Spaghetti ai funghi

Adapted from Memorie di Angelina

Ingredients:

  • 500g (1 lb) penne
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) pancetta, cubed
  • 1 or 2 garlic clove, slightly crushed and peeled
  • 250g (8 oz) mushrooms, roughly chopped (see Notes)
  • A fresh sage leaf and a sprig of parsley, finely chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) passata di pomodoro or crushed canned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Start with a soffritto, this one consisting of some cubed pancetta and a crushed garlic clove sauteed in olive oil over moderate heat. (As always, make sure that the garlic hardly browns.)
  2. Once you scent the garlic’s aroma, add some roughly chopped mushrooms (125g or 4 oz. for 2 people), raise the heat to high, give the mushroom a good flip (or a stir if you’re feeling timid) to coat them with the soffritto-infused oil and continue sauteing. Very soon thereafter, add a pinch of salt to encourage the mushrooms to give off their liquid. Continue until the mushroom liquid as evaporated completely. You will begin to hear the mushrooms sizzle.
  3. add a few sage leaves and a sprig of parsley, both nicely chopped, a good grinding of black pepper, and mix well with the mushrooms.
  4. When the mushrooms are quite tender and just begin to brown around the edges, add a good dollop of passata di pomodoro or crushed canned tomatoes. Lower the heat and allow the sauce to simmer gently until the tomatoes have reduced and separately from the oil, having turned a nice darkish color, somewhere between red and mahogany.
  5. Meanwhile, you will have cooked your penne in well salted boiling water until very al dente. Add the penne to the pan, mix well and allow it to simmer gently for a few moments with the sauce.
  6. Serve immediately.

We cooked this last weekend, and it was fabulous. Great big saucepan courtesy of Jesse.

~Jessica

Frittata di pasta

Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria and Gennaro Contaldo

Ingredients:

  • Pasta leftovers
  • 4 eggs
  • 40 g Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk very well, until streaks no longer appear. Mix in the cheese, oil, salt, and a grind of pepper.
  2. If you have sauced spaghetti, dump it in a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat along with a couple tablespoons water and heat until it’s warm but before it starts to sizzle.
  3. Drain off any water that hasn’t evaporated and turn the spaghetti into the egg mixture.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-low heat, and add enough oil or butter to slick the bottom and sides of the skillet.
  5. Add the egg mixture, distributing the spaghetti evenly if it clumps.
  6. Turn the heat to low and occasionally rotate the skillet a quarter turn if the egg seems to be cooking unevenly around the edges. When the perimeter of the frittata looks set and the center is still somewhat liquid, which should be after about 8 minutes, run a table knife around the skillet to loosen the sides of the frittata and carefully slip a thin metal spatula under it to loosen the underside.
  7. Invert a plate over the skillet and place one hand over the plate and the other hand on the skillet handle. Here comes the exciting part—you’re going to flip the frittata onto the plate. (We admit that it can end in disaster, but you have to stay confident and strong.) You don’t want the frittata to slide onto the plate or fold over, so the motion should be up and over, not just over, and it has to happen kind of quickly. Alley-oop, and it’s on the plate and the skillet is clean.
  8. Set the plate down and quickly slick the skillet with a little more oil or butter. Then, with the help of the spatula, encourage the frittata to slide back in. Don’t worry if things are looking a little Humpty Dumpty—just fit it all back together again and keep it over low heat until it’s cooked through, about 7 more minutes.
  9. When the frittata seems to be cooked through, make a crack in the middle with the tip of the spatula and sneak a peek to see that the egg is all set. Then slide or flip the frittata onto a plate.
  10. Let cool a little or a lot, slice in wedges or squares or long skinny strips, and serve. (A frittata tastes good hot, better after it has cooled a half hour or so, and possibly best after it has had a chance to regroup on the countertop for an afternoon.)

I had the leftovers from this other pasta dish, so… I love Gennaro’s suggestion: “If it’s springtime, make the basic recipe extra special by adding peas and pancetta.” Shelling fresh peas in Germany was such a dream. I wish we had in season produce like in Radolfzell. Next time I will use more eggs, so that it holds together better!

~Jessica

Minestra di farro

Adapted from Food52 and Great Italian Chefs

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 70 g of pancetta, minced (optional)
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600 g of waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (didn’t have — next time!)
  • 300 g of farro, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 7 ounces (or 200 grams) peeled tomatoes
  • 500 g of dried cannellini beans, or borlotti beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used canned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan; add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted. Add herbs and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cooked borlotti beans, along with their liquid. Stir to combine everything and add 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cook 10 minutes uncovered, then remove from heat. Remove the rosemary stick and blend (an immersion blender is ideal for this) until smooth.
  3. Add the farro to the bean purée (along with another cup of water to loosen it, using more or less as necessary) and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to check that the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the farro is cooked al dente (with a pleasant bite to it, like pasta). It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more water to your liking. Check for seasoning.
  4. Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

This came together better than I expected, although I did not soak anything overnight, beans or farro. I used a can of Goya beans in sauce (white beans would have been closer to suitable but I had Green Pigeon Peas in Sauce). I was debating whether to add Latin beans to an Italian dish, but Jesse insisted on including beans in a stew recipe. Pancetta isn’t too shabby as an ingredient, but mushrooms can make such a delicious vegetarian substitute — I highly recommend, so that’s what I used. Also, forgot to add the rosemary until the last minute, better luck next time! Next level: homemade broth.

~Jessica

Ravioli carbonara

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, cubed (I used bacon)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 pound ravioli (spaghetti is better!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put bacon in a large skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fat renders but bacon is not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to your serving bowl; reserve the drippings.
  2. Add eggs to your serving bowl; whisk to blend.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving around a 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  4. To egg mixture, immediately add spaghetti, 2 tablespoons pasta cooking liquid, and 1 teaspoon guanciale drippings; toss to coat. Working in 3 batches, gradually add Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Add lots of black pepper (around 2 teaspoons). Toss until the sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Divide among bowls (or don’t). Garnish with Pecorino.

I saw we had some eggs batter left over from breakfast brioche french toast, and I didn’t want to waste so… this recipe came to me. Sister and brother-in-law raved over it. I probably could have drained a little more of the pasta water to have a less liquid sauce.

~Jessie

Shaved Brussels sprouts and shallot sauté

Adapted from Bon Appétit and Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1020 g Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
  • 85 g pancetta (nitrite free)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (truffle aroma)
  • 12 medium shallots, thinly sliced (1 medium-small red onion, minced)
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or whole)
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Rinse sprouts. Working in small batches, de-stem Brussels sprouts to speed up removal of outer leaves. Then slice thinly.
  2. Slice the shallots / mince the onion.
  3. I toasted the pine nuts while I cooked the chopped pancetta, beforehand, a few minutes.
  4. Melt butter with olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add Brussels sprouts; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons pine nuts and all the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon pine nuts and serve.
Shopping ingredients (roast almonds and raisins for the Swedish Mulled Wine (Glogg) Recipe – NYT Cooking)

I wanted to contribute something to my college friends’ pot roast potluck for NYE this year. A friend from our Ladies League NoMan (Northern Manhattan) meet-up made this for our Friendsgiving potluck this year, so inspiration is all hers. I added pancetta (no nitrates), made in New England. Red onion is the healthiest onion — grocery was out of shallots, sadly! Ah well. Those pignolis — so expensive!

~Jessica