Summer buffalo bolognese

IMG_1405

I don’t often cook buffalo (it’s a pretty expensive ingredient) though I love the subtle gamey quality of the meat.

It pairs so effortlessly against blistered tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil, all mixed up in a cloud of summer bolognese.

In my book, this makes for the perfect summertime dinner. Best enjoyed alfresco!

Tips: if you need to generally source buffalo here in the US, D’Artagnan is your best bet.

IMG_1408

Summer buffalo bolognese

You’ll need:

(serves two)

  • whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 12 buffalo mince  (or beef mince as substitute)
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large T tomato paste
  • a pinch of chili flakes
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 “strands” cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with foil and roast tomatoes for 15-20 minutes until just blistered, but not bursting.

2. Turn oven off, take out the cherry tomatoes and keep them warm. Toast the pine nuts (in the still hot oven) on the same baking sheet for about 5-7 minutes.

3. Start sweating the onions with a little bit of oil in a large sauté pan.

4. Boil water for pasta and cook according to package instructions.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce.

5. Add minced meat, garlic, and a bit more olive oil  to the onions and cook on high heat until just browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or a fork as you go along.

6. Add salt, pepper, chili flakes, sugar and tomato paste to the pan and stir together. Cook for a few more minutes, then deglaze with the red wine vinegar.

7. Let the vinegar cook out and taste for seasoning. Keep pan warm while you assemble the dish.IMG_1411

Drain pasta and toss with a little bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Top with bolognese sauce, tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil leaves and serve immediately.

IMG_1414

Linguine with squash blossoms, pepitas, and tuscan kale

IMG_1082

This weeknight dinner is seasonal and satisfying.

I love cooking with squash or zucchini blossoms [stuffed squash blossoms! or petit pois and zucchini flower salad] as they add a subtle sweetness and flowery touch to compliment other robust flavors.

Tips: Fresh pasta is simple to make and cooks so fast, but in a pinch, use your favorite store-bought variety.

Linguine with squash blossoms, pepitas, and tuscan kale

(serves 2)

  • 1/2 lb of fresh linguine pasta
  • 8-10 squash blossoms
  • a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 7-8 leaves tuscan kale
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 of a lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, mince the garlic and remove the stems from both the kale and the squash blossoms. Chop blossoms roughly; fold kale leaves and cut into ribbons.

2. In a large pan, heat up 3-4 T of olive oil. Add garlic, sauté lightly. Lower heat and add kale and pepitas. Cook for 2 minutes, then add lemon juice.

3. Add pasta to the pot and cook for about 4-5 minutes (or according to package instructions). When al dente, add squash blossoms to the pot.

4. Drain pasta and blossoms, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

5. Add pasta and blossoms to the pan, top with lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Mix to combine and cook for another minute.

IMG_1079

Taste for seasoning and add a little more pepper and olive oil, if desired.

IMG_1080

Shrimp and broccolini with chili-lemon sauce

IMG_0623

This makes a perfect weeknight dinner – the pasta is really just the vehicle for the addictive lemon-chili sauce, which makes this dish light and creamy-indugent at the same time.

The sauce is super versatile, and you can see that just within this one dish – it goes well with fish and other seafood, bitter, sturdy greens, as well as pasta.

Tip: Reserve about half a cup of the pasta water for thickening the sauce – the starches in the water make this light sauce feel creamy and rich without any butter.

Shrimp and broccolini with chili-lemon sauce

(serves 2)

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 8-10 raw shrimp, deveined, shell on
  • about a cup of broccolini (or broccoli rabe), washed and trimmed
  • 3 T + 1 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves + 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 t red chili flakes
  • juice of one lemon + 2 T more lemon juice
  • 2 heaping t grated lemon zest, divided
  • salt, pepper

1. In a large pan, sauté the broccolini with the remaining garlic and about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cook for about five-six minutes. You want it to stay green and still have a bite.

2. Heat up 3 tablespoons of oil in a separate pan on medium heat. Add shallots, then 2 cloves worth of minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add lemon juice, chili flakes, and lemon zest and let reduce slightly.

3.Turn up heat to medium-high and cook the shrimp in the sauce, turning/flipping once or twice. The shrimp should cook very quickly, you want it just firm and pink. Take shrimp out of pan, cover, and set aside.

4. Bring a pot of salted water t0 boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Ladle the pasta water gradually into the pan with the sauce and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until thickened.

