“Hi, this is Melanie. I’m not really here. I mean, I am here, you’re listening to my voice- that’s really me but it’s only a recording of my voice, not my actual voice. It’s like a hologram! But with audio. Ugh. Why do I- okay, I promised myself I wouldn’t record this again. This is it, I cannot sit here and record and re-record this message all day. It’s ridiculous. I have a life! I have THINGS TO DO and I can’t just sit here obsessing over every detail of what I’m saying and how I’m saying it, I refuse to do that. You know, any more. Because really this is taking forever. And I- GOD, I cannot stop talking! Why can’t I stop talking? What is wrong with me today? Don’t answer that. Oh, right, there’s no one there. I keep forgetting. Stop it, Melanie! Okay. Okay… Okay. Um, leave a message at the beep!”
What do you think? New series? “Neurotic fictional characters leaving voicemails.”
No? No good? Okay, well. Can’t win them all.
This post originally appeared on Eat Boutique.
“Oh hey, by the way, we’re on Design Sponge…”
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but Nicole is a very measured person. She might just be the most nonchalant person in my life. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t get excited or angry (incidentally, angry Nicole is a sight to see, I should sell tickets) or pumped up but chill Nicole is the one I’m most familiar with; that’s the Nicole I picture when she sends me a note or a text. Or in an email that casually tells me the loft she shares with her husband and dog is featured on friggin’ Design Sponge. Like… oh, hey…. before I forget… It kills me. She and her husband are absurdly talented and it’s just… oh, that? Right… Yeah. I’ve never seen two people more perfectly suited for each other, both so talented and so nonplussed about their talents like it’s the most natural thing in the world to be so talented. There’s nothing fake about it either, nothing’s a show, there’s no pretense.
And then there’s me, throwing myself into rooms at the office after I got that email. “I’M ON DESIGN SPONGE.” Which was not remotely true but… pointing, “LOOK. SHE SAYS ‘A FRIEND.’ THAT’S ME. I’M THE FRIEND. FAMOUS. (For 30 seconds) DESIGN SPONGE. CHOKING. I’M CHOKING.” Next to Nicole, I am a human golden retriever. Her calm sometimes boggles my mind. Sometimes it feels like I’m held together with paper clips and old glue sticks, my edges all sticking up and out, and I’m amazed at the end of the day that I was able to put two sentences together, just amazed. The other day I hung up a string between two nails in my home office and clipped cards from a calendar up and I am not joking when I tell you that I felt like a creative genius after doing that. So accomplished and clever. So completely pathetic.
Anyway. If you haven’t seen Nicole’s apartment on Design Sponge, you should take a look. It’s their live/work space which means that’s where all the cooking and photo-taking is happening, friends. You might glimpse some of her styling props too. Worth a look and a few sighs of envy.
And while you’re doing that, you should hunker down in your own abode with some beer and some cheese and make some damn good Beer and Cheddar Soup. Listen, do not shy away from a vat of a cheesy, beery soup; it’s cold out there, you need insulation. It’s only natural. You’ve been trying to be good but finding your hunger is an insatiable beast lately? Listen to your body and give it what it wants already.
And I would heartily suggest serving with giant pretzel rolls for dipping, the best you can find.
Beer & Cheddar Soup
Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently and thin with additional broth.
• 1/2 Pound of bacon, sliced 1/3″ thick and cut into 1/3″ dice
• 1 Celery rib, finely chopped
• 1 Small onion, finely chopped
• 1 Large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
• 2 Large garlic cloves, minced
• 1 Tablespoon of chopped thyme
• 1 (12-ounce) Bottle of lager or pilsner
• 2 and 1/4 Cups of low-sodium chicken broth
• 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
• 1/4 Cup of all-purpose flour
• 1 Cup of heavy cream
• 1/2 Pound of sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
• 4 Ounces of smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
For serving: garlic-rubbed toasts
1. In a large saucepan over moderate heat, cook bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon crisp (about 7 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a bowl, leaving the delicious drippings behind.
2. To saucepan, add celery, onion, jalapeno, garlic and thyme and cook until softened, stirring often (about 8 minutes).
3. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half (5 minutes).
4. Add 2 and 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
5. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter. Add flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned (about 2 minutes).
6. Whisk the butter-flour (roux) into the soup until incorporated and bring back to a simmer. Cook until thickened (about 8 minutes).
7. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and remaining beer and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the soup is thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).
8. Stir in the bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Add tablespoons of broth if soup is too thick).
Little Talia picked up the princess doll and the prince doll and regarded them seriously. “It is I, Pharoah Talia,” she said in a booming voice and she made the dolls tremble in her wake. “I hear you have been mean to each other. Prince Arthur, you speak first.”
Talia’s voice deepened as the prince went to his knees (which was really lying flat on the floor because the doll couldn’t bend his knees). “I did not do anything wrong.”
“Yes, you did!” The Pharaoh’s voice boomed. “You make the princess upset every day.”
“She calls me fat and lazy.”
“You are fat and lazy!” Boomed the pharaoh and Talia made the cardboard walls of their castle shake. “You lie around on the couch all day and the princess does everything. And then you complain. And you!” The pharaoh rounded on the smug princess. “You bring him his dinner and you listen to his complaints and you say nothing.”
“I am trying to be kind,” replied the princess. She had long blonde hair and Talia wished from a place deep in her heart that her hair was dark like Talia’s. “I want him to be happy.”
“You just want someone there,” the pharaoh said sadly. “You should listen to Dr. Edelstein.”
The princess looked confused. Well, she looked happy all the time but Talia pretended she looked confused. “Who is Dr. Edelstein, Pharaoh?”
Talia shot up in bed, her heart in her throat. The dream had felt so real, she thought. But she wasn’t really in her childhood room, on the floor, with a paper crown on her head. She was in bed. In Denver.
