Tag Archives: pasta

Can’t Get Enough Pesto, A New Love for Zucchette Pasta and a Shout-out for Gnocchi

Zucchette Pasta with Pesto, Tomatoes and Zucchini

The summer season rolled in, and I have been in a pesto frenzy. Since basil lasts but one day in the refrigerator, and I’ve been unsuccessful growing it myself given the foggy, cold weather in San Francisco (which is thankfully over, by the way),  pesto has been the natural answer. And, with the wonderful addition of ripe summer tomatoes, it has been pesto, pesto, and more pesto all summer long.

I recently discovered zucchette pasta at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, which is made locally and may be hard to find elsewhere. What I love about this pasta is the large basket-like structure that holds the sauce well. Other pastas that work well are orecchiette, campanelle, tortellini or linguine.

Gnocchi– I also made gnocchi for the first time the other night, and it was amazing. Gnocchi was never a personal favorite, but I’m singing a new tune after tasting the homemade version. It’s well worth it, if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves. I used this recipe from Epicurious. I boiled the potatoes (although it’d be fun to see if baking makes a difference in the outcome) and used a grater (the larger sized holes) to grate the potato since I didn’t have a rice mill. It worked perfectly! I read that the gnocchi will be lighter if you grate it while it’s still hot, so you do need to use a towel or something to protect your hands in the process.

Also, as I cut the individual gnocchi, I later realized I should have placed them separately (not touching) on a floured sheet pan rather than piling them into a bowl. (They somewhat stuck together- luckily, it wasn’t a catastrophe thanks to copious amounts of flour.) I’m looking forward to making this again because it seems like the kind of pasta you could experiment with. I remember ordering it one night at Bar Tartine, and was surprised to find it was more like little hash browns the way they approached it that night. Yum.

Homemade Gnocchi Pasta with Pesto

The Pesto– Once you’ve made pesto a couple times, you don’t really need a recipe and can simply eyeball the ratios, tasting it as you go and making adjustments as necessary. It’s also very helpful if you have a Cuisinart. I’ve tried making it in a blender, and it never worked very well. The basic ingredients are 1-2 large bunches basil, ~ 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1-2 minced garlic cloves (be careful not to put in too much garlic or it over-powers here), generous salt and pepper. Place all the ingredients in the blender, except the olive oil and then while blending, slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream. You may need a bit more, depending on the consistency you like. Blend until smooth. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes that is more-or-less how I make it too.

For a pesto pasta dish
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 small zucchinis, preferably different kinds, sliced medium to small
2-3 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch size pieces
Handful of toasted pinenuts, if you still have some

Directions: While boiling the pasta, saute the onion until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute for about 2 minutes (or more depending on the size of the zucchini- if it’s cut small it doesn’t take long to cook). Add about 1 cup pesto and stir in, heating, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta when it’s ready, reserving a very small amount of the boiling water and toss with a touch of olive oil. Stir in the pesto, onion and zucchini mixture, adding in the tomatoes and pine nuts. Mix thoroughly until the pasta is well-covered, and serve.

Variations:

– Include sliced or diced mushrooms. In this scenario, after cooking the onion, add a pat of butter and a touch more olive oil. When melted, add mushrooms and stir for a moment. Then stir in a generous splash of dry white wine and saute mushrooms until starting to brown and most of the liquid has cooked off. Then add zucchini and proceed with recipe.

– Include chopped artichoke hearts. Saute along with the pesto to briefly warm.

Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi Process

Making Homemade Gnocchi

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Light Summer Campanelle Pasta with Green Beans


Light Summer Campanelle Pasta with Green Beans

I love a light pasta with fresh vegetables in the summertime. This recipe is lovely for dinner as a warm entree or could also be served cold as a pasta salad for lunch. The marinated artichoke hearts are optional, but add a nice tangy flavor.

Ingredients:
1 small onion, chopped small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
~ 1 1/2 cups green beans, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped baby or regular spinach leaves
2-4 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (optional)
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 scant cup dry white wine
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
Dash of fresh or dried thyme
~ 1/2 lb. campanelle pasta

Directions:
1. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions on packaging, likely 10 minutes cooking time.

