I wish I could tell you that the last meal cooked in the first Smitten Kitchen was a triumph, a fitting coda to four-plus years in a sun-drenched Manhattan kitchen with enough space to put everything away (not that I’m pointing fingers or anything, new kitchen) and space enough for two people (and at least one growing midsection) to settle comfortably within it. Alas, that was not the case.
Instead it was prepared in the evening (when even the skylight couldn’t be taken advantage of), in kind of rushed (as in, “why am I cooking dinner when I should be packing things, or pretending to pack things while actually reading the internet?”) and was less of a “I’ve always wanted to make this” and more of a “if we’re packing up the kitchen tomorrow, let’s get on last meal in tonight.” Ah, the glamor! But isn’t this so often what weekday night cooking is about?
That isn’t to say that it wasn’t tasty. It was actually a delicious compromise of a dinner: Alex will never say no to a dish that involves any format of sausages and I’ve been eagerly awaiting fresh fava beans (get it? Peas in pods, gosh, I’m hilarious). Alas, favas are not around yet (on this coast), but Alex found some politically incorrect ones at a store, to hold me over. Although I know shucking, blanching and peeling favas isn’t the quickest thing, and that frozen ones are readily available (and if not, limas will do), to me, the fresh ones are more than worth the effort, sweet, almost nutty and the embodiment of spring (even when the weather outside begs to differ).
What felt like by the skin of our teeth, we’ve “landed” in the new place and by golly, do we own a lot of stuff for people who claim to live a uncluttered life. The 60-plus boxes piled in the second bedroom (which buys us at least five months to unpack them, right?) and our poor furniture (heaved relentlessly down three flights of narrow stairs, walked to a truck a block away, then back up another three flights of stairs by Vinnie’s Brawniest) might beg to differ. But we’re here, and I must say, deeply smitten with the new digs. Smitten enough to unpack the kitchen today? Hoo hoo hee. Let’s not get crazy or anything.
One year ago: Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Fresh Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes and Sausage
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Whether I have time or energy to make my own, I still think that fresh pasta makes a dish. If you buy freshly rolled sheets, often labeled for lasagna, when you take them home you can use them as you wish, cutting them into long strips, odd shapes or even rolling them thinner, for a more delicate pasta dish.
Serves eight, in theory. I’d say it serves four.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 pound Italian sausages, casings removed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes
1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (from about 1 pound), blanched 3 minutes then peeled, or double-peeled frozen, thawed
3/4 pound fresh pasta sheets (simple recipe here, richer recipe here), cut as desired (maltagliati, or “badly cut” pasta with irregular shapes is suggested), or dried egg fettuccine
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional for passing
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add next onion, garlic and red pepper and sauté until onion is translucent, about six minutes. Add sausages; break up with fork or a flat-ended wooden spoon. Sauté until brown, about three minutes. Add wine; simmer one minute, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes and fava beans. Sauté until tomatoes soften, about five minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot.
Add sauce to pasta. Toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed if dry, about two minutes. Mix in two tablespoons cheese and transfer pasta to bowl. Serve, passing additional cheese.