Beside her, Arthur groaned. “You woke me up. Now I won’t get back to sleep.” He rolled his big body over and glared at her with one eye open. “And I have that interview tomorrow and now I’ll be thrown off because I didn’t sleep and I won’t get the job and then you’ll get mad at me and-“
Talia looked down at him. “Yeah, we’re breaking up.”
“And- what?” Arthur blinked.
“We’re breaking up. Right now.” Talia swung out of the bed, her bed and surveyed the mess of sheets and Arthur in the middle, blinking like a beached seal. “Get up. Time to go.”
“What?” Arthur stared. “What? Are you crazy?”
“No, I just forgot something. Come on! Up and at it! Let’s go.” She grabbed him by the arm and pushed him out of the bed. He stood in his boxers, his jaw dropped. “Let’s go. You can go to Dave’s. I’m sure he won’t be surprised. You can get your stuff in the morning. Let’s go. Shoes.” She picked up his barely worn sneakers and handed them to him. He stared at her.
“Wha- you can’t. Forgot something?” He looked torn between hurt and outrage. She would’ve felt bad but she was already picturing her house and her bed and her life without him in it. She put her hands on her hips and looked at him expectantly.
“Yes, I’d forgotten something. That I’m awesome.” Talia smiled and tossed him his coat. “I’m the Pharaoh.”
Ah, I love the smell of resolutions in the morning.
Things I will not be doing right now: apologizing if this is the 17th salad recipe you’ve seen from a blog this week, apologizing for farro (because it’s delicious), apologizing for reminding you that you made some promises to yourself for the year, apologizing that this isn’t a brownie recipe but one for warm farro salad with chickpeas, feta and spicy dressing. Yeah, we’re not apologizing for anything this morning. I love resolutions personally- change is good. Positive change should be celebrated all year round but I’m down with it getting some attention in January. That’s not a bad thing. And the very best part of a salad is that it makes you feel less guilty when you eat a deep chocolate peppermint sable cookie at work two hours later.
So a little cheerful reinforcement this morning. Whatever you want to do for yourself, you can do. If there’s an ass to be kicked, then kick it. And remember: farro today means cookie tonight.
Warm Farro Salad with Chickpeas, Feta, and Spicy Dressing
For the farro:
1 Cup of farro
½ Teaspoon of salt
For the dressing:
3 Tablespoons of fish sauce
3 Tablespoons of lime juice
2 to 3 Tablespoons (25 to 35 g) of brown sugar
6 to 8 Tablespoons of water, to taste
1 Medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 Thai chile, very thinly sliced
For the salad:
Chickpeas, either canned (drained and rinsed) or cooked from dried
Escarole, coarsely chopped or sliced
Radicchio, coarsely sliced
Carrots, sliced into rounds
Feta, coarsely crumbled
Note from SKS: Have you discovered roasted chickpeas yet? If you haven’t, now is a good time. I love roasted chickpeas in this salad- toss drained and dried chickeas with drizzle of oil of your choosing, add salt and spices to taste, and roast in a hot oven until barely crisp. Yes, it’s an extra step but you will not come back from this. Roasted chickpeas are life changing. – J
1. Make the farro: put the farro in a medium (2 ½- to 3-quart) saucepan, add cold water to cover, and set it aside to soak for 30 minutes. Then drain the farro, put it back into the saucepan, and add 3 cups of cold water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until tender but still a little chewy, about 45 minutes. When it’s ready, drain it, and either use it while it’s warm or transfer it to a storage container for later use. (Covered and chilled, cooked farro will keep for a few days.)
2. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more brown sugar. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep up to a week.)
3. To assemble a portion of salad, scoop out a couple of large spoonfuls of farro – maybe 1/3 to ½ cup – and put it in a wide bowl. (Molly recommends warming it slightly in the microwave.) Add a large spoonful of chickpeas, a good handful each of escarole and radicchio, and maybe half of a carrot, sliced. Top with a generous amount of feta, and then drizzle dressing to taste. Toss and enjoy.
Their trip to Tuscany had taken a strange turn.
It wasn’t until the third night of rain and dark, of Clark navigating those windy turns in their ridiculously tiny rental car, and they had passed yet another silhouetted castle when he muttered, “It’s just a step to the right…” and she realized he was singing the words to that Rocky Horror movie. If she hadn’t been so certain he was going to drive the nugget car into a tree, she might’ve laughed.
The travel agent they’d hired would have to be killed, she thought as she gripped the door with white knuckles. There was no other alternative. Every single place they’d reserved had been murky and dank, the people bizarre. She thought of how she would do it as they lugged their bags to the front door of the small lodge where they’d rest for the night, before trekking to Siena the next morning. She considered poison, something quick and painless, until the one-eyed man with a hunchback answered the door and then she thought, “No. Something slow and painful.”
Clark spoke in Italian to the hunched man, who Sofia realized with a start was far younger than she’d first thought. He grunted and stepped back for them to pass and they entered a room that glowed with amber light. It smelled of stewed meat, what Sofia could now identify as rabbit, and there were clusters of tables throughout the dining room. As they entered, all activity came to a halt.
Sofia and Clark stopped, rain dripping off them in soft puddles, as every fork was put down, every cup of wine set aside. Mouths dropped open and people stared openly. They wore simple clothes, men and women in staggered ages around the room and for a moment Sofia wondered if they’d walked through a portal into the dark ages.
“They’re very pale,” Clark murmured and she realized he was right. None of them sported the olive skin they’d become so accustomed to seeing. Sofia swallowed hard. The way they stared at her made her feel cold everywhere. And it was so quiet that she could feel her own pulse in her ears. “Clark…”
“Right.” She stayed close to him as he spoke to the one-eyed man who studied his face and nodded. When he walked away, Clark looked confused and lost. “What did you say? What did he say?”