2. Prepare vegetables while water is boiling. Cook vegetables while pasta is cooking. If pasta is finished cooking before the vegetables are done, drain and toss with a touch of olive oil, cover and set aside.

3. Heat 1 generous Tablespoon olive oil in saucepan. Add onion and saute for ~ 5 minutes. Melt in 1/2 Tablespoon butter. Add red pepper flakes and dash of salt.

4. Add garlic and saute for ~30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in white wine. Let heat briefly, melding, and then add mushrooms and green beans (and artichoke hearts, if using). Stir in ~ 2 Tablespoons water, cover and steam 5-7 minutes, or until the beans are softened but still a little crunchy and bright green.

Saute onions, green beans and mushrooms

5. Melt in 1/2 Tablespoon butter, a touch more olive oil and and a splash of water if needed. Add dash of salt and pepper. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook about 1 minute.

6. Stir in a dash of fresh or dried thyme, add cherry tomatoes.

7. Mix vegetables into pasta. Serve with freshly ground pepper.

Spinach Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes

This is a great, light summer pasta using fresh cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I made it with spinach fettuccine, but regular fettuccine or farfalle would work well too. Serves 1-2.

Ingredients:

2 servings spinach fettuccine

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 handful of fresh baby spinach leaves

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

~10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or quartered, if they’re large)

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan, if desired

Directions:

1. Boil water to cook pasta (enough for 2 servings) while preparing vegetables. Cook pasta according to package directions while cooking the vegetables.

2. Heat ~1 teaspoon olive oil in pan. Add onion and saute on medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini. When nearly soft, add garlic and spinach and cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in basil and cherry tomatoes. Toss with cooked pasta, adding a bit more olive oil and a pinch or two of salt.

4. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter, Asparagus and Pine NutsI had friends coming over for dinner, and when considering what to make, I remembered a recommendation to check out 101 Cookbooks. I was hoping to make use of my pasta maker, as it’s been collecting dust recently. Lucky for me, the first pasta recipe that came up was Pappardelle with Spiced Butter. The recipe called for saffron egg noodles- again luck was with me- I’d just seen such a recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Looked like dinner was on!

Apparently, the spiced butter recipe originally comes from Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in a cookbook called Plenty. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, because the flavors of this dish are complex, unique, and meld together seamlessly. The recipe calls for saffron tagliatelle, and I probably should have cut the pasta a bit less wide than I did. However, I was so eager to have the pasta appear homemade, that it seemed fun to cut the strips on the wide side.

Making egg pasta for pappardelleI’m still learning how to make pasta using the hand method of piling the flour up on the table, making a little “bowl” for the eggs, and whisking the egg gradually into the flour. The first go ’round didn’t seem to go as well as it could, so I made a second batch. This time it worked much better. In the end, we were glad to have extra pasta on hand and used both batches. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the saffron infused water in soon enough, which would have made the pasta such a beautiful color. Next time!

I added a bit of diced zucchini to the pasta recipe as it’s squash season. This I sauteed very briefly in its own pan with a little olive oil and added it to the final mix at the end. I also forgot the last splash of cream, but it wasn’t remotely missed. The recipe makes a fair bit of spiced butter, but with the additional pasta, I ended up using most of it.

As an accompaniment to the pasta, we made an arugula salad with figs, homemade croutons, goat cheese, and toasted pecans. Delish! I don’t think figs are quite in season yet, but I couldn’t resist, they looked so good.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe

Ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of salt

1 stick / 4 oz / 100 g butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon+ fine grain sea salt
black pepper

1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g dried pappardelle egg pasta (or 1-2 lbs homemade pappardelle)
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

splash of cream
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g pine nuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Directions:

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. In the meantime, use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron and salt into a fine powder. Set aside.

To make the spiced butter: Place the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter browns just a bit. Stir in all the spices, the salt, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat (but keep warm).

Salt the water generously and cook the pasta per the package instructions, or until al dente. Barely thirty seconds before the pasta has finished cooking, add the asparagus. Drain and return the pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in the saffron salt. Pour about half of the spiced butter over the pasta, add a small splash of cream, and toss well. Taste, then ask yourself if you need to add more spiced butter or salt. Continue adding more butter until it is to your liking, then reserve any leftover for later use. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, or divided across plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs.

Serves 4 – 6.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter dinner