Spring. Pasta.

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I know. I know! FOOD! How freaking crazy is that? On a FOOD blog?

Alright. I’ll stop being dramatic. I just realized that, if I didn’t post something soon, May would go by with not one single post. And I know that, even though it’s only May 15th, because we’re about to get up out of this country for nearly 2 weeks, and I definitely won’t be posting then (since, you know, I barely post now..).

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Also, Spring won’t be around forever, will it? Although I hear it still feels like Winter in the Midwest, it does actually feel very springlike here in San Francisco, and even down in Palo Alto where I work it isn’t blistering hot yet. That said, I figure I should share this spring-like recipe while I still can, because it’s definitely something you should consider making.

I made this pasta recipe a month or so ago, and it is chock-full of spring veggies – broccoli, asparagus, even little cherry tomatoes. You could practically toss in whatever you like – possibly green beans, some roughly chopped kale or chard, whatever. The sauce that results from the pasta liquid, tomato juice, and melted cheese is really light, so light that you have to take care not to make any more pasta than the recipe dictates, or else it will be really dry. If you want a richer pasta, you could probably add a little white wine, or a tablespoon of butter to the pot at the same time you add the pasta water. For me though, I wanted to really focus on the veggies, and that’s the intention here: simplicity, good produce at its Springtime best.

I hope everyone has/has had a lovely Spring. I also hope you’ve enjoyed the rando pics I’ve posted. It’s my little way of barely hanging on to this blog and not totally saying goodbye. It’s nice to still have things to share, and despite having limited time, the picture-sharing is a great way to keep up. Hopefully, more recipes will come, but we’ll see how things go. I can’t remember the last time I took a photo while cooking – probably this one!

So, until next time, stay warm/cool/whatever ;).

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Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
adapted from Food&Wine, April 2013; serves 6

time commitment: ~1 hour

printable version

ingredients

2 bunches of broccolini or broccoli (about 1 1/4 pounds), thick stems halved lengthwise

1 garlic clove, sliced

5 T evoo, divided

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds red cherry tomatoes

6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

1 pound tagliatelle

2 T unsalted butter

Large pinch of crushed red pepper

1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley

About 1/2 c shaved ricotta salata cheese, for garnish

instructions

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the broccolini and garlic with 3 T of the olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper; spread on a rimmed baking sheet. In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes, until the broccolini is tender and charred in spots and the tomatoes are very juicy but not broken down.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the scallions until just softened, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the scallions to a bowl. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot. Add the roasted broccolini, scallions, asparagus, butter, crushed red pepper and half of the parsley. Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Gently fold in the roasted tomatoes and any juices and season with sea salt and pepper. Garnish with the shaved cheese and the remaining parsley and serve right away.

Ragù: It’s in there

I’m sure many of you are trying your damnedest to not turn on a single heat source, right? Facebook and Twitter are loaded with complaints about the hot weather in most parts of the country. In fact, my pops told me today that he almost breaks out in a sweat on the way to the mailbox (he was exaggerating, but only slightly).

But I have to be truthful – the only time I sweat in this city is during a jog, a painful bike ride, or walking up a huge hill or two; there is certainly no heat-induced sweating going on. I’m sorry, really, because I just can’t relate to most of you right about now. But I do remember it – I’ve always lived in humid areas, until now, remember?

In fact, Chris is in Austin right now on a business trip, and I’m sure he’s sweating through his t-shirt, and the fact that he’s bald won’t help the sweat rolling off of his head, either. And to be frank, I do miss that sometimes; I mean, it is August, right? Why did I wear a hoodie yesterday and wish I had on gloves when I got to the top of Turtle Hill? One word: microclimate.

My point here, is please forgive me for what I’m doing right about now which is one – making you wish you lived here and two – making you angry that I’m about to ask you to simmer a ragù for 2 hours. Trust me – you’ll want to crank up the A/C for this (or if you’re in San Francisco, you can open a window and take off your hoodie).

I made this dish a couple of months ago; I remember buying all the ingredients, and then putting them together in the fridge the Friday morning before heading out to work, Dutch oven waiting on the countertop. I came home, grabbed the heap of meats and produce, and happily chopped carrots, celery, and onions into tiny cubes. I cracked open a nice bottle of Malbec, pouring the obligatory amount into the pot, stirring and waiting, knowing that something absolutely scrumptious was simmering away.

I remember putting together a cheese plate to tide us over, since dinner was happening at 9:00 that night. Some things are worth the wait – this was one of them. And even today, I remember eating slowly, trying to make dinner last longer than usual. While this is definitely a pasta dish with what might appear to be a regular ol’ meat sauce, it is easily more than that. And it’s far more than the quick throw-together pasta meals from the jars in Safeway. In short – there’s stuff in it – good stuff, and you should make some of it, like yesterday, hot weather or not.

Classic Ragù Bolognese
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2011; serves 6

time commitment: 3 hours (half active)

printable version

ingredients
2 T evoo
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
6 oz ground beef (85% lean)
6 oz ground veal
3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1/2 c dry red wine
3 c beef stock, divided
4 T tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c milk
1 pound of tagliatelle
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (for serving)

instructions
Heat oil in a large heavy pot (preferably a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add beef, veal, and prosciutto; sauté, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually add to sauce. Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding more stock by 1/4-cupfuls to thin if needed. (if you wish, you can make this in advance and rewarm it over the stove the night you plan to serve it.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Transfer ragù to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if sauce seems dry. Divide pasta among warm plates. Serve with grated cheese.