“I-I don’t know. I asked if we could just go to our room and he nodded. And now he’s gone.” Clark craned his head around, a bit relieved when the man reappeared with a comically large key in his hand. “Thank god,” he murmured to Sofia and he grabbed her hand, despite the awkwardness of the luggage straps on his arm. “What are you having for dinner?” she heard Clark ask him as they wound their way through the dining room. The man grunted a reply and there was an unearthly chuckle throughout the room that made Sofia’s blood turn cold.
“What did he say?” Sofia whispered and Clark looked flummoxed.
“I-I think he said Room 201,” Clark murmured back. “Maybe he misheard me. Maybe I misheard him.”
“Maybe not,” Sofia whispered back as they moved through the crowd and the crowd followed them with hungry eyes.
Confession time: I feel a little sacrilegious writing about a tomato sauce recipe that isn’t my mother’s.
As any good proto-typical Italian-American, I come from a long line of women who make their own sauce (And yes, we call it sauce in our family. Not gravy.) Stepping away from a sauce that’s not my mother’s, despite my own years in the kitchen, still feels wrong and unnecessary and a little bit like betrayal. Which is foolish and nonsensical and my mother would be the first to point it out- “Grandma’s sauce was nothing like mine,” she’d remind me again and again. “Aunt Catherine’s is different, Aunt Anna’s is different. Aunt Rosie’s was different.” And it’s true. One matriarch and four daughters and no two sauces were alike. If you put them out in pots and lined them up on a table for a blind taste test, myself and any of my many cousins could immediately tell whose is whose- that’s how distinct they are. All exceptional, all built to taste and preference.
Over time, I’ve found my own preference; something in between my grandmother’s (which was incredibly thin, almost a broth) and my mother’s (rich and carefully textured and balanced). My favorite recipes to read are ones like Marcella Hazan’s or this one, where sauce is cut down to its bare bones and left to simmer for an achingly long time. Where a wooden spoon is mandatory.
And yet with all of the allure of this lovely recipe, I still hesitate. I’m still young enough, I suppose, to feel like “sauce” should, still, just be my mother’s. Maybe it’s a yearning for home, pure and simple. A time when I didn’t have to fuss or create or make my own mark somewhere and could just sit at the table and let her go to work, the moves so familiar that I could see them in my sleep when I close my eyes, smell garlic and basil wafting through the room.
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
2 Pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 2 cups of canned, imported, whole Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 Tablespoons of butter
1 Medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt, to taste
1. Take either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned and place in a saucepan.
2. Add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato. Occasionally, stir and mash up large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta.
4. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
Making fresh tomatoes ready for sauce
What to use: fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (or other varieties, if they are ripe and fruity, not watery)
Blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces.
Freezing method (from David Tanis, via The Kitchn): Freeze tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw, either on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
Food mill method: Wash tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a saucepan and cover the pan. Turn on heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.
“I just… I don’t understand why you keep going back to him, Jill.”
“Listen, Tamera, I don’t know, okay? All I know is that last time he was super nice to me and he made tacos. So, you know, I don’t know. I feel like it might work out.”
Fridays in late August. Short sentences only. No long stories. Just dialogue.
Silent office. Calling gulls. Blasting AC. Remnants of apple and cheese stick. Late summer is a poem. Mine would be called “Ode to Tacos.”
Go. Make tacos. Spritz lime. Warm tortillas. Tilt face upward toward sun. Enjoy.
Mushroom, Rajas and Corn Taco with Queso Fresco
2 Anaheim Chiles
1 Poblano Chile
1 Cup of fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 White onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
6 Ounces of cremini or white button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
6 Fresh epazote leaves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon, optional)
Fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 Cup of queso fresco, cut into small cubes
6 Warm corn tortillas
1/4 Cup of grated cotixa or anejo cheese
Sprigs of fresh cilantro
1. Roast the chiles as for rajas (see below) and cut them into 1/2-inch dice.
2. Take a heavy pan (cast iron) and heat over medium-high heat until very hot.
3. In a bowl, toss the corn with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Spread the corn in the hot pan and let it blacken slightly, without stirring. Have a lid ready in case the kernels begin to pop. Remove roasted corn from the pan.
4. In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and diced chiles and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Season lightly with salt and remove from the pan.
5. Reduce the heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the corn and chiles to the pan and stir to reheat.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the epazote, if using, black pepper, and queso fresco.
7. To assemble the tacos, spoon some vegetables onto a tortilla. Top with a generous tablespoon of salsa and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cotixa cheese over all. Top with a cilantro sprig.
Roasting the chiles:
Char the whole peppers on all sides, by placing them directly in a gas flame or under a hot broiler. Wrap them in a paper towel and allow to cool completely, then remove the stem and seeds. Rub off the charred skin with a towel. Do not wash chiles or you’ll lose the smoky flavor.
He walked in and froze.
“Hi.” His wife looked up. “What?”
What, he thought. His wife, at that moment, was sitting at the kitchen table. The kitchen table which was scattered with cereal from breakfast, plates from lunch in the center, and plates from dinner closest to the edge, the ones most recently eaten. She sat in one of the faded yellow chairs, one foot propped on a second chair, one shoe off and one shoe on. One hand outstretched and rocked the baby carrier on the floor where, inside, their infant son slept. Slung across his wife’s chest was their two-year-old daughter, also asleep, her arms bandied around her mother’s neck, her bare feet and legs wrapped around her mother’s waist. If it wasn’t for the wild curls that hung down their daughter’s back, he would’ve thought that a koala bear had swung into the kitchen and mistaken the woman in the chair, the one with the wild curls that matched their daughter’s, for a tree limb.
