Pasta Archive

Friday, February 12, 2010

spaghetti with cheese + black pepper

black pepper and cheese spaghetti

Alex and I had an accidental date a few weeks ago, accidental in that we set out to take a walk but the conversation quickly turned to “I wonder if we could get a table at Lupa.” The answer, by the way, should be no. One can never get a table at Lupa. They don’t take many reservations, they’re not very big and just about everyone in New York City loves to drop in there for a meal. It is for this pile of reasons that we’ve never been. Or we never had been. Because that evening, there was exactly one eensy little table free and there we were, having an impromptu dinner out on a weekday night, something that would have been nothing out of the ordinary, say, five months ago but as parents to a young dough ball, it was nothing short of earth shattering.

lots of freshly, finely ground black pepper
finely grated romano

I ordered a beer and the spaghetti, well, the bavette or linguini fini, but for the purpose of this story, it will be spaghetti because it was just that humble. When I trust that a place won’t disappoint, I have a tendency to order the plainest thing on the menu, hearkening back to my deep-seated belief that great chefs make you wonder why you’ve wasting so much time with gimmicky sea salts and foie anything when you could be eating a perfect bowl of spaghetti. And this cacio e pepe? It sang to me. Well, sang and then admonished, as food often does in my presence, “seriously, lady, why haven’t you made this yet?”

spaghetti, al denteish

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, January 17, 2010

tomato sauce with onion and butter

tomato sauce with butter and onion

I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too, and Rachel, you see, she lives in Rome right now — I want to be in Rome right now — Rome, where you can get authentic, perfect tomato sauce a zillion places every single day. And yet she stayed in and made this one. That sealed the deal.

tomatoes + onion + butter
telephone cord pasta

So what is it with this sauce that it moves people to essays over it, tossing about exclamations like “brilliant!” and “va-va-voom” and promises that “something almost magical happens”? Is it garlic, a slip of red pepper flakes, a glug of red wine or a base of mulched carrots, onion and celery, as so many of us swear by in our best sauce efforts? Is it a spoonful of tomato paste or a pinch of sugar? Is it the best olive oil money can buy? It is none of these things, not a single one: It is butter. And an halved onion, cooked slowly as the sauce plops and glurps on the stove, then discarded when it is done.

love these tomatoes

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, December 19, 2009

mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes

mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes

People, I’m about at the end of my ordered-in dinner rope. It’s not that — as the front page of this site might suggest — I haven’t cooked anything since the baby arrived, it’s just that I’ve largely cooked things that could be assembled during naptimes, and most of Alex and my conversations about meals go, “What should we do for dinner?” “I made mushroom toasts and a bowl of butterscotch sauce today!” “Right, so what should we order?” And so on with the pho, cracker-thin pizza and hummusiot dinner deliveries. For three months. At 93 days, even shakshuka broiled with haloumi gets tiresome.

snailsshroomsparmesanmarsala

Now, I don’t expect any violins, especially from folks without the East Village’s globe of food delivery options at their fingertips, but I am sure you all understand what it means to desperately crave a homecooked meal. And I don’t mean a 5-hour braise or hand-sheeted pasta (though, ahem, I wouldn’t push either away); even a simple sautéed chicken, which I managed to eek out a few weeks ago, stands out as one of the best things we’ve eaten in a month.

artichokes, thimbles, cheese

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, August 8, 2009

summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

I’ve spent way too much time this summer trying to dream up a pasta salad that wasn’t boring, or predictable, or well, you know, the kind of familiar pasta salad territory you don’t need me to go over for you. Because I love a good pasta salad, I just don’t find them often. Usually, they’re missing the freshness you’d expect from something you eat in the summer, when the markets are bursting at the seams with peak-season produce. Often the dressing is a throw-away, either a too-plain vinaigrette or heaps of mayonnaise, lending itself to more of a mass than a salad. So I knew what I didn’t want, I just hadn’t figured out what I did.

fresh peas in pods

Not for the first time, the inspiration came from a little French restaurant in our neighborhood, which along with the usual deliciousness — roasted chicken, steak frites, mussels, yes please — always tucks some sort of straight-from-the-market freshness on the specials. It said “Five Bean Salad” but what arrived was a plate, no, platter of al dente shell peas and snow peas and skinny green beans and fat yellow beans and sugar snaps and cranberry beans and favas, tossed in a roasted red pepper sauce with little bits of chevre tucked within. It was like a plate of summer, and even though I am so not the finish-your-plate-even-if-you’re-full-type the thought of letting even one fresh pea go to waste felt even more wrong and so I ate the whole thing and look at that folks! I guess preggo finally has her appetite back. Or was emphatically craving green vegetables.

snow peas

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, May 17, 2009

asparagus, goat cheese and lemon pasta

asparagus goat cheese pasta

A couple weeks ago, I had a fantastic warm asparagus salad at a nearby restaurant, one I immediately swore I’d make at home. It had segments of white and green asparagus tossed with goat cheese and a tarragon and lemony mint vinaigrette and it was piled on a bed of red endive, my favorite. It was stunning. It was delicious. Alas, this is not it. What a tease I am, right?

giant spiral pasta

After trying and failing to find all three elements — the green asparagus, white asparagus and the red endive — for the next two weeks, I gave up. Oh, and sure, you could use all green asparagus and regular pale endive, but you’ve met me, right? I’m a pain in the butt and without the visual, it was going to be no fun at all for me. It would not do.

asparagus

Continued after the jump »


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