Tag Archives: pasta

lazy pasta with onion, bacon and goat cheese

24 Jan

It was my turn to cook dinner for the weekly girls’ Bachelor viewing party at C’s place. All I had in the fridge was a handful of vegetables, goat cheese, plus a few strips of really amazing brown sugar apple wood bacon from the Fatted Calf.

Like the lazy cook I am, I typed in “bacon goat cheese pasta recipe” into Google and voila! Martha Stewart to the rescue. I modified the recipe to make use of some brussel sprouts and tomatoes, but otherwise stuck to Martha’s instructions.

It looked a bit of a mess, but the flavor combination was surprisingly delicious — so much so that I just had to take a photo (the day after, hence the wilted mess). You could mix this up with other vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms — the bacon, goat cheese and onions are the bare essentials. Possibly the best lazy recipe I’ve ever made!

pasta with onion, bacon, and goat cheese
a lazy clean-out-the-fridge kinda dish

* 1 pound campanelle (I used rigatoni)
* 6 slices bacon, sliced crosswise 1-inch thick
* 10 brussel sprouts, leaves peeled apart
* 1 small tomato, diced
* 4 medium red onions, thinly sliced
* 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 4 ounces soft goat cheese

Cook pasta. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta water; return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet over medium, turning, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes; remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Reserve half of the bacon fat to use later. Add brussel sprout leaves and tomatoes to remaining fat in skillet. Saute 5 minutes to soften. Remove from pan.

Pour reserved fat into skillet and add onions, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Uncover; cook until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Crumble goat cheese over pasta; add onion mixture, zucchini and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Toss, adding more pasta water as desired. Serve immediately, sprinkled with bacon and more thyme. Serves 6.

walnut pesto, riviera dreams

16 Jul

A couple summers ago, I took a trip to the Cinque Terra in Liguria, Italy. I snapped this photo of Vernazza from the hiking trail that connects these five picturesque coastal towns. The castle tower in the distance was built to watch out for pirates (yaaaargh!). Just below the tower, I enjoyed a fantastic meal of frutti di mare and pesto lasagna at the restaurant with orange awnings.

Memories of that heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth pesto lasagna — infinite layers of handmade pasta, white sauce, cheeses, no tomatoes or meat — came rushing back after reading a recent Bittman article about Pra, Liguria’s famous basil-growing town.

Pesto is pesto, and it’s pretty difficult to botch up a handful of nuts, cheese, basil and oil. On the other hand, if you’ve had truly great pesto made with the best Italian-grown ingredients, you know it can be an utterly transcendent experience in shades of green.

Here in San Francisco, Farina is the hands-down pesto champ, but they don’t do a lasagna! Until my next trip to the Italian Rivera, I will continue to dream of pressing my fork greedily through a piece of fantastic pesto lasagna. In the meantime, I will take the basil California gives me.

walnut pesto
tasty but not like in Liguria… walnuts are a fine alternative to pine nuts when that’s what you’ve got

* 1/2 cup walnut halves
* 2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
* 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*1 /2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts with the basil and garlic until the walnuts are finely chopped. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process until the pesto is almost smooth. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

mangia! mangia!

29 Jun

I remember when Food Network first came on the air in the early 90’s. We used to love watching this terrible show called How To Boil Water hosted by a comedian who just happened to be a single bachelor who needed to be taught literally how to boil a pot of water. His sidekick was a tight-wad female chef instructor completely incapable of understanding humor. There was a sick pleasure we’d derive from watching the poor guy cock up things as simple as spaghetti with jarred tomato sauce.

On the other side of the spectrum, we learned the historic context and proper French technique for hollandaise from the intrepid David Rosengarten and his TV show, Taste. Long before Bravo existed, Rosengarten was rocking a stark all-white, green screened set — he was clearly ahead of his time in all aspects. Rosengarten was my first exposure to someone who was unabashedly obsessed with food and the study of it. “Life is a matter of taste,” Rosengarten would declare at the end of each episode.

Though Taste is long gone (not sure why Food Network doesn’t bring back the reruns, or hello, can we get this on Netflix?), Rosengarten has forged on in his gastronomic odyssey with the revival of the Rosengarten Report, a subscription only culinary e-zine (!!!?!!) that costs $60/year for 12 online issues. While I am intrigued to read “The Growing Phenomenon of Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil: Why It’s Much Better When It’s Young, and Where to Find the Very Best New Oils of Harvest 2009,” I’d rather save my 60-bucks for actually purchasing good olive oil.

In my reminiscing about Taste, I came across the above video made recently by Rosengarten. In it, he takes us on a journey to formulate the perfect old-school Italian red sauce (his secret: a roasted, then fried eggplant blended into the classic tomato/garlic mix).

I made my own variation with some leftover fresh tomato sauce, and it was every bit as delicious as he says. Watch the video for the recipe!