His wife’s other hand was outstretched too, and occupied. She had somehow found a way to reach their daughter’s plate, the small plastic, purple plate that had seen better days, and held the remnants of a grilled cheese sandwich, the crust cut off, white cheese and not yellow, the top specked in ketchup, a bite or two removed from the sides. He watched her take a bite and when she sighed, their daughter sighed too, a rumble against her chest. “We’re having grilled cheese for dinner,” she said and he nodded, wondering if there was another sandwich somewhere unseen, wondering if they would just share that one, wondering if it was possible that someone could look so loved and so lovely, so lost and so found all at the very same time.
I have an imaginary therapist. His name is Dr. Strathairn (because, hi) and he’s very, very good. Or, at least, I think he’s very good. (He doesn’t exactly get a lot of reviews on Yelp.)
Lately, I’ve been making a lot of appointments (his schedule’s wide open), more so than usual. Not that anything’s wrong in particular but, you know, sometimes it’s just good to check in on yourself. Have a conversation with a handsome, calm, older gentleman who’s holding a notebook (and who takes your insurance). Who lets you go over your appointment time. Who sometimes interjects with stories about what it was like to make The River Wild (you know, typical therapist stuff). I find it comforting. And very revealing.
Summer requires its own sort of comfort. Why should fall get all the comfort-fun? There’s a lot to be stressed about in the summer, after all. Here’s a short list:
- People at work who are on vacation while you are decidedly not on vacation
- F.O.M.O. (there’s something about SUN and OUTSIDE that makes you feel like you’re not doing enough to take advantage, no matter how much you do)
- Sun (why does it make you so sleepy?)
- Sand (why does it get everywhere?)
- People who roll their eyes when you complain about summer REMOTELY (but not Dr. Strathairn. He totally gets it.) (I swear I’m not crazy. Please don’t call my mother.)
SO. We’re going to make a caprese grilled cheese sandwich. We’re going to make them summer appropriate. We’re going to make arugula pesto. We’re going to be embracing of butter and oil. We’re going to weigh the kinds of melty mozzarella cheese we want and then say things like ALL and YES. We may or may not broil freshly picked, ripe tomatoes. We may or may not leave off the arugula. But we will enjoy all of it, every bite.
Caprese Grilled Cheese with Arugula Pesto
Good sourdough bread or rustic bread
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Arugula pesto ( see below)
Butter and olive oil for the pan
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Layer fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto between two slices of bread.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy bottom oven proof skillet. Lightly brown each side of bread and place in the hot oven.
4. Bake until cheese is melty, about 10 minutes.
Arugula Pesto (Makes 1 cup)
2 Large garlic cloves
1/4 Cup of smoked or roasted almonds
1 Cup of packed basil leaves or flat-leaf parsley
2 Cups of packed arugula
1/3 Cups of olive oil, plus 1 Tablespoon
1/8 Cups of fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon of kosher salt (use less if your almonds are salted)
1. In food processor, place first 4 ingredients and pulse until finely chopped.
2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, scraping down sides as necessary.
Note from Sylvia at Feasting at Home: This recipe is intentionally a little salty and a little lemony, if eaten on its own. It’s meant to flavor the sandwich, or could be tossed with pasta, or even mixed with a little mayo (or veganaise) for a flavorful sandwich spread.
She thought she would know when the sun came out. After days and days of rain, of clouds and darkness, she was sure she would notice the sun’s light as soon as it appeared. All week long, all month long, it felt like she sat at the bay window and willed it to appear. She took the dogs for walks and watched their white paws get speckled and sprayed with black mud and closed her eyes, wondered if she could call the sun out the way some people claimed they could call the rain. Just yesterday, she’d stood in the kitchen and flipped on the overhead light with a sigh when the darkness crept over the countertops far, far too early, in a way that could only mean a storm was approaching.
Perhaps it was the still-wet grass under her feet, the blades that tickled her ankles, that distracted her that afternoon. Perhaps it had just been too long. Or maybe she was more lost in her thoughts of late than she realized. Whatever the reason, she’d been outside with the wash for almost a full hour, humming through the chore, before she noticed that the weather had turned on its heel without her notice. She’d just put up the last sheet out on the line, the basket at her feet, when she noticed the band of gold light that striped her wrist. She turned her hand over so that the light rested in her palm. It glinted against the rings she’d yet to remove from her finger.
Days and days of dark and now there was light. “Just like that, huh?” she murmured to the light in her hand. “Just like that.”
THE SUN IS OUT.
I looked at Nicole’s photos for today’s post and then glanced up at the breaking sky and thought that seems about right. Let’s make this post all about sun.
Because it’s been raining off and on all week here in Maine and it’s Friday and I’ve just about hit my limit. When I open my eyes in the morning, I can see just the slightest sliver of sky and this morning, when I saw it was gray yet again, I did one of those toddler-tantrum-like convulsions in my bed, Paul Rudd flinging his breakfast tray style, if you know what I mean. No, no, notagainno. NO.
I love me some rain (I moved, on purpose, to a place that looks gorgeous in the rain, in the moody dark) but even I was craving some extra light this week. And now the sun’s out and I find myself turning my head toward the window every few minutes, as if afraid it’s going to leave us again.
This week, we decided to cook the cover of Bon Appetit’s June issue because in the summer, really, all anyone really needs is pesto and a tangle of spaghetti and white wine and a little extra sun; the world at large is easy to please that way. And even more pleasing is this parsley pesto, usually an accent in the more traditional Genovese-style, basil-based variety. Here parsley steps into center stage and there’s just something about that grassy green against the yellow; it’s almost summer, you guys. It really is.
Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto
DO AHEAD: Pesto can be made 5 days ahead. Cover surface directly; chill.
1 Pound of spaghetti
1/2 Cup of unsalted, roasted almonds
4 Cups (packed) of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 Cup of chopped fresh chives
3/4 Cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Cup of Parmesan, finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot of boiled, salted water, cook spaghetti, stirring occasionally, until al dente. (Follow package instructions, fresh pasta cooks more quickly). Reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking liquid and drain.
