beet fettuccine with almonds + thyme


beet fettuccine with almonds + thyme

Making your own pasta is a simple process and if you’re willing to put in a little muscle, it does not require special equipment. The star of this recipe is really the pasta dough itself — what you serve it with is up to you. I garnished mine with the same beets that flavor and color the pasta dough, along with a drizzle of olive oil, almonds, thyme, and ricotta cheese. If you wanted to dress things up a bit, a white wine cream sauce would be lovely, as would a simple browned butter with sage. The options are endless.

 

for the pasta dough:

4 medium to large beets, greens removed and peeled [some will be reserved for garnish]

1 egg

2 egg yolks

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

 

for garnish:

extra virgin olive oil

fresh thyme leaves

flaked or coarse salt

sliced almonds, toasted

ricotta cheese

reserved beets from pasta dough

Cut the peeled beets into large chunks and add to a stock pot. Fill with enough water to cover the beets by 1/2 of an inch. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Remove beets and reserve the water for cooking the pasta later.

Reserve about half of the beets and set aside [these will be used for garnish when plating]. Place the other half in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, add 3/4 cup of the beet puree, egg, egg yolks, and olive oil to a medium bowl. Whisk gently until everything is completely combined.

Add the flour to a large work surface and form a mound. Make a well in the center, and carefully pour the beet and egg mixture into it (making sure it is completely surrounded by the flour). Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet mixture, starting with the inner edges and working outward, until a shaggy, sticky dough starts to form. At this point, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, until completely smooth, dusting your work surface lightly with flour if it sticks [be careful not to add too much flour, as it will make the dough too dry]. Once your dough is completely smooth, wrap it tightly in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.

Once rested, divide the dough in four equal parts. Working with one section of dough at a time on a floured, large work surface, roll out the dough until about 1/4-inch thick. Fold in half and repeat 2 more times. Lastly, roll the dough in a large rectangle until as thin as possible [about 2 – 3 millimeters thick]. Make sure to move the dough often while rolling to ensure it does not stick to the work surface, and make sure to keep all dough that is not being rolled covered to prevent it from drying out.  This whole process will take some muscle. Alternatively, if you have one, you can use a pasta roller to roll the dough in the same manner. Cut the rolled dough into strips, about 1/4-inch in width. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook to avoid them drying out. 

To cook the pasta: bring a large stockpot of water and the reserved beet water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt. Add the fettuccine strips and cook until just al dente [about 2 – 3 minutes]. Drain and toss immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

To plate: arrange the pasta on a plate and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, coarse salt, and toasted almonds. Serve each plate with a spoonful of ricotta cheese and the reserved cooked beets.

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds of dough


chilled corn + fennel soup with crab

chilled corn + fennel soup with crab

This soup highlights the sweetness of fresh summer corn, with a subtle anise flavor from fresh fennel. All of the scraps from the vegetables in this recipe are used to make an easy, and flavorful, homemade vegetable stock — so you don’t have to feel badly about wasting a thing. The recipe is a bit loose, and the consistency of the soup will depend on how much corn your 6 cobs produce — luckily, it is easy to adjust by just adding more vegetable stock at the end. You can also omit the crab if you do not have access to fresh crab meat or would like to make this soup vegetarian.

 

for the vegetable stock + soup:

6 fresh corn cobs

1 leek

1 fennel bulb (stalks and fronds still attached)

5 cloves of garlic [4 smashed and peeled, 1 peeled and minced]

2 bay leaves

2 large handfuls of roughly chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

for the crab:

1 cup fresh lump crab meat

1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

 

First, prepare the vegetables and vegetable stock:

Corn: shuck the corn, and cut the kernels from the cobs. Place the kernels in a medium bowl and using the back of your knife, scrape the milk from the cobs into the bowl with the kernels. Set corn kernels and milk aside. Add the empty cobs to a large stock pot.

Leek: Fill a small to medium-sized bowl with cold water. Cut the dark green part of the leek from the white and light green portion. Slice the white and light green portion in half lengthwise and chop into thin half-moons [should measure about 1 cup of chopped leek]. Transfer the chopped leek to the bowl of water, using your hands to separate the pieces and allowing all the grit to sink to the bottom of the water. Once clean, remove leeks from the water and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Chop the dark green part of the leek into large pieces and add to the stock pot with the corn cobs.

