to coat with tamarind sauce and combine well. When noodles are warmed through, serve, sprinkling each dish with peanuts and garnishing with cilantro and lime wedges.

Scone phone

When the scone phone rings, answer it. (Especially on Saturday morning.)

Mark Bittman’s Classic Scones (one batch regular, one batch with chocolate chips… for the attractive nuisance)

Definitely inspired to make them after seeing the video. (His videos are fun, and there are lots of them.) The scones were incredibly easy and quick, plus we already had all the ingredients.

Note to future self, 1 cup cake flour = 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch.

Classic Scones (Mark Bittman)

Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 scones

  • 2 cups cake flour, more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, more for brushing

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

2. Add the egg and just enough cream to form a slightly sticky dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little flour, but very little; it should still stick a little to your hands.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice, then press it into a 3/4-inch-thick circle and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Put the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Brush the top of each scone with a bit of cream and sprinkle with a little of the remaining sugar.

4. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the scones are a beautiful golden brown. Serve immediately.