This special pie was the perfect way to use my CSA butternut squash and the very last leaves of my homegrown basil. The incorporation of cumin and coriander seeds gave it a unique flavor profile. Fancy comfort food. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. Lovely.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Pie:
4 T olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan (I used cooking oil spray on the pan)
10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 T cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 T coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 (9 to 12-ounce) jar red peppers, drained
1 tsp light brown sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved, deseeded and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I used a mandoline to slice the squash)
8 ounces dried lasagna noodles, each roughly broken into 3 or 4 pieces (I used oven-ready no-boil lasagna)
7 ounces baby spinach (10 lightly packed cups)
1 packed cup basil leaves, torn in halves
1 cup crumbled Greek feta
heaping 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the Béchamel:
3 T unsalted butter
5 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
2 garlic cloves, minced
fine sea salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan then line it with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the base and hang over the sides by a couple inches. (I used cooking oil spray.) Place pan on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Add the oil to a small frying pan and heat over medium. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until fragrant but not browned.
Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute more, stirring often, until deeply red. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add tomato paste mixture to a small food processor with the red peppers, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper; blitz until smooth. (I did this in 2 batches.)
Empty the mixture into a very large bowl and add the squash slices, lasagna pieces, spinach, basil, feta, Parmesan, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper. Use your hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.
Transfer this mixture to your lined cake pan, adding a third at a time and pressing lightly to ensure everything is even and compact.
Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the cake pan all around until tightly sealed, place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
Toward the last 15 minutes of baking time, make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking steadily, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it starts to smell like popcorn.
Slowly pour in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition until fully incorporated.
Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a spatula to stir and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch, until nice and smooth.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. *If the pie isn’t done, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. The béchamel is easier to handle when warm; if needed, reheat gently with a splash of milk to loosen.*
After the pie has cooked for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and carefully unwrap the top foil and paper, crinkling it down and around the sides of the pan to expose the top.
Spoon the béchamel on top, using a spatula to distribute it evenly over the surface. (Take care not to mix it with the base; you want the béchamel to remain white.)
Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees, preferably on convection, and place the cake pan back on its baking sheet and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until nicely browned on top.
Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Carefully release the pie from the springform pan, loosening the outer ring then using the parchment to help lift it onto a serving plate or board. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1 pound dried pasta, such as medium-sized shells or elbow macaroni (I used rigatoni)
12 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, grated (about 3 cups)
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about 2/3 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
toasted breadcrumbs, for topping prior to serving, optional
Peel, seed, and cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the squash and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until tender enough to smash with a spatula without much resistance and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the rosemary, sage, and garlic and cook, stirring often, just until the garlic is aromatic and no longer raw, about 1 minute.
Increase the heat to high and add the warm water, evaporated milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. (The pasta won’t be completely covered by the liquid.)
Boil over medium (even reducing to medium-low if necessary) heat, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and about two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes (al dente). If at any point the liquid evaporates before the pasta is tender, add additional warm water (1/2 cup at a time- did once after 12 min) and continue cooking.
Remove the pot from the heat and add both cheeses. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and has emulsified into a creamy sauce.
Let the pasta sit for 10 minutes. (This is necessary to allow the sauce to thicken.) If the sauce becomes too thick, adjust the consistency by adding additional warm water 1/4 cup at a time.
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately with more black pepper and parmesan, if desired.
We may have a new favorite pasta dish in my house! I have already made this dish a couple of times. We didn’t even miss the garlic. 😉 It is an incredible version of the classic- a perfect weeknight dish.
The recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, inspired by sommelier Arjav Ezekiel, co-owner of Birdie’s in Austin, contributed by Anna Theoktisto. We ate it with our favorite garlic bread and green salad, of course.
Yield: Serves 4 to 5
2 T olive oil
1 medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 (4 oz) package chopped pancetta
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (28 oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 2/3 cup), plus more for serving
3/4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely shredded (about 1/4 cup), plus more for serving
2 T unsalted butter
finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Stir in pancetta; cook, stirring often, until pancetta begins to render, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in crushed red pepper.
Using your hands or a wooden spoon, crush tomatoes; add tomatoes and their juices to skillet. Bring to a boil over medium; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, until flavors meld and mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.
Stir in salt. Remove from heat.
While sauce cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add rigatoni, and cook according to package instructions for al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Add rigatoni, 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, and butter to sauce in skillet.
Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, and garnish with parsley. Serve with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino Romano cheeses, as desired.
This is a crowd-pleasing, lighter, stovetop upgrade to a classic lasagna. It was also less time consuming to prepare. I loved the brightness from the incorporation of fresh herbs.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Shilpa Uskokovic. I modified the method and added garlic. The grated zucchini and panko in the meatballs made them very tender. Fabulous!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 (5 in my house)
1 large zucchini (about 12 oz), finely grated (about 1½ cups)(I used a food processor)
1 1/2 cups panko
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped dill, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh whole milk ricotta
finely grated lemon zest from 1/2 a large lemon
10 oz lasagna noodles, broken into 2–3 pieces (do not use oven-ready noodles)(I used DeCecco)
grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Using a sturdy wooden spoon or rubber spatula, vigorously stir grated zucchini, panko, oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and kosher salt in a large bowl until combined and nearly paste-like. (I grated the zucchini medium-large because I used a food processor.)
Add ground chicken, chopped dill and parsley and mix until fully incorporated (you don’t need to worry about overmixing here; mixture will be soft). (I used a food processor to finely chop the fresh herbs.)
Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, portion out half of meat mixture (meatballs don’t need to be perfectly round; rustic-looking is good) and add directly to pot. (I did 2 batches of 8 meatballs.)
Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Carefully turn meatballs over and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes (it’s okay if meatballs still look misshapen).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate.
Pour an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into pot and repeat process with remaining meat mixture. (the remaining 8 meatballs)
Return all meatballs to pot, the add canned tomatoes with juice, lightly crushing with your hands as you go, sliced garlic and shallot, and remaining 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook meatballs and sauce, gently stirring occasionally (it’s okay if meatballs start to fall apart), until sauce is slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes. (After stirring halfway through the cooking time, I reduced the heat to low.)
Meanwhile, whisk together ricotta, grated lemon zest, and a large pinch of salt in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
Cook broken lasagna noodles in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, drop noodles into pot with sauce and cook, stirring gently, until sauce coats pasta.
Divide pasta among shallow bowls and spoon dollops of reserved lemony ricotta over each.
Top with dill and grated Parmesan, as desired.
Do ahead: Meatballs and sauce can be made 3 days ahead; let cool. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill. Lemony ricotta can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
This quick summer dish gobbled up the cilantro from my CSA share. The sauce was silky and fresh.
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I reduced the oil and modified the method. Next time I may add some lemon zest and/or toasted pine nuts. Easy and delicious!
1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels (I used cascatelli)
about 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
4 T (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
2 1/2 cups soft herbs, packed, such as cilantro, basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds), coarsely chopped (I used a food processor)
lemon zest, optional
handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of coarse salt, and stir until well combined.
Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth.
Coarsely chop the herbs with a food processor, if desired. (I used 1 cup dill, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup basil.)
Add the cooked pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Incorporate lemon zest and/or pine nuts, if using.
To serve, spoon the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and finish with more Parmesan, drizzle of olive oil and more pepper, as desired.
I’m a garlic girl but even I was worried that this dish was going to be so garlicky it may be overpowering. Nope. Twenty cloves!
This recipe was adapted from the cookbook “The Wok” by J. Kenji López-Alt, based on the noodle dish originally created and served by Helene An at San Francisco’s Thanh Long restaurant, via The New York Times.
Lopez-Alt uses the genius technique of cooking the pasta in a minimal amount of liquid which expedites the cooking process. The starch-concentrated pasta water is then used in the sauce. This dish was crazy quick to prepare and was absolutely packed with flavor. We ate it with roasted asparagus on the side.
Yield: Serves 4
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
20 medium garlic cloves, minced or smashed in a mortar and pestle
4 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce or shoyu
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine fini
1 ounce grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (heaping 1/4 cup)(I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
small handful of thinly sliced scallions (I used 4 scallions)
Use a food processor to mince the garlic cloves, if desired. (I used a mini food processor.)
Melt the butter in a wok or saucepan over medium heat. (I used a stainless all-in-one pan.)
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over high heat. (Alternatively, heat up just enough water to cover the spaghetti in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.)
Add the pasta, stir a few times to make sure it’s not clumping, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente (about 2 minutes short of the recommended cook time on the package). (I used linguine fini and cooked it for a total of 4 minutes.)
Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the garlic sauce, along with whatever water clings to it. Reserve the pasta water in the skillet; set aside.
Increase the heat to high, add the cheese to the pasta and sauce, and stir with a wooden spatula or spoon, tossing vigorously until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, about 30 seconds. If the sauce looks too watery, let it keep reducing. If it looks greasy, splash some more pasta cooking water and let it re-emulsify.
I have a couple delicious weeknight pasta recipes to share.
The original recipe for this dish described it as “weeknight fancy”- loved it. The spicy brown-butter coated walnut topping was an essential element to earn this description.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I served the flavorful sauce over arugula-parmesan ravioli and incorporated garlic and asparagus. I also modified the method. Any variety of store-bought ravioli would work with this dish.
Yield: Serves 4
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 10 oz package frozen peas (about 2 cups)
1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
4 T unsalted butter, divided
16–20 oz fresh or frozen ravioli (I used Trader Joe’s fresh Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli)
4 T (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped raw walnuts or pistachios
1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
Place the frozen peas in a fine-mesh sieve and place in a large pot of boiling salted water; cook until peas are tender, about 4 minutes.
Lift sieve from water to drain peas and basil and transfer to a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)(Alternatively, you can skip the sieve and use a spider or slotted spoon to fish out the peas and basil.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking liquid warm. (You will use it for the sauce, ravioli and the asparagus, if using.)
Add the basil, garlic, grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons butter (cut into 4 pieces) and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to the blender with the peas.
Blend, gradually increasing speed to high and adding up to 1/4 cup additional cooking liquid as needed, until you have a mostly smooth, fairly loose sauce; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (I didn’t add any additional liquid.)
Return cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ravioli -and asparagus, if using. Cook, stirring gently to unstick, until tender, about 3 minutes or according to package directions. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta liquid. Reserve pot.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the chopped nuts and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to smell toasty and turn brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
Add Aleppo-style pepper, finely grate in lemon zest, and season lightly with salt; mix well.
Slice lemon into wedges.
Return cooked ravioli -and asparagus, if using- to pot, pour pea sauce over, and stir gently to coat. At this point, the consistency can be adjusted with reserved pasta water, if necessary. Using a large spoon, transfer ravioli to plates or a serving dish.
Top with more Parmesan and basil, then spoon brown-butter nuts over the top. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, as desired.