2. Meanwhile, pulse almonds in food processor until smooth. Add parsley, chives, oil and cheese; process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Toss pasta and pesto in a large bowl, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls until saucy but not watery. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
He wanted to meet them at Cerito’s, a seedy diner off the interstate. They entered the place with some trepidation.
“I don’t know about this, Claudia.” Claus sniffed in the direction of a rather large couple who were currently enjoying a tower of greasy onion rings and he recoiled a bit, as if onion ring towers were contagious.
For her part, Claudia clung to his arm and her lambskin leather purse with equal ferocity as they followed the seating hostess to a booth in the back. “Just breathe through your nose. As soon as we get the information, we’ll go.”
“Do not order anything,” Claus hissed to her as they sat down.
“Oh, really, Claus? I thought I might order an American cheeseburger with French Fries,” Claudia hissed back. She slid sideways into the booth, her behind raised as far above the seat as possible so that only the smallest bit of her touched the booth.
A waitress came by, her nametag read Alice Mae for God’s sake, and tried to offer them menus but they didn’t respond so she gave them a strange look and left them on the table. They sat in pitched, tense silence as they waited and it seemed ages before there was a jingle from the bell over the front door and soon their party was joined by an older man in a trenchcoat. He had bags under his eyes and was freshly shaved, a tiny piece of toilet paper stuck to a nick on his neck and dotted with red. Claudia looked away from it, her stomach rolling.
The man had a manilla envelope in his hand but he placed it on the table and didn’t seem to notice that Claus twitched toward it beside him. He smiled at the waitress and ordered a coffee and a plate of eggs with bacon before he finally turned his attention to the pair. “Mr. Von Sheffein. Ms. Von Sheffein-Price.”
“Detective Otta.” Claudia nodded stiffly, as her impeccable manners and upbringing dictated. Claus stared at the envelope on the crumb-covered table.
“Call me Rick.” They wouldn’t, of course, that was ridiculous but Claudia tried to smile anyway. “I have some information for you. Unless you’d like to get something to eat first.”
“No!” Claudia replied quickly, and loudly. Behind them, a woman turned and stared. Claudia stared back with hostile eyes and the woman retreated like a badger back into a hole. “Just tell us. Please. We’ve been waiting such a long time.”
The PI tapped a finger on the envelope and studied her for a long moment. “You asked me to find out information on your biological family.” They nodded. Claudia’s mouth went dry. “You gave me the little information you were able to procure from your adoptive mother’s attorney in Antwerp. I used that information, and my significant resources and connections, to put together a complete profile of your biological parents and relations.”
Claus and Claudia both leaned forward, eyes wide. Claudia held her breath. This was it, she thought, and her thin hand grasped the embossed handle of her purse until her knuckles turned white. They would have the information now and they would find their families and be welcomed into open arms. And finally, finally, their money worries would be at an end.
Her dear mother had always said they’d come from royalty. Royalty. Claudia had always adored the word. She adored it more now that she knew that royalty most often meant riches. The adoration was tinged with desperation now that her idiot husband had died and taken his fortune with him to the grave.
“Who are they? Where are they? Tell us everything.” Claus demanded.
Otta hesitated, his hand on the envelope and Claudia felt a rush of rage. “You want more money,” she said, her voice a low growl. Otta narrowed his eyes. “You little weasel. You’re going to hold this over us for more money. Disgusting,” she spit out as the idea took hold. “You and your little ploy. Revolting.”
Otta tapped his finger on the folder and then, with a considering glance at both of them, stood up. He slid the envelope toward Claudia. “It’s all yours, sweetheart. Take it with my compliments. I wasn’t trying to keep your family from you,” he said as he stepped back from the booth with a grim smile. “I was trying to find a nice way of saying, ‘Welcome home.'” And with that, he turned and walked away.
Claus and Claudia stared at his back and then looked at each other. “What did he mean?” asked Claus.
“How should I know?” she snapped back at him. She grabbed the envelope and with trembling hands, ripped open the envelope. And she stared at the name on the paper in that envelope, the name that looked so shockingly familiar, the same name that resided on the menu beside her.
Detective stories. Seems fitting on a day like today. Sitting in my dad’s office (dad desks always bring detectives to mind. Something about the mahogany, I guess) as it rains down in buckets here in New York.
We’re off to get pizza and then hit the movies for his birthday, a day after his big retirement party in the city. A lot of celebrations for my old man. All of them decidedly well-deserved. We’re going into this weekend feeling very lucky and very proud.
And for you… pizza! Because it’s FRIDAY! Everyone gets pizza on Friday!
Ricotta, Honey and Black Pepper Naan Pizza Recipe
Serves 1 | Print Recipe
1 Naan flatbread
Fresh ricotta cheese
Cracked Black Pepper
Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Place naan on baking sheet and spread with ricotta cheese, use as much or as little as you prefer.
3. Drizzle with honey and a little olive oil. Sprinkle with black pepper and sea salt.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on it), until crust is crispy.
5. While pizza is baking, mix arugula with lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil.
6. Serve with hot pizza, on the side or on top.
I AM ABOUT TO BUY A HOUSE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. A house with the beautiful name of Bramasole. It is tall, square, and apricot-colored with faded green shutters, ancient tile roof, and an iron balcony on the second level, where ladies might have sat with their fans to watch some spectacle below. But below, overgrown briars, tangles of roses, and knee-high weeds run rampant. The balcony faces southeast, looking into a deep valley, then into the Tuscan Apennines. When it rains or when the light changes, the facade of the house turns gold, sienna, ocher; a previous scarlet paint job seeps through in rosy spots like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun. In places where the stucco has fallen away, rugged stone shows what the exterior once was. The house rises above a strada bianca, a road white with pebbles, on a terraced slab of hillside covered with fruit and olive trees.
Bramasole: from bramare, to yearn for, and sole, sun: something that yearns for the sun, and yes, I do.”