IMG_0622

5. Combine shrimp with pasta and sauce, layering the broccolini on the bottom on the plate and/or on top of the pasta.

ps. More pictures, as always, over on the s&h Facebook page!

A visit to the Defilippis pasta factory

When we were in Turin last week, Nina organized a visit to the Defilippis pasta factory for us.

It is an old, family-run business – although the brand name was temporarily sold by the Defilippis heir when he developed an interest in cycling rather than pasta-making – native to Turin.

It’s a pretty small operation, but they manage to churn out a supply of fresh pasta for their two own stores and a few restaurants, and signature dried pastas every day.

All the ingredients are measured out approximately and though a lot of the work is done by machines, the pastas are still folded, cut, and dried by hand. Defilippis is part of the prolific Slow Food movement in Turin.

The kitchen is pristine and houses both old-school and new machinery.

pasta wheels/grinds

One of the signature local pastas is the Agnolotti del Plin (in the top picture), often served with sage butter. It is delicious!

Italian night: mushroom ragu

Monday night was Italian night with the tastiest, richest mushroom sauce – and it’s dairy-free! (you can skip the cheese at the end)

You’ll need:

  • about 3 cups chopped wild mushrooms (I used a mix of three, but mix and match as you want)
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme (just the leaves!)
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino + more to top
  • and any pasta you like (I like whole wheat spaghetti!)

1. Heat up olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic, sage, and thyme and cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden.

2. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt (not too much) and pepper, and cook until just browned, stirring often. Deglaze with the red wine and lower heat slightly.

3. Cook for about 3 minutes then add veal stock (here I cheated a bit and added the veal stock glace I brought from France, diluted in a cup of hot water).

4. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning – you don’t want too much salt because you will also add cheese into the mix, but you may want to add a little more red wine for complexity and let it cook out.

5. Take off heat, let cool slightly and stir in cheese. Stir through pasta, add more cheese on top, and serve immediately. Top with a bit more sage, if you want.

Pasta and pesto

Sounds simple, right? I always say that I am lucky to have friends who like to cook, but I also love getting people to see that exciting home-cooking does not need to take a long time or be too complicated, meaning that you can do it too.

For example, you can easily make some fresh pasta sheets and pesto for a weeknight dinner. All you need is your food processor and this simple Mark Bittman recipe for Fazzoletti with pesto. I like to keep my pesto chunky and not overwhelmingly cheesy, so you can still taste the green of the pesto and add more cheese on top of the sauce.

Pasta dough recipe:

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed to roll out dough
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks

1. Pulse flour and salt in a food processor once or twice. Add the eggs and yolks, and turn the machine on.Process just until a ball begins to form, about 30 seconds, adding a few drops of water if the dough is dry and grainy; alternatively, add a tablespoon of flour if the dough sticks to the side of the bowl.

2. Turn the dough out of the food processor, sprinkle it with a little flour, cover it with plastic or a cloth, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. (At this point, you may refrigerate the dough, wrapped in plastic, until you’re ready to roll it out, for up to 24 hours.)

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Divide the dough in half. Turn one half of the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle no thicker than 1/4 inch and ideally closer to 1/8 inch, adding additional flour sparingly as necessary. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

4. Cut into squares no larger than 4 inches across. Drop the squares into the water and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the handkerchiefs with the pesto, some salt and pepper, and a spoonful of pasta water, if necessary, to thin the pesto. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan.

Pesto:

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • pepper

1. In a food processor or blender, combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic and about half the oil. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually.

2. Add the nuts and cheese, and pulse a few times. The pesto should be well combined but still chunky.

Butternut squash and sage ravioli

Our team effort dinner on Sunday night was inspired by the butternut squash wonton recipe from this month’s F&W.

We changed it around by making fresh pasta, because Lyn & her dad are a great pasta-making team, and by mixing the butternut and garlic mixture with ricotta for the filling in half of the ravioli and adjusting the seasoning accordingly.

A Kitchenaid is good for so many things!

 

The fresh sage from the garden also helped. We omitted the walnuts and served this with a simple sage brown butter sauce and some parmesan – delicious!

Smoked trout & leek lasagna

This is an open-faced lasagna with a creamy leek sauce and smoked trout (both in pate form and whole pieces of fish). It is inspired by a dish seen on Junior Masterchef Australia – I show I happen to love because it really takes you back to the basics of why amateurs and professionals alike love cooking.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 pat of butter
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 piece smoked trout
  • 1 jar smoked trout pate
  • salt, pepper
  • 5 lasagna sheets (fresh pasta is best; otherwise, cook according to package instructions)

Useful tip: I use chopsticks to delicately lift and take the lasagna sheets out of the pot.