Fennel: Remove the fennel stalks from the bulb. Reserve a few of the fronds for the crab and garnish, and chop the rest of the stalks into 3 – 4-inch pieces and add to the stock pot. Core the bulb and dice [I used a mandolin to slice a couple of pieces from the bulb before coring for garnish, but this is optional]. Measure 1 cup of diced fennel and set aside [this should be about 3/4 of the bulb, depending on the size of your fennel]. Add any remaining fennel to the stock pot. 

To the stock pot, add the 4 cloves of peeled + smashed garlic, bay leaves, chives, peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 9 cups of water. Set over high heat, uncovered, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and keep at a fast simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Drain the stock into another stock pot or large bowl and discard all solids. Set stock aside to cool.

While stock is cooling, prepare the soup: to a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup of the reserved diced fennel, the chopped and washed white and light green parts of the leek, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute, stirring frequently, until leek and fennel soften and start to caramelize, about 20 – 25 minutes. Add the remaining 1 minced clove of garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add reserved corn kernels and milk, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Saute, stirring until butter has just melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 3 cups of the reserved vegetable stock.

Working in batches, blend the corn mixture until smooth [making sure to only cover the blender with a kitchen towel so that steam can escape]. Depending on your preference, at this point you can adjust the consistency of the soup with more vegetable stock [remember to just add a little at a time — you can always add more — and also remember the the soup with thicken slightly as it cools]. Once your desired consistency is reached, pour the soup into a large bowl or stock pot, cover, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Once soup has chilled, prepare the crab: in a small bowl, combine lump crab meat, fresh fennel fronds, lemon juice, and melted butter. Ladle soup into bowls and spoon crab over top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with flaked salt, fennel fronds and fresh chives if desired.

serves 4

garlic scape pizza

I came across these twirling green beauties at my farmer’s market the other day and couldn’t resist taking home a bundle. If you have never cooked with them before [which I hadn’t either] garlic scapes are the stems and unopened flowers of garlic bulbs. They have a sweet, mild garlic flavor, so they are perfect for subtly flavored dishes that would otherwise be overpowered by actual cloves of garlic.

Without any practice cooking with them, and wanting to experience their flavor, I decided to start with the blank canvas of a simple white pizza — nothing more than some cheese, olive oil, and fresh thyme. I have to tell you: it ended up being the right choice. Unlike so many white pizzas that are overwhelmed by the pungency of traditional garlic, this pizza has just the right amount of sweetness and garlic aroma. There are very few ingredients, but each each flavor fulfills a distinct purpose, contributing to the whole. It’s flavorful but not forceful, simple but not plain.

I think I see more garlic scape pizzas in my future.


garlic scape pizza

Garlic scapes add a sweet, mild garlic flavor to this pizza without overpowering its other subtle flavors. It is delicious eaten both hot from the oven, or at room temperature, when the cheese has had a chance to settle into the crust. Fresh, flavorful summer pizza at its finest.

 

1 pound fresh pizza dough, recipe below

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic scapes, ends trimmed

9 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

 

First, prepare the pizza dough

.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the whole garlic scapes and cook, flipping them occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the pizza dough had rested and doubled in size, punch it down and transfer to a lightly floured board. Roll [or stretch] the dough into a large rectangle or circle.

Place a large baking sheet [large enough to fit the dough] in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F [you can use a pizza stone here if you have one]. Once oven is preheated, remove the baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil [be careful, as the oil might splatter when it hits the hot pan]. Roll the dough onto a rolling pin and unroll onto the hot oiled pan. Arrange the slices of mozzarella evenly over the top of the dough, leaving a small border of dough around the edges. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and thyme and arrange the garlic scapes over top. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the exposed edges of dough.

Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly, and crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves for garnish. Transfer to a large wooden board and cut into pieces to serve.

Serves 4.