Excerpt from Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Fish in Crazy Water
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes—coarsely chopped, juices reserved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced parsely
1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh red chile, or more to taste
4 cups water
Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets, skin on
4 slices of grilled sourdough bread
In a deep skillet that’s large enough for the fish fillets to lie flat without overlapping, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chile, a large pinch of salt and the water. Cover the skillet and bring the water to a steady simmer over moderate heat; simmer for 45 minutes.
Uncover the skillet and boil the liquid until it has reduced by half. Add the fish, skin side up, and cook for 2 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the fillets. Season the fish with salt and simmer until just cooked through.
Put the grilled bread in shallow bowls and arrange the snapper fillets on top. Spoon the broth all around and serve.
I don’t have a story this morning. I started to write one but it was really boring. It was about a woman organizing her office. I know, right? No one needs to hear about the weird ways you relax, Judi.
True story: I was in the car with two of my friends last weekend. We were driving to Target so one of them could buy bins. (Does the excitement never end?) We were talking about January and about cleaning out closets and my friend who was driving said something about lists. At the same time, we all sighed, “Lists.” With happiness. All three of us. I clearly found the right friends.
Also, if you wanted to leave now, in pure disgust, I would not blame you. No hard feelings.
There is a cleanliness to January that I like. A blank slate-ness. (That’s a word right?) The start over part. The kale part.
And then interspersed through the month, there’s moments of pure hibernation. Mountains of blankets. TV watching. Puzzles to assemble. Exercise through the form of shoveling snow and… not much else. That’s the macaroni and cheese part. Okay, so most of it is macaroni and cheese. But I don’t think you’ll be sorry.
Stove Top Mac & Cheese with Kale
8 Oz of macaroni
1/4 Cup of butter
1/4 Cup of flour (2 oz)
1/2 Teaspoon of salt – omit if using salted butter
1 dash of black pepper
2 Cups of milk
2 Cups of cheddar cheese, shredded (8oz)
About 8 stalks of kale, finely shredded, ribs removed
2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Cup of toasted Panko/normal breadcrumbs *optional*
1. Finely slice kale and chop garlic. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
3. In the same pot (rinsed and dried), heat some olive oil and saute garlic until aromatic. Add sliced kale and saute until slightly wilted. Remove the kale and add to bowl with cooked macaroni.
4. In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour, salt and pepper; Slowly add milk. Add about 1/2 cup first, stir until the milk is well combine and smooth with the flour-butter mixture and then add another 1/2 cup, stir to combine and add the remaining milk. This is important to avoid lumpiness in the sauce.
5. Cook and stir until bubbling and sauce no longer feels grainy, over low heat. Stir in cheese until smooth and creamy.
6. Add macaroni to cheese sauce in pot. Stir until everything is well mixed and warmed.
7. *Optional* In a small pan, toast some breadcrumbs until golden brown. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the macaroni and cheese just before serving. Macaroni and cheese with kale! Hazaah!
Must eat… pot…pie…
Turkey Pot Pie
1 10-inch roll of pie pastry
4 TBSPs butter, divided
1 Small onion, minced
2 Stalks of celery, chopped
2 Carrots, diced
3 TBSPs of dried parsley
1 Teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Cubes of chicken bouillon
2 Cups of water
3 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 and 1/2 Cups of cubed cooked turkey
3 TBSPs of all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup of milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Roll out bottom pie crust, press into a 10 inch pie pan, and set aside. (Or use individual, oven-safe bowls or ramekins for individual pot pies.)
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion, celery, carrots, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper.
4. Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft.
5. Stir in the bouillon and water.
6. Bring mixture to a boil.
7. Stir in the potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm.
8. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
9. Stir in the turkey and flour.
10. Add the milk, and heat through.
11. Stir the turkey mixture into the vegetable mixture, and cook until thickened.
12. Cool slightly, then pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
13. Roll out the top crust, and place on top of filling. Flute edges, and make 4 slits in the top crust to let out steam.
14. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
15. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
16. Eat and then promptly take nap.
“It’s all about grace, man.”
The group nodded, heads bobbing as one, like the buoys out in the ocean behind them. The man they called Petri sat on top of the rock, his board resting silent beside him. “You know, you can’t just go out there and slay it. That’s not what it’s about.”
He didn’t really know why they listened to him. Every day, he went out on the waves. Then, he came back, he settled on the rock and stared out at the water. Sometimes he said things and when he did, people seemed to like it.
First one kid came and sat next to him, then another. Then, two more. Sometimes, like today, they’d bring him food.
They were strange offerings. Today, it was a tumble of limes into his lap.
Petri shook his head, chased by his own thoughts and picked up one of the limes. One of the girls had asked him how he did it, how he managed to stay so calm in the curl of the wave. They thought that’s what it was, his calm, his ease, that kept him there so long, so much longer than the rest of them.
It was true, Petri felt no fear there but there was no calm either. But he didn’t have the words to explain why or how it happened or what happened in that break. They were waiting but he stayed still and silent, unsure of what else to say, unsure if there was anything he could say that would give the girl what she wanted to hear.
Instead, he studied the lime, its perfect curves, how it fit in his hand, its hidden pockets. He let the rest of it, all of it, all of them, fall away, knowing as he did so that the answer they wanted was right there- not in the asking, but in the act of letting go.
It’s summer. My friends are here from LA, visiting. I’m at work, willing the rest of Friday’s hours to melt away so I can meet them.
I used to live in LA, did you know that? I did. I lived in West Los Angeles, on the border of Santa Monica. For the first two years, I didn’t have a car so I took the bus and walked everywhere. If you’ve been to LA, live there or know remotely anything about LA, you know that this is madness, walking. Because LA is all about cars. Cars and the beach and the grimy glitter of Hollywood boulevard. Short skirts and sunglasses. And tacos. TACOS. When Nicole and I pondered our next recipe pick, this was at the top of my list. I saw this recent post, starring blackened fish tacos with creamy chipotle aioli and two crunchy slaws, from the wonderful ladies at Muy Bueno Cookbook and sent it to her immediately. “Let’s make this please.”
