It’s been a tough week in my kitchen. I made a couple of dishes I was really excited about and they both came out…fine. They were edible and tasted all right, but neither were blog-worthy. I tried out a carrot sambal salad I had eaten at Whole Foods. It came out both crunchy and soupy. It has the consistency of coleslaw, which I really don’t like. But, I should’ve known it wouldn’t be that good when the recipe called for “1/4 rice wine vinegar.” One quarter of what?! A teaspoon? A cup? A bottle?
And then I tried a roasted acorn squash stuffed with rice and lentils. It came out under cooked and under seasoned. That was probably a recipe that with a little tweaking I could get right, but I was still disappointed.
But one meal worth writing about was my lunch on Monday. I had off for Columbus day and my friends Ashley and Mala came over. We had a pretty fancy lunch despite some lazy hostessing on my part. And by lazy hostessing, I mean that 75% of the dining table was covered with a puzzle of Abraham Lincoln that I’m working on, and I also made them use paper plates. In spite of that, lunch actually turned out quite nice and now I wish I had taken more pictures.
We started out with a cheese plate. Ashley brought apple-cinnamon covered goat cheese. I had never had goat cheese coated in anything but herbs, so it was cool to try. We also had Gruyere and cheddar, which I served on my fancy cheese platter with the fancy cheese knives.
For our lunch we had a salad (that Ashley made), pici pasta, and homemade tomato sauce. Ashley’s salad was a great combination of sweet, from the fruits, and a sharp saltiness, from the blue cheese. The pear she used was a little soft, which was actually really nice because it soaked up the dressing. And the addition of pecans made for a nice crunch.
The recipes for the pici and tomato sauce I adapted from the Amateur Gourmet. We were all skeptical of how well the pasta would come out and we were delighted that it actually tasted like pasta. We did have some issues with shaping the pasta. The Amateur Gourmet said to shape the pasta, put it on a plate, and toss it with flour before putting the pasta into boiling water. We did that, but we must not have used enough flour because all the pasta stuck together and Mala and I ended up ripping the heap of dough apart and throwing in random sized pieces into the water. The three of us agreed it would have been easier to bring the water to a boil, then shape the pasta, then immediately throw it in the water so the shape would be less weird. Because of the random shaping, some of the fatter pieces were heavy and reminded me of gnocchi. But, if you roll thinner pieces it really tastes just like pasta. Though in the end, I think we were all impressed that we made homemade pasta for lunch.
The pasta sauce was my favorite part. I learned about it from the Amateur Gourmet, but the original author is Marcella Hazan. This recipe is SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS. I really don’t think I’m overselling it. There’s this pasta restaurant that Ryan and I love called Pasta Mia. The pasta there is so good that we always overeat because we want to soak up as much of the good flavor as possible. The first time I made this recipe I thought, “this smells like Pasta Mia.” But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to influence Ryan. Then he took a bite and said, “this is like Pasta Mia.” So if Pasta Mia means anything to you, then you’ll know this sauce is good. If Pasta Mia means nothing to you, sorry. You should still try it because it’s so simple and comforting and tasty.
Anyway, today’s post has three recipes and I hope you enjoy!
(Portion amounts based on your taste preferences)
sweet and spicy pecans
crumbled blue cheese
1 pear, sliced
1. Mix arugula, pecans, cheese, pear, and cranberries in a large bowl.
2. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve!
Tomato Sauce –
1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
5 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half.
1. Empty the can of tomatoes into a pot. Use a knife and roughly cut up the tomatoes. Don’t get crazy with this, just cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters.
2. Add the butter and onion halves. Turn on the heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
3. Once it’s simmering, lower the heat. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and use your spoon to smash and crush the tomatoes.
4. After 45 minutes, discard the onion.
Pici Pasta –
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 large egg, beaten (Mala beat the egg first, then we measured out half)
1 cup water, room temperature
1. In a large bowl mix together flour and salt.
2. Add the water and egg. Knead until smooth. (Amateur Gourmet says about 5 minutes)
3. Flatten it and rub it with olive oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
4. While you’re waiting for the dough, bring a large pot of water to boil.
5. Generously flour your work surface and hands. Roll out the dough. Cut the dough into desired pieces. (I cut the dough into chunks and then rolled out snakes).
6. Drop the pasta snakes into the boiling water.
7. Boil for 3-4 minutes. You want the pasta to be cooked through but not raw.
8. Drain, top with sauce. Serve!
Messy level: The salad and tomato sauces are easy 1-2 spoon recipes. The pici though is a 4-spoon recipe. You have to stick you hands in and knead the dough and it get really sticky and caked into your finger nails. Also you have to flour your work surface and roll everything out. It takes a bit of work and makes quite a bit of mess. All this mess is the reason I was a lazy hostess and opted for paper plates.