 

for the pizza dough 

:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand until mixture starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough it, turning the dough to coat it in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. 

yield: 1 pound of dough


asparagus, pesto + radish pizza

My first memory of pizza is of a pepperoni pie from a local tavern in the town I grew up in. The smell and taste of that pie is forever etched in my mind — the chewy, herb-flecked crust, stringy cheese, and the little pepperonis, browned and spicy, cupped into little bowls of goodness. I think it was one of the first meals where I ever cleaned my plate — a task so daunting for me as a kid. 

Since that first pie, I have always loved pizza. Even through my vegetarian days, pizza was always a welcome comfort, a satisfying and delicious meal. It wasn’t until I moved to New York, though, that I realized its full potential. Innovation and creativity shattered my perception of what “defined” a pie. The components that constituted a good pizza — the crust and the sauce — still rang true, but there was also a complexity that I had never known pizza to have. Drizzles of honey, truffle pates, housemade cured meats, crushed nuts, clouds of homemade ricotta, hot chiles — each and every ingredient elevated the pizza to something more than what I had always known it to be. 

This Saturday, I stopped at the farmers market without much of a plan, but with pizza on my mind. I headed home with a bag full of asparagus, radishes, and loads of herbs. An unlikely assortment, but one that ended up working more beautifully than I could have ever anticipated. Here’s to breaking convention and, in turn, making something great. Here’s to my take on “pizza”.


asparagus, pesto + radish pizza

Bright and herbacious, this pizza has quickly become one of my favorite Springtime meals. Pair it with a crisp, cold Pinot Grigio, and a lightly dressed salad for a delicious lunch or dinner. And, please, do yourself a favor and make your pizza dough. It is SO simple and it makes all the difference.

ingredients:

pizza dough, recipe below

1 pound asparagus stalks

1/4 cup creme fraiche, plus more for garnish [optional]

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

coarse salt

basil almond pesto, recipe below

roughly chopped fresh mint, for garnish

1 radish, sliced very thinly, for garnish

 

First, prepare the pizza dough and pesto [recipes below]. On a lightly floured surface, roll [or stretch] 2 balls of the prepared pizza dough until paper thin, forming 2 rectangles [for reference, my rectangles were about 6-7-inches by 11-12 inches]. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the asparagus stalks and remove the tough ends [I find if you bend each stalk, one at a time, it will snap where it is meant to]. Chop the stalks into 1-2 inch long pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and coarse salt and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Place a large baking sheet in the oven and increase temperature to 500 degrees F. [Since this recipe calls for very thin crust, I find that if you preheat your baking sheet, the crust still gets very crisp without a pizza stone, but you can definitely use a pizza stone if you have one].

While oven preheats, in a small bowl, mix together the creme fraiche, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside. 

Once oven is preheated, carefully remove preheated baking sheet and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the sheet. Swirl to spread evenly. 

Roll each rectangle of dough onto a rolling pin and unroll onto the preheated, oiled baking sheet [don’t try to transfer the dough without a rolling pin; it will rip]. Working quickly, spread each pizza with the creme fraiche and Parmesan mixture [spreading all the way to the edges]. Drizzle both pizzas with a few tablespoons [each] of the pesto and sprinkle the roasted asparagus pieces evenly over top. Sprinkle both pizzas with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. 

Place in the preheated oven and bake until edges of dough are golden brown and pizza is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle pizzas with chopped fresh mint. Arrange radish slices over top and sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with more pesto. 

Slice pizzas into triangles and serve with dollops of creme fraiche [optional] over top. 

Makes 2 small pizzas; 2 – 4 servings

for the pizza dough 

:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand until mixture starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and stir until a raggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough it, turning the dough to coat it in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. 

After 1 1/2 hours, punch down dough and divide into four equal balls. [You’ll need two of these balls for this recipe, and can reserve the other two for another use. Remaining dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw dough to room temperature before rolling out].

 

for the basil almond pesto:

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup packed fresh basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Heat a small, dry saute pan over medium heat. Add almonds and toast, shaking pan frequently, until almonds are golden brown and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. 

In a food processor or blender, add toasted almonds, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse or blend until combined. [If using a blender, you may need to add some of the oil to get everything going]. Add basil and with the motor running, drizzle the oil into the machine, and process until everything is finely ground and combined. 

This recipe makes more pesto than you will need for the pizza. Store remaining pesto in the refrigerator with plastic wrap directly touching the top [to discourage browning].