Because of all the things I miss about living in Los Angeles (and that specific list is pretty small- I ended up in Maine, after all. To say it wasn’t the right fit would be quite the obvious understatement), tacos and my friends top the list.
Not in that order, of course.
Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce
For Savory Cilantro Lime Coleslaw:
4 Cups of finely shredded cabbage
1/3 Cup of chopped cilantro
3 TBSPs of lime juice
2 TBSPs of vegetable oil
Salt to taste
For Chipotle Aioli Sauce:
1 Cup of creme fraiche or sour cream
2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 TBSP of adobo sauce
1/3 Cup of chopped sweet onion
Salt to taste
For Tilapia Tacos:
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of paprika
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of dried Mexican oregano
1/2 Teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 Teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 Teaspoon of crushed red peppers
1 TBSP of honey
1 TBSP of fresh lime juice
2 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
4 to 8 corn tortillas
Savory Cilantro and Lime Coleslaw:
Combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well and chill about 1 hour before serving.
Chipotle Aioli Sauce:
Combine crema, chipotles, adobo sauce, and onion in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Salt to taste.
Blackened Tilapia Tacos:
1. Combine spices, honey, and lime juice in a bowl.
2. Using your hands, coat both sides of the tilapia.
3. Spray the grill grates or pan before heating. Heat and grill each side for 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Warm corn tortillas in pan and plate with hunks of blackened tilapia, coleslaw, and drizzle with spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Serve with lime wedges.
Around the fire, they gathered. Some men were tall and some were mere boys, all of them hunched low, their backs slashed with mud and earth and heavy with dark furs that did little to battle the bitter cold.
When he came, carrying the slain beast over his shoulders, a hush fell over the gathered crowd. He lumbered and lurched, the elder hunstman, and the beast dripped blood from its squared snout. They stopped and stared in awe, this beast they had not seen before, its great tusks pointing to the amber sky. The last steps to the fire were longest as those gathered reached out to touch the bristled fur, slowing the huntsman’s journey.
There was no ceremony. With a roar, the beast was pitched into the fire. They circled it, watching the fat drip down and send sparks of light flying. A young boy touched a magic light and flailed. It grew darker and the light brighter, the sparks fewer as the beast blackened before them. Finally, ages later, the huntsman, who claimed the honor, grabbed the beast by the hooves and wrenched it from the flame. It fell to the ground and they descended upon it,a handful for each.
They ate in silence, the translucent pieces slippery in their fingers, nothing but the howls of dogs in the distance and the crack of fire before them. The huntsman stared down at the beast, knowing that before the fire died, its bones would be clean. He dropped another morsel in his mouth and that’s when he heard it, like thunder striking a mighty oak.
A man had stood, straightened. He had lifted his hands and grunted. And then, he brought them together and again the thunder struck. The hunstman stared. The man did it once more and his grunt was of approval. He brought his hands together, a third rap of thunder. The others stared.
Then, a boy stood up next to him. He wiped the grease from his face and brought his hands together too. The others stared. The man and boy made the thunder roar, then another joined. And another.
When they all brought their hands together, it sounded like rain.
There are certain foods I don’t believe in messing with- the food at ballparks (1 hot dog please with mustard and ketchup and yes, I still eat my hot dogs like a 9 year old at a bowling party, shut up), movie popcorn, potato chips at the beach right from the bag, the Egg McMuffin. They’re as close to divinity as we’re going to get- right there in the moment, life is good.
And the BLT? The BLT is the Brigid Jones of sandwiches- it is perfect, just as it is.
The BLT doesn’t need fancy-pants ingredients to be insanely delicious. Even with the most wilty of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes, it still sings. It might be a sad whisper of a song but there’s still coolness and crunch and salt and sweetness at play so… it works. And when you bump up all the parts? When we slow-roast the tomatoes for achingly long hours? When we use crunchy, thick slices of good bacon and crisp, apple-green leaves of lettuce? It’s an aria. It’s worthy of “the slow clap.” Wouldn’t you agree?
Slow Roasted BLT
For the tomatoes:
Tomatoes (you can use any tomato, but roasting time will vary depending on how ripe your tomato is)
Fresh thyme sprigs
For the mayo:
1/2 Cup of mayonnaise
3 TBSP of fresh basil, chopped
For the sandwich:
Lightly toasted bread
For the roasted tomatoes:
1. Prehead oven to 225°.
2. Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and lay slices on a parchment-lined sheet tray with a few sprigs of thyme.
3. After a very light drizzle of olive oil and a whisper of salt (remember these will reduce by quite a bit so don’t overdo it with the salt at this point).
4. Roast at 225° for about 4 hours or until shriveled around the edge while still maintaining a bit of juice. (Roasting tomatoes slow and low intensifies the tomato flavor. It’s incredible.)
Leftovers: Cover the leftover with olive oil and place in the fridge to use in salads, pasta, frittatas, grilled pizzas…
For the basil mayo:
Stir together mayonnaise and chopped basil. (You can add a dollop of pesto in lieu of basil too, always a lovely treat.)
For the sandwiches:
Cook bacon until crispy. (For best results, use a high quality bacon. There are times to be thrifty and reasonable- this is not that time.) Lightly toast slices of thick, chewy bread and apply basil mayo generously to both sides. Add bacon, lettuce and cooled, roasted tomatoes. Add sliced avocado with a tiny extra sprinkle of sea salt if you’re feeling saucy.
“This is so good.”
“Mmmm. I just want to crawl into the bowl and take a nap.”
“You could use a peanut for a pillow.”