1. Boil a pot of  salted water for your pasta whether you are using fresh or dried pasta sheets.

2. Cut the white parts of the leeks into fine circles. Heat up a large heavy bottomed pan with the pat of butter. Cook the leeks until just turning golden and translucent. Add the cream and season with pepper and a little bit of salt (the cheese and the fish pate will provide plenty salt). Reduce heat and stir constantly as the sauce thickens.

3. In the meantime, cook your pasta. Just as the cream starts to thicken to a nice consistency, add in the parmesan and keep stirring. Taste for seasonings and take off heat – you do not want the sauce to be runny (and it won’t be) but you still want to be able to ladle it between the lasagna sheets.

4. Plate up quickly – here it helps to prepare you fish, pasta and sauce in a small assembly line. Layer the pasta, sauce, and pieces of fish with a dollop of smoked trout pate.

5. Garnish with some chives and more parmesan, if desired.

Parmesan, yellow zucchini and other good things

I don’t know about you but Monday night is not traditionally a night when I want to cook a complicated dinner – more often than not, you’re tired, you don’t feel like grocery shopping or being particularly creative, and also usually somewhat bitter that the work week has managed to restart all over again.

Here is a recipe just for a night like that – a colorful, delicious meal that takes about 15-20 minutes to execute.

You’ll need:

  • fresh pasta (linguini or spaghetti works best)
  • 1 yellow zucchini (courgette)
  • 3 tomatoes (preferably, the San Marzano variety – juicy and sweet)
  • purple basil (yes, I am loving it at the moment – try it!)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) parmesan
  • herbes de provence, salt, olive oil

1. Heat up a large pot of water (with salt and olive oil) for the pasta. The fresh pasta will cook very quickly so give it lots of room in the pot and keep an eye on it!

2.  Dice tomatoes and slice zucchini in half then chop into quarter-inch or slightly thinner pieces. Put the pasta into the boiling water (turn down to simmer).

3. Heat up a large wok or pan and a tablespoon of olive oil. Start cooking the zucchini, seasoning them with herbes de provence and parmesan and turning often with a rubber spatula.

4. When the zucchini has started to take on some color, gradually add in tomatoes and mix together, seasoning more with the herbes and the cheese.

5. Drain pasta carefully. Add purple basil to the vegetable stir-fry and mix. Take off heat.

6. Mix pasta and veggies, garnishing with more basil and topping with a little bit more parmesan, if necessary.

Bon appetit!

Weeknight dinner: Lamb ragu pasta

This is one of those weeknight meals that may be a little timeconsuming, but – as demonstrated by yours truly – is still an easy enough (and delicious) thing to do while multitasking and doing some other things around the house or even talking on the phone, for example.  There are a few steps but most of them are ordered in such a way that you can prep something while something else is getting ready.

The downside of this is that I didn’t really have enough time or enough hands to take pictures until I was done cooking so, apologies for that.

I used this recipe, slightly changed, I had randomly come across and it looked delicious and allowed me to use the bits of leftover ricotta that I had in my fridge, which would not have been enough for anything else.

Fresh rosemary smells so great. A little bit like Christmas, for some reason.

Lamb, rosemary and ricotta pasta

hearty pasta for a rainy day

You will need:

  • 4  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8  ounces  lean ground lamb
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped onion
  • 1  teaspoon  minced fresh rosemary
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2  cups  canned crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 8  ounces  uncooked farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1/2  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/4  cup  small fresh mint leaves

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb; cook 5 minutes, stir it a lot to get the mince pieces to break up nicely.

2. Remove lamb from pan with a slotted spoon; sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 2 teaspoons oil and chopped onion, cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rosemary and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Increase heat to medium-high; cook  until liquid almost evaporates. This took me about 5 minutes.

4. Add remaining  salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

leftover sauce

5. While sauce simmers, cook pasta (I used farfalle but this would be good with almost anything else) according to package directions. Drain; return pasta to pan. Stir in 1 cup sauce and remaining 1 teaspoon oil.

6. Serve the pasta, topping it with more sauce, ricotta and a bit of chopped mint.

Leftovers also heat up really well the next day, one of my favorite qualities in a weeknight dinner!