“Omg, yes. And a cilantro leaf for a blanket.”
“And I’d go to take a forkful and you’d be on the fork, snoozing.”
“And I’d be all, ‘Don’t eat me, Martha! It’s me, your friend! I live here!'”
“And I’d pick you up by the collar of your shirt and set you down by my plate.”
“Yes. Because that’s what friends do. They do not eat their friend who has been mysteriously shrunken and trying to sleep in their delicious lunch.”
I know, I know. You’re all, “A salad? Really, Twix Tart?”
LISTEN. We’re getting married in a few weeks, okay? And by we, I mean Nicole is getting married and I’m just squealing and clapping and doing a lot of obnoxious question-asking at inopportune moments, and also pestering her about recipes when she’s knee-deep in wedding details.
So, yes. A salad. A delicious, healthy, visually stunning salad. There’s something so Thai about this salad. Lime. Peanuts. Mango. Cilantro.
When Nicole suggested this recipe from this month’s Bon Appetit, I had already used the same grain-salad guide to riff on a Roasted Tomato Quinoa Salad, which was on full display this week in our Facebook Group as a part of my Day of Cooking Crazy where I made way, way too many things last Sunday and began to seriously question my mental health.
But. Anyway. That guide is great. It should be a no-brainer to take a handful of grains, add a zesty vinegarette, add some protein and some fruit and veggies, some nuts here and there, and call it a day. But sometimes you need to see it all spelled out in just the right way.
Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts
1/4 Cup of fresh lime juice, to taste
2 TBsps of vegetable oil
1 TBsp of fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam; optional)
2 Cups of black rice (preferably Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice)
2 Just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1 Cup of finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 Cup of unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
6 Scallions, thinly sliced
2 Jalapeños, seeded, minced
1. Oranges: Remove peel and bitter, white pith from oranges. Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.
2. Add 1/4 cup of lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.
3. Bring rice and 2 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt.
4. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
5. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.
6. Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
7. Add rice and toss gently to combine.
8. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.
It was hard to say who was more nervous. Angela knelt down and, with a shaking in her heart, took hold of the small stuffed dog in Bradley’s arms. His grip tightened, he looked betrayed. Angela relaxed her own grip and fixed his blue eyes with her own. “It’s going to be okay, Brad.” He looked as if he did not believe her.
Other parents were snapping pictures, some mothers in tears as they fussed over their too-small children with their too-big backpacks. She heard a father behind her pronounce, “Such a big girl! First day of school!” and the playfulness in his tone made her want to kick him in the shins. His own daughter looked miserable behind her giant glasses and she felt a pang of guilt for the thought as she watched him bend down and enfold her in his big arms.
Angela looked at her son. She could not remember the words her own mother had spoken to her on the first day of school, nor what she was wearing, nor how she felt. The only recollection of that day was a yellowed photograph in an album somewhere, her younger self clutching a lunchbox and her hand raised in a kind of wave.
She wanted to tell Bradley that it would not matter what she said because he most likely would not remember it either. These moments are for the present, she thought, because he’s scared now. Everything is just so now. So she placed her hands on the sides of his round face and smiled. “You’re scared now but you won’t be soon. You’ll walk in and the teacher will be nice and the other children will be nervous too. And you’ll play and have fun. And then I’ll come back and pick you up. Want to know a secret?” Angela leaned in close and her son’s eyes widened. “I’m scared too.”
She had been stroking the small dog in his arms without realizing it and now his eyes dropped down. The breath he’d been holding released and he let go of the dog, let it fall into her hands.
He didn’t say a word, couldn’t say a word, but he let the dog go and when she stepped back, he held her eyes and nodded. He hefted the backpack like his father shifted his bag in his hand and when the bell rang and he turned and walked toward the big brick building, he left her on the sidewalk and disappeared without a sound.
I’m starting a new job this week. Can you tell?
I made this pasta last Thursday night in my new kitchen with all my old things, most of which I haven’t seen since August. When I opened the box and pulled out my old, heavy pans, it felt like I was greeting an old friend.
There’s still a bite in the air here in Maine (though I’m sure every single person in the state will remark, if you say such a thing out loud, that it’s far warmer now than it should be) but the skies are blue. It was supposed to rain every day this week but all I’ve seen is sun. I wanted to make this dish because of it’s lightness, the springness of it. Sharp white wine, salty bites, crisp, vibrant greens. Add a vase of freshly cut flowers to the table. Arrange thick cuts of crusty bread on a plate.
Things are changing here, the plates have shifted beneath me. Well. Not all the plates. Thankfully.
Springy Pasta with Peas, Prosciutto and Asparagus
Source: Bon Appetit | Time: About 1 hour | Makes 6 to 8 Servings | Print Recipe
2 TBsps of (1/4 stick) butter
2 TBsps of extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1/2 lb. of spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 TBsps of minced shallot
Coarse kosher salt
1/2 Cup of dry white wine
1/2 Cup of low-salt chicken broth
1 and 1/2 lbs. of asparagus, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces
2 Cups of frozen peas
1 lb. of campanelle (trumpet-shaped pasta) or shell-shaped pasta
1 Head of butter lettuce or Boston lettuce (about 6 ounces), cored, leaves cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices
1 Cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 Cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 Ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1. Melt butter with 2 tablespoons of oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
2. Add onions and shallot. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.
3. Saute until tender, do not brown, for about 8 minutes.
4. Add wine. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; set aside.
5. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook asparagus until just tender, about 2 to 4 minutes depending on thickness of asparagus. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water.
6. Return water to boil. Add peas and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with asparagus. Drain vegetables.
7. Return water to boil. Cook pasta until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
8. Add pasta, 1 cup of parmesan and parsley to skillet with vegetables. Toss. Add reserved pasta liquid if dry. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Sprinkle with prosciutto slices and drizzle with olive oil.